Election Diary: A Victory For The Idea Of India

June 5 was a new dawn; a lesson to the side that could not win and the side that did not lose to remain humble when in power

Photo: Getty Images
For Freedom’s Sake: The verdict of the 2024 Lok Sabha election is a testament to India’s liberation-seeking spirit Photo: Getty Images

A Drawn Match

On June 5 morning, the two ladies who help us run our home arrived, grinning ear to ear. Their glee was like that of a pedestrian who, the splash of a passing car had drenched, saw the driver of the car fall into a ditch full of muddied water. They said, “Modi-ji hamar saab pole kohl diye rahe” (Modi-ji forced our secrets out during the demonetisation). All the money they had hidden away from their husbands’ reach had to be brought out into the open. The husbands laughed their way to the bank to change the currency notes while the wives sat at home gritting their teeth, seeing their savings polished off by the men. Both asked me, “Has he won or lost?”

It is a peculiar result of a match that started with not just who the favourites were but with who had already won even before the match started, until the afternoon of June 4. By evening, one side was celebrating after being voted out of power, and the other was celebrating for not allowing the opponent to win even if it did not win itself. The winner of the evening of June 4 was profoundly India’s liberation-seeking spirit.

Using the cricketing analogy of a five-day game, it was a drawn match where the side made to follow-on, denied the opponent a victory. This is a win for an oppressed population, oppressed by the vanity and arrogance of fascist ideology that talks of One Nation One Leader, Hindi Hindu Hindustan and more…

A Win for the Idea of India

It is a victory for the idea of India, which is a coalition.

We had started to take our hard-earned freedom as a given until Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.

Politicians of our generation lost the aura and halo of the politicians who got India’s freedom a long time ago. Most of us growing up in the 70s and 80s would fashionably mouth a popular one-liner that politics is the last refuge for scoundrels. Politics and politicians interested none of us. Surveys routinely done by print magazines on one’s preferred choice of the profession put politicians just a notch above the bottom of the deck taken by sex workers.

As teenagers, we only discussed IT, engineering, or management. No one had time for history or political science.

In the Outlook editorial meetings, which I participated in for 21 years, we kept searching for non-political topics on the cover because our circulation department told us politics and politicians bored the reader. Smartphones and social media changed all that. Suddenly, everybody was talking about politics with the same interest as they would talk about cinema or cricket. Giving one’s opinion or position no longer needed domain experts.

In came WhatsApp University, which dumbed down an entire generation. It supplied propaganda as information. Sometimes slickly done, these campaigns misinformed and vitiated minds preoccupied with chasing middle-class material comforts rather than questioning dressed-up facts. We slid down into an abyss of misinformation. No one cared to cross-check.

A few who did were labelled anti-nationals working with a foreign-supplied toolkit to show India in a bad light. Hating Pakistan acquired a new meaning. Our benign gods and goddesses were given a ‘‘rudra’’ severe makeover. We saw friends and uncles of our childhood, perfectly gentle and wise people as we knew them, turn strident and hateful against an enemy created out of misinformation. We watched friends and families falling out over social media messaging. All that moved or did not, all that we ate or did not, all that we watched or did not, all that we wore or did not, all that and more made us cross swords with each other.

But the electorate of those 92 constituencies of the 303 who bit the bait last time saw through the game this time around.

A Home for All

India, that is Bharat, is for all and for all those who want to adopt India as their temporary or permanent home. We may not have plenty, yet we have enough to accommodate. It is a disgrace how some foreign journalists were and are being hounded out of India on flimsy grounds.

June 5 was a new dawn; a lesson to the side that could not win and the side that did not lose to remain humble when in power.

(This appeared in the print as 'Election Diary')

Bishwadeep Moitra is the former executive editor of Outlook. He is the co-founder of Silaiwali, a social enterprise