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The Triumph of the Will(ie): Prasannarajan Anoints Modi in the Open

May 18, 2014

The televised coronation (or should I say Rajyabhishek) of Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi has featured a supremely photogenic set (the Dasashwamedh Ghat in Benaras), a chorus line of calisthenic priests lining the riverfront of the Ganga with blazing torches, a script (being written, even as the epic is being canned, in every television studio and editorial office) talented producers and art directors, an army of happy-clappy extras, and even its own battalion of masked stunt doubles.

Modi at Dasashwamedh Ghat, Varanasi/Benaras on 17 May 2014. Courtesy, Amar Ujala website.

Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi,  at Dasashwamedh Ghat, Varanasi/Benaras on 17 May 2014. Courtesy, Amar Ujala website.

Like any good bollywood blockbuster, it cannot but be a homage to an extant cinematic classic. S. Prasannarajan, editor of the Open Magazine has even told us what that classic is. On the cover of Open, beneath a pensive, tight lipped and determined Narendrabhai looking out at the magazine’s reader through a shower of rose petals and rimless Bulgari glasses, four words spell out in bold capitals the film’s name – ‘TRIUMPH OF THE WILL’. Dejavu, anyone?

'Triumph Of the Will' Open Magazine, May 26, 2014

”Triumph Of the Will’ Open Magazine – ‘Collectors’ Issue’, May 2014

 Mr. Prasannarajan, erudite essayist and editor that he is, knows what he is talking about. You don’t just throw ‘Triumph of the Will’ at your readers because it has a nice, well, triumphant sounding, lofty and faux-Nietszchean ring to it and looks good in sans-serif font. Idioms, headlines and titles have histories.

Triumph of the Will‘, probably the most cited propaganda film in Cinema History, was an epic pean to a Nazi Party rally in 1934 at Nuremberg (with a Führer descending from the sky in an airplane in a manner we have grown accustomed to seeing) directed by Adolf Hitler’s chosen artist, Leni Reifenstahl. This is the film that did more than anything to forge the image of Hitler as the man of the moment, the redeemer of an adoring people.

Poster of 'Triumph of the Will' by Leni Riefenstahl

Poster of ‘Triumph of the Will’ by Leni Riefenstahl

I am normally allergic to the knee jerk invocation of the history of the NSDAP (National Sozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiter Partei) or ‘Nazi’ Party when talking about the ascendance of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). As rhetorical flourishes go, this easy (and in some ways lethargic) resort to the crafting of parallels between two different moments has its limits, and can be overdone on occasion. Politicians do not have to be Hitler clones for us to be watchful of their ascent to power. 2014 is not 1933. Delhi is not Berlin. Narendrabhai is Narendrabhai and Adolf, Adolf.

But when an admirer of Narendra Modi as ardent as S Prasannarajan makes the comparison between Narendra Modi and Adolf Hitler to underline his commitment to the cause of Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat, Uber Alles, then I do have to sit up and take notice. And I would urge you all to do the same.

A Modi acolyte is telling us that his master is like Hitler, and is doing so on the cover of a mass circulation English language news magazine. Inside the magazine we find a bouquet of articles that tell us about his early life, that inform us about how it would make sense for a Modi led India to form a strategic military partnership with an aggressive Abe led Japan, that  even highlight how sexy he is and how good he would look in the clothes designed especially for him by a clutch of young designers. We find Tavleen Singh in awe, and an eloquent Shiv Vishwanathan (who has to say in the last paragraph of his essay that he is a Modi critic because reading him we would not have known as much). Prasannarajan tells us, in what must be the acme of breathless purple prose in the recent annals of Indian journalism  -

Narendra Damodardas Modi, the winner of 2014, is the story of our time, a story in which the power of one man’s will merges with the possibilities of a nation still dreaming…he was his own Michaelangelo, sculpting his personal mythology to perfection. He was his own Boswell, writing his legend in tune with the spirit of the times….When Candidate Modi was the only viable option for his party to regain India, it was the mark of a man who would make himself the only One (sic). Soon, he would make himself indispensable to an India crying out for leadership. On Friday, more fabulous than fateful, the triumphant Modi wore the first notation of a new india, and his name would acquire the status of being an adjective to a nation that took the most defining Right turn…

Clearly, the editorial department at Open Magazine has an election erection. This open triumph of their collective willie causes them no embarrassment. But it does embarrass me. And to cap it all they title their cover story, unselfconsciously, without irony,  ‘Triumph of the Will’. What substances do they have on offer as refreshments in the busy offices of the Open magazine, I wonder. I mean, does it make sense to compare the dear leader chosen by the people of the world’s largest democracy in the world’s largest election to the genocidal Adolf Hitler, while genuflecting in the direction of Leni Riefenstahl ?

It is not a pseudo-sickular, left wing loony, anti-national pointing out the resemblance between Herr Hitler and Shri Modi-ji. It is S. Prasannarajan. But could he, for once, be right after all?

A Tale Told in Numbers

Adolf Hitler became Chanceller of Germany after the election of November 1932 with a mandate from 33.1% of the German electorate.  At least 66.9% of German voters did not vote for Hitler in that fateful election.

The total population of India today is 1.27 billion people. The total electoral is 810,000,000 (810 Milllion people), out of which the total polling percentage in this election was 66.3%, which brings the number of people who voted to roughly 541,000,000 people. The election commission website says that 165,480,309 people voted for the BJP.  In other words, the BJP’s vote share in this election hovers around 31% of those who voted.

66.9% of German voters did not vote for the NSDAP and yet Hitler came to power.

69% of an 810 million strong Indian electorate did not vote for the BJP and yet Modi has come to power.

If you add to the number of people who are not eligible to vote (the very young, the uncounted, the ones who were missing from electoral rolls for some reason) it is clear that Narendra Modi cannot claim to represent a billion Indians. The people who voted for the BJP in this election do not amount to more than 14% of the current Indian population.  Is /Was this transformative history in the making (in India/Germany) or is/was this sleight of hand or is/was it both?

Comparison with vote shares of winning tickets in past elections is instructive. In 1977, the Janata Party got 41.1% for 295 seats. If we add the Janata Party’s allies, who took part in the government, it got 52% votes for 345 seats. The combined NDA vote share (BJP + allies) of votes polled  in 2014 does not exceed 35%.

Interestingly, in 1977 in the post Emergency election which saw  a decisive defeat for the Indira Gandhi regime, her party, the Congress (I)  got 34.2% of the vote share, which is 3% more than what the BJP has managed to get in 2014.

In other words, the defeated Congress in 1977 was more representative (if vote shares are assumed to represent the popular will) than  victorious BJP’s  of 2014. There has been a persistent decline in the ‘representative’ character of elected governments in India over the last twenty five years. But if we take a cold look at the numbers than it is clear that the 2014 elections have given us the least representative government so far.

As of now, the numbers have spoken. Or have they really? Have we really heard what they have said in the din of ecstatic celebration ?

I do not know about anything else, but to believe that there is a ‘Modi Wave’ in the light of what the ‘vote share’ actually tells us, one requires, not intelligence, or the ability to read and interpret numbers, but a triumph of the will. People outside television studios, editorial offices and party headquarters (and it is becoming difficult to tell which is which nowadays) tend to be skeptical of  dramatic claims to destiny. Adolf Hitler faced a similar predicament when he came to power in 1933. And that is why Leni Riefestahl was commissioned to do her job.

S. Prasannarajan and his colleagues  in television, tabloids, newspapers and magazines (Gupta, Goswami, Sardesai, Roy & Co) have already scripted the desi sequel to Reifenstahl’s film. And I don’t really have to say it, they are saying it themselves. They are right. And there really is a crying need for another Collector’s Issue of Open magazine with Arnab Goswami on the cover, and another admiring, adoring essay by S. Prasannarajan. And this one could be called -

'Triumph of the Shrill', courtesy, Soutik Biswas

‘Triumph of the Shrill’, courtesy, Soutik Biswas

In a recent Facebook post, Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherjee has called out the BJP government-to-be as ‘the most unpopular and unrepresentative in republican India‘ based on a reading of the numbers polled. Could this just be the biggest stolen election in the history of democracy? This, combined with the fact that there is no substantial opposition to the NDA in parliament means that the real task of opposition to a profoundly unrepresentative regime will have to be forged outside the legislature, through creative mass democratic mobilizations of many different kinds. We need a new politics. And perhaps a little honest arithmetic.

(I am indebted to the observations made by Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherjee, Javed Iqbal, Jeebesh Bagchi and Rakesh Sharma in different faceebook posts and discussions for the thoughts behind this post. Thank you, Soutik Biswas for sharing ‘Triumph of the Shrill’ on Facebook) 

78 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2014 5:43 AM

    By this theory , most elections in almost all multiparty democracies are not representative.

    • May 18, 2014 5:52 AM

      Elections based on the first past the post system are seriously flawed insofar as their ‘representative’ character is concerned. This is why proportional representation needs to be thought about seriously.

      • Ajit permalink
        May 18, 2014 8:38 AM

        I am re-reading this essay by Perry Anderson.

        http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n15/perry-anderson/after-nehru

        He describes why India didn’t get Proportional Representation.

        ” the legal bureaucrat Benegal Rau, a recent locum for Delhi in Kashmir, was dispatched on a fact-finding tour abroad, he visited just four countries: Britain, Ireland, Canada and the United States, all reassuringly first past the post save Ireland. There, however, De Valera told him that ‘he would do away with proportional representation in any shape or form. He preferred the British system as it made for strong government’. Efforts by Fianna Fail to strengthen its grip on the island would mercifully be frustrated, but their logic was readily understood by Congress. The last thing it wished was to weaken its monopoly of power in India. First past the post had delivered what it wanted in the past. Why forego it in the future?”

        As Perry Anderson makes it clear everything the BJP will do in future in power, every horror, every crime, every injustice has already been committed by Congress.

        And now I hear congress is moving left after the election debacle. Like clockwork, they bring out leftist rhetoric when in trouble. And forget it once they gain power.

        The first thing Indians has to do is to get rid of this worthless party, Congress, so that a genuine front of progress worthy of India would emerge.

      • Raghav Awasthi permalink
        May 18, 2014 10:28 PM

        In a country as diverse as India, would it make sense to have proportional representation in terms of percentage of votes polled in the entire country? Would this not be unfair to parties like the TDP and the AIADMK or the Akali Dal and the Biju Janata Dal which represent the interests of perfectly legitimate sub-national constituencies. Furthermore, we also need to keep in mind that unlike the Congress in 1977, the BJP contested just about 400-odd seats on its own. The total vote share of the BJP and its allies is in fact closer to 39 percent. Do correct me if I am wrong but even in Nehru’s salad days his vote share was around forty five percent. Do you not believe that coalition-politics based on common minimum programmes is the way-forward for a country as diverse as ours. I do not know who Professor Nirmalangshu Mukherjee is. But both of you seem to be crying quite unnecessarily. Fact of the matter is that the doctrinaire left has been rejected comprehensively by the voters of this country. I guess their vote share hovers around ten percent or even less than that. Secularism of the Nehruvian variety has been rejected as well. Doubt very much if the voters of the BSP or the RJD or the SP or the BJD or the TMC have voted for these parties because of their ‘secular credentials’. I think purveyors of Leftism like you need to contemplate the mortality and sheer irrelevance of their ideology in aspirational India.

      • proforma permalink
        May 19, 2014 2:00 PM

        Do you realize that currently “secular” parties would have much less incentive to be “secular” in a proportional voting system? Mayawati and JJ scream themselves hoarse for a tiny sliver of the Muslim vote only because they know it can make the difference between victory and defeat.
        In a proportional system the muslims will have a consistent 15% voice in the Lok Sabha, and much fewer parties catering to them. Sikh voice will be non existent.
        The BJP would not be the political untouchable it currently is in a proportional system.

  2. May 18, 2014 7:15 AM

    The verdict is clear. If you have issues with the first past the post system I understand that. But why this becomes an issue only now. Has S.Sengupta or N.Muhkerjee written about this in 2004 or in 2009. 1977 was different from 2004. in 1977 Congress was routed in the Nortn but managed to do well in South. This time the story is different. Moreover this time BJP alone has got more than 280 members in the Lok Sabha. In 1977 the erstwhile Jan Sangh was part of Janata party. Janata Party had too many strange bed fellows united in their opposition to congress and won but could not stick together to complete a whole term. In contrast in 1999 NDA led by BJP could manage to complete a 5 year term. BJP’s emergence as an alternative to congress is a significant achievement as this time it had no alliance with JD(U), DMK/AIADMK, TMC and BJD. I think most indians dont care about what Kafila or Open Magazine writes. Their perceptions seem to stem from a different understanding of polity and politics. Since India happens to be a democracy we have to live with that reality :).
    ‘In a recent Facebook post, Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherjee has called out the BJP government-to-be as ‘the most unpopular and unrepresentative in republican India‘ based on a reading of the numbers polled’
    I have not read that hence cannot comment on that. But notions on representative government or parliamentary politics can vary. Women have never been able to get 50% seats in both houses. In fact they are not even near the 25%. So that should make all the governments most unrepresentative since the first elections in post-1947 India. Do you agree with this observation. Of course I wont expect a typical ‘left and progressive’ feminist in India to make this argument :).

    • SK permalink*
      May 18, 2014 9:36 AM

      Tu, as a typical ‘left and progressive’ feminist I must readily agree that all governments have been unrepresentative since “since the first elections in post-1947 India”. What is there not to agree? Why all the hoo-haa over 33% representation for women if the system was capable of being perfectly representative on its own? And I really like how critiquing the right-wing immediately invites the question whether ‘left and progressives’ have critiqued the Congress. By definition, yes. Since the left is not the centre, and the centre is not the right, and there must be a reason these terms exist. The left critiquing the centre is so common as to be the norm. If one finds loopholes in the functioning of Parliamentary democracy, then one is accused of being biased towards one party. If you critique the system itself, you are branded a Maoist. Critiques of FPTP (First Past The Post) are old and hoary, and don’t require “sickular” bias to be pointed out. There must be a reason countries that are serious about ensuring more genuine representation have abandoned it.

      • RDS permalink
        May 18, 2014 10:23 AM

        My own calculation shows that Modi got >> 60% votes in Vadodara and Varanasi. If he gets elected as PM, he would be voted by >62% of MPs. Hitler entered in a Presidential election and, after loss, got appointed as Chancellor by the President. Only soviets had 100% representation in any election, as there would be only one candidate contesting. No one I voted for ever become PM. So, in your opinion, the government never represented me, but still forced me to follow laws. So, I can join you in street protests, but you must promise me to appoint a PM for whom I have voted for. Thanks.

  3. Abhilash Baranwal permalink
    May 18, 2014 8:44 AM

    Oh god, that again FPTP system vs proportional representation debate. I request the author to urgently go through the Constituent Assembly debates which chose the FPTP system over PR system. Please go through the reasoning stated in those debates and then ask yourself whether the reality has changed on the ground despite 66 years of independence.
    The fact of the matter is PR is not suitable for Indians. Open PR system cannot be thrust upon a mass which is still only 70% literate (And I am not even talking about educated ones). Having conducted few elections till now in the most remote locations of North-east (Which surely doesn’t seem to be the author), open PR is simply unacceptable until 100% literacy is achieved. Moreover closed PR system is inherently divisive in nature and it seeks to reinforce the sectarian identities than trying to blur them. Precisely this was the reason which led to its rejection.
    Regarding debates about the vote share and this being an unrepresentative government, I believe this is an unprecedented mandate. Instead of feeling rejoiced over a clear mandate for which the entire nation has been yearning, the author seems to be hellbent on feeling cheated. And yes, this was a triumph of the will of one man. How can you gloss over the fact that all the political parties (even in WB where BJP was having a namesake presence) targeted Modi. And it would be too naive for the author, or for that matter anyone to think, that this was because of their concern for the minority. If anything, why Modi was being lambasted by the entire political class so much can be answered by the following remark of a WB Imam
    “Mamta has to be more critical of Modi to prove her secular credentials” and up goes the ante of Mamta against Modi.
    Yes this was a triumph of the will, as despite the political boycott and ostracization of Modi where every non-BJP politician was smirking with the prospect of NDA falling short of 272 and its possible frustration in securing allies, BJP has been able to garner majority on its own. I can write on and on quoting immaterial personalities but I believe some people are just too snubbed to see a “Chaiwalla” rising to the helm of nation.
    But Modi carried the faith of millions of Indians which has been proven in this election and if this cannot silence his critics, nothing can.

    • Ahraz permalink
      May 19, 2014 1:38 AM

      Modi the Murderer has been given the chance to Be the PM of largest democracy.Expect blood to flow in the streets of INDIA

  4. James P T permalink
    May 18, 2014 9:00 AM

    If you introduce the practice of ‘Preferential Voting’ as in some more progressive western democracies, you can kill this quasi-fraudulent system of ‘First past the post’ elections perhaps in one or even both houses.

    That way, there is an added value to vote-sharing that could still mean to the average voter that his or her vote is not completely wasted,i.e., your vote will be afforded a second life and then a third and so on.

    Or as someone,i forgot who, mentioned during the election of introducing a third house of parliament for runners up in the parliamentary elections. Interestingly, it was only the BJP that was against this idea, all other parties were in favour.

  5. Nil permalink
    May 18, 2014 10:31 AM

    The criticism of FPTP system is theoretically correct, but where do we see an alternative system in near future in India. Isn’t it that every state govt in India is formed by same system? Doesn’t it mean that every state govt is an unpopular govt? Doesn’t it mean that AAP in Delhi and 2004/2009 Congress were also unpopular ones. But where was this angle of criticism when others won by the same FPTP system? This criticism maybe in academic circle maybe from last 500 years, but for me I have learnt this first time, even on Kafila website. The timing when people come up with such articles makes one dubious that whether this is a genuine concern of yours or you are only interested in opposing BJP?

  6. Bala permalink
    May 18, 2014 10:53 AM

    Damodardas, not Damodarbhai

  7. Aditya Nigam permalink*
    May 18, 2014 11:06 AM

    Wonderful! Made my day, Shuddha.

  8. May 18, 2014 11:31 AM

    Next 100 Days

    Dear Narendrabhai ,

    You have talked your way to power – calling yourself , ” Mazdoor # 1 ”

    Now , it is time to ” Walk the Talk ”

    People of India have taught a lesson to the party which called you ,

    ” Merchant of Death ( Maut Ka Saudaagar ) ”

    They believe you to be ” Merchant of Dreams ( Sapno Ka Saudaagar ) ”

    Of course , no one expects any miracle to happen on the ground , in the next 100 days

    But the decisions that your Cabinet takes – and transparently communicates to the people – in the next 100 days , will tell them , whether your Government is any different than UPA-2

    Here are the decisions that people expect :

    A … FIGHTING CORRUPTION

    * Appoint Central Lok Pal
    * Appoint ( where missing ) , Lok Ayuktas in BJP controlled States
    * Appoint Special Fast-Track Courts to try within 1 year , criminally-
    charged MPs / MLAs / Bureaucrats / Politicians / Businessmen

    B… BLACK MONEY TO WHITE MONEY

    * Introduce Amnesty Scheme , for monies invested in Infrastructure SPVs
    * Amend Personal Income Tax to Inverse Taxation Regime , where the
    incremental tax rates keep going DOWN in each higher slab
    * De-monetize Rs 1000 currency notes

    C… JOB GENERATION

    * Amend Corporate Tax Regime , with incrementally reducing tax-rates
    for Companies with higher employee-strength
    * Introduce ” Accelerated Depreciation ” for investment in Capital Assets.
    Capital Goods industry is the Mother of all industries
    * Focus on creating ” Self-Employment ” thru tax-breaks for self-employed
    * Low interest loans for self – employed

    D… DEVELOPMENT OF NORTH-EAST STATES

    * Industrialists / businessmen will not come forward to make huge
    investments in North-East , in absence of excellent infrastructure of
    roads / rails etc

    All private investments made here must be tax-free for 25 years

    E… SIMPLIFY LABOUR LAWS

    * Today’s labour laws make it extremely difficult – if not impossible – for employers to layoff / retrench workmen , if demand shrinks

    * Employers are unlikely to hire thousands of youth , if they cannot easily trim the workforce , to match the shrinking demand

    * So , an important corollary of any Job Generation Scheme is to modify our existing Labour Laws to facilitate layoff / retrenchment , when situation so demands , while protecting the interests of the workmen concerned

    F… EDUCATION / UNIVERSAL LITERACY

    * What is responsible for keeping 28.7 Crores of Indians illiterate ( 37 % of World’s illiterate ) , 66 years after independence ?

    * Ans : Lack of educational infrastructure consisting of Schools / Colleges /
    Equipments / Qualified Teachers .. etc

    * Solution ?

    Push for E-education thru online delivery of subject-matter thru tablets

    G … GOOD GOVERNANCE

    Ask each concerned Minister , to publish within 100 days, on Ministry’s web site , PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION PLANS , for the following :

    * Food Security Bill

    * Connecting 2.5 lakh panchayats thru broadband

    * Aakash Tablets for 220 million students

    * Delivery of Services Act

    * Aadhar Identification Card

    * Electoral Reforms / Right to Recall

    * CAG audit of Private Companies using Government resources

    * 4G Wireless Internet all over India

    * Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor

    * Amritsar-Delhi-Kolkata Industrial Corridor

    * Natural Resources Allocation Policy

    * Political Party’s Funds under RTI scrutiny

    * Liberalization in FDI ( Entire economy – not just retail )

    * Government funding of Elections

    * Interlinking of Major Rivers

    * ” India Post Bank ” with 139,040 branches in Rural areas

    * Bank A/C for every adult by 2016

    * Divestment / Closure of loss-making / bleeding PSUs

    * Imparting skills to 500 million youth ( NSDC )

    * Sulabh Sauchalaya ( Remember “Sauchalay before Devalaya ” ? )

    Dear Narendrabhai ,

    Do provide a ROAD-MAP ( with clearly defined mile-stones ) of how you intend to translate your DREAMS into REALITY

    with regards ,

    hemen parekh ( 17 May 2014 / Mumbai )

  9. vishal sharma alias mushran permalink
    May 18, 2014 11:57 AM

    What you want Mr sengupta like you many so called thinkers calling modi a Dracula but why he wins and your blog is show you have not any respect for Democratic rule of India you want a dictatorship in india Modi choose by people’s India not by a army or group of armoured peoples. Do respect Indian peoples vote for modi.

    • May 18, 2014 1:54 PM

      Dear Vishal Sharma, alias, Mushran.

      I have never called Narendra Modi Count Dracula, nor have I ever called Count Dracula, Narendra Modi. Each has their place in history and the popular imagination. I respect the verdict 14% of the Indian population ( = 31% of the electorate that turned up to vote) who voted for Shri Narendra Modi as much as I respect the implicit verdict of the 86% of the Indian population who actively did not, or passively chose not to, support Shri Narendra Modi. It just happens to be true that the 14% happen to be a minority. A relatively small minority. If we give this minority too much importance, we might become guilty of what Shri Narendra Modi and his party call ‘minority appeasement’. That is all.

      • manish permalink
        May 18, 2014 3:02 PM

        Ms Sengupta,

        Last time I checked 66% of 31% is 20.5% and not 14% as all of you claim. People of your ilk can fool the readers with flimsy arguments but at least don’t fool your readers with facts. I will request the writers of Kafila to not let their hatred for BJP cloud their intellectual integrity.

        Regards,
        Manish.

        • May 18, 2014 4:23 PM

          1,104,519,691 (One billion one hundred four million five hundred nineteen thousand six hundred ninety-one) people did not vote for the BJP. How do we know this ? Because the Election Commission website says that 165,480,309 (one hundred sixty-five million four hundred eighty thousand three hundred nine) people did vote for the BJP. This is the 31% of the total 65% of the electorate of 810,000,000 (Eight Hundred and Ten Million) people. If we subtract this figure (165,480,309) from 1.27 billion people (which is the current estimate of the population of India), we get the figure I started this reply with – the 1,104,519,691 (One billion one hundred four million five hundred nineteen thousand six hundred ninety-one) people who did not vote for the BJP. This amounts to roughly 86.97% of the 1.27 Billion strong Indian Population. (I just did the math again, you can too). Which means that the percentage of the Indian population that voted for the BJP in this election, if you want to be really precise – is 13.03 %.

          • naresh permalink
            May 18, 2014 4:57 PM

            Mr. Sengupta, voting age is 18 years. So right now 80 crore electorate. Not 1.27 billion.

            • May 18, 2014 5:21 PM

              Shri Naresh, please read what I have written carefully. 81 crore, or around 810 Million, is the electorate. 1.27 Billion is the population. 31 % of 810 Million = 13.03% of 1.27 Billion. A little arithmetic never did anyone any harm.

              • Guru permalink
                May 18, 2014 6:56 PM

                Dear Mr. Sengupta

                In that case no one got the 40 million votes (ineligibles). While providing the comparision wouldnt it be important to highlight what percent of the population voted for the congress govts of the past. I am sure the govt of 2009 would ve polled similar numbers.

                What you want to infer can only be achieved if you do one of 2 things:

                1. Presidential form of voting – 2 candidates go head to head for the top job.
                2. Discount the voters in cases where there were no BJP candidates from the total voters. Come up with a revised number of voters to get a % of.

                Please make it a point to provide a balanced article. If you are wondering whether I voted for Modi, no I didnt. But I understand the will of the people. If you feel soo undone by the electoral system, I suggest you and other sympathisers of this article form a political party, fight elections & bring legislative reforms to ensure such a situation (I wonder what that is) doesnt occur again.

                If none of your fears (whatever they are) were to actually happen, would you donate all the money you will make in the next 5 years? Because, in the world that you seem to fear, there will be war, fear and decimation of business and property.

                Wonder how you will respond to this, I hope it is pointwise and not with blanket statements.

                PS. We have conducted the largest elections ever, in a free and fair manner. Would do good if we spend our words in spreading hope instead of fear and depression.

                Cheers

          • Abhilash Baranwal permalink
            May 18, 2014 6:41 PM

            Mr Sengupta,
            I agree with you 1.1 billion amounts to roughly 86.97% of the population. But how about seeing it from a different perspective. 165,480,309 number of voters chose Modi. Now the population is 1.27 billion and the electorate is 810 million. So 460 million voters who wanted to vote for Modi, weren’t allowed to exercise their choice. So now people who chose Modi becomes a whopping 620 million. That’s roughly close to 50%. Assumption about the voting preferences can be taken in any direction, isn’t it? :)

      • aastha permalink
        May 18, 2014 5:53 PM

        :)

      • proforma permalink
        May 19, 2014 2:12 PM

        You do realize that by your “14%” logic, even if Modi won 100% of the polled votes he would still be considered a minority government?
        550 million votes is still only 45% of India’s population.
        And this is in spite of this election having the highest turnout of all time in India’s democratic history.
        You set up a mathematical impossibility and then say he couldn’t do the impossible.
        I’m all for good critiques of Modi, for instance the NSDAP comparison is justifiable. But he didn’t “steal” this election.

  10. Sayan permalink
    May 18, 2014 12:00 PM

    Dear Shudhhabrata,

    I completely share your sentiments at the outcome of the election. Your point about the drawbacks of the FPTP system is also well taken.

    I will, however, take issue with some other aspects of your analysis. You say that only 31% percent of the votes went to the BJP, and only 66% of the electorate actually voted, and hence not more than 14% of the population supported the BJP. The problem with this analysis is that we do not know who the remaining 34% of the electorate would vote for. Maybe they are too apathetic to participate in the election, maybe they have sympathies towards the left, or maybe they actually support the BJP. We simply do not know. We can only say that between 14% to 54% of the Indian electorate are in favor of the BJP. We arrive at the former figure by your analysis, and at the latter by assuming that everybody who did not vote is a BJP supporter.

    This brings me to my second point. Something has changed in the political consciousness of our country. Admittedly, all the people I talk to are part of the middle or upper-middle class, and I do not claim to know what is going on in the mind of a dalit or a tribal. But among the class of people I belong to, I find myself in a tiny minority who do not have sympathies for right-wing politics. And this is not only about the election results. There is something deeper going on. For example, I have actually met a few people who openly boast about the fact that BJP gives so few tickets to Muslim candidates. To them it is a sign that the party does not indulge in “minority appeasement”. To them secularism is a dirty word, just as communism has been reduced to a dirty word in the US politics.

    Going by anecdotal evidence (such as my Facebook timeline), there is a substantial section of the middle class population who have moved towards the right. Borrowing from an article by Mihir Sharma, these are “young people who think that hate is what Modi endures from liberals, not what Muslims endured in Ahmedabad, and still do.”

    Worse still, there does not seem to be a political force on the ground who can challenge the BJP. It will take some years before AAP can even think of standing up to the BJP on a national scale, and the less said about the Congress or the so called “left parties”, the better.

    Regards.
    Sayan

  11. Citizen permalink
    May 18, 2014 12:11 PM

    Thanks for the article. On the wiki link you’ve shared, is this line: “The film’s overriding theme is the return of Germany as a great power, with Hitler as the leader who will bring glory to the nation.”
    Replace ‘The film’s’ with ‘Mainstream Indian Media’s’ and ‘Hitler’ with ‘Modi’, and it is precisely and chillingly accurate for the India of post-May 16, 2014.

    • Citizen permalink
      May 18, 2014 12:13 PM

      Oh, of course, and ‘Germany’ with ‘India’

  12. Mukul Dube permalink
    May 18, 2014 12:14 PM

    The coronations of BJP chief ministers also owed much to Riefenstahl — with improvements in the manner of Ramanand Sagar, of course.

  13. May 18, 2014 1:17 PM

    Good post! This small playlist explains how our voting system is flawed in being non-representative: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7679C7ACE93A5638 (Politics in the Animal Kingdom, by CGP Grey)

  14. Reshmi Dasgupta permalink
    May 18, 2014 2:40 PM

    I doubt kafila will deign to allow me post my comment but I shall write anywy. Selective back-and-forth history-hopping denouncement but India of 1977 was a different political scape partywise so comparing voteshares is specious. And tell me which multi party FPTP system as opposed to presidential system has the winner getting more than a third of the votes? And do you have any doubt that if it was a straight contest for the top job between Modi and any other person – a la Obama vs McCain, who would get a decisive majority? Don’t kid yourself or any of your fellow travellers.

  15. TheOptimist permalink
    May 18, 2014 3:34 PM

    Here is a small request to you. If Modi brings any sort of positive change (in any form, be it development, security, oppurtunity, welfare) acknowledge that. Please. This country needs a change. Right, Left, Center can be very entertaining topics of debate. That is not going to feed the hungry child on the street. Be it may that 14 percent of the people have voted for a change (that is some pessimism bro!), but still, give the man a chance.

    If you can suggest a better alternative, go ahead. If you think you can do a better job, go ahead. Convince me that you will do good to the country and I’ll vote for you. Convince me that you will undo the damage of the last ten years, and I’ll vote for you.

    If not, then at least give the person a chance. If he falters, you have every right to complain. But at least let him try.

  16. May 18, 2014 3:39 PM

    comparison with 1977 results is super flawed

    population, 1971 figures was half of what it is now.

    for every extra 2 persons now, from then on, the consistency would have to be maintained for the figures to be used as arguments today, which is very difficult, because of multitudes of channels, sites, parties and options.

    • May 18, 2014 3:57 PM

      No it is not. The comparison is between percentages of the population. Not between populations.

      • May 19, 2014 9:11 AM

        I am assuming you missed the point. So here is further clarification

        in 1977 results number of parties contesting were 25. This time around it was 37.

        if the winning party is to maintain 50% vote share now, from then, it will mean for every 1 person out of the next two, the choices should be between 25. but that is not the case, because for every such 1 person, the choices are now 37, an increase of 50%. more choices will spread the ‘for every 1 person out of n number voters’.

        just reading statistics on their face value can always be misleading without profferring other environmental data

        • May 19, 2014 5:16 PM

          Actually your comparison of the number of parties contesting in 1977 and now is disingenuous. The number of parties contesting under the NDA alliance alone this year is 25 (there are 29 parties in the NDA, but of them, 25 contested the Lok Sabha Polls). These 25 parties are for the purposes of voter choice, one bloc. Similarly, there are 12 parties in the UPA, Six parties in the Left Front, and regional parties that are active in their stronghold that do not cut each others votes – for instance, the Trinamool Congress and the AIADMK are two different parties, but for practical purposes they do not tread, and do not need to tread on each others turf. The logic of coalition politics means that voters actually have less choices rather than more. There may be many multicornered contests, but these are triangular, or quadrangular contests at best. That is not a new phenomenon. Vote shares of losing parties have always been low. The BJP is no exception. It is just that it is making a far more melodramatic claim to being ‘representative of all Indian voters’ in the wake of this result. That is what I am contesting. All governments, not only in India, but more or less anywhere, effectively represent minorities under the masquerade of speaking for the majority – that is one basic reason to be sceptical of the nature of the state form that bases itself on the rituals of representative democracy. You will jump and say – which state form is more representative, am I pleading for autocracy etc. I am not. I am merely saying that the form of represntative entitlement that the state holds out is a fiction. I am not arguing essentially for the replacement of one state form, or one voting system for another. I think the point is to think beyond the state and its representative fictions as a way of organizing society.

          • Bass permalink
            May 22, 2014 4:39 PM

            So, if you are clubbing parties into coalitions when it suits your argument, perhaps you ought to also include their votes (and vote percents) when proving how most of the country did or did not vote for the BJP/NDA.

            Moreover, based on whatever you’ve written, the overwhelming understanding one derives is that FPP is evil now that Modi is in power. The same arguments, if made earlier in 2004 or 2009, would’ve made me respect you.

  17. Suchetana permalink
    May 18, 2014 4:31 PM

    Shuddhabrata, this is article is the Churchillian voice which sounds the alarm and calls the Indian citizenry to action.I think there should also be an article about the Marketing Lesson from The Modi Campaign.

  18. MG Kapoor permalink
    May 18, 2014 5:42 PM

    I could not agree more. This is true reflection of Modi’s so called victory at the hustings. Also to take note is that the first time voters not aware of the 2002 Godra killibgs in Modi’s Gujarat, BJP’s hidden agenda of Ram Mandir becoming naked in early 90’s have all been misled by the Goebble like false propaganda unleashed by Modi and his coteries and have enblock voted for Modi.

    I have time and again compared Modi to Adolf Hitler whose name is now taboo in Germany.

    I have even compared him to Aurangzeb who was ruthless and cunning.

    Modi’s Gujarat model is crony Capitalism which is not suited to our country where the poor, needy and under privileged live and their lot needs to be improved.

  19. K. Rajendran permalink
    May 18, 2014 5:43 PM

    Strip the snideness away and there is nothing in this article that throws any light at all… dumbed down leftie rant, no more

  20. May 18, 2014 6:16 PM

    I think its a little disingenuous to discredit the Modi victory by bringing up the vote share issue, especially in a democracy that has embraced FPTP. Whatever flaws there might be, if in 2009/04/99/98/96/91, governments were formed without even having a seat majority, let alone voteshare ( and no hullabaloo was raised then), it seems unfair to bring up the bogie now. I don’t agree with Prof Mukherjee when he says this is the most unrepresentative govt since we have had equally voteshare-minority governments in the past.
    It also seems wrong to compare 1977 with 2014. There were far lesser number of established parties to fragment the voteshare of national parties.
    And all of this underlines the fact that we cannot suddenly make voteshare the issue if we were okay with FPTP all these years. Kafila didn’t show this indignation when AAP governed Delhi without a majority in seats, let alone voteshare. If we are participating in a democracy that has embraced FPTP, we can certainly question/critique it, but to cry foul after results have been declared is unfair. Especially if the logic is that this was the will of 14% of the population. By the same logic, Kafila should ask for a boycott of poll results in areas with less than 50% of polling. And wasn’t our original contention that the will of the minority matters too?

  21. May 18, 2014 6:36 PM

    Patronage that doesn’t augur well for citizens engagement, freewill and true journalism. It’s surprising how camps are switched with such boot lickers.

  22. May 18, 2014 7:22 PM

    My criticism of this this article is divided into:

    1) Projection of meaningless statistics
    2) The lack of time and space while comparing statistics of different era
    3) The problem of FPTP representation which has emerged as a problem only in these
    elections
    4) The general and dangerous problem with Indian commentators
    5) A rebuke to central theme of article as I understood.

    [1]
    Indian Population: 1.27 Billion
    Registered Voters: 810 million // These people are our reference point whether you like Indian constitution (of 18 years age limit) or not.

    Voter turnout: ~66% = 66/100*810 million = ~535 million
    People who voted for BJP = 31% of 535 million = ~166 million.
    Total percent of people who voted for BJP (according to Indian constitution) = 166/810 = 20.4%

    So, Mr.Sen, it is a great disservice to your thinking to project the unrealistic (or factually non tenable ) number of 14% who voted for Modi. I know you can say only 14% of 1.27 billion voted for Modi, but that doesn’t show or solve anything. What are you trying to imply about this 14% ? Does it have any meaning? (where you include people of 0-18 years and unregistered voters)

    20.4% is the correct number( only a change in the number. But your argument that only minority voted, still holds true. However, your premises are wrong. Refer to step [3])

    [2]
    You are trying to cheat your gullible readers by comparing the electoral statistics of
    1977 with the present scenario. Statistics is not just a play with numbers. For the uninitiated, I would like to point out that statistics is also about quality sample space and the environment (the initial conditions ). For comparison, it is your responsibility to show that
    that the electoral environment (number of parties and demography for ex:) is similar in both eras. The onus is on you to show that the numbers can be compared. Instead, you’ve just thrown out some numbers on to you readers in your commentary. This kind of articles does more harm than solving the problem at hand.

    [3]
    As many have pointed out, in a multi-contest democracy it is unrealistic to expect that the major party would win > 50% of the votes. Anyway, we have to live with a sad truth that our s is FPTP system. Everyone played according to the FPTP rules. According to the FPTP rules, party with huge number of seats heads the nation. That is what happened here. No nonsense. No playing against the rules. Everything is according to the rules. If you have problem with this system, I expect the commentary to be about the disadvantages of FPTP system. Instead, I understood your article as:

    * Since BJP came to power, FPTP is wrong. In all other cases, FPTP is fine, well and
    good.

    Also, Modi has to and will represent all of us. Modi played by the rules of FPTP system
    and he represents all of us (through power I mean). The concept of 20.4% or 14% is absolutely meaningless as you suggested out.

    If you feel so cheated with FPTP system, please give a genuine fight to change it.

    [4]

    The greatest problem right now in the Indian democracy I feel is the lack of intellectualism or the genuine will to solve the problems faced by Indians by so called activists or commentators. I expect an article to be of this form:
    1) What is wrong? 2) What could have been done 3) What is the solution to the crises from the present state of the problem.
    The above questions are generally answered by most of the western commentators I respect when they are trying to deal with a problem. All I see from the websites (such as Kafia for ex:) is about whining. Complaining. Without a proper understanding pf the problem or a desire to solve the problem.

    For example, please look at this article:

    http://www.newslaundry.com/2014/03/31/gujarat-in-a-sorry-state/

    It talks about Gujarat Model and it’s wrongs, but I still feel that this article has give the right perspective than the myriad articles on kafilla( where most of them have accusatory tones)

    [5]
    The cenral theme of the article as I understand is this:
    a) there is no Modi wave as Mr.Sen says through his numbers
    b) Modi wave is championed by Media through deliberate control and commands to Media
    ala Leini Reifenstahl & Hitler’s equation.

    a) Your numbers doesn’t prove anything. What is your criteria for a modi wave? Getting a
    Mandate of > 50% of votes or getting an absolute majory in Parliament after 30 years in
    a multi party system in this complex country of astounding proportions still riddled with
    caste, regional and religion politics?
    I thinki 282 is fine enough for me to show that Modi wave is present and I know that
    people voted for Modi rather than BJP. (I don’t know if it good or bad)

    b) This argument that media “intentionally” supported Modi requires greater amount of
    proof rather than throwing out your baseless opinions. Modi was vilified for greater
    than a decade for everything bad that happened in Gujarat. It was a not a positive
    coverage of Modi that catapulted to National fame, but just coverage. He was in the
    news all the time. In today’s media and internet centric world, publicity is publicity
    whether good or bad.

    I really expect substantial proof from the Indian commentaries to come up with decent
    proofs for their claims of they are genuinely interested to solve problems.
    Misrepresenting and commenting just based on hearsay does more harm than good.

    • nil permalink
      May 18, 2014 9:17 PM

      Spot on, and another thing with statistics is that the author assumes that 30% who dis not vote will only vote against BJP. So much for an neutral perspective from author.

  23. Akshay Jalan permalink
    May 18, 2014 7:46 PM

    I wont begin to even comment on the rest of this article as it does not warrant a comment. but the most vile piece of the article i found was the slight of hand with data – while stating clearly how the author comes up with 13% or 17% or whatever rubbish – all the author does is too make sure her bluff cannot be called out – but continues to be intellectually corrupt by consistently referring to the same incorrect number. By taking the denominator in the calculating as the entire population of india – including those below the age of 18 and also the people who simply did not vote – wait i i think i will help – maybe you should take the 7 billion people in the world and make this a humanist argument :) – it will have much more of an impact as the percentage would really hit home. this level of intellectual corruption is what i fear the most and it comes from the likes of Arvind Kejriwal and his like minded people. I have no bones with the Rahul Gandhi team – as i genuinely dont believe that they dont know any better. but the AK team – hmmm scary – willing to do anything and make up any number to suit their needs. this requires imagination and well done.

    The reality of the numbers you chose is the following. you never take a potential electorate to calculate a percentage – it is fraud. at worst case in india – you take the people who voted for the bjp and compare to the people who actually voted – 31% – its fair to make the assumption that if 2/3rd of the people ELIGIBLE to vote – voted 31% for the bjp – then the other 1/3rd would have done the same. However here is the piece of information which you are aware of and which is what makes you intellectually corrupt – you purposely chose to ignore it and your retort will be but i just stated the obvious. oh and in case you did not think of it – then im sorry i wasted my time by retorting to this. The bjp did not contest the 543 seats – and the entire electorate did not have the option of voting for them – nature of alliances in india’s electorate – hence there are 2 ways of looking at the percentage number 1) compare the bjp vote to the electorate only where bjp contested – above 40%. 2) if you want to take the entire 543 seats – then compare the vote received by the NDA which contested the 543 seats – this is ~40%.

    Lastly this is not a 2 party system where people are forced to vote for x or y and hence vote shares by definition will be higher – in a system with 100’s of parties – this number of ~40% is the highest vote share received since 1984 by any 1 party. We can keep arguing about the rest of your article – but atleast lets not be economic with data just to make a point. It comes across in poor light.

    • May 18, 2014 8:00 PM

      Actually it is Narendra Modi and the BJP, which has consistently been saying that this is a verdict from ‘India’. If Modi had said that he has been voted to power by 31% of the electorate I would have not had any problems. In his first post election speech he spoke about the two year olds who he claims have been saying ‘ab ki baar, Modi sarkar’. So it is really up to him to prove how his claim to represent all those who did not vote, who could not vote, plus all those who did vote for him, plus all those who did vote for him.

      I have no problems with recalibrating the calculation to talk about the 450 seats that the BJP contested, instead of the actual 543 seats, but then, we would also have to look at the vote share of the BJP allies (Shiv Sena, Akali Dal, etc.) to make up for the rest of the seats to see the extent of the electorate’s endorsement of Narendra Modi’s plank. My sense is that even if one looks at the 450 seats, that the BJP contested by itself, the figures for its vote shares are not going to be dramatically different from the <14 % figure.

      Go figure.

      • May 18, 2014 9:05 PM

        I completely agree with Akshay Jalan. Intellectual corruption at it’s worst even regarding to data analysis. I’m not wrong at all to believe that Intellectual corruption is scary than anything else.

        The author of this article has brought it in claims like ” Actually it is Narendra Modi and the BJP, which has consistently been saying that this is a verdict from ‘India’” to prove her/his point.

        According to the FPTP system, if you get more seats then you won. That’s it. If you worry that BJP hadn’t “required” votes based on your measure, then it is a problem with FPTP. Not with BJP.

        Modi is completely right to say that this is a verdict from India. Also, he now has to represent all sections of the people – that is the constitutional responsibility.

  24. Mark Gideon permalink
    May 18, 2014 8:00 PM

    I think the comment posted by TheOptimist is a great place to begin an analysis on a clean slate. A higher vote share does not necessarily mean that parties would act in the interest of the people. However it is ‘possible’ that a party with a lower vote share may do so. This article calculates that we have a government which represents just 13% of 1.2 billion. Fair enough. But has this article accounted what the underaged and basically those not elgible to vote feel about the elections? Why has it accepted that every single person outside 800 million who could not vote are against modi? Further because nearly 250 million eligible voters outside 541 million did not vote does not necessarily mean they are against modi. For all we know it could be pro or against. However, I believe that stating that 13% is uncalled for. I am quite critical of the right and let me disagree with those who give blind adoration to modi. This is a historic mandate in 30 years. However like the author mentioned ’77 and even ’84 elections have also brought out huge numbers for a single party. The reason why 2014 elections is significant I believe more than anything is to reverse the election trends and show the possibility of single largest party with stability (which the janata party govt of ’77 was not).

    To shuddha now, you said that “Politicians do not have to be Hitler clones for us to be watchful of their ascent to power. 2014 is not 1933. Delhi is not Berlin. Narendrabhai is Narendrabhai and Adolf, Adolf.” But then just because an editor, who admittedly is a modi fan and lets say on purpose chose the title same as Hitler’s movie, I assume we should be gravely anxious. I would not ask you to ‘take it easy’ just because one person thinks that way rather I would ask you to see the difference. Hitler had already assumed authoritarianship by himself and for himself. Modi has not done it. Its ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ so far. Politics is all about uncertainty, he may assume the sort of power some of us (including me) may dread. Or he may not. Time will tell. Till then, give the man a chance.

  25. Akshay Jalan permalink
    May 18, 2014 8:10 PM

    Shuddhabrata – for you too consistently mention 14% – either you are simply being stubborn as you believe that this will get your article a lot more traction or you have been drinking so much of the intellectually corrupt cool-aid that you cannot see beyond it. On the other hand if you dont see the logic behind what a lot of us saying – hmm that would be scary. in any case – saw this on a friends facebook page and could not resist. good luck with your stuff. The number is 40%. and highest in the last 30 years.

  26. centristcanuck permalink
    May 18, 2014 8:56 PM

    Ooh this seems like FPTP vs Proportional Representative debate when conservatives won over liberals in Canada. Believe me Canada is fine, India will be fine as well. Both system have strengths and flaws. But, I don’t agree Proportional Representative system will work for India. One of the reasons Congress was ineffective was that it had various allies and they really couldn’t reform due to threats by their allies. India needs a strong stable government regardless of which party is at the centre. India being such a multi-cultural entity, I see individuals becoming more polarized in terms of caste, religion, regional identities. As for Modi, let him actually run the country and then oppose his actions if they conform to the worst fears.

  27. v v anand permalink
    May 18, 2014 9:01 PM

    particularly thankful for Mark Gideon’s post. As regards the main issue of FPTP, PR is dangerous because it will fortificate sectarian differences. In fact, Modi could hypothetically have benefited from PR because opportunistic appeals to subaltern groups and strongly regional or subnational-oriented electorates can be made on the pitch that they would gain from joining the bandwagon since they cannot beat it.. This is not a mandate for Hindu rashtra, Modi has talked mainly of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas. True, his fascist persona comes out as when he says , “in Vadodara , every voter became Narendra Modi”. No such thing . a substantial number voted against him. But given his track recordin Gujarat, he may well sideline the RSS and its agendsa. Not unlike Hitler, who first slaughtered his own supporters , in the massacre of 8000 SA members in june 1934.RSS anyway is embroiled in 7 or 8 saffron terror cases, and Modi may do his best to extricate them there. But, hopefully, they would be unable to ask for more.

  28. Vini permalink
    May 18, 2014 9:12 PM

    “modify our existing Labour Laws to facilitate layoff / retrenchment , when situation so demands , while protecting the interests of the workmen concerned”.
    Could you please elucidate Hemen Parekh, what magical labor law would facilitate easier to layoffs and yet protect interests of the workmen? If you can provide a sane answer, congratulations! you have solved one of the greatest wars in history between capitalism and labor rights!

  29. Abu Fitna permalink
    May 19, 2014 12:05 AM

    Chudabrata Sengupta writes like Shakespeare.

  30. May 19, 2014 2:22 AM

    The view you have taken is very biased. You should have taken the earlier government formation figure in perspective. You are pointing figure at journalists for carrying the Modi agenda forward based upon half truth but you are doing the same. He has been a CM for 12 years now and had he not been an able administrator he would not have been re-elected twice. This election has proved mere lip service against burning issues will not suffice. Political will is required to get things done. A little “autocracy” does no harm.
    As for his communal image is concerned, the SC has given him clean chit, apart from many other constitutional institution.
    One harsh point: The minorities need not be afraid of Modi and hindus. Your forefathes have choosed to stay in India because they considered themselves indian , we respect that and you are an indian to us,but i am sorry to say your leaders today support terrorist and speak of killing every hindus if given a chance. So i think the liberal muslims should equivocally denouce that too.

  31. Bhargavi G permalink
    May 19, 2014 7:42 AM

    1. Are you debating the flaws of FPTP system in general or just this particular election?

    2. Can you list out the three most representative governments formed in the last, say 20 years?

    3. Have you thought about the multi-party system that we have in India?

    4. Which other electoral system is best suited for India? And why?

    5. Can you apply an electoral system of your choice to the results of the 2014 general elections and demonstrate the results for us?

    6. What about the ratio of urban to rural voting percentage that can be loosely analogous to literate and illiterate voters in India if you are choosing another electoral system?

    7. What about the overall general dismal voting percentage of India?

    8. Can a democratic government ever represent a billion Indians? Or would that have to be one that is forced upon every single one of us?

    9. What was the number of political parties in 1977? What is the number of political parties in 2014? Do you think that would have an effect on the vote share and the forming of more ‘representative’ governments? And if so, is the 2014-1977 comparison fair?

    10. And lastly, can Narendra Modi be compared to any other world political leader based on the same parameters? You know, election numbers, voter statistics, etc? Apart from the amazingly accurate comparison with someone whose horrendous actions go down as one of the ugliest, blackest spots in the history of our entire human existence, of course!

  32. Sharath permalink
    May 19, 2014 9:01 AM

    Mr Sengupta, you’re right. We need a little honest arithmetic. Now if only you could find a mirror somewhere…

  33. May 19, 2014 10:25 AM

    Reblogged this on AsheX.

  34. May 19, 2014 12:29 PM

    Dear Suddha

    Thank you for your post.

    I think that the issue is not simply one of calculations nor of advantages or disadvantages of different electoral systems.

    I am personally worried about this “victory” of Modi leading to the legitimation of strong-arm tactics by Modi-supporters to bring in-line anybody who do not share their point of view. In my long stay in India last winter, I did have numerous discussions with Modi-supporters who talked about how Hitler’s biography and experience was an example to follow. I agree with you that India in 2014 is different from Germany in 1932. The very same Modi-supporters also talked about Stalin and Napoleon. But there is no doubt that Modi and many of his supporters do have fascist leanings and that they seem to now have free-hand (and also support from some of the readers above) to implement their own version of Fascism2014@India.

    I am worried that this outcome could severely undermine the “rule of law”, “freedom of speech”, “freedom of belief”, the secular fabric, minority rights and the environment of India. Further, given the posturing already going on, I think that the risk of instability extends to the whole region.

    How can we now prevent Modi and his supporters (any percentage you arrive at) from taking India and the region into a path of increased intolerance, violence and destruction?

    With solidarity for your work

    Mukul

  35. Byju Vijayan permalink
    May 19, 2014 2:57 PM

    The parallels between Hitler and Modi cannot be glossed over. RSS has always hero worshipped Hitler and Mussolini. BJP is only an arm of RSS. The surrender of Advani & Co, themselves hardline RSS people, do have parallels in Hitler’s Germany

  36. Rashmi permalink
    May 20, 2014 1:52 AM

    A debate seems to be raging about the merits vs. demerits of FPTP system and there are allegations of playing with the figures. So let me make my position clear. I am okay with what Modi-worshippers (there can be no other term for their blind and unthinking devotion) have to say – that Modi (not BJP – mind you) got 31% of the votes polled and we do not know anything about the others who either chose not to vote or were ineligible because they are young etc. Also add all the votes that the allies got – for they too polled in the name of Modi – ‘if you vote for us, you vote for Modi’ type of stuff.That takes the figure to a bit over 38% of the total votes in these elections. It is safe to say that 38.something% of the people who were eligible to vote and made the effort to go out and vote, voted for Modi. That means that a little over 60% of the people who were eligible to vote and made the effort to go out and vote consciously chose not to vote for Modi!!! That surely is something to think about…

    All the Modi worshippers are wondering why no one talked about the vote shares earlier, when AAP won or when Congress won in 2004/2009. Let me remind them that no one talked about it even when Vajpayee formed the government in 1998/1999. So it is not just the visceral hatred for BJP and its ideology that is fuelling this debate. The reason lies in the context of these elections. As has been repeated ad nauseum, these are most polarising elections in the history of Independent India. And the two polarities were Modi(not BJP, anti-Congress, development or any other fig-leaf) and The Rest. This is not just my reading – this image has been created and reinforced by the Modi campaign and BJP’s leaders – the personality cult of Modi, the implicit “either you are with us or against us” messaging, Giriraj Singh’s statement that all those who oppose Modi (not BJP, right wing, Hindu majoritarianism or anything else, but Modi) should go to Pakistan and numerous other such overt and covert incidents. (Incidentally, this remark got a political equivalent of a rap on the knuckles from Modi to keep up the pretence of a debate about ‘development’ but no firm denunciation.) So. according to Modi’s campaign if you did not viote for him – for whatever reason, then you voted against him.

    Which is why I am saying that a little over 60% of the people voted against Modi. And yet, he is our Prime Minister. I do think that is a travesty of the democratic system as it exists in India today.

    • Rashmi permalink
      May 20, 2014 2:11 AM

      As an aside, since a little over 60% of the voters who voted, voted against Modi and Modi has won the elections, as it turns out, are they expected to pack their bags and leave for Pakistan?! Considering the non-voters attached to them – little children and old dependents who did not/ could not vote but cannot be left behind – this would be a huge procession of human migration. Partition remains the largest human migration in human history but Modi could put that to shame. And solve India’s population woes in one stroke – master stroke surely! Hail Narendra Mohammad Ali Jinnah Modi !!

    • Nil permalink
      May 20, 2014 8:20 AM

      For pointing out statistical errors in your article you are calling people Modi-Bhakts, So If you knew the true statistics earlier, why did you try to come up with these manipulations, which can be very easily noticed. And now, you are summarily calling everyone pointing fingers at your statistics Modi-Bhakts. Good, Keep it up!!!
      You are saying that 60% rejected Modi, let’s give a spin to the perspective, what about that Modi found maximum number of takers in this election. Everyone fought with some name, be it Nitish or Mulayam or Mayawati or Mamta or Jayalalitha or the Gandhi Dynasty, But unluckily they were rejected by more people than Modi was rejected.
      You are playing with argument, I feel like you are trying to fool me. The problem which really exists with FPTP system is now being hurled at BJP. This is the way elections take place in India, If you have problem change FPTP system? Aren’t many other elections in states are fought with one man team. one man advertisement e.g. Lalu, Nitish, Mayawati, Arvind kejriwal, Jayalalitha, Navin Patnaik, Mamta Banerjee?

      • Rashmi permalink
        May 20, 2014 5:08 PM

        Yes, here are leaders and they will be projected as the faces of their respective parties. But at all times, no matter how big the leader, the votes are sought in the names of their parties or the ideologies they represent, not in the name of the Supreme Leader. Also, nowhere, in the rhetoric of the other parties now or earlier, is there a streak of “if you are not with us, then you are against us.” From Girigaj Singh’s infamous “go to Pakistan” line to Chetan Bhagat saying that “if you don’t like the rules of this country, find yourself another country”, this is the consistent refrain in the Modi campaign and THIS is the difference. This is why it is a Modi vs. the Rest election. We have a right to stay here and air our opinions even if we are opposed to the ideologies of the others but if you are against Modi then you better pack up your bags and leave. And 60% of the people who voted are against Modi. Excuse me, but who the hell are you to tell me to go anywhere else?! I am a citizen of this country and peaceful dissent is my birth right. If YOU don’t like that then YOU go wherever you can satisfy your dictatorial instincts.

  37. Gyanendra permalink
    May 20, 2014 11:49 AM

    The Modi effect on economy has already began. Imagine the funds that were being poured through NGOs by vested interest to malign CM Modi. Now the funding will be scaled manifold to continue the same for PM Modi.

    Incidentally the ground work is being done with his comparison to Hitler and finding fault with the election process. Later non continuation of minority tokenism would be highlighted. Next the cause of Bangladeshi infiltrators will be paddled as humanitarian crisis. And if and when a terrorist act or communal riot takes place in the country anywhere then it will be linked to ascension of Modi to PM’s post. Prices have to be down on 101st day of Modi Government. The articles can be kept ready from now if it does not happen.

    My God! so much to do and so little time. The Bas***rd was right after all. Achche din aane wale hain Comrades.

  38. Sid permalink
    May 22, 2014 10:13 PM

    No nation is more stupid. The writer of the article is perhaps only expressing surprise at the indifference we exhibit even after electing a government representative of only a minority. Agreed that there is no better alternative system yet, that all our past governments were not representative either, that the FPTP system is pretty much not very representative or that no one ever pointed out non-representative governments in the past, so why do so now. But that is precisely the point. The question raised by the writer has nothing to do with the party that has just been elected or the leader of that party. The writer is perhaps only hinting at the fact that we brushed aside the non-representative aspect of our electoral system at each election time in the past because of lack of alternatives or whatever, hoping each time that somehow we would end up in a better position with some non-representative government we would elect. But with each new non-representative government we have elected, we have only been able to land ourselves cumulatively deeper and deeper in the mess we are in today. And now we still want to be able to believe beyond logic that the just elected non-representative government will/can deliver us into the land of the plenty. Fools we are, fools we shall remain. It is time we learn from our mistakes. This has nothing to be do with the elected party or its new PM. Wish the new PM the very best, really. But given that the system is intrinsically non-representative, it would be totally and completely illogical for us to expect a Shangrila at the end of 5 years.

  39. Shreevar Kheruka permalink
    May 24, 2014 8:28 PM

    Firstly BJP contested only 424 odd seats. They won 282 of them. How can you divide their vote share by the total votes cast in all 543 seats? If you wish to divide vote share across India, you should add the vote share of the entire NDA. That is more than 39%. Dont musrepresent facts to your readers dear author.

    • Sid permalink
      May 25, 2014 9:42 PM

      I don’t think the author misrepresents the percentages. Percentages of that kind are indeed calculated that way based on the intended logic. Even independent observers of the Indian elections all over the globe had been using the very same logic even before the author wrote this article. All of these global observers have expressed similar concern about the extremely low percentage BJP vote share of around 31%, less than a third of the total votes cast. The concern is not so much about all such FPTP-elected governments being not-so-representative, but that this elected Indian government is perhaps at the lowest extreme of that not-so-representative range. If BJP decided to contest fewer seats, then it means they decided not to represent a section of the voters on purpose. Understand that a part of this unrepresentated section of voters COULD have gone the BJP way. But that absolutely is a hypothesis that cannot be posited post elections. For, arguably, the BJP chose not to represent that section of voters intentionally because they obviously knew they would not be getting any votes from them. Everything that political parties do is premeditated and thought through carefully for campaigning efficiency. Hats off to Modi for pulling off a brilliant victory. I particularly liked his chai-pe-charcha. There is no parallel. It is something everybody in the world ought to see and take away from. Wish him the best and hope he does the country great. However, given that their percentage vote share is less than a third, I would keep my fingers crossed while being optimistic. It would simply be illogical to expect the world from a party that has won the smallest popular vote ever. That is really the concern. Let’s be logical and dispassionate about it. Logically and historically, the most unpopular governments only get pulled hither tither by various forces and achieve little in the long run, nothing to do with Modi or his capabilities.

    • rashmi permalink
      May 25, 2014 10:49 PM

      Even if we go by your figures, that still leaves more than 60% people getting a government they actively went out to vote against. Anyway you look at it, it is NOT democracy, given the bipolar nature of these elections.

  40. May 25, 2014 12:57 AM

    What rubbish! The author says that we should not call Modi as ‘PM of India’ but as ‘PM of x% of India’ ! Can you also derive what percentage of India was Manmohan Singh the PM,because till 2014 all the PMs of India have not be calculated in percentages?

  41. bmniac permalink
    May 25, 2014 10:09 PM

    The perusal of the not quite educational or entertaining material above i just wondered about the following
    1 If i had used data as casually as I find here i would have been detained in my fist year in the University. Incidentally many of my Leftist academic friends(even those known for their tortuous and convoluted argumentation) would not have been so cavalier.
    2 i agree about a manifesto. more or less promising what they would deliver if elected, Many have no coherent ideology and are full of mother hood statements. There were times I had to prepare a coherent programme for a newly elected Government and was advised by the CM(Marxist or Congress) not to be foolish and stop wasting time.
    3 As for continuous violence (with fits and starts north Kerala is not far behind anyone!
    And I have been very recently informed that politics In Bengal remains the same except that “thugs have transferred their loyalty to TMC”
    While I agree that Modi needs to be watched. the Left is virtually wiped out and the regional parties exist for their leaders.
    Anger is not enough we need calm reasoning too. As for abuse I would say that that is an indication of weakness in argument especially in a forum like this.

Trackbacks

  1. Excitotoxins and MSG. (Or, the Modi Style of Governance) | Kafila
  2. Narendra Modi - the people's politician - Page 390
  3. Indian Election Results: Part 1: Why Modi Won | It's a Political World

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