By Salman Khurshid
Losing the 2019 election and that too in a somewhat extreme manner has confronted us with unexpected challenges: Our leadership has naturally taken it very hard and to heart but with suggested options that we cannot imagine or contemplate. Hopefully the emotions will settle soon and give us the direction to pick up the pieces and march again.
What is more intriguing is a clear difference in perception amongst some who believe Narendra Modi trounced us for good (or bad really) with an overwhelming majority of Indians choosing Hinduism over a variety of secularists and others who give the winner his due but no more than he deserves.
In other words, there are muted complaints about machines manipulating democracy. Then why are the voters not pouring out into the streets to protest, they are asked. They respond with why is there unprecedented silence in the streets instead of great celebration?
Whatever might be deep, hidden truth inside the little chip that makes the EVM so powerful, if so many people say ‘nay’ or have reservations, why is the establishment so fixed on them? The simple proposition is not that the EVMs were fixed for Mr Modi but that they can be fixed. The world believes that. Why do we not listen?
Perhaps democracy is changing in pace with changing society. We are told repeatedly that we are unable to read that change. May be that makes sense, but what sense do results in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh make? No explanations about bi-polar voters or successful implementation of direct cash transfers, housing grants and toilets can convince about the extent of the sweep.
The fact is that each part of the landscape had different factors, but a common thread of Modi, political Hinduism and nationalism. We might have lost in the numbers game but the likes of Amartya Sen still believe that the contest of ideas is far from lost.
India’s beauty comes from diversity that is non-negotiable. On delivery and performance even the BJP skirted data or fudged it. These are issues on which the last pronouncement of the Indian people has not come, no matter the extent of the current mandate.
*Former foreign minister, senior Congress leader, Supreme Court advocate. This article has been written as a “letter from a Congress person, defeated but unbroken”