Hands down

There are winners and there are losers in any election. But this is one election India can feel particularly good about. Not only because it's been one of our smoothest ever — for which the Election Commission deserves the nation's gratitude — but also because it confirms the positive trends that some of us, incorrigible optimists, have been flagging for a while. This newspaper has argued that the politics of grievance, rooted in our complex past, is giving way to the politics of aspiration. Or, as Thomas Friedman puts it, the weight of dreams is turning out heavier than that of memories. This election, powered by 60 crore voters, shows our democracy is firmly on that virtuous curve.

For, anybody who built a campaign on negativism, prejudice, victimhood and vengeance has been demolished. The voter has, in fact, been even less forgiving with victims of hubris, with those who loftily announce themselves as "next" Prime Ministers without being sure of even 40 seats; those who build their own statues; and those who with a fraction of seats in Parliament aspire to control the nation's foreign and economic policies without, of course, being accountable for anything. The Indian voter has always rejected arrogance and pomposity but has sometimes been forgiving to those with whom she might have found affinity of caste, religion or ethnicity. By jettisoning even that, the voter has shown new maturity. This didn't happen overnight. Over the past five years, we saw the voter increasingly reject the spoilers, the rent-seekers. This election reaffirms that trend — and vindicates the faith in those who deliver.

There are other shifts, some stunning, some subtle. This will be India's first post-1991 secular government elected without any help from the Left and in spite of its bitter opposition. So the voter has also junked the idea that Indian secularism needs certificates of legitimacy from the Left. Or that, somehow, you had to be godless to be secular.

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