Why 2014 will be a watershed moment in Indian history
The CNN-IBN Election Tracker's findings last week came as a pleasant surprise for BJP supporters and well wishers across the country as it corroborated the public sentiment which you can sense the moment you step out and talk to the common man on the streets. The findings from UP were particularly heartening where a 33 per cent vote share and 30 plus seats have been predicted for the party. This, when elections seem at least 8 months away, even the candidates have not been declared and Modi hasn't made his presence in UP felt yet.
Personally, I feel this is an election where the BJP tally in UP could go well up to 45-50. And mind you, polarisation will not be the only reason for it. Both the SP and BSP are faced with a major credibility crisis as they have supported the UPA through all its misdeeds. And hence, directly or indirectly, the resentment against the UPA is bound to extend to SP and BSP as well. Moreover, the SP's support towards criminal elements in the last year and half has anyway angered the young and educated voters who want a 'decisive' change. Hence it appears obvious that even though 'minorityism' will be a factor that the SP will exploit to its advantage, the sheer magnitude of angst against the ruling parties at the centre and in the state will render its efforts ineffective. And the natural gainer in this situation will be the BJP since the Congress is no more than a fringe player in UP.
Also surprising are the findings of some of the other surveys, which predict a 10 per cent vote share for the BJP in TN, 12 per cent in West Bengal and 16 per cent in Kerala. Now a vote-share in this range is unlikely to have a direct bearing on the seats that the party can win. But what it can't conceal is a strong groundswell of support building up for the party across the country and across all sections of the society.
For all those who are quick to point out that the UPA's decline hasn't resulted in a commensurate gain for the BJP, my answer is just wait and watch. It helps not to peak before time. Don't underestimate the intelligence of the Indian voters. Given a choice between BJP and instability, they will vote the same way as they did in the previous election when they had to choose between the Congress and instability.
Anyway, there is more to an election than numbers. And that is where this election will be different from many others that I have witnessed closely since 1989. If there is something that sets this election apart from many others, it is the passionate involvement of the youth. The same youth who seemed indifferent towards politics until 5 years ago are now making efforts to ensure that their voice and vote counts. Unlike 5 years ago when they would get swayed by the propaganda around Gujarat riots, this time they are equipped with facts and figures. They want to discuss jobs, poverty, development, the economy and everything that makes the Congress uncomfortable.
In fact last week, I was invited by the dynamic Piyush Goyal to witness a seminar of 200 plus young professionals from across the country who will be spearheading BJP's IT campaign for 2014. What I witnessed here was an eye- opener. There was a gentleman from Bangalore who has quit his high-flying corporate job till the elections get over, in order to work for the party full time. There were a couple of college students from West Bengal who were ready to drop a year and get involved with the campaign full time. All these people are doing their bit without charging a penny and in fact even paying for their travel.
It was heartening to witness this kind of unselfishness in the youth. I wondered what could have resulted in this massive transformation in just the last 3 to 4 years. The answer was simple: an intense hatred for the Congress for having taken people for a ride, doubled up with the hope provided by Modi of ridding the country of the malaise of mal-governance and unaccountability. The youth this time is determined to lead from the front and ensure that things change.
When the public sentiment for or against something is so strong, data and logic are often forced to take a backseat. I was not born when the rebellion against Emergency took place. But from whatever I have read and known about it, the public sentiment against the present regime is as strong. Even in 1977 until the election results were out, the Janta Party leaders were sceptical of winning a majority. Nobody had imagined they would end up winning 300 plus seats. The sentiments today are similar. The situation at the ground level is slowly but surely building up towards a concrete, unprecedented change. The results of 2014 will surprise everybody.
Moreover, 2014 will produce a new generation of young leaders, much like Emergency did. That would make it a Watershed election in Indian politics.
More about Tuhin A SinhaTuhin A Sinha is among the best-selling authors in India, a columnist and a screenwriter. Starting in 2006 with his first book, That Thing Called Love, an unconventional romance set in a Mumbai monsoon, Tuhin has written five novels. They include The Captain (formerly 22 Yards), Of Love And Politics, The Edge of Desire and The Edge Of Power. Tuhin is acknowledged among the most prolific Indian writers with a maverick knack to experiment with new genres. While his first book was an offbeat romance, The Captain was a cricket thriller that explored the underbelly of modern cricket. Of Love And Politics was a political thriller. His last two books which comprise the Edge series can be called socio-political thrillers with a strong feminist skew. Tuhin is a screenwriter of several popular TV shows, the most noteworthy being Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai on Star Plus. Apart from his fiction novels and scripts, Tuhin is a keen political observer. His columns on Indian politics appear regularly in India’s leading dailies. Tuhin has a regular blog on ibnlive.com. He also appears frequently on news channels on discussions around politics and cricket.
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