Even diehard optimists did not expect the electoral verdict of the recent Indian state elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won an incredible 406 of the 690 seats on offer, or 59 per cent of the total.
Its footprint now extends from Manipur to Gujarat and from Jammu and Kashmir to Andhra Pradesh, including India’s biggest state Uttar Pradesh. BJP is now the pole around which Indian politics will evolve in the foreseeable future.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most trenchant critics must now recognise that he has charted a new course in Indian politics. He has the credibility, legitimacy and trust that no other leader has had in recent times.
The question to ask is whether he, like former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, will allow this unparalleled leadership status to be squandered away – or even worse, whether he will use it to weaken and destroy India’s democratic institutions. Or will he use his historical mandate to steer India on a path of sustained, inclusive and rapid growth until 2046, the centenary of India having overthrown its colonial yoke?
By 2046, India needs to have successfully generated enough jobs for its young population and established a pluralistic society with a truly federal polity. The successful execution of such a triple transition could well serve as a model for other emerging economies.
The portents are good that Modi will not let this historical opportunity go to waste. This was best reflected in his clarion call to BJP leaders and party workers to “bend down” with humility in the wake of this tremendous victory and shun arrogance and hubris.
This message is the one that needs to be grasped by the BJP leadership, but it may not be easy -…