Election Verdict

No mandate is a mandate to silence opposition

By HARTOSH SINGH BAL | May 18, 2014
Associated Press

The year 1984 is being invoked a lot in the wake of the Narendra Modi victory. Even though the circumstances were different then, it was the last time a single party won an absolute majority in an Indian election. That election saw another new prime minister, bearing the stain of majoritarian violence and speaking for the young, come to power offering technocratic solutions that would move India beyond caste and religion. The failure of that project, which was burdened with heightened expectations, should remain a cautionary tale, but that is not the reason I want to invoke 1984.

I had just finished school in June 1984 when Operation Bluestar took place. Over a game of badminton, my neighbourhood friends and I began discussing the army action with an avidity that comes easily at that age. When I expressed the view that while the action was necessary, the way it was planned and executed was wrong, one of my acquaintances, whom I thought I knew well, reacted in anger, “Don’t listen to him, he is a sardar.” I was clean-shaven then, but it was at that moment that I first realised what it means to differ from the majority view, and to be labeled for it.

Today I would have expressed my views more succinctly: the cure was worse than the disease. And it is a sentiment that I believe applies equally well to what is transpiring around us today. The end of the Gandhi dynasty—and I do believe that this is what we are witnessing—was necessary, but I also believe that the same is more or less true in this case: the cure is worse than the disease. Irrespective of the majority verdict—public opinion changes with time—the question here is simply of being honest to the truth as I see it.

In the cacophony of support for Modi, there will be no shortage of those like BJP's national treasurer Piyush Goyal, who on Times Now on the very day of the verdict, faced with a few journalists who disagreed with him, labeled them Congress sympathisers. As a matter of fact, over the course of the past few years, the only public critics of the dynasty were to be found among this limited set of journalists. Having shot from their shoulders, men like Piyush Goyal today, in their moment of triumph, appear fearful at the prospect of being at the receiving end. This intolerance of dissent was one of the fears of a Modi victory. We can wait and see whether the tendencies Goyal so vividly expressed will be heightened over the next few days or whether the party will seek to curb them, but there is no reason to be so uncertain over one of the implications of this verdict: it is emphatically majoritarian.

The case of Punjab provides the perfect illustration. In the facile nature of what has passed for the analysis of inconvenient facts after this victory, Arun Jaitley’s defeat from Amritsar has been attributed to local anti-incumbency against the Akalis. But the BJP won two adjacent constituencies in the same state—Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur. Of the three seats, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur are Hindu-dominated, while Amritsar is a Sikh-dominated constituency. When a senior leader cannot even win a Sikh-dominated constituency, where is the hope that the BJP can command support among a substantial portion of Muslims in this country? Never before in this country has a prime minister been elected so emphatically while being so unrepresentative of the minorities.

In the face of this fact—and the weight of more than a 170 million people makes this a substantial fact—to claim, as some senior editors have, in television studios or in print, that we are entering a post-ideological, post-caste, post-religion era of the Indian electorate, is absurd, especially when you consider that almost all the people making this claim share a common religious identity. The claim may well be true of the mandate in parliament, which is determined by the first past the post system, but to argue that these rules, which we have all agreed to adopt, actually mirror social reality is to deceive ourselves. The combined vote share of those accused of playing identity and caste politics—the Congress, Nitish Kumar and Laloo Prasad Yadav in Bihar, and the Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh—far exceeds that of the NDA. If the perception of the mandate overrides this reality, eventually the mandate will be overturned because reality cannot be wished away, as Rajiv Gandhi so quickly found out.

I was hoping for some acknowledgement of this fact in Modi’s speeches on his day of victory. His failure to use the words “Muslim” or “minority” was striking. These are not difficult words to pronounce; their absence and the rhetoric that was in their place suggest a literary parallel with George Orwell’ s 1984. Development for everyone, say Modi and his supporters. Electricity does not discriminate, they add. But of course it does. Development that does not recognise inequality heightens it. In the same way, to fail to recognise Muslims and other minorities as categories is to not be able to cater to their specific problems, whether economic or those stemming from apprehensions about this verdict. It did little to reassure such anxieties that one of Modi’s first public acts as prime minister-designate was to perform a grand puja in Varanasi, accompanied by priests chanting hymns and the din of conch shells.

There is no shortage of cheerleaders for this verdict, but for democracy to function, the sceptics have to find their voice. We will all have to recognise that no mandate is a mandate to silence opposition. Neither is this mandate reason to silence oneself.

Hartosh Singh Bal is the political editor at The Caravan, and is the author of Waters Close Over Us: A Journey Along the Narmada.

The year 1984 is being invoked a lot in the wake of the Narendra Modi victory. Even though the circumstances were different then, it was the last time a single party won an absolute majority in an Indian election. That election saw another new prime minister, bearing the stain of majoritarian violence and speaking for the young, come to power offering technocratic solutions that would move India beyond caste and religion. The failure of that project, which was burdened with heightened expectations, should remain a cautionary tale, but that is not the reason I want to invoke 1984.

I had just finished school in June 1984 when Operation Bluestar took place. Over a game of badminton, my neighbourhood friends and I began discussing the army action with an avidity that comes easily at that age. When I expressed the view that while the action was necessary, the way it was planned and executed was wrong, one of my acquaintances, whom I thought I knew well, reacted in anger, “Don’t listen to him, he is a sardar.” I was clean-shaven then, but it was at that moment that I first realised what it means to differ from the majority view, and to be labeled for it.

Today I would have expressed my views more succinctly: the cure was worse than the disease. And it is a sentiment that I believe applies equally well to what is transpiring around us today. The end of the Gandhi dynasty—and I do believe that this is what we are witnessing—was necessary, but I also believe that the same is more or less true in this case: the cure is worse than the disease. Irrespective of the majority verdict—public opinion changes with time—the question here is simply of being honest to the truth as I see it.

In the cacophony of support for Modi, there will be no shortage of those like BJP's national treasurer Piyush Goyal, who on Times Now on the very day of the verdict, faced with a few journalists who disagreed with him, labeled them Congress sympathisers. As a matter of fact, over the course of the past few years, the only public critics of the dynasty were to be found among this limited set of journalists. Having shot from their shoulders, men like Piyush Goyal today, in their moment of triumph, appear fearful at the prospect of being at the receiving end. This intolerance of dissent was one of the fears of a Modi victory. We can wait and see whether the tendencies Goyal so vividly expressed will be heightened over the next few days or whether the party will seek to curb them, but there is no reason to be so uncertain over one of the implications of this verdict: it is emphatically majoritarian.

The case of Punjab provides the perfect illustration. In the facile nature of what has passed for the analysis of inconvenient facts after this victory, Arun Jaitley’s defeat from Amritsar has been attributed to local anti-incumbency against the Akalis. But the BJP won two adjacent constituencies in the same state—Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur. Of the three seats, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur are Hindu-dominated, while Amritsar is a Sikh-dominated constituency. When a senior leader cannot even win a Sikh-dominated constituency, where is the hope that the BJP can command support among a substantial portion of Muslims in this country? Never before in this country has a prime minister been elected so emphatically while being so unrepresentative of the minorities.

In the face of this fact—and the weight of more than a 170 million people makes this a substantial fact—to claim, as some senior editors have, in television studios or in print, that we are entering a post-ideological, post-caste, post-religion era of the Indian electorate, is absurd, especially when you consider that almost all the people making this claim share a common religious identity. The claim may well be true of the mandate in parliament, which is determined by the first past the post system, but to argue that these rules, which we have all agreed to adopt, actually mirror social reality is to deceive ourselves. The combined vote share of those accused of playing identity and caste politics—the Congress, Nitish Kumar and Laloo Prasad Yadav in Bihar, and the Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh—far exceeds that of the NDA. If the perception of the mandate overrides this reality, eventually the mandate will be overturned because reality cannot be wished away, as Rajiv Gandhi so quickly found out.

I was hoping for some acknowledgement of this fact in Modi’s speeches on his day of victory. His failure to use the words “Muslim” or “minority” was striking. These are not difficult words to pronounce; their absence and the rhetoric that was in their place suggest a literary parallel with George Orwell’ s 1984. Development for everyone, say Modi and his supporters. Electricity does not discriminate, they add. But of course it does. Development that does not recognise inequality heightens it. In the same way, to fail to recognise Muslims and other minorities as categories is to not be able to cater to their specific problems, whether economic or those stemming from apprehensions about this verdict. It did little to reassure such anxieties that one of Modi’s first public acts as prime minister-designate was to perform a grand puja in Varanasi, accompanied by priests chanting hymns and the din of conch shells.

There is no shortage of cheerleaders for this verdict, but for democracy to function, the sceptics have to find their voice. We will all have to recognise that no mandate is a mandate to silence opposition. Neither is this mandate reason to silence oneself.

Hartosh Singh Bal is the political editor at The Caravan, and is the author of Waters Close Over Us: A Journey Along the Narmada.

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READER'S COMMENTS [43]

What a horrible article. Hartosh Bal's inability to even remember recent history is shocking. The BJP didn't lose Amritsar because they couldn't get Sikh votes. They lost because they fielded a weak candidate against Captain Amaninder. Arun Jaitley was a Rajya Sabha nominee from Delhi with no base in Punjab. For the last 10 years BJP had been winning the same seat fielding a Sikh candidate, Navjot Singh Sindu, who got Sikh votes. Totally refuting Hartosh Bal's argument that minorities don't vote for the BJP. Also, his suggestion that Modi must regularly mention minorities in his speech is the worst form of tokenism and only exposes his own childish insecurities. It is clear from reading all his articles that he will remain a Modi hater till the day he dies and spinning imaginary fears irrespective of how different the truth is.

wonderful article hartosh singh bal. i notice modi bhakts are still shouting at the top of their voices. but they shall not silence secular and democratic voices of india. may our tribe not be browbeaten and silenced.

Why exactly did Mr. Modi need to mention the words "Muslim" or "Minority" in his speech? Didn't he mention "all Indians"? Or are you trying to suggest that Muslims and other minorities are not Indian? It is true that development that does not recognise inequality heightens it. Wouldn't a leader rather recognise it in his policies instead of resorting to rhetoric in a thirty minute speech?

You have proved beyond a trace of doubt you are a crook and moron combined.

A very poorly written article .. The BJP has to stay away from this kind of tokenism for various communities that seems to have become the norm under the previous governments. Pray why should the Prime Minister of India specifically mention minorties ?? Are these people not citizens of India ?Are they not Bharatiyas ? What are you trying to peddle here ?

Thank U, my dear Hartosh, for speaking your mind. I too am a retired journalist / editor in Pune. Here is a piece, I posted on my blog, which brings up similar issues. I also suggest some steps, we can take as individuals to resist. Democrats and freedom-fighters in India are prepared for the dark days, now ahead of us. Life goes on ... Such dark days have ended; they have prepared us for today: 1. The Emergency of 1975-77, imposed by Indira of the Indian National Congress (INC). 2. The anti-Sikh riots of 1984, following the assassination of Indira, when the INC was in power. 3. The demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, led by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) / Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 4. The riots, following the terrorist attack in Mumbai, in 1992. 5. The privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation (LPG) of the Indian economy since 1992, begun by Manmohan Singh of the INC and continued by the BJP/NDA. 4. The anti-Muslim riots of March 2002, when Modi of the RSS/BJP was CM in Gujarat. The sad fact, which democrats have to understand and accept, is that the forces of darkness can be elected by a majority. Such forces of darkness have been elected in earlier times: • Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy. • Reagan in USA and Thatcher in Britain. So, India in 2014 is not the first time. How do ordinary people resist the forces of darkness? From personal experience and lessons learned from resistance movements, I suggest: • Listen to your inner voice, ie, conscience. Be sincere & honest. No indoctrination or intimidation can silence the inner voice. • Trust working people 100%: work patiently and learn from them. • Do not submit to the dictates of authority. Resist the personality cult; do not glorify the rights of the individual, especially the rich. • Resist temptation. • Question constantly till U are satisfied. • Our earth belongs to the citizens of the world. • Democracy and freedom are for ALL: the poor need them the most. Peace and love, - Joseph M. Pinto, Pune.

Excellent. Very true. People need to learn from history, think rationally and act with courage.

"His failure to use the words “Muslim” or “minority” was striking." And ur exalated "Secular" credentials Mr Bal go bust. This is the reason the indian Media needs to decentralize from Delhi - their cocoon is reflected in their narrowmindedness. What about SC's, ST's and OBC's, I did not see your worry about their future. What about the North-east? Oh yeah we know how much the Indian Press cares about them with the abysmal coverage of the riots of Kokrajhaar. If this seems like nitpicking to you, you will understand how you sound exactly.

Wonderful piece. Your closing remarks "We will all have to recognise that no mandate is a mandate to silence opposition. Neither is this mandate reason to silence oneself" spoke directly to me, as I've found that intolerance for even the tiniest dissent has been growing alarmingly since May 16th. I've been shouted down, lectured, called a Congress loyalist (even though I vote AAP), and even more confusingly, have been chastised for not appearing to be "happy" about the mandate, because clearly just "accepting" the mandate isn't enough for the Modi fan club.

It is naive to assume that BJP won in Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur because they are Hindu majority constituencies. He seems to think that Hindus vote for BJP only, what an insult! These pro-people anti-Modi thinkers do not even realize that how they are hurting and disrespecting the common man and his wisdom. I have never heard such a trash before that Hindus in Punjab vote for BJP or Sikhs vote for SAD alone. One shall ask him that what was the religion of the masses who voted for APP. In fact, I want the author to answer this question if he can? Or has he got an answer?

Really - the common man and his wisdom - who speaks for it ? An electoral mandate in itself is not an indication of wisdom !- history is replete with instances when comman men and women have voted in authoritarian and divisive figures all over the world due to a number of reasons. And yes, minorities have not voted for him in any substantive way, niether have all hindus voted for - 69% of India which did not vote for him also includes many hindus and formany good reasons !

Amusing, just because Jaitley did not win Amritsar, Hartosh concludes Sikhs hate Modi..hahahah such guys are seasoned journos..show how pathetic our journalists are

The author is clearly spiteful of Mr Modi's success. Mr Hartosh, if you are secular as you claim why are you specifically mentioning Hindu and Sikh areas of BJP winning and not winnng certain seats. In that case could you also please clarify as to what you mean by minorities????? Does it refer to a particular religion or ppl on the fringe. Unless you can clarfiy this point , I suggest you give up this vitriolic hatred and unsubstantiated argument and go back to doing some honest research . Frankly I think even reading articles written by venomous persons like you is a waste of time. And do remember, IT IS PPL LIKE YOU WITH YOUR HATEFUL ARTICLES THAT STOKE COMMUNAL PASSIONS NOT MR MODI.

This man has communal mindset. Why does he not think about the safety of Hindus? If one criticizes Modi or BJP or Hindus and support minority communal-ism that fellow will be branded as secular, liberal, modern, humanist and cultured and what not. This article is also written with that poor taste.

Modi has not mentiuoned Hindu either. He has not used the name of a religious or caste denomination while referring to the people. The only terms that he has used are Indian, Bharatiya, etc. This is the right way to go. Do not bother about anybody's denomination - just deal with them as human beings.

"we are entering a post-ideological, post-caste, post-religion era of the Indian electorate" That indeed is an absurd, over-fitted narrative based on cherry-picking of facts. But then so is a lot of what you are saying. Its just beginning to sound like a lot of whining now. Let it go. In the end, the ability to win an election proves just that much.You can only win an election in India by building religious and caste polarization dynamics into your strategy. So he did. Anyway this election was his to lose. Now he won't have as much use for the polarization and so he won't push those buttons as frequently any more. And that is good for all of us.

Siddharth is quite right when he asserts that Rothschilds are actively planning to recolonize Indian soil and are using the BJP and the new PM as their pawns! Everthing said and done, even after such a huge victory, and given Shri Gopal Krishna Gandhi's doubts and misgivings with regard to this mandate, I personally feel that, for the first time in the history of Indian Politics, we have a New Prime Minister With Indelible Blood On His Hands!!!!

Beautifully told story, it not only about the minorities or Muslims in question. The article is written with a free mind, it has hopes of seeing better India, however highlights the negatives of the verdict. The verdict from public, is not that BJP is the light of hope in this times of increasing inflation etc. In my opinion, It is the verdict that says that congress is in capable

A true Hindu nationalist for the first time after Independence is adoring the chair of the Prime Minister of India.

It is obvious that the author is burning all over, now that Modi has become PM. So he uses every opportunity to vent his frustration. His defence of the panelists of Times Now is laughworthy. The likes of Vinod Mehta, Sankarshan Thakur, Ajay Bose and Aarti Jeyrath has brought disrepute to journalism with their relentless biased journalism, wherein they attacked BJP day in and out and did everything to promote AAPCON. These so-called reputed journalists, who are full of self-esteem are the biggest fascists, as they are totally intolerant to criticism. The moment anyone questions them, they start screaming and shouting about intolerance. It is time such clowns were shown their place, it is good that Piyush Goel had the courage to do it, which other BJP spokespersons lack. Hopefully in the days to come, a cleansing process will happen and such disgusting characters exit from journalism. We need unbiased journalism where analysts deal with issues and present all sides, instead of the vicious Modi-hating that passes for journalism.

Dear Deepak....who exactly will perform the "cleansing" of journalism, and which direction will the cleansing take after you've done away with journalists you don't agree with. Academics? Teachers? Writers and activists? Just so we know.

The cleaning of prejudiced journalists masquerading as humanists would be accomplished by the same ordinary people who just cleaned up the Congress.

>a cleansing process I think the word you're looking for is "ethnic cleansing", my fascist friend.

An inherently stupid article. The author is unable to come out and say the truth ie I don't like the BJP and I hate modi, and I will do my best to somehow show that this election victory is not actually a victory. Am really glad that we finally have a pm who will not treat minorities as separate people but as Indians. For sixty years we have treated Muslims as Muslims first and Indians second. Hence they are still poor and deprived. Let's first treat them as equal citizens and then worry about their religion etc. Thankfulky the Indian electorate will not buy into all this nonsense being written by the left/liberal frauds. The people voted for development and better lives, and if modi cannot deliver that, he will be thrown out the same way he came in. It would be good of all out enlightened journalists learned to live with this fact. Anyway, I'm the interest of free speech and entertainment, I would request the author and his friends to continue.

It seems tht writer is suffering from Dynasty effect high on his head..He is a known Modi basher on media debates..Wht i undrstand frm this article is tht he is miffed why Modi got such large mandate. Writer points out Modi didn't used words like muslims or Minority in his address but why does he forgets Modi never took name of hindu majority also instead he again n again declared throughout elections its development for all appeasement to none which is hailed by Muslims also who voted for Modi in large numbers..What writer wants is to divide country in majority and minority ghettos, whatever development is to be done should be lined on communal line...which is totally wrong in a multicultural/faith country..

Why should one talk of majority and minority. People like Hartosh have a warped mindset and a visceral hatred for Modi. Since when in a democracy does one get elected on minority vote unless it is contrived. Modi has categorically stated that though he may have won the vote to form a government but to run the country, one has to take everyone along. That is enough and no specific mention of A B or C needs to be made. Grow out of a twisted mindset Mr Bal.

Rothschilds planning to Colonize India for another 400 years through Narendra Modi ? Narendra Modi is a Rothschid Puppet. Through him they’re planning to re-colonize India again. It was revealed a couple of years back in the Malaysian Parliament that a PR company by the name of APCO Worldwide was subverting public opinion and through it leveraging access to planning government strategies and policies. The name APCO Worldwide suddenly gained fame (or notoriety) in Malaysia after Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim drew comparison of the firm’s image-building campaign for its Malaysian client to a similar campaign by the Israeli government. It became a serious issue as APCO Worldwide is formed of Israel’s ex-Mossad Intelligence officials and has a notorious background. It is infamous for whitewashing Mass Murderers into Messiah, running propaganda campaigns for the invasion of Iraq and later swiftly positioning itself to help American companies plunder Iraqi wealth and resources. Now the firm seems very well placed in doing the same with India, plundering it’s wealth and resources. The same firm APCO Worldwide is also reported to be handling the entire election campaign to the strategy of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. What makes it noteworthy is that the firm is controlled by none other than the Rothschilds who colonized India for almost four centuries through the East India Company. Recently the Rothschilds have been reported to spreading AIDS in Gujarat through it’s subsidiary company Bayer. The relation between APCO Worldwide and the Rothschilds came to light after the Yukos incident in Russia. Also read Operation Snoopgate : Narendra Modi Under Siege ?

I find it hard to believe that many indians have not understood the idea of pluralism and diversity... A government must be the mirror or reflection of the society with all ethnic groups represented by competent and meritorious representatives... Tharman Shanmugaratnam is the finance minister of singapore from the tamil minority... RASHID BEEBEEJAUN is the deputy-prime minister of mauritius with 68% of hindus..

I find it hard to believe how some people can be overtly naiive. First, minorities comprise Sikhs, Christians, Jains and not just Muslims. APJ Abdul Kalam was BJP's candidate for the post of President. Two prominent spokespersons of BJP are muslims. There are numerous Sikhs who have held and will hold important positions in NDA government. BJP is not against Minorities but against minority appeasement. Surely, you would know the kind of politics SP played in the last few weeks.

Mr. Bal is prejudiced and with a non malleable point of view. He is equally hard nosed with his perceived sense of 'know it all' hood as are some on the other side.

I guess the champions of secularism have not learnt yet. Let me tell who belongs in this pool of secularism. Islam and Muslims...Anyone who has read the Quran will openly testify that it is hardly secular. It is a cesspool of hatred and bigotry. The very basis of Islam starts from dividing communities into Muslims and Non-Muslims. Then rest of the stuff follows after that. Can readers of Quran tell us what Secularism is?. That is like asking Adolf Hitler what the meaning of Non-violence is.

"In the cacophony of support for Modi, there will be no shortage of those like BJP's national treasurer Piyush Goyal, who on Times Now on the very day of the verdict, faced with a few journalists who disagreed with him, labeled them Congress sympathisers. - See more at: http://caravanmagazine.in/vantage/no-mandate#sthash.GP0N7sMQ.dpuf" Ummm - the owner of this very Magazine - Caravan - Ananth Nath, was gushing with joy the day the UPA won a second term back in 2009. Does that not make him a 'Congress Sympathiser'? And if you are writing for him, in his magazine, and he is the editor, I do believe that makes you one too. Unless your taking a contrary stance - which you're not. You are simply repeating the same half-truths being repeated by your cabal of journalists. The country knows better and has moved on. Find yourself another profession, your poison has been neutered.

Well why does losing a constituency and winning two in the same region have to be because its the one where there a different religion or community? And you write its development for all. So then why do you take the initiative to presume that its not for the minorities? And for the Pooja, well India is a secular country. So is it wrong if the future prime minister practices his religion? And why does a majority community if it practices its religion is suddenly viewed as anti-secular? I can't think of you saying so if someone from a minority community does the same. We are free to hold opinions in this country and that's why it is a good place to be in. But you as a journalist help make opinions. I think of it as your duty to hence be bias free, not that its a crime not to be, but just because its the right thing to do.

Hi all, please stop abusing the author for his views. You have every right to disagree but maintain healthy logical discussion. There was opposition to Rajiv in 84, there will be opposition to modi in 14, though both had a huge win. But please stop this abusive comments. Infact if the comments and discussion are healthy and non abusive, i believe Hartosh would have no problem replying to your queries.

I certainly agree that for a democracy to function skeptics have to find their voice, but in your case it seems forced skepticism. Your entire argument hinges upon the perception that minority have not favored NDA. Reality is if you analyze the minority dominated consistencies more than 50% of them are won by NDA. Remember that in a multi party contest a small vote percentage change can reverse the fortunes, now constituency with more than 30% vote share by minorities can significantly alter the final outcome. How is that any party can reach majority on its own without any kind of support from minorities at all is question that is worth pondering over. In your bid to be a skeptic you have given an argument whose basis is built upon fragile perception rather a prejudice. Being a journalist i expect you to do better analysis of the reality than to give judgement upon your prejudices.

Why does not journalists like these have any fears when any other party gets absolute majority? What many people expect is lip service from politicians. I think we are used to getting lip service from politicians which is precisely every other parties like Congress, SP, BSP etc do. I'm becoming very skeptical of today's journalism which is heavily biased and opinionated. Perhaps disgusted by today's journalism.

"Electricity does not discriminate, they add. But of course it does. Development that does not recognise inequality heightens it. In the same way, to fail to recognise Muslims and other minorities as categories is to not be able to cater to their specific problems, whether economic or those stemming from apprehensions about this verdict." - This is incorrect, recognising inequality on community lines is not just an useless exercise but counter productive for legislative policy making and economic efficiency, since there are far greater inequalities within communities than between communities as the author seems to believe, if one keeps dishing out different policy solutions to every bit of social stratification, such policy stratifies society even more, public policy should be so devised as to recognise patterns of underdevelopment across communities, so that it extends to maximum number of beneficiaries cutting across community lines. A failure to do so, and an obsession with looking at society through the majority and minority prism, accentuates differences and discrimination more than it resolves and by definition therefore does nothing to set it right. Such is the irony, it is always much easier to appear politically correct than to be correct in analysis.

Sir, Statically isn't it expected that with one vote for each and most od the people casting their vote they would involve some sort of majoritism. At a local level that is what has been witnessed in Punjab and over time every other constituency - Muslim candidates tend to win from Muslim dominated areas etc rtc. I wonder why is this such a big issue this time just because most of the people decided to exercise their franchise . Also coming to the solutions what Should we expect - allow two secular vote for eebery communal vote? Or disbar ring thr majority from voting. Pqppo

"Never before in this country has a prime minister been elected so emphatically while being so unrepresentative of the minorities." Maybe it is because the previous PMs were never very representative of the majority. Modi won on the plank of development which catered to the middle-class and the sizeable youth vote, and his performing aarti in the Ganga should not be an issue with the 'minorities' if the wearing of skull-caps for the sake of minority appeasement was accepted earlier. In your view, someone using the words Muslim or minority instead of saying that it was a victory not for a particular community or religion but the entire country is being divisive, and that seems to me to be a more dangerous point of view. Such insecurities have been exploited for long by 'secular' thieves to loot the country. If the minorities so care for the welfare of the country (which they surely do) then they should have used their political influence to demand better governance. Since they did not, only succumbing to the bogey of 'secularism', they should not cry over the reverse polarization that resulted.

The author is making a mountain out of molehill- though have to to structured as coalition at this juncture, the Opposition's responsibility is pivotal for the vibrant democracy of ours.The opposition voices cannot be muffled as stated.The victory is a victory and that has to accepted. On Mr.Jaitley's defeat , I would term it as the result of the internal local dissent of his party.The malcontent Sidhu and the towering personality of the Captain Amarinder Singh had catalysed the chances for a win.The Congress party finally stealthy played the divisive card to invoke sentimentalism with 63% Sikh voters of Amritsar against their political opponent.

Can we infer from your point - consolidating Hindu votes gives huge majority - as it happened in 1984 and now in 2014. And then what was different this time than in the time of Vajpayee and Advani as they were not able to consolidate the vote to the same extent. I know a comment is no place to seek clarity from the author - but worth a try.

I am not particularly optimistic about the new Modi government. There is very high likelihood that Modi and his team will be less willing to work with minorities than previous governments. There is also a very high possibility that Modi and his team will pander to the extreme hindu rightwing elements from time to time just to ensure that those who voted them into power, who will likely have leanings towards the ideological positions held by the hindu right, are reminded often enough that it is their man who is heading the government in the center. However, all of these will undoubtabtedly come at a cost to the Modi government because riots are bad for business - especially if one is positioning themselves as the person who will bring in unprecedented development into this country. Because of this one fact that riots or major inter-community clashes may be bad for business, the Modi government will have to find ways to assuage their electorate with "low grade" events (just to remind them that Modi's credentials as a militant hindu rightwinger are still intact) while at the same time they will keep the big "events" down. This isn't particularly a comforting situation, I know, but this is what we are left with now.

Helpful information. Lucky me I discovered your website accidentally, and I am shocked why this twist of fate didn't took place earlier! I bookmarked it.

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