Budget 2024-25: ‘People are realizing there are no free lunches…

…ultimately, they’ll have to foot the bill with more or higher taxes’

Interview: Dharam Gokhool

* ‘Xavier Duval finds himself at a crucial crossroad. Difficult decisions must be made.
Will he compromise his principles and align with the MSM, or will he adhere to them?’

* ‘There should be no illusion about the FCC’s agenda. Some visible signs of its intentions are already emerging’

Following the recent Indian elections, the need to decipher lessons from the outcomes is vital. While the BJP-led NDA Alliance secured a majority under PM Modi’s leadership, the Opposition INDIA alliance, led by Rahul Gandhi, made significant progress. These results highlight the unpredictability of electoral preferences, challenging exit polls’ reliability and reaffirming democracy’s reliance on voters. As Mauritius potentially approaches its own elections, today’s budget presentation may shed light on the MSM-led government’s electoral strategy. Dharam Gokhool, former Labour government minister, shares insights into the economic and social factors shaping the electoral landscape.

Mauritius Times:  While the context may differ, there are valuable lessons to be learned from the results of the Indian elections announced last Tuesday. What can we learn from these election outcomes?

Dharam Gokhool: The BJP-led NDA Alliance of PM Modi, running for a third mandate secured the majority needed to form its third consecutive government, but it fell short of its goal of winning a substantial majority of 400+ seats. Additionally, the party made gains in the South but lost ground in the North. The Opposition INDIA alliance, led by Rahul Gandhi, made significant progress both in the North and South, and Congress secured a total of 99 seats, propelling Rahul Gandhi as a serious a challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Although the context is different, and it may take some time to digest all the facts and figures to get a clearer picture of what happened and why, already a few preliminary lessons can be drawn.

Firstly, in a democracy, people are sovereign, and they can make and unmake governments and governments stay in power so long as they uphold the trust of the people. Otherwise, voter discontent finds its voice in the ballot box.

During his two mandates, Prime Minister Modi delivered on many of his key manifesto promises like generous welfare programmes but was not able to tackle socio-economic challenges like joblessness, rising prices, growing inequality that hurt the common people the most.

His closeness with the business sector created the perception that corporate interests were being favoured at the expense of people’s interests, and the Opposition successfully exploited this perception to its advantage. It contributed to erode people’s trust in Modi’s government and resulted in significant loss of seats for his party.

Secondly, Indian democracy, since the painful days of its independence, has been built on secular principles, with tolerance and peaceful coexistence as its main foundation stones. Divisive politics have limits and, when stretched too far, can backfire in the long run. In UP, the home to the Ram Mandir, consecrated on January 24, surprisingly, did not provide BJP with the traction it expected, and it suffered severe setbacks.

Thirdly, when governments stay in power for too long, the risks associated with abuse or misuse of power increases and people opt for a change. This is the anti-incumbency syndrome which can also adversely impact on a government’s chances of retaining power. After two successive mandates, it is likely that the Modi government also suffered from the anti-incumbency factor as it has happened in many other democracies.

Fourthly, once again, as in many other cases, we find that exit polls are not reliable indicators of the people’s voting preferences. Pollsters and psychologists are not able to read voters’ minds with accuracy. It is the ballot box that continues to hold the secret of electoral outcomes.

And finally, the results also show that we must not lose faith in democracy and that people are the ultimate guardians of democracy. They decide and will keep politicians under control through checks and balances. Their support will contribute to recalibrate the INDIA alliance and hopefully restore and strengthen the democratic credentials of India. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 7 June 2024

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