#IndianElections2014

Well, after 5 weeks of polling in India the results are in and Narendra Modi and the BJP have swept to victory. Here is a collection of tweets curated from the lead-up to the final day of polling, May 16, that gives a good sense of various reactions to the election results.
For some the victory of the BJP is worrying, almost as if the Boko Haram had taken  elections in Nigeria with an overwhelming majority. Certainly the actions of extremists in the new ruling party have earned it the bad reputation it enjoys and the inaction of the new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the face of such excesses, is why people treat him as if he has horns. Let’s hope the BJP and Modi prove their critics wrong. Ultimately what my Nigerian friend, Olu Oguibe, said on Facebook remains true:

There’s a great deal of weeping and wailing among some today as Narendra Modi and the BJP sweep the stakes in India’s national elections. Yet, who is to blame for their success but the people? Like the ANC, India’s ruling Congress Party takes power for granted and corruption and incompetence as tradition. Worse, still, it saddles itself with a doddering dynasty. And so, the majority of the Indian people have knowingly and willfully cast their lot with Modi and his right wing, religious fundamentalist party. They’ll live with the consequences.

Que sera sera…

  1. Broad, smart, lovely piece by @DalrympleWill on the Indian elections and Narendra Modi. Best primer you’ll ever read.  http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/05/narendra-modi-man-masses 
  2. But a pretty picture! @ajayrdave: They all were waiting for Lotus to bloom.. It has now.. pic.twitter.com/zlmxET2Yph
  3. My @TheDailyShow interview discussing the Indian elections will air today at 9 PM EST which corresponds to 6:30 AM IST tomorrow in India.
  4. Huge celebrations erupt at the BJP headquarters. Didn’t even take an hour of counting that’s how clear it is ! pic.twitter.com/wfFyVAdQlG
  5. Asinine. Who expects pols to canvass by saying “We’re going to lose”? MT @firstpostin Dear Rahul Gandhi EatYourWords. pic.twitter.com/KTPqQK73iJ
  6. “Indians have dreamed collectively, & they have dreamed a man accused of mass murder” Must. Pankaj Mishra on #Modi~  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/16/what-next-india-pankaj-mishra 
  7. Pankaj Mishra has written a terrific, searing, Pankaj Mishra-y piece on Modi & the new India:  http://gu.com/p/3p9tc/tw  via @WomaninHavana
  8. Muslims who condemn us for building bridges will one day realize our role for securing d interests of future generations as equal citizens
  9. Congrats to India for a new government that i will run to the best of my abilities.
  10. Now that it’s all over, and the heat is up, can all those tv panelists chuck the sleeveless Nehru bundis and go back to regular clothes?
  11. .@greatbong In 2009 you said “BJP was outmaneuvered, not destroyed.” You have been proven right. :)
  12. Big takeaway from this election result : ruling party shd avoid arrogance, inefficiency, corruption, misgovernance and lack of communication
  13. Extremely short concession speech from Rahul Gandhi taking responsibility. What is there to say?!
  14. conceding defeat: sonia gandhi cool, professional, dignified. rahul gandhi apparently feckless. nobody takes questions.
  15. Democracies everywhere these days seem to lust after toxic, nationalist authoritarian mo-fos. Sign of the times or what?
  16. Someone needs to tell Barkha Dutt another word for ‘decimation/decimated’.
  17. In a forest, close to nature. Glad the cacophony of election results are far away. Congrats Mr. Modi. Hope you’ll prove some of us wrong.
  18. That detached, taciturn press-conference-without-questions sums up the Sonia-Rahul Congress: There is ZERO organic feel for democracy.
  19. Narendra Modi Profile: From tea boy at a railway station to India’s next prime minister  http://aje.me/1nRkEAa  #IndiaElections
  20. A big shout out to the ABSOLUTELY AWESOME fight @smritiirani put up in Amethi!! Rahul is left with no face to show!
  21. Rout as BJP sweeps to power in India RT @OsamaManzar: Congress is looking like beauty spot on Indian map as a result of this election!
  22. Seismic shift underway in India today. Keep watching at  http://nytimes.com .
  23. Rabri Devi defeated.. :) :) :) Only people from Bihar can understand the pleasure of this news.
  24. Modi Crushes Gandhi in India’s Election Landslide  http://thebea.st/1szCd5z  via @tunkuv [My take on India’s election results for @dailybeast]
  25. All those who think the lack of confidence of some voters in the BJP stems from fear have got it wrong. It’s not fear, it’s moral revulsion.
  26. BREAKING NEWS: People’s verdict is against us: Sonia Gandhi
  27. All those anchoring the coverage since the morning have gone home. Except Arnab Goswami. BECAUSE THE STUDIO IS ARNAB’S HOME.
  28. India’s stock market jumped more than 6% to a record 25,000 points as Modi secures electoral victory. Orgy of joy…  http://fb.me/3fa1LfEDU 
  29. Pankaj Mishra’s long piece on Modi’s India, and on the new India’s canniest artist.  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/16/what-next-india-pankaj-mishra?CMP=twt_gu 
  30. India has always been a nation led with accommodation and consensus. It has chosen a leader with no real record of either. This is huge.
  31. Which is to say, Modi represents a fundamental shift in the political life of India. Should be very interesting to watch.
  32. India has been Jamie Lannistered. That is the hand has been cut off.
  33. Dear Rahul Gandhi, the journalists don’t want you to take responsibility, they want you to take questions.
  34. Those worrying about how India will change would do well to remember how it will change depends on how we, the citizens, change it.
  35. Today, hope won, hate lost. Today, work won,whining lost. Today, my India won, nobody lost. Congrats @narendramodi and BJP for historic win!
  36. The entire Congress baba-brigade who behaved like they were entitled to power & two rule -wiped out by voters
  37. “मैं हार की ज़िम्मेदारी लेता हूँ.” “मैं लेती हूँ.” “नहीं मैं.” “नहीं मैं.” “मैं.” “मैं.” पार्टी बोली,” ठीक है, ठीक है– मैं नहीं, हम.”
  38. Offering a laddoo to my distinguished predecessor A . Charles, the only other Thiruvananthapuram MP to be re-elected pic.twitter.com/UZF9t8tEAF
  39. Who is writing the long form article on the high tech election campaign by the BJP for grassroots reach? Look fwd to it.
  40. UK PM David Cameron extends invitation to Narendra Modi to visit UK on his way to BRICS summit to be held in August 2014 in Brazil
  41. Tech guys lost too! @NandanNilekani & V Balakrishnan MT @manupubby 7 journos lost – Ilmi, Ashutosh, Khaitan, Jarnail, Chandan, Rakhi, Anita
  42. Still very long queues at @BJP4India HQ of supporters trying to get their hands on box of @narendramodi Laddoos. pic.twitter.com/9ErY6r73xb
  43. As Modi prepares for office, here, again, is why we think he’s unfit to be India’s PM  http://econ.st/1hQzDD7  pic.twitter.com/yjFPzKxE5V
  44. #Modi‘s victory speech in Indian elections is remarkable to watch, and worth it just for his theatrical physicality.  http://m.ndtv.com/video/live/channel/ndtv24x7?alternative 
  45. Modi’s win may prove problematic when he has to attend talks in NY or Washington and can’t get in. Man doesn’t have a visa to the US. #India
  46. That’s an interesting point from @narendramodi. He will be the first PM born after independence. #indiadecides2014
  47. “I’ve never taken a vacation, ever” boasts Gujarat CM @narendramodi who will be #India’s next PM.
  48. I will be the hardest working Prime Minister, says @narendramodi. #IndiaDecides2014
    sidin
    Narendra Modi has just overtaken Manmohan Singh’s combined lifelong word count.

    an hour ago

  49. BJP goons already getting on me 4 my previous tweet. That’s really grown up people. I was just making an observation. AND I use my real name
  50. I gather Shinzo Abe sent his congratulations to Modi this afternoon. That is one relationship to watch closely. #HindiJapaniBhaiBhai
  51. Even though Modi/BJP wooed Kerala relentlessly, happy to see that BJP has drawn a blank. God’s Own Country, indeed.

Arundhati Roy and Indian De-MOCK-racy

Speaking her mind Arundhati Roy’s views on the Kashmir issue have invited brickbats from all possible quarters (Tehelka). PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

The democratic tradition in India is only skin deep. It’s as superficial as the skins or membranes we buy to put on expensive cellphones and other gadgets. You realize this whenever a public figure criticizes the government, or generally adopts an unpopular position.  How dare they? A virtual fatwa is issued against the offending party by irate citizens with not even the slightest pretence that they might have the right to express their views, whatever these may be. So after weeks of outrage expressed on Twitter about the writer Arundhati Roy’s stance on Kashmir (that it should be allowed to secede) today the inevitable happened. A horde of protestors accompanied by TV cameras lynched the writer’s home, vandalizing property and shouting slogans at her and her family.

As fellow writer Salil Tripathi tweeted: Everytime Arundhati Roy writes or speaks, she incites people and there’s unrest, demonstrations, and threats of violence: erm, against her.

If only people would get their knickers in as much of a knot over serious things like the corruption that was highlighted during the Commonwealth Games or the scandal over the Chief Minister of Maharashtra allotting several posh apartments in a fancy building to himself and family members. To make matters worse the building “originally meant to be a six-storey structure to house Kargil war heroes and widows … was later converted into a 31-storey tower, apparently in violation of environmental laws,” and divided up among top politicians and army personnel in Mumbai.

How on earth is it that in the face of such crimes people can find the time to lynch a writer merely for expressing her views? And even if some people were foolish enough to do this how come members of the media accompanied the unruly protestors to the location and stood by doing nothing while the writer’s house was attacked? Is this the Indian version of ‘embedded media’? Below is the statement issued by Arundhati Roy on the mob attack this morning.

SOMETHING FOR THE MEDIA TO THINK ABOUT

Arundhati  Roy

October 31st 2010

A mob of about a hundred people arrived at my house at 11 this morning (Sunday October 31st 2010.) They broke through the gate and vandalized property. They shouted slogans against me for my views on Kashmir, and threatened to teach me a lesson. The OB Vans of NDTV, Times Now and News 24 were already in place ostensibly to cover the event live.  TV reports say that the mob consisted largely of members of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha (Women’s wing). After they left, the police advised us to let them know if in future we saw any OB vans hanging around the neighborhood because they said that was an indication that a mob was on its way. In June this year, after a false report in the papers by Press Trust of India (PTI) two men on motorcycles tried to stone the windows of my home. They too were accompanied by TV cameramen.

What is the nature of the agreement between these sections of the media and mobs and criminals in search of spectacle? Does the media which positions itself at the ‘scene’ in advance have a guarantee that the attacks and demonstrations will be non-violent? What happens if there is criminal trespass (as there was today) or even something worse? Does the media then become accessory to the crime? This question is important, given that some TV channels and newspapers are in the process of brazenly inciting mob anger against me. In the race for sensationalism the line between reporting news and manufacturing news is becoming blurred. So what if a few people have to be sacrificed at the altar of TRP ratings? The Government has indicated that it does not intend to go ahead with the charges of sedition against me and the other speakers at a recent seminar on Azadi for Kashmir. So the task of punishing me for my views seems to have been taken on by right wing storm troopers. The Bajrang Dal and the RSS have openly announced that they are going to “fix” me with all the means at their disposal including filing cases against me all over the country. The whole country has seen what they are capable of doing, the extent to which they are capable of going. So, while the Government is showing a degree of maturity, are sections of the media and the infrastructure of democracy being rented out to those who believe in mob justice? I can understand that the BJP’s Mahila Morcha is using me to distract attention the from the senior RSS activist Indresh Kumar who has recently been named in the CBI charge-sheet for the bomb blast in Ajmer Sharif in which several people were killed and many injured. But why are sections of the mainstream media doing the same? Is a writer with unpopular views more dangerous than a suspect in a bomb blast? Or is it a question of ideological alignment?

One of the best responses to the entire situation came from Vir Sanghvi. In a cunningly argued article in the Hindu Times he asks a crucial question and then provides the answer:
Is the damage to India so great that it justifies curtailing free speech?

Obviously, it isn’t. No violence followed her statements and nor did she incite it. Moreover, there will still be an India with Kashmir as an integral part of it long after Roy herself is forgotten.

So, let’s just cool down. We have a perfect right to dislike Roy. We are entirely justified in being angered by her statements. But the moment we compromise on the principles that make us a liberal society —especially when her remarks pose no real threat to us at all — we start playing her game.

We become the repressive, authoritarian society she suggests we already are.