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Election 2024: Voter Is The Victor

In Election 2024, the common voter has shown the wisdom to stand firm against authority, hubris and hatred

Election 2024: Voter Is The Victor
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Election 2024 quelled some doubts that have been playing on many of our minds, especially in the last 10 years. Doubts like whether we are inherently communal as a people, and all this talk of unity in diversity, anekta mein ekta, taught to us in civics classes in school are just a veneer we put on, just like the algebra and the periodic table we learnt and forgot as our skins thickened. Whether the idea of secularism drilled into us by the freedom fighters, our forefathers, and our Constitution is just an artificial construct which started to develop cracks after being forced to stand on a shaky foundation for over 70 years. Questions arose in the mind about whether the insistence that we are a peace-loving, democracy-cherishing people is only for podium speeches and seminar lectures, when in reality we long for an authoritarian regime bent upon making us all ‘One’. Whether deep down we feel press freedom and human-rights violations be damned as long as direct benefit transfer and the stock market are chugging along nicely.

It used to be said during the draconian Emergency days that people longed for a strict government where bureaucrats were held accountable, state schemes reached the beneficiary—and the middle-class’ favourite—trains ran on time. Is that what we really are, brainwashed by the supremacist idea of our position in the world, with no trust in independent institutions, law or order? There were more doubts. If the thousands and millions of people living side by side, going about the ups and downs of their lives, with their smiles and frowns in gated communities, in condominiums, in penthouses and barsaatis, under thatched roofs and tin sheds, in metropolises and mohallas, in the hills and on the coasts, were actually seething underneath for revenge about their neighbour being a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist or Parsi? Under the cover of laughing clubs and yoga sessions, or in cattle fairs and Holi celebrations, did they secretly want to bludgeon each other?

This election quells some of these doubts, thanks to the common voter. Like the Unknown Soldier, we have to salute the Anonymous Voter. The verdict puts some of these doubts to rest but does not clear them altogether. Have we as a nation halted the country from taking a rightward lurch or is it just a small blip in the great churn? Will the rewriters of history—yearning for a tryst with another destiny—go back to the drawing board, come up with even grander plans and lure the multitudes into believing they are changing the idea of India together? Can the common man and woman, powerless in the face of a blitzkrieg of tall promises, rousing rhetoric and bombardment through the media, stand up to discern what is the right idea of India? She has to stand up on her own because the forces on the other side, a motley crowd of rag-tag groupings, of inflated egos and shrill voices, of opportunistic U-turners and corrupt self-servers, are going to be of no help. They are so unimaginative and jaded that all they can pull out from their bag of tricks are age-old caste differences, quotas and reservation promises and freebies. Add to this, the uneven playing field they are battling on, as the other side is stacked up on unlimited money power, a servile state machinery and a well-oiled propaganda factory.

It is a great responsibility to be thrust upon the common voters. In the past, we have had visionary leaders like Gandhi and Ambedkar, who have shown us the way. Now she has to fend for herself. In Election 2024, the common voter has shown the wisdom to stand firm against authority, hubris and hatred. Will she be able to guard against them again and again?

(This appeared in the print as 'Voter Is The Victor')

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