All eyes on Modi now

All eyes on Modi now

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The BJP has crossed the half-way mark in the Lok Sabha on its own. Its stunning performance has been propelled by the landslide victory. Narendra Modi tsunami began to blow, says Rohit Kumar

It was a clean saffron sweep and mud in the eye for the congress. As the election commission (EC) went about the giant role of tallying the votes of 563 million Indians, the exit polls and projections gave an early indication that the Narendra Modi wave had soaked up the highest majority ever. Sailing high on the anti-incumbency mood vis a vis the Congress, (similar to what had occurred in1977 and 1989), Modi increasingly became the national flavor.

Modi- Glorious future ahead

The six-week election marathon showed the BJP on track for the first parliamentary majority by a single party in 30 years, the last being in 1984 when they got only 2 seats. The devastating results overshadowed all forecasts, and firecrackers exploded at the party offices around the country. Ladoos were distributed to celebrate the victory, from BJP head-quarters that began only a few hours after the first figures flashed on national TV (in fact 2,500 kgs was ordered by the BJP headquarters, ahead of the final victory!).

The final tally was astounding. The alliance led by the BJP won 336 seats of the 543-seat Lok Sabha. The BJP alone surpassed for an absolute majority, with 282 seats. And Congress was left shattered over its weakest-ever performance of 44 seats in Parliamentary polls and 59 seats won by UPA.

The saffron party’s victory was so widespread they got enough seats to get the authority over a parliamentary majority, where they did not need any coalition. BJP’s ‘lotus’ had indeed bloomed, surpassing its all-time records of seats and achieved the mandate easily. This time not only the Hindi heartland, but the Modi wave swept over and reduced the Congress to an embarrassing two-digit total. When the world’s largest-ever democratic poll wrapped up, results showed that UPA indeed got rapped on the knuckles.  A Gen-Now technology lover, Modi’s mantra of development fetched him a thumping election win; he even won over many voters who were doubtful about his Hindu-centric principals and the Gujarat’s communal riots in 2002. Modi had indeed silenced his critics. Of course, he had  taken the country by storm.



Modi- Bigger duty starts now

For the past 12 years, NaMo had turned his state of Gujarat into a shinning example/model of what some believed, could be the role model for the transformation of India; it was a ‘vibrant’ Gujarat. Now, with Modi poised to become India’ next PM, his supporters and party karyakartas are expecting NaMo to change the fate of the country as well. Thus reviving India’s stagnant economy.

On the ground, Modi promised a new and developed India sans all its woes – crime, corruption and scams. A workaholic leader, Modi tweeted, “India has won. Good days lie ahead.” Ache din aane wale hain. On the other hand Rahul Gandhi owned responsibility for the party’s debacle in the general elections. He said, “Congress has done pretty badly, a lot for us think about. As vice-president, I hold myself responsible.”

‘Abki baar Modi sarkaar’ won the election round

In BJP’s tech-savvy campaign, Modi outdid Rahul Gandhi. It was the first national election which saw extensive use of social media in campaigning. ‘Ache din aane wale hain’ and ‘Abki baar Modi sarkaar’ has made the rounds in social media platforms – and Modi appeared to have made the most of it. The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate used social media, as also – a hologram rally, chai pe charcha, nukkad sabha with some high-tech and ethnic methods of assemblage, to create a multi-layered impact… and the outcome is here, for us to see. 

Everybody knows that the Uttar Pradesh is most crucial battleground of 2014 Lok Sabha elections;  and if you make it here, you reserve the seat at 7RCR. The responsibility of UP had been given to a close aid of Modi, Amit Shah, who created quite a stir after fetching 71 seats out of 80 in Uttar Pradesh. And this made a huge difference for BJP in crossing 272 plus mark alone. In seven states Congress scored a duck.

The 2014 Parliamentary election results has left key parties and poll-enthusiasts astonished; it had  many famous leaders among them, who even  failed  to open their accounts! Over 1,650 political parties including big names like Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and National Conference (NC) scored a zero in the Lok Sabha elections. Also, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) were also taken aback after scoring duck in the finals.

Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was barely just able to uphold their broom –  by winning four seats, that too all in Punjab; they failed to cast their magic spell from last year’s Delhi assembly polls in the Lok Sabha elections. Nitish Kumar, supremo of Janta Dal (United) was able to sweep only two seats from Bihar; the same jolt was given to National Congress Party (NCP), Sharad Pawar’s party.

According to Election Commission, there were 1,687 registered political parties in the nation. Out of more than 8,200 candidates, who were in the battlefield as many as 5,007 candidates were fielded by various parties and remaining were independents. Out of these, 541 candidates were able get a seat in the Parliament, gliding on tickets from 35 different political parties, while three contestants  triumphed as independents.politics4

Trade – bullish on Modi’s win

Now, not only are Indians reeling with happiness, Indian traders and the share market were too bullish on Modi’s win;  so it seemed, as  stock marketeers were screaming in the channels on the results day. Indian stocks rose to record highs in a fragile trading session after vote counts showed the main opposition alliance set for the biggest election win in 30 years. The rupee strengthened, while the India volatility index (VIX) plummeted. In the last nine months, since Modi was confirmed as BJP’s PM candidate, the Sensex was on a rising curve and has risen about 21%.

On D-day the Sensex swung wildly. After crossing the 25,000-mark in early trade, the Sensex retreated to end with a marginal rise of 23.53 points at a fresh record close of 24,716.88 on massive profit-booking ahead of the swearing-in of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. 

Foreign Policy is main agenda

And, when he clinched the prime seat for himself in Delhi, all eyes were tuned to his foreign policies. It is not just India, who is keen to see his action plan, but the entire world too is waiting in anticipation for Modi to unveil his agendas on international trade. The foreign policy experts in the BJP and even Modi’s close aide Amit Shah, commented in a TV interview that a change in government does not lead to a vigorous modification in foreign policy.

But, whatever action he takes with respect to the foreign policy, would be underclose scrutiny, and he may even get some brickbats. However, all his decisions which would be related to the countries like Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the US will be watched closely.

Among Modi’s on-the-spot foreign policy hurdles, will be the Indo-Pak ties that have been in a state of friction ever since the brawl over violation of ceasefire and the beheading of an Indian soldier on the LoC in January 2013. The peace dialogue has remained stagnant since and both sides would like to resume the peace process. Pakistan has wasted no time in making open move to India’s Prime Minister. The Pakistani High Commissioner to India said that his country has formally invited Narendra Modi to visit, as soon as it is convenient. The Pakistan PM, Nawaz Sharif had called Modi over phone and invited him to visit Islamabad. 

The relationship with the US must be seen in the context of the 2002 Godhra incident, which led the US to deny a visa to Modi (then the Chief Minister of Gujarat). The congratulatory telephone call from US President Obama to the Indian PM-designate on 17 May appears to have made  the situation more compliant. Britain had also imposed a diplomatic freeze on Modi for 10 years over anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002, but reinstated relations with him in 2012 as part of a general bid to boost ties with India.

As per diplomats and foreign policy pundits – Modi is seen to be more ‘pragmatic’ by nature rather than ‘rhetorical’; he would wish to revive international business relations and try to egg on globalisation to full scale.  

British Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on his party’s victory in the Lok Sabha polls and expressed the fact that he is keen to work together. “Congratulations @narendramodi on victory in India’s elections. Keen to work together to get the most from UK-India relationship,” tweeted Cameron, who was among the first world leaders to greet Modi.

In twitter Modi posted and thanked many leaders around the globe, who congratulated him over social media or personally like US president Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian president Vladimir Putin, Japanese premier Shinzo Abe, Nepal president Ram Baran Yadav and PM Sushil Koirala, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Hollande, Canadian PM Stephen Harper, South African president Jacob Zuma and Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy. 

Maintaining the extraordinary relations with India’s oldest friend Russia, Modi tweeted, “India-Russia friendship has stood the test of time. We will further strengthen our relations in a wide range of fields”. 

On his relation with Japan he posted, “My gratitude to Prime Minister @ AbeShinzo for extending his good wishes. Strong relations with Japan is beneficial for both our nations.” Another tweet had him admitting that personally, he has a wonderful experience of working with Japan as CM, and he was sure they would take India-Japan ties to newer heights. 

It would be noted that Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, follows only three people on Twitter: his outspoken wife, a scandal-tainted politician and India’s prime minister-in-waiting, Narendra Modi. Abe and Modi are two assertive nationalists who came to power on platforms pledging economic revival. They share a keen interest in neighbour China’s growing regional ambitions. Relations between India and Japan have gone from strength to strength in recent years, with cooperation on infrastructure projects, trade and defence that is watched closely by China. Japan ranks 13th among India’s top trading partners.

Swearing-in ‘diplomacy’ 

In a first, Modi (when he was PM-elect) invited SAARC leaders for his swearing-in, that is, all  heads of the governments of all South Asian states.  This gesture, as diplomats and experts said, had no precedent. Though foreign envoys stationed in New Delhi have attended past swearings-in, no world leader has been invited to attend what has traditionally been seen as a domestic event.

Formal invitations were sent to the Presidents or Prime Ministers of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s President, has accepted the invitation but there was no immediate word on which other leaders would attend.

Earlier the Prime Minister-elect had ruffled feathers in Bangladesh by threatening to expel migrants from India’s north-east, while Sri Lanka was concerned over the influence ethnic nationalists in Tamil Nadu might have over his foreign policy.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s reaction, was watched most closely in New Delhi; he had congratulated  Modi on his election, invited him to visit Pakistan, and even called for a resumption of early bilateral dialogue on all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir. There have been doubts in India’s diplomatic establishment, though, of Mr. Sharif’s ability to deliver on his promise of peace in the face of resistance from the country’s military.

The coronation countdown began and the swearing-in ceremony saw many SAARC leaders present and  around 3000 quests in attendance. There were business heads like Anil and Mukesh Ambani, Gautam Adani, celebrities like Salman Khan, Vivek Oberoi, Dharmendra, Poonam Dhillon and even holy men like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar were present. It was a younger, thinner and leaner cabinet – a 45-member team that took oath on May 26. 

Whether this is the beginning of change, a people’s revolution and the start of a new era is to be seen. The Modi tsunami had swept to victory. The verdict was clear, but the question prime on people’s mind was – what will the future hold for the Modi team?


Modi’s Dream Soldiers– “to script a glorious future for India”

Modi Government buzz had reached a peak on May 26. Amidst hectic parleys to form the PM’s cabinet, the country was kept waiting with bated breath, and speculations filled the air. Who will make it to Modi’s core team?

But, inviting SAARC leaders is considered by many to be a diplomatic coup that Modi pulled off. As if, to usher in better times with our uneasy neighbour, ahead of D-Day, Pakistan released 151 Indian fishermen …almost confirming the Pak PM’s attendance at the swearing in ceremony.

Narendra Modi took oath as the 15th Prime Minister of India at a glittering ceremony in the grounds of Rashtrapati Bhawan, followed by the  Modi team, who also  took oath – at 6pm on May 26. Listed below are some of the ministers in Modi’s Cabinet with their portfolios.

Rajnath Singh — Minister for Home Affairs

Sushma Swaraj — Ministry of External Affairs

Arun Jaitley — Finance Ministry & Additional charge of the Defence Ministry

Ananth Kumar — Parliamentary Affairs and additional charge of Chemicals and Fertilizers

Nitin Gadkari — Surface Transport Ministry & Shipping Ministry

Sadanand Gowda — Railways Ministry

Venkaiah Naidu — Urban Development Ministry & Parliamentary Affairs

Ravi Shankar Prasad — Telecom Ministry, Law & Justice Ministry

Maneka Gandhi — Women & Child Development Ministry

Najma Heptulla — Ministry of Minorities

Smriti Irani – Human Resource Development Ministry

Radha Mohan Singh — Agriculture Ministry

Nirmala Sitharaman — Ministry of State for Commerce

Piyush Goel – Minister of State Power (independent)

Prakash Javadekar — Minister of State Information & Broadcasting

Ram Vilas Paswan — Food & Civil Supplies Ministry

Uma Bharati — Union Minister for Water Resources & Ganga Cleaning

Jual Oram — Cabinet Minister for Tribal Affairs.

Greeting the people of the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “On 16th May 2014 the people of India gave their verdict. They delivered a mandate for development, good governance and stability. As we devote ourselves to take India’s development journey to newer heights, we seek your support, blessings and active participation.” 

“Together we will script a glorious future for India. Let us together dream of a strong, developed and inclusive India that actively engages with the global community to strengthen the cause of world peace and development,” Narendra Modi said on a positive note.

Modi’s mantra appears to be ‘smart governance’. 

So, all eyes are on the new PM. It’s curtains up and time for the act to take off. “Expectations are Himalayan”, as Narayan Murthy, founder and Chairman Emeritus of Infosys observed, but Indians are positive about the road ahead. Whether this is the beginning of change, a people’s revolution and the start of a new era is to be seen.

The jury is back, the verdict is in but what will the future hold?

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Somanjana Chatterjee

Somanjan Chatterjee is San Francisco based consulting editor