The Little Red Book – Winner In 2024 Elections

The verdict by the people has ensured that democratic values are to be respected and the dignity that the Constitution provides to everyone, regardless of their religion, caste and gender, is paramount

The Little Red Book – Winner In 2024 Elections

“We the People of India”—transmit unequivocally the idea that the people are united, regardless of religion, language and caste and are resolved to constitute India into a “Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic”.

 —The opening words of the Preamble to the Constitution of India

The little red book that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed was the Chinese Constitution, which Rahul Gandhi of the Indian National Congress waved at a rally in May, is a remedy against anything that tries to divide us as people.

This specific edition by Gopal Sankaranarayanan titled The Constitution of India (Coat Pocket Edition), published by the Eastern Book Company (EBC), became one of the most striking visuals during the 2024 general elections. Whether people have read it in its entirety, it is not relevant. That it exists and needs to be protected is what matters, and we witnessed that we, the people of India, care about the Constitution of India.

Sarma, like many others, seems to be unaware of the many diverse editions of the Constitution, as they are about the diversity of the people of India or the diverse meanings of colours. He tweeted on May 17 that the Constitution of India is published in a book that is blue in colour and the one that Gandhi was seen holding in his hand needed to be verified. On May 18, he tweeted that it was the Chinese Constitution.

Gandhi was holding our Constitution, the one that makes us who we are as a nation.

On May 17, at a rally, he said that “…if the poor, OBCs, Dalits, and tribes in the country have gained anything, it is because of this book, our Constitution. If you have employment, daily wages, the public sector and reservations, it’s all because of this book. Before its existence, India had no rights for you all. This book protects the rights of all sections of people: the OBCs, minorities, tribes and general castes. And the BJP wants to tear this book. This book is the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, B R Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru...”

On May 17, in an interview with a national magazine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he would protect the Constitution with his life.

At an election rally in Rajasthan’s Barmer, Modi, while countering allegations by the opposition that the BJP was out to change the Constitution, said that “even if Babasaheb Ambedkar himself comes, he cannot abolish it. The Constitution is Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bible and Quran for the government. For us, the Constitution is everything”.

There was a lot at stake in these elections. And what we witnessed was a pushback from the citizens who cast their votes to protect what mattered to them. The verdict by the people has ensured that democratic values are to be respected and the dignity that the Constitution provides to everyone, regardless of their religion, caste and gender, is paramount.

For a democracy to function, a strong opposition is a must. The verdict of the people has ensured that. It has also ensured that regional parties matter. A coalition government also needs to cater to different ideologies.

Over the last few years, we have seen a lot of hubris and not enough humility.

We, the people of India, have ensured that candidates and parties chosen by us remain humble. The power belongs to the people ultimately.

We, the people of India, have chosen the Constitution over everything else.

The little red book is the winner in the elections.

It was on November 30, 1949, four days after the Constituent Assembly adopted the Constitution, that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) wrote in the Organiser that the “worst thing about the new Constitution of Bharat is that there is nothing Bharatiya about it… there is no trace of ancient Bharatiya constitutional laws, institutions, nomenclature and phraseology in our Constitution; there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu’s laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day, his laws enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the world’s admiration and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits, that means nothing”.

In 1998-1999—a few years after the Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya in 1992—the then government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee had appointed the Venkatachaliah Commission to review the Constitution. In 2004, Vajpayee lost the election and the review never happened.

We, the people of India, chose the Constitution over everything else.

The BJP lost in Ayodhya. The Ram Mandir consecration happened earlier this year. This time, people’s houses had been demolished. Back then, a mosque had been demolished. The people there and everywhere else didn’t reject God. They rejected arrogance and unbridled power.

The 2024 general election isn’t just a vindication of the people of India, but also of many reporters who have travelled across the country to listen to the people.

Their voices matter the most.

In the 2004 elections, the exit polls had predicted a comfortable win for the BJP-led alliance. They were wrong.

In 2024, most exit polls again failed to predict the mood of the voters.

We, the people of India, have upheld the democratic ethos.

We, the people of India, have stood by the word “secular”.

We, the people of India, have made sure that we aren’t taken for granted by anyone.

And lastly, the media’s role isn’t just as a conduit for information, but as an active participant in critiquing the government. Yes, the media cannot assume the role of the opposition because that’s not our job. Our role is greater than that. We are the fourth pillar of democracy and to question the government, its agencies and the opposition, and anyone wielding power is our mandate.

We are not just a medium. We are a message, too.

We, the people at Outlook, hope the results of the 2024 general election will also ensure that there will be more press freedom for journalists.

And yes, the little red book has humbled us all.

(This appeared in the print as 'The Little Red Book')