Many like myself were disgusted with the Congress and ashamed to have a Prime Minister like Manmohan Singh, who had demeaned his office to such an extent that he was a parody of himself. There was not one cabinet minister who wasn’t arrogant and infuriating. A constant musical chairs of incompetent but loyal to Sonia Gandhi men and women shunted from one ministry to the other in cabinet reshuffles.
Sometimes it felt she took perverse pleasure in pushing in our face, party members, allies and even a President who were known to be obnoxiously corrupt or compromised. To make matters worse, her dutiful puppet every once in a while, declared that he was only keeping his seat warm for the untested and by all accounts, irresponsible and intellectually deficient, Rahul Gandhi.
On the other hand, the alternate choice before us was a lack lustre BJP. LK Advani wasn’t in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee mould but neither had he anything new to offer for himself. Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley’s oratory was par excellence and when compared to the jarring Sonia Gandhi along with the monosyllabic Manmohan Singh, it was indeed music to the ears. However, it did not escape many of us that despite the din in the Parliament and all the walkouts almost every UPA bill was passed.
But suddenly there was so much hope. A hope that could be clutched, touched and held despite a panicky mainstream media that was attempting to put out, what was nothing less than a forest fire by stomping all over it.
A successful Chief Minister, a self-made man, with no dynasty behind him or before, brought a newness never experienced. But in our hearts, we did have a moment of worry for this man was new to the clawing, ruthless network of Delhi that had for centuries, chewed and spat out lesser men and women.
We watched with some doubt and trepidation, the chosen Lutyens’s acolyte who was given the task of manoeuvring the power corridors for him. But what the hell. If it was required, so be it.
We looked forward to governance, accountability and a surge of infrastructural, educational and healthcare projects that would improve the quality of life of our neglected masses. We hoped for a foreign policy, the hallmark of which, would be unapologetically pro Indian and would focus on the revival of the economy. Of course, that appeasement which made us feel that we were of a lesser God would be done away with and Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas would be the path that this government would tread.
The one hope that perhaps everyone harboured in their hearts, was that the looters and thieves of the last regime would pay dearly for their misdeeds.
It must be said that there have been several successes and moments of great pride for a desperately parched Nation, but, there have been a few missteps too and there is no doubt so much more must be done. However, integrity and intent are there to see, which was so painfully lacking in the previous regime. This must be appreciated and applauded. We remember this time, five years ago, all that we could discuss was scams, scams and more scams.
There has been a deep disappointment that old crooks and power brokers still abound fearless in their invincibility. Still, it has been an education in itself to see the serpents of the old ecosystem bare their fangs and coil themselves protectively around one of theirs. An indication of the dangers that lie in poking the nest. Nevertheless, it will have to be eventually done but on the day of one’s choice and preparedness.
Then there are many others who expected much more from a BJP government. Not only an end to the insulting appeasement but a rectifying of decades and might one say, even centuries of injustice. In places of worship, education, history, tradition, culture so criminally neglected by past establishments and their entrenched eco-systems for reasons that can be discussed till the cows come home.
It’s accepted that the job of any elected government is to provide temporal relief, to win elections, make inroads into new vote banks and to stay in power so as to continue the policies and work it set out to do in the first place. Citizens, pressure groups must demand and leverage the rest. For a government to comply, a movement must be seen. The first step was taken with the consolidation of the Hindu vote. Civilizational changes don’t take place while we are away at work or whatever we do. It’s something that people make happen.
In the first month of 2018, a year away from the next general elections, give or take, many BJP supporters are voicing disappointment. They feel let down and are not motivated enough to go out and vote for the BJP again. They will go NOTA they say. Not voting for the BJP but not voting for the Congress either. But Gujarat has made us aware of the pitfalls of such voting patterns and how it helps the Opposition claim a hollow but ‘moral victory’.
And hence, here is where I ask them to re consider.
Our history is such that there were many among our forefathers who invited what they thought was a lesser enemy to fight a bigger one. Then, they learnt to their peril and realised that it was not a smart idea at all. There were many others who promised their band of soldiers but then didn’t turn up for battle, or worse, opened the gates for a few pieces of silver, a Jagir or a place at Court.
For those mistakes, we have paid very dearly.
However, we mustn’t forget that they were also those who fought battle after battle against what seemed an invincible, cruel, unscrupulous enemy. Ignoring danger to life and limb they went back to fight another day.
Imagine the determination.
That courage to fight day after day, year after year, decade after decade for generations to come. If we are still here, it’s only because of them. It would be such injustice to our future generations if we give up after a mere five years. When after seventy long years we have both – opportunity, and a leader of calibre.
This journey is for the long haul and not for the faint hearted. There are millions of educated Indians who only read mainstream newspapers, watch the standard dozen panelists on TV and forward WhatsApp messages. They are completely unaware of the discriminatory nature of RTE, have no knowledge that their temples, unlike mosques and churches, are under the control of the government or how we barely escaped, by the skin of our teeth, the devious Communal Bill.
But yes, they have noticed that the festivals and traditions that are held dear, have over the years been subliminally and cleverly nibbled away. It must be noted that they are primed for discussion and debate.
So, wake up every morning, strap yourself with the weapon of your choice and then, fight the battle in your own small way. Inform, educate, spread the word.
Didn’t anybody tell you civilizational wars are not won in a day?
Forget about hearing you, the other lot don’t even see you. So, demand, extract and most importantly – make a dent, do your bit. But don’t, don’t let this opportunity go. The future will not be forgiving.
The reason most people fail instead of succeed, is they trade what they want most for what they want at the moment.
Published in OpIndia.