There is a period of doom upon us, an ominous darkness that will smother all the light that shines in this great democracy of ours. Or so many would like us to believe, particularly those who make a living hyperventilating in the opinion pages of newspapers, beneficiaries of liberal education from the world’s best universities, with a special supplementary expertise on the drawing of dubious parallels between Nazi Germany and India.
The general elections are underway, and by the time you read this, the results of the great game would be just around the corner, the Nazi pitch would be at its crescendo, and a Narendra Modi-led government a near-certainty. And the devil will be at the gates to collect our souls, if the prophets of doom are right. Thankfully, they are not going to be.
BJP and Modi at the helm are, justifiably, an uncomfortable proposition. This is a party that grew on the back of divisive politics, and a man who made his name as a strong leader on the back of riots that killed at least 1,000 people. They spring from the RSS, the toxic mushroom-cloud of an umbrella that is the spiritual home of far too many nut jobs. The Congress, the other alternative, is equally guilty of these sins and a few more, and perhaps all that can be said for it is that it doesn’t have a RSS of its own.
The reason all this fear-mongering is not going to come true is that our democracy is institutionally stronger than people who have looked doomsday in the eye believe. There’s the Constitution, there’s the judiciary, there’s the free press (or news-traders, if that’s what you prefer)—institutions—or at least parts of them—that have always resisted subversive designs. Above all there are the people, who have always stood up and voted out those who have assumed more authority than they were willing to yield. A belligerent BJP may test some of these intuitions, but that will only make us stronger. And if all else fails, there’s the “Coalition Dharma”—outgoing prime minister Manmohan Singh’s sole excuse for everything that he couldn’t control—a reality check any prime minister will get soon enough in office.
As far as the media is concerned, we have a job to do no matter who the prime minister, and as a rule, must not be deferential towards anyone, or be cowed down. Some of this may come at a price, and that’s the privilege of being a journalist. Who’s afraid of Narendra Modi?
Saurav Kumar, Editor