The biggest festival of democracy is finally over and done after months of political bickering, mudslinging, personal attacks and high-decibel campaigning by politicians from different parties. The fight for power was fierce and the stakes were high as the poll pendulum swung unpredictably prior to the counting day. The Congress’ imposing show in last year’s state assembly elections, which were dubbed as semi-finals to the general elections, rattled the otherwise confident BJP that had an impressive run since its landslide victory five years ago. Most pre-poll surveys predicted a remarkable comeback from the Congress and hinted at a possible fractured mandate; thus forcing political parties to scurry for pre-poll and post-poll allies. It pushed all the political parties to the edge. Besides the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), there was the Gathbandhan (BSP-SP-RLD) this time around. So the campaigns were louder than ever and the Election Commission of India had a hard time, to the point where its credibility was questioned by some, as hordes of complaints were filed against several politicians for alleged breach of the model code of conduct.
Nagaland too has had its share of pushing and shoving prior to the elections; mainly between the ruling PDA’s consensus candidate and sitting MP Tokheho Yepthomi of NDPP and Congress candidate K L Chishi, who found an unlikely ally in the NPF. The decision to not field its own candidate for the parliamentary elections did more harm than good to the NPF as many of its legislators and functionaries left the party in protest. Interestingly, both the NDPP and Congress candidates were served show cause notices for alleged violation of the election model code of conduct. The people of the state also witnessed some drama in the by-election to the 26-Aonglenden assembly constituency as two intending candidates withdrew their nomination papers before the battle actually began.
However, the commotion in the days leading up to the elections was momentary. The nation witnessed an anti-climax as the NDPP won both the assembly and parliamentary elections in the state and the BJP-NDA once again swept the Lok Sabha elections on the vote counting day. Many Indian streets wore a festive look on Thursday as supporters of winning candidates erupted in celebration. It was not just the win but the manner in which the BJP pulled off the whole episode convincingly by storming the bastions of other political parties is praise worthy. While the NDA has a huge responsibility ahead, to fulfil its promises and boost the economy of the country, the opposition parties should accept the defeat gracefully and respect the verdict of the people as Congress has put it on social media: “Congratulations to @BJP4India & @narendramodi on a decisive victory. The people of India have made their decision & we respect their mandate. We’d like to thank all our workers for their hard work. We wish the new govt the best & look forward to working towards India’s future.” This should be the spirit of an election in a democracy.