Akeel Bilgrami on the results of the Indian elections

Akeel Bilgrami in The Hindu:

ScreenHunter_663 May. 30 18.32One pundit in the aftermath of the Indian elections has described the Prime Minister-elect as seeking to “reshape the entire political universe of India” (Ashutosh Varshney in The Guardian ). It is in the nature of public life in the modern period that even just the rhetoric and pretence of “change” can bestow upon a politician an ersatz glamour. In the drumbeat of electioneering over several recent months that rhetoric and pretence on the lips of Mr. Narendra Modi was flamboyantly yet carefully cultivated and, above all, purchased at obscene expense. The media, funded and controlled by the same corporate sources that paid for this public relations achievement, acquiesced with conviction in the pretence and repeated the rhetoric each day both in print and on screen.

The strategy has paid off; the man now has the added glamour of the nation’s most exalted office which, suppressing his natural swagger, he has approached with an affectation of humility and express concern for the poor and working people of the country, the very people that the policies and politics he stands for will sink into ever-increasing poverty and insecurity.

These unstintingly negative remarks I have made are intended to recoil from the charitable and hopeful responses that even some of those made anxious by Mr. Modi’s election have resigned themselves to. A belief in democracy requires two things: an acceptance of the upshot of an election and a refusal to blame the electorate if the upshot fills one with dread. Beyond this no graciousness is required, least of all a slackening of the critical powers one brings to assessing the upshot.

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