It has been quite a hectic election campaign. I presume we date its beginning to December 2012 when Narendra Modi won Gujarat for the third time. The very next month at Jaipur, Rahul Gandhi said his mother had handed him a “poisoned chalice”. The lines were laid down then. The Congress members had their most fervent demand granted. Rahul had been inducted formally as vice-president of the party, and hence the heir apparent and the next prime minister designate. BJP leaders had little choice but to submit to their rank and file.
We went through much of 2013 engaged in a phoney war, with the BJP declaring Modi as its candidate for PM. Then came the first bout of irrelevant noise. “In our system,” the hegemonic party said, “we don’t have a PM designate. We let the parliamentary committee select. Or we tell the parliamentary committee whom to accept as we did with Rajiv Gandhi, Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. That is our democratic practice. Yours is strange, but then you are the Great Unwashed compared to us.”
Alas, delusions have the power to lull the best people. The Congress believed that no one could take Modi seriously. They only had to chant 2002 several times and the ogre would melt away. By December 2013, it was clear that the ogre was expanding in size. So the incantation of denial was “there is no Modi wave”. Not in the four state elections, nor in the opinion polls. Not even in the large crowds at Modi’s rallies. Friends abroad were recruited to sound the alarm in the foreign press about the danger India was facing. Come back, East India Company.
The cacophony has got louder since then. Both sides are saying things which are pure noise since we know what the hidden agenda is behind each insult and counter-insult. We appeal to the mosque because we are secular. You appeal to temples because you are communal. Your model is flawed since you sacrifice the poor for the sake of growth, but we sacrifice growth for the poor. If inclusive growth has been pursued by the Congress for 50 of the last 67 years, why is India so low down in the Human Development Index — barely above Pakistan and below even Bangladesh and Sri Lanka?
But let that be. The noise just got louder with each side getting personal. Jashodaben became an innocent victim