My dear liberal, conscientious mitron,
How are you doing? Not very well, by the looks of it. It’s been more than a week since May 16 and the objections and harangues haven’t stopped pouring in.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. It’s been a fun week in which folks have thrown around the 31% voteshare number as conclusive proof that India doesn’t unequivocally think of Narendra Modi as its next savior. Well, it’s a cute quantitative factoid but it’s meaningless to draw any conclusions. For example, in the 2009 elections, the INC garnered around 29% of the popular vote, amounting to 117 million votes. In 2014, the BJP alone garnered 31% voteshare with 172 million votes. Similarly, the INC obtained 206 seats with their 29% voteshare in 2009 but the BJP managed 282 with their 31% in 2014. You know what that tells me? The BJP has smart strategists who focused Modi’s time and resources on the most high impact seats and succeeded admirably.
The BJP gained 166 seats since 2009. The Congress lost 162 seats since 2009. It’s useless to argue if that was proof of a “Modi wave” or not. And what’s with the juvenile bickering over such nomenclature anyway? The BJP’s communication folks did a splendid job coining palatable, catchy terms like “Modi wave” and the best its opponents could come up with was to haggle over semantics and shift goalposts. Actually it’s a Modi puddle, no it’s a Modi ripple, hmm it’s a Modi TsuNaMo, nope it’s a Modi Simple Harmonic Motion! How was this useful?
Then the development story. Gujarat isn’t the BEST EVER state in the history of the universe like the BJP claims! Well, yes. It’s the BJP’s job to claim that and it’s their opponent’s job to find data points that conclusively prove them wrong, not argue over semantics. The fact remains that Gujarat isn’t the best state in terms of its development indicators but it’s a performing state and that’s good enough. Is this really a battle the opposition wanted to fight? Moreover picking a fight over Development was sheer suicide given that UPA 2 had performed so miserably on those very indicators. There was probably a chance if the INC had comparable performance to throw in the BJP’s face.
Finally, morality. I’ve written about my thoughts on this particular objection here. As @sellingviolets put it perfectly:
So the question is, what are you and I going to do from here on. Sulk? Shame others? Throw worst-case scenarios? Predict doomsday? If we keep doing this, we’re going to be left out of conversations and that’s bad for everyone involved. Your opinion is important, it allows discussion, introspection and insight. It’s critical in keeping the new government accountable.
I’m not telling you what to write. I’m just saying what’s being written now is leading to more mirth and mockery than discussion. So please, retire the Hitler references, jettison the fascism op-eds, stop living in a world of binaries and stop assuming everyone who isn’t with you is against you.
Please pick your battles wisely. We need your voice.