New Delhi: Public opinion is turning against the Congress party for relentless parliamentary obstructionism. Its cry of “political vendetta” to counter the National Herald trial has few takers. Before it gets worse for the party which ended with record low seats in the last general elections, it must return to responsible behaviour in Parliament. It must join the government’s efforts to reach a quick consensus on GST and other delayed bills and pass them. By not doing so, it is seen as impeding the country’s growth and development, which will eventually destroy its legacy of the 1991-96 reforms.

Public opinion, on the other hand, has decisively turned against Delhi’s Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, for using abusive language against the Prime Minister. The Bihar election showed that abusive language and negativity turned away voters. The BJP partly lost Bihar because of this. Kejriwal won his own election in large measure because of a negative BJP campaign. By abusing the Prime Minister, the Delhi Chief Minister has lowered himself and his office. He should make amends. How he does so should be left to him.

Whatever the provocation, abusiveness is not the answer in public life. An interesting thing happened today. An AAP member of the Lok Sabha was decrying the CBI raid on the Delhi CM’s office. He happened to be near Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s seat and felt faint and needed a glass of water to continue railing against the PM. Modi, according to the media, smiled and offered his glass of water to the MP who downed it, grinned back, and returned to shouting. Cool versus abuse: Which is preferred, and which brings a smile on your face?

Ten or twenty years ago, the voting public could be fooled with theatrics, buffoonery, spin, offensive tactics, disinformation campaign, and so on. With the explosion of social media and the vast spread of the internet, information cannot be controlled and truth can rarely be concealed. Indians have tolerated backwardness for more than 60 years but refuse to do so anymore. India is led by the young. They are impatient for change and modernization. They will drive the country to greatness. You can see it in their confidence and steely resolve. They will discard political leaders who derail growth and development with divisive strategies, negativity, obstructionism, dynastic politics and corruption.

Surely leaders would be asking themselves: Would a campaign restricted to growth and development issues win elections? Narendra Modi won the 2014 election strictly on a plank of growth and development. People voted the UPA to more seats in 2009 because they believed Manmohan Singh would weave the 1991-96 magic again. He let the people down by himself being let down. Nitish Kumar came back as Bihar’s Chief Minister solely on his governance and reforms credentials. Voters across India are waking up. Parties and leaders are being judged exclusively on their capacity and potential to deliver. In coming times, voters will throw out non-performing governments like people change television channels.

People have also become more aware of their rights. They will not accept political leaders who either talk down to them or swagger about with a sense of entitlement. For example, during the Bihar campaign, Prime Minister Modi’s announcement of lavish Central packages for the state hurt local pride. The common reaction in Bihar and outside was, “It is our money. How can anyone turn it into political largesse?” There was a time when political leaders could ride roughshod over people. Those times are past. Voters are not interested in family histories of political leaders. Voters are interested in themselves and their immediate and proximate interests. This doesn’t make them excessively cynical or greedy. But for their share of good from democratic politics, they cannily chose their leader. On this basis, they chose Narendra Modi in 2014.

This is the unalterable terms of politics today. Politics will be won on themes of unity, positive energies, new ideas, entrepreneurship, growth and development. Obstructionism, negativity, abusive behaviour, etc, will simply consign their practitioners to political oblivion. The choices couldn’t get starker. It’s time to change.

Editor’s Note: On Delhi’s pollution, the Supreme Court has taken some drastic but temporary measures. As everyone knows, temporariness does not work. Delhi is a little smaller than London but has almost twice the population and half the length of its Metro rail, called the Underground. London is a first class city. It is wonderful for walkers. That tells which direction Chief Minister Kejriwal should go. His aim should be to triple the length of Delhi Metro and spread it to every corner of the Capital.

Metro is expensive to build so he has earnestly to scout for Central and foreign investments. He must begin travelling overseas to sell his vision. Metro is the cleanest and safest mode of public transport, way ahead of cluster buses, etc. A widespread Metro network will knock out Delhi’s pollution problems forever. Given a choice, people will abandon cars and take the Metro (more so if the last mile connectivity is super), just as the London Underground has become the first option for Londoners and suburban dwellers.

Back it with obstruction-free and well-made roads and footpaths, outsourced parking marshals, hefty fines for parking violations, strict and stringent emission controls, and a full ban on transit truck movement, and Delhi will have clean air again.