The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government received a massive mandate in the recent parliamentary elections in India thanks to the support it got from people belonging to underprivileged sections of society and minority communities.
They ignored the misinformation campaign unleashed by opposition parties and a section of Indian and western media that Prime Minister Modi, the “divider in chief”, is going to further fragment and marginalise them if his government is voted for a second term.
Thanking them for choosing him again as leader of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Modi tweaked the party slogan ‘Collective efforts, inclusive growth’ (‘Saab ka saath, saab ka vikas’) by adding ‘common faith’ (‘saab ka vishwas’).
The new slogan ‘Saab ka saath, saab ka vikas, saab ka vishwas’ will serve as a veiled warning to some of his party leaders whose comments had hurt the religious sentiments of people who follow a different faith.
The inclusion of ‘faith’ in the slogan also sent a clear message that millions of poor who follow diverse religions cannot be treated as vote banks. For seven decades, they were cheated by successive governments that way but not anymore, Modi said to the newly elected MPs assembled in the Parliament’s central hall on Saturday.
He also made it clear that the NDA government will work for the welfare of those who voted for it and those who voted against.
He promised an inclusive and participatory role for all citizens to build a New India by 2022 when the country will be celebrating 75 years of freedom.
The New India will have only people belonging to two castes — those who want to get out of poverty and those who pull them out of the misery.
These measures spelt out by Modi are not to be seen as part of a course correction but as the continuation of a process started in 2014 when the NDA government came to power.
According to Modi, the ground-breaking election generated positive votes for a government that kept most of its promises. The massive mandate united people and society instead of dividing them as in earlier elections.
The prime minister urged newly elected MPs of his alliance to work for the poor, who voted them to power, and shun powerbrokers and VIP culture.
The question is whether the NDA team will rise to his level of thinking. A leader like Pyagya Thakur, who described Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin as a patriot, is enough to ruin NDA’s good image.
If the new Modi government acts tough against hatemongers, fulfils national and regional aspirations, embraces all communities, generates jobs, improves growth rate and keeps inflation low, it can rule the country for another decade.