The people of India have spoken loud and clear and they have given themselves the gift of stability, and the victory of development over communalism and petty regional dogma.
Three hours after counting commenced, the Indian National Congress (INC) clearly began to emerge as the single-largest party and the incumbent Congress-led coalition, the United Progressive Alliance took a comfortable lead of over 250 seats and counting: just a few seats short of the magic number of 272 seats in the Indian parliament and a gap of over 50 from the closest opposition -- the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
In my humble opinion the Congress, in practice, is not as secular as it claims to be and similarly the BJP is not as communal as people believe. But the fact that India has nationally supported one party in such strength, shows India's desire for stability and indicates the first, concrete step the country has taken away from communalism and divisive politics towards a politics of development; the emergence of a healthy, matured state of coalition governance.
And this will reflect in the second largest national party -- the Bharatiya Janta Party's (BJP) conduct as the parliamentary leader of the opposition and in its next election campaign as well.
This year the party was tied down by the old folk -- it was unclear whether it was embracing the Hindutva card or promoting itself as a secular organization. President Rajnath Singh's leadership was uninspiring and the party's prime ministerial candidate, 82-year-old Lal Krishna Advani, campaigned to fulfill his life's dream; he was far from the favorite of partymen and non-Congress supporters. The defeat will only have a positive outcome for the BJP as the old will retire and make way for the younger and more able leaders. And specifically for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi -- the champion of industry and Hindutva -- this loss will only strengthen people's demand for him to emerge as the party's leader and prime ministerial candidate.
And even as the saffron leader will aim to move into 7 Racecourse Road, there will not be a loud and obnoxious campaign on the basis of Hindutva, but for development instead. His name and face will send a silent call to the Hindu voters and the progress of Gujarat will warrant him to campaign on the vote of economic growth and industrial progress. And similarly, after Congress' dynastical next-in-line, Rahul Gandhi will step into Dr. Manmohan Singh's shoes, the economic progress made by his stable government this term, will be the foundation of his campaign.
India is a complicated democracy that survives as an island in a sea of political instability and undemocratic regimes. The country is divided by thousands of religions, castes and communities and politicians have always struggled to campaign based on policies and ideologies over religious and communal identities.
The results of this election are the first step away from that direction. The third and fourth fronts, coalitions of smaller regional parties, which were expected to provide the UPA and NDA a challenge this election, will only reduce in size. Instead, parties will join hands and have larger, steady coalitions instead. India wants a coalition that can act fast, progressively and not be bogged down by the whims of ideologically opposing parties like the one we saw last year, which supported the ruling coalition from outside and opposed its every move while threatening to topple the government.
As pundits pick their brains to determine the cause of this huge victory for the Congress, its important to remember that the victory is not that of one political party but of every political organization in India including the BJP, which will now be forced to reinvent itself and emerge as a true national contender to the Congress' dynasty, making the way for two strong and opposing sides and for a healthy democracy.
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