Elitist Vs Chaiwala
The gaddi of the Prime Minister seems somewhat hedged for the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, because everyone the status quoists, the media, leaders of all “secular” parties, leftists, “secularists”, the elites and a powerful lobby within his party are all arraigned against him. It is Modi vs. The Rest. The only positive factor in his favour is the unprecedented wave blowing across the country in his favour.
All the biases, prejudices, caste and religious considerations are swept away by the wave. In that case, the way to the gaddi would be cleared for Modi. The other factor in his favour is the unprecedented desire especially among over 65 per cent youths to see an authoritative leader presiding over the country’s affairs rather than a muddled leader who is indecisive leading to a policy paralysis. These youths, a large number of whom flock his rallies, do not care about 2002.
But what if the wave abates by the time of the election next year? Modi would have to contend with many hurdles, including the tough resistance from the elite, who are although in minimal percentage ensconced firmly in power. Tavleen Singh did write about the Lutyen Club that jealously guards its occupation of the best part of Delhi. Only elite are eligible to its membership. How can a chaiwala dare challenge the elite’s monopoly?
The Modi unprecedented wave has, ironically, caused much loathing, fear and heartburn. But the basic question is, will this wave sweep Narendra Modi to the “gaddi” of the Prime Minister or give him a roller-coaster ride to nowhere.
One can see the reflection of their resistance in the TV English channels and the comments of panellists during discussions. The attitude of a nominated MP in the Rajya Sabha, who studied at St. Stephens and abroad, shows what they think of the non-St. Stephanians and those who have studied in schools with Hindi medium. The left-wingers, another intellectual class because of their high education and Karl Marx indoctrination, form a more virulent opposition to Modi. Their outbursts and pen, both are vitriolic. Modi is rabidly communal, he mass massacred nearly 1000 members of the minority community, they keep reminding. .
The memory of such intellectuals is selective. They do not or rather do not want to recall the massacre of members of another minority community in 1984 when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister. He had been sworn-in within hours of the assassination of his mother. There were no lathi charge, no curfew and no prosecutions so far unlike in Gujarat. Rajiv Gandhi just said when a bunyan tree falls, earth shakes.
Why this discrimination? Because Modi is no elite, no comrade and most probably not read the codes of Karl Marx, or because he is not a jholawala but a tough-looking smartly dressed person with skills of oratory which is unmatched? How dare a chaiwala create a wave which has swept away memories of 2002. This had so far been the weapon of the so-called secularists.
One avid champion of secularism Mulayam Singh Yadav had a nasty dose of his own medicine. Both Jats and Muslims accuse the UP government of failing to protect them. Jats complain that years of favouritism shown to Muslims—in the name of secularism—built up resentment which released to cause riots. Muslims allege that the orgy of riots was not suppressed to create panic amongst them and then make them feel that Samajwadi Party was their only saviour.
The kind of secularism of SP in Muzaffarnagar is practised by all “secular” political parties, starting with the Congress. And this is the weapon which is being used to demolish Modi. But this weapon has got blunted now. These parties are being re-educated—that secularism means separation between religion and the state and that state must treat all faiths on equal footing. But the secularism as practised by the “secular” parties means exploiting religion for a captive vote bank and for that favouring one faith against another.
These secularists call Modi a fundamentalist, a bigoted Hindu. But what did he say when asked what are you doing for minorities (in Gujarat)—I do not do anything, I do everything for all the Gujaratis in the state. Who is more secular, the questioner or Modi?
Anyway, it would be impossible for Modi to wipe out the taint immediately. The perverted form of secularism has given rise to the adulteration of the word ‘communal’ and the secularism as practised by the “secular” parties has led to deep-rooted communalism. India is thus buttressed between the covert communalism of so-called secularists and overt communalism of the RSS. Modi is in betwixt the two. He cannot convince Muslims easily that he is above all forms of communalism.
He would go into the election without the support of majority of most members of the minority community. He would have to prove his sincerity in following secularism before expecting support of Muslim voters.
The wave he has created would not sweep over this, but yes the elite would come to know how wave sweeps away all, including them, when it is in tide. The other hurdles like, the sabotage from within which would be attempted despite the RSS efforts for reconciliation, would not hurt Modi if the wave continues.
The other obstacle, a more serious one, comes from the Congress and its dirty tricks cell. And since the government is led by it, all the hurdles it would create could require tough effort to overcome. The wave would help a bit but as Modi said that CBI would contest, which means the agency could entangle Modi in say Ishrat Jahan’s or some other case which would bog down Modi, and hamper campaigning and cut deeply into BJP’s tally in the general election.
The only saving grace for Modi is that now it is getting a bit too late to entangle him in cases. With the general election hardly six months away, any charges if framed against Modi would be interpreted by the voter as an attempt to bind him. This could lead to polarisation, more severe than Modi could create.
The question now is whether the Modi wave would continue for another six months or abate. It seems, it would not recede, simply because rather shrewdly Modi has been addressing every meeting according to the area and the audience. He has enthused voters in the areas he has gone so far and he is thus likely to further captivate and win voters in other places he goes to.
The Modi wave is unlikely to abate, because Modi has succeeded in building a “revolution” from the ground. Everyone is becoming aspirational. The elite and the beneficiaries of the system feel threatened. As a columnist wrote, “A Ramchandra Guha who sells a few hundred copies of his muddled history books but had almost exclusive control over intellectual opinion in the past has to now compete with a Chetan Bhagat who sells millions of his books to ordinary Indians.
This is what is disconcerting to the ruling class, for their writ no longer runs large. India is now a riot of colours and no longer can the left control carefully cultivated canvas of opinions.”
Modi is to be credited for this amazing transition. And this is why he is becoming more and more man of the masses. How does one meet such a formidable challenger!
By Vijay Dutt