The triumphalist roar of the victorious right in India is currently too loud, even for my distant ears. And it looks likely to remain so with the unprecedented landslide that has propelled Narendra Modi and the BJP into power. The wave of the campaign was so powerful that it has engulfed many of the fears and forebodings that have been highlighted through these past months as obvious warnings.
Gone are the days of idealism and great speeches aka Jawaharlal Nehru. The overwhelming urge is to mock and trivialise any of the real concerns and carry on gloating over the incredible result. “Forget 2002, it’s a trivial incident in hundreds that have occurred in India’s history,” “To hell with the minorities,” “Lets show Pakistan their rightful place,” and the best of it all, “India doesn’t need democracy, it needs a dictator,” trip off people’s mouths so easily, at the news. But as we’ve understood and the fact rammed down our throats a million times, there was no real alternative. It seems so easy to get in touch with the conservative, macho and bullying side of oneself, indulge in ugly point-scoring and the quick fixes of faux nationalistic pride and the cheap thrills it gives. It is a lot harder to be tolerant and progressive.
I heard the news in the car on Radio 4 – the early morning bulletin said it was likely that the BJP will get an outright majority, and almost immediately, the news reader said, news just in, the Congress has conceded defeat. When an electorate of that size has spoken, it has to be respected. On Facebook, people of a different viewpoint have had to be measured in their reaction – let us wait and see, let us hope that this is a good thing. Even commentators here are struggling to find the right words to appear balanced at this outright win.
The sense of disquiet is going to take a while to disappear, but I would like to think that there might be a mature approach in here somewhere that will prove sceptics like me wrong.