Modi 3.0: Listening to Ground Realities Key to India’s Empowerment and Development

While the BJP swept the poll with accentuating fervour, it needs to do some work to regain the faith in a few regions.

By Om Prakash Dwivedi

Stories are fictitious but their impact can be monumental in real life. By nature, humans are attuned to stories, which is precisely why humanities and social sciences gain currency in our real lives. In storytelling, both the characters and the storyteller become fellow travelers as they analyze the ongoing twists in the plot development, linking them with their personal journeys. For, the stories we tell go on to share our surroundings and society, including national and international agendas. That is exactly what we witnessed in the just concluded election result for the 18th Lok Sabha. While the BJP swept the poll with accentuating fervour, it needs to do some work to regain the faith in a few regions.

Short of a complete majority, the BJP’s narratives of development were somewhat outflanked by the combined counter-narratives by the Opposition of the diminishing of the Constitution and an acute degree of miscalculations of the ground-level reality. How else does one justify the victory of the three independent candidates, two from Punjab and one from Kashmir, all having connections to separatist aspirations? Or for that matter, the loss of the BJP in the Ayodhya constituency despite the construction of the Ram temple after a marathon wait of more than 500+ years. For example, the Faizabad region was teeming with anger due to the loss of property and land and the fact that many of them were not properly compensated.

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As Suryakant Pandey, a local politician from the Ayodhya constituency pointed out, “The displaced residents, who were given land by the State government elsewhere, are yet to get legal rights over the allotted land. The government has plans to develop Ayodhya as a world-class climate-smart city.” Likewise, many of these people approached the Allahabad High Court and filed a writ petition against the State government, hoping to gain some relief in the case of the lost lands.

Any master storyteller would prefer to develop his plot keeping the conflicting views of diverse characters. This is where the BJP seemed to have erred in the present elections. Coming back to story-telling, any avid reader would tell you that it is not just the palpable words visible on the pages that matter, but the gaps and silences in story-telling matter more. How did the BJP, a party that has been so adept in narrative buildings discount this fact in the wake of its 400+ clarion call?

Perhaps, it was a case of teeming arrogance as many critics point out. Perhaps not. I believe it was largely a case of not paying attention to developments outside of its own echo chamber. For, in story-telling, oratory skills need to be in alignment with listening capacity. Rightly, John Bryan of the Sarah Lee Corporation points out, “You have to be willing sometimes to listen to some remarkable bad opinions. Because if you say to someone, ‘That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard; get on out of here!’ — then you’ll never get anything out of that person again, and you might as well have a puppet on a string or a robot.”

The task of echo chambers is vital to stoke and engender narratives, and each political party has its own echo chamber. But the political erudition also lies in listening to other stories outside one’s echo chamber. As Kabir once famously said, “निंदक नियरे राखिए, ऑंगन कुटी छवाय, बिन पानी, साबुन बिना, निर्मल करे सुभाय। ( Keep your critic close, you get to know your faults if someone criticizes you, and you have a chance to correct them).To condone but not condemn processes within the echo chamber can impair the listening ability. Likewise, the narratives generated by and within the echo chamber can obfuscate the ground-level reality. Swapan Dasgupta sharply observes, “What is more noteworthy is that the alarm signals were not picked up by BJP prior to polling to contain any potential damage.”

The tenure of Modi 3.0 and his team will start today. His iron-clad figure is still the national face and continues to appeal to the Indians and several global leaders. Under his dynamic leadership, the team has been highly successful in appealing to new geographical territories with its strong narratives, the party needs some imaginational stretch in the regions it didn’t perform to its expectations.

As Modi said, “NDA’s third term will see a new ‘Golden Chapter’ in India’s development, and this is Modi’s guarantee.” He added that “uplifting 25 crore Indians from poverty is our commitment to foster the empowerment of the deprived” and that he is focussed on the “holistic development of all including the SC-ST-OBCs while also facilitating women-led development.”

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To bring them all together Modi 3.0 may need a stronger team on the ground who are willing to listen to the ground reality and relay the same to the higher authorities so that the trust and faith in the BJP can be only strengthened. After all, in any democracy conversations and negotiations matter a lot. That is why, Modi 3.0 should encourage more narratives from scholars in the field of humanities and social sciences.

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