"Poye Poye, Taamara poye " ("Oh it has gone, Oh it has gone, the lotus has gone").
I remember one holiday afternoon, in Trivandrum, suddenly hearing the above slogan chanting, sitting in the room of our home which faced the main street of P.T.P Nagar. It was the supporters of the CPI(M), I think, going by on a small truck, sarcastically mourning the big defeat of the BJP in some election.
Yesterday, as I watched the election results, the same slogan came to my mind. This was the first election I was keenly, even passionately, following. And the first election where I voted. And I am happy and relieved with the results. I hope this election has dealt a body blow (preferably a slap in the face) to the lotus party. Or at least to it's chief ideas and ways of working. Over the past few years, I have come to dislike most of it's leaders. However, I hope the party learns its lesson, ditches it's irrelevant ideologies and starts from scratch (of the head?) and finds out new ways of providing competition to the Congress. I don't wish that BJP should altogether go away. In some states - like Gujrat and Karnataka - they are probably better than the Congress in terms of administrative competence and leadership. I hope the BJP in those states sobers up and stops direct and indirect pro-Hindutva and anti-minorities activities. That is I hope the Gujrat government says sorry for Godhra, and speeds up compensation to the victims, and the karnataka government stops funding Hindu Matts out of a cash-starved budget (increasingly dependant on tax on booze) and I hope they hit groups like Ram Sene real hard on the head. I also hope the BJP never never dares do a Kandhamal once again. The last implying Mangalore quietens.
Why not BJP? Why Congress? I could see several reasons, and the rest of India apparently saw them too. First. Hindutva and anti-minorities. The ghosts of Gujrat - compensation granted by Central government over a year ago still not reaching Godhra victims. Then Kandhamal. Then Pilibhit. The Ram Sene in Bangalore. The threat of a Hindu Taliban. And not because BJP deep down believes in such strong fundamentalism (I think and hope), but only because they think they could continuously con the Indian people into the indulgence of chauvinism. I for one strongly believe that good governance and administrative provess a la Modi can never excuse exploitation and fascism. Don't we remember Hitler? Second, quality of leadership. Congress: sober, sincere, honest and obviously not greedy, qualified and experienced, plus plenty of leaders including young ones. BJP: Not so experienced, ambitious after power (look at Mr Advani), not so qualified, a few, old leaders. Third: How they behaved in the opposition. I don't remember much of the Congress as opposition five years ago, but I doubt they were as un-constructive and as coarse in their criticism of the government, as the BJP.
I belong to Bangalore North. And I voted for the Congress candidate Jaffer Sharief though I had doubts about his deserving to be MP again. Only because I wanted Congress to come back to power at the centre. Well Jaffer Sharief lost and still Congress is at the centre. So it is win despite a loss for my vote :-)
Other parties? When Mayawati came to power in UP, I was thrilled with her 'social engineering', her inclusive politics, her Dalit-empowerment. But she has since disappointed, fielding criminals, erecting her own statues (That reminds me, not very inappropriately, of something that Sheikh Saadi, a persian Sufi poet, is supposed to have said - It does not become a man to glorify himself, what pleasure does a woman get pressing her own boobs?), building palaces for herself out of government money, hiring/firing/transfering people she does'nt like. The revivial of Congress in UP is good news. AIADMK? Jayalalitha is supposed to be a good leader. But her flip-flop on LTTE was disappointing. Hope she learns her lesson. Lalu? Too bad. I hope he manages to continue in the cabinet. Nitish Kumar. Hope his good work in Bihar in the years that follow affords him the luxury of distancing himself from the BJP, like Naveen Patnaik has managed in Orissa. Deve Gowda? Good riddance. Kumaraswamy? Poor fellow. Did some good work as CM. Hope he makes a wiser come-back. DMK? Hope they shut up about LTTE, now that it is not required, and concentrate on governance. Anyway, they have good competition from Jayalalitha.
Overall. Quite a Jai Ho result.