Shobhaa De | Jai Maharashtra! Jai India! May the worthy succeed…

The state I proudly belong to (Maharashtra) was established in 1960. The Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti was actively demanding the formation of a separate state from 1956. The States Reorganisation Commission recommended the formation of states based on language, leading to the Bombay Reorganisation Act and the subsequent birth of two separate states on May 1, 1960 -- Maharashtra and Gujarat. Significantly, Maharashtra Diwas and Gujarat Gaurav Din overlap with International Labour Day, or Kamgar Din. And I hardly hear Marathi being spoken these days. Maharashtrians prefer Minglish!

This year, the “din” in Maharashtra is deafening, as various political parties are busy slugging it out noisily as our D-Day approaches. The average voter is thoroughly confused, and rightly so. Very few know or care which “Sena” is in the fray -- the cast of characters is the same, but are standing under different leaking umbrellas. Asli Sena ya Naqli Sena … Ki farak penda, pappey! The unprecedented heatwave across the state is discouraging participation, as voters ask themselves tiredly: “Isn’t it the same set of crooks who’ve looted Mumbai, taken citizens for a ride, and are now asking for our votes?” Never before have the candidates displayed such naked opportunism as they leave one party to hop on to another party’s bandwagon, after ensuring that their backsides are adequately covered. Who can keep track of these turncoats?

Family politics (Pawars) have little to do with ideology and development -- it is all about sharing the loot. ‘’Ideology is passe”, declared veteran leader Ram Naik. In all this, the Marathi Manoos is nowhere. Nepo netas, like nepo Bollywood bachchas, are hogging all the key seats, while the voter is being treated like a simple-minded fool, who’ll trot up obediently on voting day, and do as he or she is told. No chance!

Whether in my home state or elsewhere in India, the canny voter instinctively knows what’s in his/her interest. Sick of the same old lies and unfulfilled promises, the voter is ready and armed to stage a stealth attack and seize this crucial election, and proving the pundits wrong once again.

Perhaps this is mere wishful thinking. But female intuition comes with its own logic. Women read “moods” very acutely -- be it their husband’s, children’s or the country’s. Looking at the tepid second phase of voting, it’s pretty apparent that the tide is turning… and will turn further. Voters are sick of the bombast and chest-thumping, name calling and fake economic forecasts. For those who insist the Western media is meddling in our affairs -- yes, indeed, the Western media is closely monitoring each phase. That is the job of the media. Are their reports malicious and slanted? Perhaps. Are Western countries only interested in how their own economies will benefit if the election results overwhelmingly favour the BJP? No argument. Does any foreign nation really and truly care about India and Indians, beyond their own self-interest? You know the answer.

The voter has a strong, analytical, capable mind that is not as easily brainwashed as the Western media believes. All the firangi self-styled íntellectuals and financial analysts who show up to tell us what we should be doing, “for our own good”, should be served rooh-afza, baraf ke saath, as they zip around the country, and told to chill in their luxury SUVs, while the natives go about their lives. Intelligence-gathering is a cushy job. But it’s worth remembering that our home-grown psephologists too have consistently got it wrong and misread the mood of the electorate. No matter what level of rigging and EVM tampering takes place, the Indian voter cannot be hoodwinked or beaten.

Having said that, if despite the mass ennui and voter fatigue, the BJP does manage to form the next government at the Centre, critics will have to eat their words, suffer indigestion and concede the win in the true democratic spirit that the old India we love has always cherished. Alas, only the very naïve and overly optimistic commentator can confidently claim that the INDIA alliance will win. The odds are heavily stacked against this motley, ragtag group that has flopped miserably at providing even a semblance of a united and strong Opposition. The tepid comeback has come too late, and there isn’t enough ammo in the salvos aimed at the BJP to damage that party. Yes, there is some sympathetic public cluck-clucking for the underdog, and outrage over the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal. But none of this is sufficient to provide a cohesive counter narrative. Which is really a shame, given how Emotional IQ is such a valued attribute in our country. The right buttons should have been pressed two years ago by those whose ambitions were soaring unrealistically. So many missed opportunities! Hey Devaa! The electoral bonds issue, for one. The draconian misuse of the ED, functioning more like the dreaded Gestapo than a respected government agency. These were tipping points that could have been better leveraged by the INDIA bloc to alert voters about the dangers of authoritarian rule. But INDIA blew it!

No matter. The wisdom, resilience and practicality of the Indian voter has always but always come through when most needed. While foreign investment forecasts are gung-ho about a clean sweep, and the markets are heady, even euphoric at the prospect of a Modi-led India, with financial top dogs predicting big gains, there are also watchful skeptics on the sidelines, quietly hedging their bets. The only debate worth engaging in is the JODO versus TODO one. The hope is that citizens will vote for long-term political/financial stability and religious harmony (JODO) over divisive politics and hate (TODO). Frankly, the former is better for business. And which young Indian does not dream in technicolour? That dreamer will instinctively vote for the party that creates jobs, provides opportunities. The time for theatrics is over.

Nautanki entertains. But does not put food on empty tables. The hungry, unemployed Indian is an angry Indian. The word to describe such a person is “hangry”. Ignore “hang-er” at your own peril. And oh… there are enough life lessons provided by our magnificent cricket heroes. Young boys like fruit-seller Abdul Rashid’s 22-year-old son Umran Malik from Jammu city, who has made it to Team India, despite there being no playground in his area. No godfather. No nothing. Just pure grit, determination and talent. Tomorrow’s India belongs to him… and all others like him. Move over, has-beens. Your time is over.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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