The election results are out, and the people have spoken their minds. Some important takeaways need to be put down in black and white. Democracy for all its warts, discontent and messiness of form and substance is still a force to reckon with.

The hubris of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his friends, backed by huge funding, a subservient administration, a compromised judiciary and a pocket media, lies in tatters.

The man who declared himself to be God is a mere mortal like the rest of us. The claims of grandeur are no longer that grand.

The façade of invincibility carefully prepared, curated and presented through a coterie of image managers has been proved to be hollow. Now that we are done with the theatrical, let us get down to some political commentary.

The unkindest cut for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the inability of the party to deliver a Hindu Rashtra.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member D. R. Goyal said “While wishful thinkers pretended not to see the writing across the national political firmament, the realist in Dr. Hegdewar refused to dream up wishy-washy dreams. The truth was out.

“Only Hindus would free Hindustan and they alone could save Hindu culture. Only Hindu strength could save the country (emphasis added).”

Hegdewar’s successor M. S. Golwalkar was sure that the Nazi authoritarian model was the only way out. Fascinated by Nazi Germany and its ruthless policies of extermination, suppression and oppression, he was to write, “German national pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the nation and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the semitic races – the Jews.

“National pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

This as we all are aware is the historical and cultural root of the BJP. Since the 1930s it has been a battle to establish this Hindu state, to bring to fruition the dreams dreamt by Savarkar, Golwalkar and Hegdewar.

When L. K. Advani led the crowds to the eventual destruction of the Babri Masjid in December of 1992, the first concrete steps were taken in realising the vision of the RSS. Through the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government to the two successive Modi-led governments, the seeds planted in the early twentieth century seemed to be taking shape.

Modi for all practical purposes, represented the best chance for the establishment of Hindutva. However, the Indian Constitution and the polity based on its principles stood as a difficult obstacle to this dream.

It was like a child who had her toy in her grasp but could not prise open the package in which it was wrapped. This so near and yet so far phenomenon for the establishment of a majoritarian state must have been an Albatross across the Hindutva neck.

The arrival of Modi from Gujarat onto the national stage and his tremendous efforts in emasculating the Constitution and the institutions that prevented the usurpation of a liberal democratic polity must have warmed the cockles of bigoted hearts. It is in this context that one must see the results of the recent polls.

A third-term win with a massive majority, as the BJP expected, was exactly the recipe that the Nagpur chefs had ordered. The Modi administration in the last two terms had all the state agencies, the autonomous agencies and the media compromised.

They were all primed to do the bidding as required in the third term, only if the mandate was massive. Instead, even as it wins the electoral battle with its allies, the BJP can only head a coalition with partners who may not share the same enthusiasm for Hindutva, minority bashing and caste prejudice.

The idea of an India that has one religion, one language and a singular culture with no rights for those who are not Hindu and always subordinated to them is a frightening proposition. To deliver this dystopia the BJP required a decimated opposition.

The election of 2024 was designated by Modi to bring about the fulfilment of the dream that the founders of the RSS had dreamt. A foretaste of this was evident when the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Vice President in his capacity as the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, sent many Opposition members out of the Parliament on patently unacceptable charges in the last Parliament.

These and the silence of the people must have emboldened Modi to coin the slogan of “‘Aab ki baar, 400 paar’ (this time we would have more than 400 seats in the Lok Sabha)”.

This election also saw the Presidentialisation of a parliamentary system. The country had been prepared for this when the media managers ensured that the picture of the Prime Minister would be visible from petrol pumps, Covid vaccine certificates, railway stations and airports to every nook and cranny that one could think of.

The entire BJP was reduced to the personhood of Modi, building upon his penchant for being photographed in various costumes and amplifying the hectoring and sermonising that were passed off as reasoned policy speeches.

In the manifesto released by the party before the 2024 elections, according to The Wire, the words “Narendra Modi” are mentioned 16 times, ‘Modi” about 30 times, and there are 43 pictures of him in that document.

Such narcissism and megalomania are unique and not easily seen in other leaders, but they manage to portray a larger-than-life image as well as build a charisma that supposedly would deliver that chosen dream that was dreamt in Nagpur many many moons ago.

Thus, the battle for the votes was not merely a campaign for gaining power to rule for yet another term. It was more than that. It was to get power so that no other election would be required. In this, the inspiration would follow from Vladimir Putin or Erdogan – model authoritarian figures who have used the electoral route to secure their non-democratic politics.

As always, the Indian electorate saw this machination through. It is the so-called illiterate voter, the economically poor with limited formal education, and the workers from the unorganised sector who rose to save India.

The communalised middle classes engrossed in relentless consumptive habits and disdainful of others who cannot consume and be as ostentatious lined up behind the demagogue. The class dimension in this election played an important role that needs to be accounted for.

Ironically it is the urban and rural poor who saved the Indian Constitution from being consigned to the bin and despite the rhetoric displayed resoluteness in demanding that the polity take note of the real issues that are haunting the citizen: price rise, lack of remunerative prices in agriculture, absence of jobs and social welfare.

Indian history will always remember these anonymous heroines and heroes for delivering a riposte that all authoritarian leaders and political parties must pay heed to.

The end is now well known. Some myths lie shattered in Delhi and Nagpur. Some are picking up the detritus from the shattered hubris.

The result is not only a signal for the BJP and the arrogance of individuals but a warning to all politicians and parties to not take the people for granted. It is reported that when Ho Chi Minh was asked why he was confident that the Vietnamese people would win against the imperial United States, he said that in a war the people shall always win.

SURAJIT C MUKHOPADHYAY is Dean of Social Sciences, Sister Nivedita University, Kolkata. views expressed are the writer’s own.