As voting ends, India waits for results

Millions of Indians can breathe easy now as the phased national elections, which witnessed highly toxic campaigns from early April, finally ended on Sunday (May 19).

People are angry as issues affecting their lives such as jobs, housing, health, education, development and environment were not seriously debated during campaigns.

Instead, dozens of opposition parties led by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi chose any easy way by launching vitriolic attacks on one individual, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, because he happened to be formidable, clean and winning.

Not a single day passed without some rival party leader questioning Modi over some issues like “corruption” in Rafale fighter jets deal or “letting” financial fugitives Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi flee the country. They called him names and did not spare even his wife, father and mother.

People have the common sense to understand why rival leaders become obsessed with Modi and want him to be thrown out of power by hook or crook. Some of them have serious court cases against them and they are out on bail.

If Modi gets another term after the counting of election results on May 23, these leaders will not be able to get off scot-free by manipulating the system to their advantage.

It was this fear that prompted these leaders to cry from roof-tops day in and day out that Modi, who “claims to be a watchman” of the nation, is “actually a thief.”

Indians know the strengths and weaknesses of Modi and his government. Neither the media nor opposition parties need give lessons to them on that. They are mature enough to weigh their options and decide whether to give Modi another term or vote him out.

As the election campaign got into full swing in April, voters were keen to know who among the opposition is going to challenge Modi as a prime ministerial candidate. If that leader happened to be a cut above Modi, they were ready to give him a chance to take up the country’s top job.

But the 20-odd rival parties including Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Janata Dal (S), the Communist Party of India (CPM), Trinamool Congress (TMC), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), and others failed to project a leader who could vanquish Modi. They lost a great opportunity.

The opposition’s failure also exposed their self-centric leaders. Rahul eyes the prime minister’s post and Congress feels it is his privilege being a member of the Nehru/Gandhi dynasty. BSP leader Mayawati and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee too have prime ministerial ambitions.

Others too may say it openly if the opposition alliance wins the polls and the process of choosing a prime minister begins. Opposition says the selection process for prime minister will be peaceful and democratic but that is most unlikely.

The winners and losers in the election, considered as the world’s largest democratic exercise, will be decided on May 23.

Opposition deserves a chance to show voters that they can ensure better governance than what the NDA government had offered during the past five years. But, after winning the elections, if they keep fighting on every issue and ego clashes lead to instability and the fall of the new government, voters will never forgive them.

People look for a stable government that focuses on people’s welfare and nation’s progress, prosperity and security. They do not care which party or alliance delivers them.