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NaMo, will you surprise us all?

April 26, 2014 18:18 IST

Will Narendra Modi bring to his appointment the vision and stature that the PM's job requires? Will he prove the worst fears of his detractors wrong, wonders Malavika Sangghvi

Why didn't Mumbaikers vote in larger numbers? For a city that takes such an active part in the political narrative, participates in candle-lit protests and TV debates with alacrity and has bequeathed the nation a galaxy of professional 'sound biters' who have a pithy comment on just about any subject under the sun, it is a matter of shame that the percentage of those who came out to vote on Thursday was one of the lowest in urban India.

The apathy of the city's elite was cited as one of the reasons for the sorry show at the hustings and many jokes about voting timings clashing with appointments made with masseurs and kitty party friends did the rounds.

Mumbai's high-profile film industry also came in for some drubbing when many of its citizens chose to attend an awards night in Florida over their national duty. It was an unfortunate choice and some damage control to restore the credibility of the stars that opted out of the democratic obligation will be required.

Of course, defenders of the industry pointed out that many of its biggest stars did go out and exercise their franchise. In fact, Amitabh Bachchan and his family and the three reigning Khans of Bollywood -- Aamir, Salman and Shah Rukh -- were splashed all over the next morning's papers -- with their fingers inked for everyone to see.

To this list of politically correct behaviourists were added the photographs of other city celebrities: the Ambani brothers, and Sachin and Anjali Tendulkar were also featured in the papers exercising their franchise.

When I went to cast my vote at a nearby school set in a leafy lane in South Mumbai's Warden Road, it was a congenial exercise: neighbours waved to each other cheerily, the staff on duty was polite and people offered each other places in the queue ahead of themselves.

Voting in South Mumbai afforded all the civility and courtesy expected from the capital of India's financial district and one of its highest tax sources.

Mercifully, I was spared the trauma suffered by many Mumbai citizens of not finding their name on the rolls. My own election card was dropped through the post box a few days in advance. It helpfully carried the address, the booth number and all the other details required. What's more, conscientious social networking friends had alerted me about not being allowed a mobile in the booth and all other matters that could have impeded the exercise.

By the time my turn came, I was ready with my election card, personal ID and choice of candidate.

So now that the deed is done, the cast set, the finger inked and the photograph of the event duly posted on Facebook, what does one have to look forward to?

For starters, a feeling of anti-climax and lack of suspense. With even the most diehard supporters of the United Progressive Alliance privately conceding defeat and the fact that they are looking forward to sitting in the opposition benches for the next term, it appears to be that the results on May 16 will only be a formality.

Already hosannas and murmurs of apprehension surround the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate by his supporters and critics.

Will he bring to his appointment the vision and stature that the job requires? Will he prove the worst fears of his detractors wrong and carry along in his wake an India that includes every one and in which all will prosper? Will minorities be safe and assured of their rights to worship, live and work the way they want to?

Here's looking at you NaMo. Perhaps you might surprise us all.

Image: BJP's PM nominee Narendra Modi hugs a Muslim leader in Ahmedabad

Malavika Sangghvi in Mumbai