Fifth Column: Why Modi won

At the risk of blowing my own horn I have to say that it was more than a year ago that I saw the first signs of a Modi wave.

Written by Tavleen Singh | Updated: May 18, 2014 10:51 am

Journalism is said to be the first draft of history, but when journalists are actually called upon to write that first draft, we often get it wrong. So it was with this election. Most Indian journalists either did not see what was happening or chose not to, so even as we gathered in Delhi’s TV studios on the morning of May 16 to wait for the results, most of us continued to believe that the Bharatiya Janata Party would not get a clear majority. Dedicated liberals and Lefties among us predicted cheerfully that the NDA would get no more than 220 seats. This was what Gandhi family sycophants told their masters as well, deluding them into nurturing the false hope that they might remain in power by lending outside support to a ragtag government.

At the risk of blowing my own horn I have to say that it was more than a year ago that I saw the first signs of a Modi wave. I was travelling through rural Rajasthan and kept meeting people who told me they admired Narendra Modi and would like to see him as the prime minister.

They made it very clear why they wanted this to happen. They pointed to the absence of clean water and electricity in their villages, to the broken roads, the hopeless schools and health centres and said they wanted things to change and believed Modi could bring that change.

Parivartan and vikas were the two Hindi words I heard most on my travels across India.

After the election campaign began, I travelled in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra and made pit stops in Bhubaneswar and Kochi, and except in Kerala I saw signs of a Modi wave everywhere I went. But, when I returned to Delhi and reported this to colleagues, I found myself dismissed as a ‘Modi groupie’. With the exception of Rajat Sharma, there was not a single journalist who predicted what has now come to be, and for his pains he got labelled a ‘Modi groupie’. The rules of ‘secularism’ dictate that in India you can profess your loyalty to the dynasty, to thuggish caste leaders and even Stalinists, but try saying that you think Modi could bring real change to our shamefully backward country, and you become ‘communal’.

Well, India as we know it may now have changed forever. May the gods ensure this because in the name of caste and creed our political leaders have kept most Indians mired in the most wretched poverty. Dr Manmohan Singh’s economic reforms brought a measure of affluence and created a middle class, but in the past three years Sonia Gandhi and her NGO do-gooders reversed the reforms and talked instead of ‘inclusive’ growth. Her ministers and high officials got the message and brought back the licence raj through the Environment Ministry and drove away investors with a new tax regime that technically allows the Finance Minister to charge the East India Company with cheating on their taxes. The economy stopped growing, the job market dried up and gloom descended. This is what caused the Modi wave.
Dynasty sycophants can rant on about darkness descending and the end of India, but their words make no sense to angry young Indians who cannot understand why their country cannot provide them their most basic needs. The truth is they make no sense to your humble columnist either because the political dream that Modi has sold Indians is that all Indian citizens will be treated as equal and will have equal rights. ‘Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas’.

It is the opposite of the horribly divided India built in the name of secularism. This is why leaders whose only political appeal was caste have bitten the dust in this election. In the coming days I have no doubt that devotees of the dynasty will continue to write long, passionate pieces about the end of India and the death of Nehruvian socialism, but for the vast majority of Indians, who do not understand English, their words are meaningless.

This election has been about renewal, change and hope in the deepest sense of those words. This is because Modi succeeded in persuading voters that their real fight must be against poverty and not each other. He succeeded in persuading young Indians, both Hindu and Muslim, that they could look forward in the future to a prosperous, secure India. This is why he managed to give a party, that was no more than a bad facsimile of the Congress Party, a new image. Without Modi it would have been hard for the Bharatiya Janata Party to get a hundred seats. This is the truth of what has happened and those who paint doomsday scenarios and make foolish comparisons with Europe in the Thirties could find themselves on the wrong side of history.

Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @ tavleen_singh

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  1. P
    PChrome
    May 18, 2014 at 2:43 pm
    I am surprised Indian Express even allowed you to say anything positive about Modi.
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    1. A
      Amit
      May 18, 2014 at 8:18 am
      Excellent and bold that's what I admire in Tavleen Singh.
      Reply
      1. N
        NASAH (USA)
        Jun 6, 2014 at 5:37 pm
        Ok Ok you saw Modi wave when nobody saw even a ripple -- tell me now -- can you see one year from now the Modi wave to ebb into a ripple of impeachment?Being a chief minister of an already developed state and becoming prime minister of Indian carriage pulled by 29 horses running in every other direction are totally different things -- the guy is a local politician in the service of local corporations -- he feels totally inexperienced and inadequate for high stake game of the national and international politics. Didn't you see how awkward and uncomfortable he looked meeting with foreign dignitaries at his inauguration.He is going to mess it up within a year. You can bet on it.
        Reply
        1. L
          Lakshmi Chatti
          May 19, 2014 at 5:30 am
          Very correct analysis of the election results.
          Reply
          1. D
            Dibasri Mazumdar
            May 19, 2014 at 5:25 pm
            I was wondering why the mainstream media is so obsessed with decoding Congress' defeat and who's going to lead Congress from now on. But your article came as a real surprise to me because it is unbiased and so very close to the political reality of India.
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            1. S
              sanjeev vasishtha
              May 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm
              You are spot on as usual Tavleen, Modi mentioned development 500 times in his speech and never once Hindutva- yet these pseudo secular leaders keep saying he has polarized Indian people- they have only to look in the mirror to see who is polarizing Indians. This man is amazing - We are so relieved that India has given him a chance- they do not make many like him. I hope the hate speeches that the opposition has made gainst him will now quiet down- if they have any self respect, and a new era has dawned for our beleagured country. Keep up the truthful reporting, people like you make me keep my faith in journalism. BTW I loved your book the Durbar!
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                Dwarkaprasad Chakravarty
                May 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm
                Well said Tavleen Singh, Modi's focus on development has emphatically trounced the politics of caste and religion.
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                  Rocky Vishnu
                  May 19, 2014 at 7:19 am
                  Spot on. Keep up the unbiased reporting. I have read almost all your columns in IE for the last one year, and you are one among the few, not afraid of exposing the so called secular(euphemism for minority appeat) parties. As a journalist, you can be proud of sensing the pulse of common man.
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                    Harshad Tirodkar
                    May 19, 2014 at 5:09 pm
                    Very balanced article. Modi may not have magic wand. We cannot expect miracles from him. But even if he chooses the right and just path and reduces (eliminating is next to impossible) corruption, he deserves longer term. The so called secular who lost terribly don't have the grace even to accept defeat. They should understand that anybody who is elected consutionally is eligible as PM and it is not prerogative of Congress Party. I hope the designs of people who write such articles are brought to light by people like you in future too.
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                      David Jeeves
                      May 20, 2014 at 4:38 pm
                      I do not think that Modi managed to convince the Muslims. The percentage of Muslims voting for congress increased to 44%
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                        kuchroo
                        May 19, 2014 at 5:57 am
                        last decade nothing was done ,even if very little will done now you can harp it as a success, What ever you might say about Modi he is indefatigable and has great communication skills so he has already the next election in his pocket,bjp is building a winnable vote share in Odisa and WB rest will take care of itself, opposition coalescing together now will autodestruct within six months, all these leaders don't bend before any body except themselves
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                          Pradip Bhattacharya
                          May 18, 2014 at 2:08 pm
                          I have been closely following each and every speech and interview of Modi from beginning to end for last one year. He is like an Avatar sent by God to save India from destruction by the Italian hi family. Today I can breathe happily. I am sure Modi will keep his promise to make India free from the sins of Congress.
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                            Mangal Singh
                            May 19, 2014 at 7:42 am
                            Ms Tavleen,I read your article 3-4 months ago when you visited Rajasthan about Modi wave..thats was so true...I really like your fairness in reporting the news. Thank you so much :)
                            Reply
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                              pavneet
                              May 26, 2014 at 2:07 am
                              that 'darkness descending' reference is for mani shankar aiyar's article in the same paper
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                                Pithukuli Seeman
                                Jun 1, 2014 at 11:33 pm
                                what about you as your name sounds christian? Are you convinced
                                Reply
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                                  RG
                                  May 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm
                                  Nice article. Would have been good if the author had found the strength to write such a piece one year ago.
                                  Reply
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                                    Rajesh
                                    May 18, 2014 at 1:23 am
                                    Fully agree with you....
                                    Reply
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                                      vijay
                                      May 18, 2014 at 2:50 pm
                                      One of the most balanced and truthful account of Modi's victory that I read so far.
                                      Reply
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                                        ravindra holi
                                        May 19, 2014 at 5:27 am
                                        what lavleen sing wants in the name of development..large scale destruction of enviroment,emergance of crony capitalism.
                                        Reply
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                                          Sid
                                          May 18, 2014 at 4:52 am
                                          Brilliant article. We are so tired of being called communal because our views differ from these Marxist looters. We are tired of our morals being questioned. Our morals and our principles gave us the courage to do what is right, vote for Modi. I pray that he has the strength to fulfil the expectations and hope created among us.Jai Hind.
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                                            sachin
                                            May 18, 2014 at 8:18 am
                                            Once again a nice article.. I have read most of your articles during last 9 months. I have read your book Durbar. It will be appreciative if you can give sound opinion to english educated people who think that everything Western is good. I am asking this because from your book I can comprehend that you were into that group for some time and then came out.. May be you can help lots of people who believe that they shall look onto Western form of governance and principles for everything...If I am wrong in some essment, do forgive..
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