The Rise of the Right Liberal

The thumping mandate received by Narendra Modi in the recently concluded General elections and its aftermath has thrown up several interesting issues.

Newly sworn-in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (2R) and cabinet ministers stand with President of India Ram Nath Kovind (C) after taking the oath of office at the President house in New Delhi on May 30, 2019 (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)

Firstly, the seven decade old left-liberal is bleeding, perhaps to death. Largely due to their own doings, the Congress, which was the leading symbol of the left liberal, followed by the many variants of the Communist parties, have been given a total drubbing by the electorate, cutting right across caste, class and religious lines. In fact, the very existence of the CPM and the CPI is presently in doubt, again made possible due to sanctimonious utterances of these parties which lacked even an iota of credibility.

The Congress has been done in primarily by the Congress. By steadfastly refusing to face the reality and unable to realise the disgust that the country was feeling towards openly sycophantic and dynastic processes, Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul are possibly presiding over the death-throes of the once-Grand Old Party.

It is perhaps a moment of truth that the politicians are having to face.

The young electorate is asking the the age-old human question – what's in it for me? A question that does not get answered by inane truisms of being a ‘pluralistic, multicultural, democratic country’. A question that begs for an inspirational person who promises them an identity laced with individual growth.

To answer this, Narendra Modi has raised his hand (pun unintended).

That leaves us with the larger issue of what is going to be the nature of the polity that gets defined over the next five years?

To get some glimpses of that, one must examine the statements and the acts of Modi and his ministers in the immediate aftermath of the elections. Celebrations apart, the tone was inclusive, even a tad deferential. There was no tribal chest thumping, the likes of which we saw in 2014. The mood appeared to be ‘We always knew it, now we have proved it’. Appointment of Amit Shah as the Home Minister was also a signal that there will be an iron fist. But the ‘Sabka vikas’ theme, hammered in by all ministers, hinted at the velvet glove that will cover the fist.

Essentially, the message was: Modi is for all Indians and against all those who are anti-Indians. The public rebuke delivered to Giriraj Singh was also signal in the same direction. The subliminal message was ‘While we have the brute majority, we recognize that all sections of voters have trusted in us, irrespective of the religion or caste’.

This may just be the glimmerings of the rise of the Right Liberal: undoubtedly majoritarian, but inclusive in its broad agenda. It would probably include a temple in Ayodhya, but may exclude cow-vigilantes. It may include a 3-language formula but may make an exception for the Southern states, like the beef ban exception to Goa and the North-Eastern states. It may include conducting elections in J&K, but will not desist from coming down hard on the Pakistan-sponsored and funded terrorism. It may include all of the above with opportunistic alliances on the global front.

In short, it will be everything that probably makes common sense, but was not done by the 50+ years of left liberal rule in India. It will also clearly demarcate the individual aspirations and national priorities and as long as the former does not impinge on the latter, it will be perfectly fine.

What, however, may not be fine, will be the absolute freedom, without any checks and balances. Thoughts like that of Latha Jishnu, Arundhati Roy et al, will be under scrutiny, as will be the vitriol from the J&K separatists and their ilk. Those are clearly not ‘India-friendly’ and will be subjected to Amit Shah’s iron fist. It also means that AFSPA and the Sedition laws stay.

The Indian public has clearly declared, in no uncertain terms that as long as it does not touch their individual lives, they probably don't care how many ‘anti-Indian’ forces get arraigned or how many journalists get arrested under ‘sedition’ laws. That is just a piece of news for them. However, they will immediately get affected if another ‘demonetization’ happens, the chances of which are anyway really low.

Welcome to the new world of Right-Liberal, where you are either with us or against us. On that there is no debate.