2019: Will it be the end of the Age of Innocence?

Amid all the platitudes and good wishes for happiness and world peace that we will throw at one another on New Year's Day, know this -  2019 will be no ordinary year! And there are 19 reasons why…

Not least, that this is an India, that unlike the years before, is shaking off its stupor. It knows that its voice and its views have a value and an import that cannot be dismissed as mere white noise.

The canny Indian has always been able to see beyond the sloganeering and the catch phrases. Be it Garibi Hatao - we're still a nation of the hungry and impoverished - and India Shining - the much loved Atal Behari Vajpayee robbed of a second term by the much maligned 'videshi bahu.' Indira Gandhi paid the price for the 'emergency'; Dr. Manmohan Singh, for not living up to the hopes the elected had placed in him.

Sure, India has chosen to go with the flow in the past, but equally, she's never held back from placing her trust in the alternative. It's been done before, upending the ruling UPA as it did in 2014. Will Narendra Modi's 'sabka saath, sabka vikas' pass the coming litmus test? Or will he be a one-term prime minister?

If I were a politician, I would be afraid. Very afraid.

Elections are upon us. And Prime Minister Modi, who swept aside all opposition thus far, has suddenly come face to face with a minnow, that both he and the nation, dismissed as 'Pappu' as we chortled together at the  'naamdaar' and 'shehzada' barbs. But here's the thing. With Rafale, Rahul Gandhi may have found his own Bofors, shrugging off four years of ennui, when he paddled in the shallows, to reinvent himself. The hug and the wink in parliament were, admit it, pure genius.

The electoral turnaround, snapping at the BJP's heels in its home ground of Gujarat, losing Goa by a whisker, and then to go on and win the three states in the Hindi heartland that the BJP could not afford to lose, says more than any twitter barb that while the Congress leader isn't a shark as yet - and given the prime ministerial ambitions of our own Hardanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda, the two 'M's - Mayawati and Mamta - and oh yes, Chandrababu Naidu and KCR -  he may never make it to the re-christened Race Course Road.

But he's got more bite than anyone gave him credit for.

And it all began, right here in Karnataka, where a party that dared to fail, rediscovered its mojo, and dare we say it, could pose a challenge in '19.  PM Modi could still pull it off. Sops to the farmer and the SMEs. Another surgical strike to reinforce his ultra-nationalistic credentials, although with Imran Khan playing so nice, it may be difficult to go to war with Pakistan.

 John F Kennedy once said he doesn't want an America which is spiritually poor and materially rich. We don't want that either. Although with DeMo, we're materially poor too! Happy New Year everyone!    

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