New Delhi: The outcome of the 2019 General Elections is more or less sealed. The last phase of polling is underway. It has been an Indian convention that all political parties interpret and discuss the mandate, welcome election results and thank the voters for expressing their choice. But, omens don’t portend well for May 23 and after that.  The post-result scenario in 2019 is shaping up to be somewhat different and chaotic this time.

For the past five years, the liberal-left establishment (media, academia and civil society) has been working towards building a narrative that aims to delegitimise Indian democracy. This elaborate construct, a magnificent edifice of half-truths, lies and evil, is a part of a grand subversive project which seeks to expose the hollowness of the Indian claims of being the world’s largest functioning democracy. Finding this platform irresistible, some political parties and activists have also been riding the bandwagon.

Attempts to trivialise the 2014 mandate began with ‘only 31 per cent’ jibe. That Modi was not voted in as the PM by the rest 69 pc was often invoked to insinuate that he was not the choice of more than two-thirds of the electorate.  It was conveniently brushed aside that NDA constituents had received further seven pc of the popular vote. The establishment and the Opposition leaders, who never tire of reiterating that India is an indirect Parliamentary democracy in which voters only choose their MPs, who in turn choose their PM, conveniently ignore the fact that we also have a ‘first-past-the-post’ system. It is just not hatred, rather a carefully hatched conspiracy that leads to such comments like ‘not the whole country’ but ‘barely 31 pc’ of the people have voted for him.

A relentless campaign against the EVMs has been going on since the Uttar Pradesh Assembly verdict in early 2017. Questions have been raised about their hackability, safety, performance under different weather conditions, production-supply mismatch and thefts. A lot of misinformed chatter and cantankerous demands have surrounded the VVPATs. Sometimes a mock presentation is made in Delhi State Assembly, or press conference is held in London to keep the noise alive. A snippet on stolen machines here, a byte on ‘management’ of EVMs there is always in the news. But when the Election Commission of India organised a Hackathon, none of the opposition parties turned up to challenge the EVMs. Despite the Supreme Court not appreciating their viewpoint and even rejecting their demand for counting of 50 pc VVPAT machines, the subversives have managed to sow some seeds of doubt in the minds of the gullible and the illiterate and gained footage in the international press.

Major controversies related to deletion of names from Electoral Rolls have been making news in different parts. It was alleged that 55 lakh names were struck out in Telangana and Andhra alone. ECI clarified that the list was revised based on reconciliation between the Electoral Photo ID and Adhaar and that most of the omissions were genuine.  Delhi government then jumped into this controversy and claimed that massive name deletion exercise was carried out in Delhi. ECI clarified the matter before a Delhi local court, which was satisfied with the explanation. But many Delhi voters started receiving suspicious phone calls informing them of their name deletions.Such rumours created a lot of panics and served to undermine the ECI.

The ECI has been vilified,calumnised and lampooned in the past two years. The opposition has labelled it as a stooge of the Centre and questioned its every move right from the announcement of election dates to its impartiality in upholding the model code of conduct. There seems to be a design to discredit the ECI, EVMs and Electoral rolls, and by extension vitiate the whole electoral process leading up to the General Elections 2019.

Not just the ECI, but CRPF, Income Tax Department, ED, CBI, and autonomous institutions like the RBI  have been castigated as sidekicks of the Centre. Aspersions have been cast on even the higher judiciary which has mortally offended the Supreme Court’s image. In a derisive manner and tone, the Establishment and the Opposition often indicate that these institutions, vital for the functioning of a fair and just democracy have been destroyed and that any fair verdict cannot be expected in such a scenario.

It has also been alleged that the whole focus of the ruling party’s campaign has revolved around militant Hindutva and jingoism in a bid to whip up sentiments. Any such vote of confidence must then be construed as a frenzied mandate, and not in the proper spirit of democracy. As if terrorism, national security and sustenance of Indian way of life are non –issues! Conspiracy theories have been floated questioning the security lapses in Pulwama and over the timing and the success of Balakot strikes. The idea is to somehow cynically paint the whole exercise in undemocratic hues, and declare it against the spirit of the poll process.

In the past five years, the Centre has increased scrutiny of the indiscriminate foreign funding that was being received by various NGOs and other institutions. Media privileges have been struck down.The last half decade has seen the establishment raise the cry of intolerance against counterview, indulge in Award-Waapsi, talk about atrocities on Dalits, minorities and women, muzzling of independent voices and shrinking of civil liberties.  The pro-government, anti -Establishment ( liberal-left shades on media, social media and civil society ) forces have contested this alarmist narrative with vehemence.

But the saboteurs are organised ,articulate and fighting for their very survival . One can expect a lot of hullabaloo over EVMs, the role of the President , ECI’s handling of the counting process and acceptance of the mandate whatever be the results . The din and bustle of the elections might get over on May 19th, but the bitterness shall not end anytime soon.