Friday, February 3, 2023
HomeOpinionYogendra Yadav: Respecting people’s mandate doesn’t mean worshipping those who win elections

Yogendra Yadav: Respecting people’s mandate doesn’t mean worshipping those who win elections

It is easy to see the Congress’ failures, but it would be foolish to blame only the Congress.

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Does this election verdict leave any space for politics to defend the idea of India? I have been looking for an answer, ever since the enormity of Thursday’s verdict began to sink in. I have been wishing for more candid reflection from my friends than has been the case so far.

I had called this election a vote on the idea of India. I had called Narendra Modi the biggest liar of a PM that we have ever had. I had called upon the voters in my constituency to vote for anyone other than the BJP. The voter did not oblige. Like so many other Indians I am sad, dejected and angry.

What is my duty at this moment? Should I give up my convictions, change my opinion of the PM and his party, accept their vision as the true idea of India, now that the people have spoken? That is what triumphalist trolls want me to do.

Alternatively, should I grab the voters by their collar and tell them what a bunch of bigots they are? Or pity them for their ignorance or enlighten them about the poverty of their judgment? Or commiserate with kindred souls about what the world has come to?

Also read: Shashi Tharoor: Obituaries for Congress premature. Here are 9 ways to correct its course

Both these reactions leave no room for politics. Both these are wrong-headed notions of what it means to be a democrat. Respecting people’s mandate does not mean worshipping those who win elections. A majority cannot and must not be the arbiter of truth or justice. At the same time, respecting a mandate does not mean merely noting or acknowledging it. No less than 60 crore people have spoken through their fingers. We must bow our heads and listen to them. Respecting people’s mandate entrusts a special responsibility on democrats: duty to listen and willingness to learn, need to reflect and courage to act.

Respecting people’s mandate means, first of all, no alibi, no scapegoats, no sidestepping. We have had endless discussions on EVMs and VVPATS. Some of it has continued after the results. Can we now put an end to that, please? Yes, the Election Commission was downright partisan. Yes, the playing ground was anything but even. Yes, the BJP used oodles of money, more than is imaginable. Yes, the BJP managed the elections professionally in sharp contrast to the amateurish approach of the opposition. Many of these factors added to the BJP’s tally. But let’s face it: these are not the only reasons why Modi has won the kind of mandate he has won.

It is easy to see the Congress’ failures, but it would be foolish to blame only the Congress. The entire opposition shared the follies and ineptitude of the Congress. And so did people like us, those who organised farmers movements but could not do much when the agenda was highjacked. The fact, however, remains that the scale of the BJP’s victory is far in excess of the volume of opposition’s strategic blunders and tactical follies. Narendra Modi has won because the people of India trusted him more than anyone else to look after the country for the next five years.

Also read: Modi and Amit Shah should worry: No party winning such a huge mandate has retained it

Why did they do so? To understand this, we must listen to the voters very carefully. They may have been under-informed, deluded, distracted or prejudiced, as all of us are when choosing anything in a shopping mall. Indeed, given the complete mindscape capture by the BJP and its near control over the mass media, there was no way the voter could have made a fully informed and carefully deliberated choice. Yet, we must listen carefully to what they are saying

The ‘swing’ voter, whose staying with or leaning towards the BJP has made all the difference, is saying something like this: I am not looking at my personal gains or losses over the last five years. I am not going by the record of my local MP or state government. I am not bound by my caste or community. I am looking at something bigger, something general – the national interest. I am looking for someone who can ensure well-being, security and glory for my country. Therefore, considering the options available, I have no doubt about my preference: the BJP government led by Narendra Modi should get another chance.

Listening must be accompanied by learning. We can disagree with the voters’ choice, but we cannot disregard the fact that more voters voted on considerations beyond their selfish, narrow and local interests than seen in usual elections. Modi appealed to something bigger, the nation, something that none of his opponents appeared to be doing. The voters rejected a good deal of what was worth rejection: casteism in the name of social justice, holding minorities hostage in the name of secularism, and opportunist coalitions in the name of national interest.

Yes, he managed to tweak the idea of the nation to exclude Muslim minority and insert national security anxiety where none existed, but he appeared as the sole guardian of national interest. Yes, he managed to conceal and distract from the real record of his regime, but he appeared as the only one who held out hope, even if deferred by five years. True, much of his campaign was crudely divisive and negative, but the voters were not mainly responding to the divisive agenda.

Looking back, frankly, Modi could have won the election without this negativity. So, while the consequences of this election outcome can be disastrous (I have spelt out the dangers here), the intentions underlying this mandate are not diabolical.

Also read: Not just Modi’s personality, this key factor was behind BJP’s massive win in 2019 elections

This learning must lead to reflection and action. This mandate does not close the doors for politics that seeks to defend our constitutional values. But it cannot be practiced the old way. For the opposition, it cannot be business as usual.

First of all, anti-Modi politics, knee-jerk opposition for the sake of opposition, is going to be counter-productive. The opposition must learn to be specific, constructive and positive, it must evolve a language to connect with people’s aspirations and hopes.

Second, indifference to issues of national interest, national security and national honour is going to be politically fatal. The only way to combat narrow, divisive and jingoist nationalism is by drawing upon and practicing the positive nationalism of our freedom struggle.

Third, the politics of Hindu-Muslim division can no longer be countered by casteism and regionalism. The opposition must learn to practice the politics of aspiration whose appeal cuts across the Hindu-Muslim divide.

Fourth, the opposition does not have a half-decent rival to Narendra Modi who can exude confidence and can communicate. The need for a credible face, a leader who can connect with the people, cannot be overlooked any more.

That connects to the final point. Unless the opposition parties can radically transform themselves, this verdict renders them harmless. In fact, their continued existence in the present form is the best guarantee for the BJP’s continuation in power. The voters don’t want merely an opposition, they want an alternative.

Also read: How Rahul Gandhi could have defeated Narendra Modi

This is the silver lining in the dark clouds of election 2019. This mandate makes it possible and necessary to create a fresh alternative political force at the national level.

The author is the National President of Swaraj India. Views are personal.

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  1. Neither BJP not Modi or Amit Shah are non-coorupt. In fact, to they are more. There was no improvement in the life of common people. They have voted for emotions and the results won’t be good for them. No family, village, state or country can progress if they have hate feelings, divisions and fight with each other. India has opted for the same in 2019.

  2. Mr Yogender Yadav I have following you since last 15 years. When BJP under leadership of Mr Vajpayee won 180 seats. You dismissed BJP as party representing only select Hindu Heartland.As per your belief then the government should be formed by people who represent the whole of India. when BJP is expanding across India under Modi you now belief that Indian democracy is in danger as single party has got such thumping majority. It seems to me that you are just a BJP hater who spread hate campaign like other opposition parties against BJP. What do want corrupt coalition of parties forming government where each party however small it is want a share of pie and loot India .Or a Congress which made Indians believe that we are still clergy class working for Monarchy. Indians now know very well that these so called Pseudosecular parties are nothing but minority appeasement parties and treat minorities as nothing but vote bank. And mind you I am not a Modi bakht or so I actually voted for Ms Shazia Illmi of AAP in 2014 general elections believeing in the phenomenon called Mr Kejriwal but I am so disappointed by Mr Kejriwal after 5 yrs that I may not develop the courage to vote for any other party but BJP in the future.

  3. BJP owes its success to years of brainwashing Hindus into believing with their multiple reach on social media that Hindus are victims of minority appeasement (?) and the only way they can avenge this humiliation by voting in BJP. The underline feature has been that Hindus have got nothing by being tolerant. This election has proved one thing and that is if you can manage to rig minds of people, you don’t need to rig EVMs.
    I agree with Yogendra on many things stated here. IMO the only way to counter Hindu victim card which is BJP’s ace is to make Indians realize that divided house will not stand for long. Time to bring Amar Akbar Anthony wave back.

    • Farzana – with due respect, there may have been more than Hindu brainwash that led to this huge victory. TINA was one, and the other was an overwhelming need for a strong leader along with fear of a very mediocre coalition returning at the centre. The common person at the bottom of the pyramid perhaps did not hold any grudges against Akbar and Anthony (or even Rustom JI), and it was just the efficient last mile delivery of benefits that made him/her vote this government back in power. Personally I believe that the use the word ‘RIG’ is highly unfair and shows naivety. Any discerning person knows that India’s general elections are so high stake that they are NOT just analysed domestically but also closely scrutinised by international bodies. Do you really believe that Modi and Shah who have worked hard all their lives will risk their reputation (that transcends Indian borders) by rigging elections? On the contrary, despite the bile, India and its politicians on both sides of centrist ideology have shown great dignity in accepting the verdict, and thereby saluted the democratic fabric of India. Thankfully!!

  4. When the PM and its ministers take oath in the name of GOD or Ishwar, how can a government be secular. In India secularism is a mere tool in the hands of left liberals to beat BJP and parties allied with BJP.

  5. Building the entire campaign only on the shaky and dubious foundation of hatred and contempt for Modi, and an obsession with his persona, ridicule and mockery of Modi to the exclusion of any meaningful dialogue with the voters, who couldn’t care less for all this, was the principal reason for Rahul completely failing to make ANY impression. The rest simply bought into this narrative driven by their own ambition and greed, and everyone only sought to climb the bandwagon, when it had already derailed before even moving an inch. The opposition, Rahul chiefly, did NOT conduct an election campaign as much as they indulged ONLY in MUDSLINGING at Modi, even going to the lengths of ridiculing his physical appearance. Nothing else.

  6. if voters were ill-informed or does not have sense to vote as being articulated by Mr. yadav can he also explain how come same votes in orissa votes for BJP for parliament and BJD for assembly.
    Mr. Yadav please come out of self created fools paradise and accept the reality. India has moved on and so its voters. they are more smarter than you think. Not anything else the scandals of UPA-2 are good enough reasons for voters to keep those parties and sympathizers of those parties to keep away from power for at least 25-30 years.

    Understand voters today are neither Hindus nor Muslims they are only Indians.

    • I think for Mr yadav, corruption scandals – casteism – dynasts rule are also a part of his famous “idea of India”.

  7. Maybe the answer is simpler because it is the simplicity of thought that went into the verdict.
    I feel that the dynastic politics of the gandhi family really caused the vote to go so against congress. I am a Gandhi and I will win cry is no mre the answer.
    I agree that another face for the Congress party would have have helped.
    But till Congress cannot ged rid of this self desrvedness for this family it will never work
    .The congress party has stalwart parties but people also remember the corruption of this party. They seem so arrogant and are not reaching out to the voter that distrusts the name now.
    Get rid of the front men and you can reinvent yourself. Be smart in forming the frontline, it is a subtle twist to reach the ordinary man and the middle class.
    It really can be simple but you have to be clever. The name is no more the magnet.
    You have to earn it just like an ordinary Indian and not like a privileged class.

  8. Appropriate by pen and ink of Dr. Yogendra, because his personal vocabulary is stimulating Constitutionalism! Unfortunately, right wing could only be won through Ambit of Constitutionalism, which opposition does not possess. First, new appetite of Constitutionalism be developed in opposition then they could excel against identity politics!

  9. Yogendrajee, change your mind set. Shri Narendra Modi is a true leader and he will always remain loyal to the masses.

  10. absolute nonsense. just talking what he has been doing over past few months or past 5 years, Last time they said BJP got only minority and will go away with opposition came together. Today that did not happen. now they are trying to spin another story. These people have become one way communication, they wikll say what they have to and only hear what they want to. I thought these people would have gained some intellect alas that is not going to be. May be another term or BJP will give them some. Their story, BJP get ready to fight 2024 on the same topic.

  11. I am afraid Yogendra Yadav ‘has missed the wood for the trees’ here. His line of thinking is that those who have misgivings of these election results are not sporting and courageous like him. He is almost claiming expertise about EVM technology, then could he please explain the outcome of an RTI application: (1)”While the ECI continues to claim that the micro-controller used in the EVMs is one-time programmable (OTP), the description of the micro-controller’s features on NXP’s website indicates that it has three kinds of memory – SRAM, FLASH and EEPROM (or E2PROM). Experts who know enough and more about micro-controllers confirm that a computer chip which includes FLASH memory cannot be called OTP.” (2) that the Election Commission has no knowledge where 20 lakh spare EVMs are located. He had once hailed the demonetization of the Modi regime as brilliant, but later made a U-turn. I have no problem with anyone making an honest mistake, but did he ever acknowledge his mistake?

  12. He is a highly confused person masquerading as an Intellectual, people have sized him up and he can not sweet talk himself back. He must accept the reality and shut up for his own self.

  13. Yogendra Yadav as a confused mind contradicts himself too frequently. He should have gone through the blog with a calm mind before finalising. Pity with the blogger and his likes.

    • Bhakt Yagnes, be specific about why you feel this article is confused. If you can’t, just admit you don’t have the thinking power to explain it and can just troll people for the sake of it.

      • “I am looking at something bigger, something general – the national interest. I am looking for someone who can ensure well-being, security and glory for my country. Therefore, considering the options available, I have no doubt about my preference: the BJP government led by Narendra Modi should get another chance.” “This is the silver lining in the dark clouds of election 2019”. So according to Yogendra Yadav the glory, well being and security the citizens yearn are indeed dark clouds. This is just one consusion. There are many.

      • Comrade Ajay, do not get sad by comments that do not align with your thoughts. Help your idol Mr yadav build up his swaraj India party so that he can go contest in elections and stop just being a chatbot.

  14. No one can disagree in principle with what Yogendra Yadav says. The NDA has got 45% vote share which is massive. The opposition is in total disarray. However, this has not happened for the first time in India’s post-independence history. Nehru got similar vote shares in 1952, 57 & 62. He was worshipped not only by Congressmen but also by opposition leaders, most of whom were his ex-colleagues. Nehru committed the Himalayan blunder of misjudging China. Lack of critical evaluation and weak opposition contributed to this tragedy. Even after the tragic defeat of 1962, Congressmen had no guts to criticise Nehru. However, in 1984, the story was different. Rajiv Gandhi’s vote share was greater than what Modi has got now. But he lost popularity within 3 years of assuming power and lost election in 1989. The moral is that without opposition, there can be no democracy. India’s democracy is vibrant. If Rahul Gandhi is incapable of providing strong opposition, someone else will emerge to replace him. Democracy is not about worshipping, I agree. It is about critical evaluation. BJP as the ruling party should have internal democracy and room for constructive debates and criticism. Hope that Modi does well in his second term.

  15. Yogendra Ji is in his true colours, which he usually used to mask in sweet and soft words. He has perhaps now realised that his clan is too small to make a mark in a democratic set-up. I was once an admirer of him but, he is also one among such people who consider themselves as Apostle of wisdom. Down ant out with him.

    • Sometimes it is very obvious that YY takes himself too seriously. The problem is that neither has he chosen the tough call of public service with all seriousness nor has he made an effort to be an excellent academician, given his strengths. He has chosen to write articles while sitting on his armchair, which anyone who has a lot of time and no work can write. He is neither Kailash Satyarthi nor Modi. And if people like him think that mann-ki-baat is a one-way monologue, they must realise that their inane articles are no better.

  16. The Author is confused and unable to digest record mandate given. Bahubali 2 was watched more than part 1. Likewise popularity of our PM will keep growing. And till the time you digest this, your golden years of work will finish. So I suggest please change your view and accept the Mandate and be asset by showing correct path.

    • “So I suggest, please change your view..” who are you to suggest so, what have you achieved in public life barring voting, which 60 cr other Indians did too.

      • If Yogendra can suggest to entire opposition and entire electorate, can’t a fellow Indian suggest something to yogendra back in return?
        Anyways those who have achieved something in public life, have not much regards or time for YY. It’s left to us unknowns to guide him during these dark times when idea of India is in danger.

  17. The columnist is right. Many of us felt this would be a sum of states election. That it would suffice if the opposition could place a single candidate to oppose the BJP in many constituencies. It is the genius of the incumbent that it was converted into a presidential contest and, as the column explains, to make it all about the national interest. National security along the western border most salient of all. If the election could have been won without divisiveness, that would have been good. Very reassuring to me personally is the columnist’s conclusion that the verdict does not mean that the average Indian has become a bigot, supports prejudice and violence against the minorities. May the ruling party / government do their own analysis of the result,justify fully the faith placed in them. Think of India as a parched land, waiting for a bountiful, life giving monsoon.

  18. Many worshipped Indira Gandhi, and then voted her out of power. Let it flow YY JI. Trust our democracy.

  19. Can someone please enlighten me what does Yogender Yadav do apart from projecting himself as self styled savior of democracy? I am seriously asking. Means how does he make money, how does he pay his bills if he does nothing but comes to TV studios? He seems to be in his 50s, what has he done until now – Did he ever take up a job or do some business and made money? RI would love to have a life like this when i have to do nothing constructive in life, take no employment but just show that i am the judge of democracy and my day job is to pass judgement on others.

    • He was a “sarkari” intellectual during Congress days. He was a member of the UGC. He has done a good job of articulating the big picture view in this article. However, when it comes to specific issues, he goes back to his “political” mode. It is never clear if he believes in anything – not people, not country, not parties. It’s all about him. It has got him pretty far but his lack of core convictions prevent him from taking risks or getting ahead in any party. To touch another controversial person – he reminds me of Subramaniam Swamy. Just my personal observations.

      • Interesting appraisal. Thanks. Always comes across as a very mediocre enigma but you have given summed up his fuzzy personality in clear words.

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