There may be no right or wrong answers but there are definitely good and bad questions. This question is one of the bad ones, that keeps showing up to my dismay, essentially to dull an exciting debate. It is not new though, it follows a long history of similar tedious questioning like– Should we stop people from aspiring to be billionaires? Where were you when <insert scandal>? Are we expected to spend our taxes to keep a murderer alive?
These questions are meant to horrify, to silence or to force an admission that there is no other way. It is the devolution of the debate to the immediate pragmatics.
“If not Modi, then who?” What is sad is the blatant disrespect to the intelligence of all involved. You think that dissenters haven’t figured out what the election results would turn out to be? (We been knew!) But let’s pause to think about this question anyway and unravel its assumptions: First, a single politician is indispensable! Second, without a majority vote, we would not have a Prime Minister to lead the country and that we have only two options to choose from.
When laid bare like this, you can see that no one politician is that crucial for politics. Coalitions are also not new to India. The problem is not who will win the elections! For the simple reason that if the answers available to you are set up in a binary, whoever wins, the people don’t. Democracy is not a zero-sum game. Lest I remind you, we live in a (multi-party parliamentary system of a) society.
What you should be asking instead is– H̶o̶w̶d̶y̶,̶ ̶M̶o̶d̶i̶?̶!̶ When Modi, what? Why only Modi? The problem is if we don’t ask new and better questions, we must brace ourselves for yet another term of bad questions. As engaged citizens, we have to at least address – forget resolve– all the issues and changes that these kind of election cycles have brought about.
The strategy I offer you is this: Don’t engage a bad question; re-frame the problem with a better question.