India has voted.
The biggest festival of democracy has just concluded and in those thousands of EVMs lies the verdict of the people of India. Counting of votes will take place on 16th but today we already have the undisputed winners and they are the people of India! Once again, India has won, the ballot has won and the spirit of democracy has triumphed.
I would like to express my gratitude to the Election Commission for conducting this mammoth exercise. I thank and salute all those countless election staff, security personnel and police personnel without whom no Election is possible.
It is unfortunate that we witnessed some untoward incidents during the poll process during which lives were lost. I salute all those who are martyred and offer my deepest condolences to their families. These brave individuals lived and died for democracy. It is our duty to ensure that their sacrifices do not go in vain.
History will remember 2014 Elections as historic and marking a paradigm shift from conventional electioneering. Normally, the party in power sets the agenda of the campaign but for the first time it was not the case. Far from setting the agenda, the ruling party was neither proactive nor responsive. It was only reactive throughout the campaign
What makes me very happy is the fact that the NDA remained firm on their agenda of development and good governance. We did not stop there; we successfully forced these two issues to become the focal point of the campaign. Yes, there were attempts to digress from these issues but we remained firm. The result was- those who wanted to praise us said we are doing well and those who wanted to critique us kept saying ‘we are doing better than BJP ruled states.’ An election must be fought on positive issues and I am glad we were able to alter the discourse in a way that helped people make their choices.
2014 Lok Sabha elections will stand out for the increased turnout. Whenever polling would end for a particular phase, I would eagerly wait for the polling numbers and invariably my joy would increase seeing the jump in turnout. Be it the cities or villages, old or young, men or women, everyone voted in large numbers. In most of the places it was sweltering, in some places there was rain and in some of the places in the hills it was cool apart from the hilly terrain but none of this deterred people from going out and voting.
Here I want to make a special mention for the increasing turnout among youngsters. Back in the day, voting was not believed to be ‘cool enough’ for a lot of youngsters. Today that is history. Voting is cool and rightly so! One needs to log in to Facebook or Twitter on polling day to see the number of Selfies my young friends are sharing. This is a very positive sign and I hope it continues in the times to come.
Throughout the campaign, I was able to connect with local people and local issues and this was something that I enjoyed very much. Connecting with local sentiments in this manner would not have been possible without social media. This is the first election where social media has assumed an important role and the importance of this medium will only increase in the years to come. Our Party, our campaign and me personally have gained tremendously from social media. It became a direct means of information and gave us the much-needed local pulse on several issues without any bias. It is said that the success of an Organisation depends on the accuracy and promptness with which there is an upward flow of information from the grass root level workers and well-wishers to the top that is complimented by clear and timely guidance from the top rung to those working on the ground. With the advent of social media this principle of Organisational working stands further strengthened.
There is one more thing for which we have to profusely thank social media- it has caused the downfall of manufactured lies and half-truths at a very nascent stage. Earlier during Elections we had people whose lies would reach every section of society. In a time when means of communication were less, they could get away with their same old speeches and half-baked assurances. Social media has changed that! In this age of information and social media the lies that comes out of their mikes cannot even cross the distance of their stage, forget reaching others. More power to social media in the days ahead.
I congratulate friends in the media for covering every aspect of the Elections. The media was active in every part of the nation, keeping us abreast with latest happenings. I do however feel that there is immense room for improving the debate and discourse surrounding the elections. At the same time, the continuous election humour that is a part of every election kept the smiles on our faces.
Along with the Lok Sabha Elections there were Assembly Elections in Odisha, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradsh and Andhra Pradesh. Two newly created states out of Andhra Pradesh will begin their development journey. Due to the Lok Sabha campaign, the local issues of all these states could not be discussed the manner in which they ideally should have been. I did make it a point to talk about my experiences in these poll bound states wherever I went across the nation.
Yes, this has been a hard-fought election. It had it joyous moments and there were heated moments as well. Now is the time to put the heat and dust of campaign behind and look ahead. Irrespective of who wins on the 16th, the dreams of a billion Indians should not suffer. Yes, as political parties and candidates we have differing ideologies but our goal is one- to work for India and to fulfill the aspirations of our youth.
This is the right time to look ahead. It is a time to connect with each other. Lets place people over politics, hope over despair, healing over hurting, inclusion over exclusion and development over divisiveness. It is natural for the spirit of bi-partisanship to get temporarily lost in the midst of an election campaign but now is the time to regain it.
Personally, this campaign has been a remarkable journey. In my Blog a few days ago I talked about how this journey was extensive, innovative and satisfying. I had never imagined that someone like me would find himself here today. This is the power of Democracy and this is the power of Bharat Mata. I want to thank each an every one of you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of this journey. Your support and criticism made this journey a lot livelier. I want to specially thank the security forces who have travelled with me or travelled before me to the various rallies for security arrangements. If Narendra Modi could address so many rallies and meet so many people, a lot of credit goes to them.
Let me end with a few words to all my fellow candidates and workers from BJP and the NDA who fought shoulder to shoulder with us- thanks for your efforts and partnership. I wish each and every one the very best for 16th May. Let begin the journey towards ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat’ and create an India our founding fathers would be proud of.