Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a rally during the general election of 2019. Photo: AFP / Sachin Kumar

The dust of the 2019 Indian general elections, the most bitterly fought in the country’s political history, has settled. It has been more than a month since the results confirmed the re-election of Narendra Modi with a stronger mandate than his previous term as prime minister of the largest democracy of the world. But more than this, the bitter fact is the refusal of India’s liberals to accept the truth that they are wrong in the notion that the secular fabric and country’s constitution have been facing an immense threat since Modi’s assumption to power in 2014. They still strongly believe in these ideas.

Liberals who were almost sure that in 2019, India would see the exit of “communal” Narendra Modi and the country would see a new “secular” and “democratic” prime minister, were shocked on May 23 when the results made it clear that the country’s political center has now shifted from the country’s oldest party, the Indian National Congress (INC), to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Obviously, liberals did accept that they had been mistaken when they were unable to foresee the Modi-led BJP’s tsunami in the elections. But the problem is they still believe that Modi’s victory is mainly due to his heavy marketing strategy based on strong, muscular nationalism mixed with threads of majoritarian Hindutva, which totally overpowered people-oriented issues like agriculture distress and high unemployment.

No doubt there have been agricultural distress and high unemployment, a fact that has been acknowledged by the Modi government – though only after its re-assumption of power in June. Although reports of rising unemployment have been associated with the first term of the Modi government, the BJP tried to counter that unemployment wasn’t rising as was propagated, fearing loss of significant votes.

However, what liberals didn’t notice or most probably deliberately chose to ignore was the success of the welfare schemes of the Modi government, which eventually reached the poor directly – even better than in the Congress era. From providing cooking gas to 6 million women to building 90 million toilets for hundreds of millions of people to opening 300 million bank accounts for those who never had them before to transferring yearly US$85 to farmers’ accounts to providing free medical care to 500 million people, Modi successfully emerged as “a messiah of the Indian poor,” reflecting the late prime minister Indira Gandhi – who undoubtedly was the most popular Congress leader after India’s independence. Not only this, Modi’s clean image was a big factor for the electorate, while the opposition completely failed to offer a leader with alternative ideas.

Liberals for the past five years have tried to make Indians believe that democracy, secularism and constitution were in danger under Modi’s regime. First of all, it is not that everything that happened in the first term of Modi government was good. However, it is also a fact that there was no golden age during Congress’ era as these liberals have tried to make Indians believe. If today Muslims remain economically weak, isn’t the INC, which ruled the country for 55 years, responsible for treating them as their vote banks in the name of “secularism”? Liberals who have attacked the Modi government for lynchings across the country would never highlight the fact that such violence has taken place not only in BJP-ruled states but also in opposition-ruled states.

One of the major reasons for lynchings is fake news propagated through social media, and these are not political incidents. However, for liberals, the only political party responsible for lynchings is the Modi-led BJP. It is this unnecessary politicization of these dangerous incidents that has added more complexities to the problem of lynchings instead of offering solutions.

Recently, when Mahua Moitra, a new Trinamool Congress member of the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament), listed seven points illustrating that the country was on a dangerous path toward fascism, liberals quickly made her their new icon – as they had already dumped Rahul Gandhi, who recently resigned from the presidency of the INC. They deliberately ignored the fact that the dangerous trend that Moitra talked about exactly resonated well in her own state – West Bengal, which is run by her own party’s supremo Mamata Banerjee. This shows the ideological bankruptcy of liberals who only want to see the wrongs of the Modi government.

Just because Indians didn’t vote as per the wishes of liberals doesn’t mean that Indian voters are silly; they are aware of their own needs and they voted for Modi as he delivered what they wanted and provided hopes of completing the tasks of the first term while the opposition was just busy running a completely negative campaign.

The bitter truth is that these days it is very difficult to separate India’s liberals from the radical left, and this is really not a good sign for liberalism in India. So it would be better for those who are now busy criticizing Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party for their massive failure to accept the truth and examine their own half-baked ideas that have made them more irrelevant than the Congress or any other opposition party in the country.

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