Fifth Column: Why Modi won
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 continued…