Whirlwind Of Indian Politics
The verdicts of the long-awaited Assembly elections in politically crucial four states—Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan—announced on December 8, paled the mother and son duo, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, into uttering in sombre tones—mostly heard during funereal speeches—sort of confession with a veneer of sincerity. The mother ‘promised’ introspection, while the son Rahul promised to learn from Arvind Kejriwals’s Aam Aadmi Party the art of connecting with people. One might soon find Rahul the disciple sitting under a banyan tree paying diksha to Guru Kejriwal.
He further added that he would depart from the traditional politics and aggressively attempt to re-invent his party so as to connect with people, learn what they desire and fulfill that. All very noble thoughts, but is he cut out for a transformation? His father too, soon after his election, attacked the feudal oligarchy that had spread its tentacles and corrupted his party and promised to free Congress from them. But sooner than later the old oligarchy was back in a new incarnation and Rajiv was turned into a one-term Prime Minister.
Rahul is a product of feudal democracy, presided over by his Family and his political rise is due to his being the chosen successor of the “Congress Royals”. Even if he tried to insert the foreign elements of AAP, the system he belongs to would reject it in the same way that the human body rejects an implant.
As the shock of near the decimation of Congress (angrily countered by Jayanti Natrajan) settles, one has to see how much Rahul redraws his drawing board. Would he give up controlling state units and choosing office-bearers through computers? Would he give up deciding on the candidates on the basis of findings on his computer and the calculations of his advisers, who have never stepped out of air-conditioned offices and homes to connect with the real India? Would he be able to cast off the burden of his heritage, which he himself admitted was responsible for his exalted position in the party? Can he convince people that he is simply Rahul and not Rahul Gandhi? Would Rahul admit of scams and corruption in his party and start the process of their trial? Would Rahul copying his current idol Arvin Kejriwal take Harry Potter’s Nimbus broom stick and sweep his party’s backyard to dust off the corrupt, the incompetent and the “nominated” no-good office-bearers in state units?
It might be too complex and difficult to break through the traditionalists and well-entrenched coterie of his and his mother. Having being used to power for a long time, it is really difficult for Rahul to think out of box and understand the direction to give his party, which has lost the pulse of the people. Would his mother look beyond her present political adviser, close aide and some allege fund collector Ahmed Patel? The ally National Congress Party (NCP) has advised her to enlarge her circle of advisers but would Sonia heed it? The present aides have seen to it that no sensible person, who has the pulse of the people, comes near her.
Instead of trying to change his party on the lines of Aam Aadmi , Rahul would be well advised to start choosing some who have credibility among the people and are honest and have organisational ability and to appoint such persons in the states he should create a cadre and take message to the voter in their respective states of Congress in its new incarnation. Unless Rahul has these state satraps, his party, however aggressively given new shape, Congress can never win any election. He has to pay for the sins of his grandmother Indira Gandhi, who eliminated all state leaders to try and ensure the succession of Sanjay and after his tragic, fatal accident, of Rahul. He has to pay for the sins of his father, who further centralised the affairs of Congress through coterie of his friends. He might publicly accuse “them” of killing his Dadi and Dad, but the present crop of young voter between 18 and 25 hardly remembers its contributions and it is hardened and determined to get its own aspirations fulfilled.
Rahul could soon discover that all his resolutions, like the New Year Resolutions, are never kept. The resistance would not only come from chamchas, who are like parasites, but also from his mother’s coterie of advisers. They are unlikely to surrender all the gains they have made through risky intrigues and back-stabbings over the years for Rahul. They are least bothered if the Dynasty loses power. Most have the ability to spring from a broken-down bandwagon to another one, which would be running smoothly.
One of my former proprietors had rightly remarked about one journalist, who is a big neta today that he was like a kothewali, who on the death or bankruptcy of her babu saheb moves to another rich babu saheb. They do not wear a widow’s weeds ever. This sentiment was expressed by the late VP Singh too and strangely for the same person. So many of the loyalists of the Dynasty have a similar ability and they would stick to the mother and son only until they can help them garner more power and riches or get them elected. Ironically, the most lethal danger to Sonia and Rahul is from these sets of yes boss species, who say, “You have the divine right to rule and can never be wrong”—and the arrogance that flows from all this ji-huzooris!
A note from Christine Pemberton of December 9, 2013, is apt instance; After 4-State rout, no end to Congress arrogance said: “Sitting reading my morning papers, which were all obviously full of yesterday’s election results and the rout of the ruling Congress Party, I did notice that it was exceptionally quiet outside. Blissfully quiet actually. As in no-busy-Monday-morning-traffic quiet.”
“Bliss,” I thought and continued reading about Rahul Gandhi promising to listen to the common man. People have given us a message,” he said. And then I got a message. My message was from the yoga teacher, who arrived late, and huffed and puffed and outraged, and muttered angrily about Nelson Mandela and Manmohan Singh. And then the penny dropped. She wrote that her street was declared no entry for anyone without any prior notice. She was not allowed to even stand at her gate and watch the cavalcade of Dr Singh pass by. He was going to the South African Embassy to sign the condolence book for Mandela. But for his less than a minute passing by her street the whole lot of families were confined. Even on rooftop, she noted a sniper. All the morning walks, going to drop children to schools or walk the dog, was prohibited. This on the day after the catastrophe struck the Congress Party. It lost a few more voters.
Well, Dr Singh would not be worried about the results. He would be quitting at the end of the 2014 election in a case, unless the Gandhis show the door to him earlier. But yes for a few days after the Black Sunday for them, Sonia and Rahul might perforce keep their feet on the ground but would in all possibility be back into their surreal world of make-belief that they belong to an ageless Dynasty sooner than later. Their lieutenants Jayanti Natrajan, Sanjay Jha, Manu Singhvi and others and close aides are sure to restore that confidence in them about their invincibility. The old Congressmen, whom Rahul criticised, could have dared to point out their mistakes and then during elections help Rahul. But they are persona non grata. Just before Sonia and Rahul conceded defeat, this band of Natrajans, Singhvis and others like them defended the Family with offensive aggression. This was on the day when a news item in The Indian Express on its First Page informed us that in a deal $10 to $11 million were reserved for the Family. This “bad” news was buried under the avalanche of results of state assembly elections. Natrajan angrily contested that the Congress had been decimated. It is the only national party that can never be decimated. She forgot that these elections were only the semi-final. The final decimation would happen after 2014 general elections if the Family learns no lessons from the present state elections.
These hanger-ons’ negativism during TV debates gave credibility to what India Today said, “In the last winter of discontent there is one undisputed trut: the stench of Congress cadaver, spread across three states, has become unbearable except in certain history-proof addresses in Delhi.” “The deferred shame in Chhattisgarh apart, Verdict 2013 is a measure of India’s anger against its oldest party.” But the arrogant beneficiaries of the Gandhis feudal democracy’s largesse would try their best to hide the truth, which is, as always cruel, that the Congress Party under the Gandhis has been outright rejected by the people. And the Family has no charisma left to regain its trust. It has to behave and conduct itself as a normal political family.
Rahul is swearing by Kejriwal. Is it possible to meet him as easily as one could the Aam Aadmi chief? Try it and there would be a maze of middlemen, who would tire you out and then in disgust just give it up. Rahul has as yet to get rid of the halo of the Nehru-Gandhi. His descending in a village and spending a night in a Dalit Family was a gimmick everyone could see through. Instead of staying there after ‘cleansing’ by the SPG and eating food and drinking water possibly discreetly supplied by the SPG, if Rahul could have provided some relief, like employment to one member each of all the Dalit families in the village or securing scholarship for education of the younger members of the families, it would have helped Rahul more. Similar treatment of Dalits in a dozen or so villages would have really frightened Mayawati.
But the problem is that Rahul’s advisers must have considered his descending on a Dalit family like Manna from heaven for them. Then his Jupiter Velocity remark was at best a joke, like a Grucho Brothers’ jokes. So can Rahul be prepared enough to lead the Party from strength to contest the 2014 general elections? The question is even if the Gandhis after ‘introspection’ learned a few lessons and Rahul packed his computer and copied his newly adopted Guru Kejriwal’s technique to connect with people to some extent, what challenges could he encounter in the general elections?
The main challenge would, of course, come from the BJP, primarily, and from Rahul’s guru Kejriwal basically in Delhi. How much of a challenge could Kejriwal throw? He has achieved a resounding victory in Delhi, stunning all parties on cleverly-crafted symbolism, the broom, the most apt appeal to the voter to sweep away the 15-long years of corrupt misrule of Delhi by Congress’ Sheila Dikshit—who was a sitting duck given the sins of the UPA and CWG scandals—and also dust off the corruption in the Congress-led UPA. It was a novel idea to convince voters that the backyard of the UPA needed immediate sweeping. And then to further his appeal, he promised to do away with the trappings of ‘monarchial’ style perfected by Rahul’s father Rajiv Gandhi.
Closure on routes the Prime Minister would travel, red-light syndrome perfected during Sonia’s 10-year tenure as president of the party, with membership of Lutyens’ Club and stengun-toting posse of securitymen. The promise by Kejriwal to do away all these frills, which created a high and low status divide between the rulers and the ruled, appealed to the voters. The Aam Aadmi Party’s phenomenal victory in Delhi is based on these promises. But in the midst of all the rejoicing by AAP leaders and members one has to point out that but for BJP’s central leadership, translated in simpler words LK Advani, the BJP’s number could have gone up. Advani’s insistence on Vijay Goel to be BJP’s president of the Delhi unit cost heavily. Goel allegedly was a very controversial person. Harsh Vardhan was brought in his place on the insistence of Narendra Modi when the state assembly election was less than a month away. How popular and acceptable he is evident from the fact that he won by the largest margin—over 53,000 votes. In fact, Kejriwal should thank Advani.
Kejriwal’s decision not to accept support of the eight Congress MLAs to form the government is commendable. But in case Harsh Vardhan had become BJP president earlier, Kejriwal would have much less to celebrate. A member of the AAP, Col (Retd) Arjun Bahadur’s view for Kejriwal is, “The BJP is insecure without a simple majority….the Congress are schemers and manipulators….do not fall into their trap…..make an announcement and reiterate how keenly you and your team is looking forward to sit in the opposition….you do not have to condemn the BJP….work on issues and not on personalities….fresh elections would be the worst remedy….the aam aadmi does not have the resilience and passion to go through another election….what happens if again there is no clear mandate…carry on with President’s rule?….thats exactly what the Congress wants….run the government by proxy
“Do not form the government…stay in the opposition…do not bring down the minority government of the BJP on counts and numbers….work on development and growth…best chance to push forward your agenda as spelt out in the manifesto….Meet Dr Harsh Vardhan as a colleague, not as an enemy or an adversary…..AAP is not interested in power to AAP, its purpose of existence is ‘power to the aam aadmi, whether from the treasury benches or the opposition benches.”
The other senior AAP leader Prashant Bhushan opened the door a bit more for BJP. During a TV debate he told The Indian Express, “If the BJP gives us a written commitment that they will pass the Jan Lokpal Bill as we have drafted it by December 29, and will do the things that the AAP wants, then we will consider allowing their government to be formed and will not pull it down.”
And as if on a cue, Nitin Gadkari has changed his tune. He said the BJP would try and form the government if called upon by the Lt Governor. “Everything will depend on Lt Governor Najeeb Jung,” Gadkari said. “We have not been intimated by the Lt Governor so far and we also feel that another election will burden the people. If AAP wants to extend support, we will be happy to form the government but we will not approach AAP,” he said. Even BJP MLAs, particularly those whose victory margin was less than 1,000 votes, concurred. “We would want any party to form the government because that will ensure we remain MLAs. We know how tough the fight was and the effort we put in to win these seats. A second contest would be difficult for most of us,” one of the MLAs was quoted as saying.
But then once again the game of aap pahele was being played. Neither party wished to be seen as power hungry. In case fresh election was to be held, it would possibly be clubbed with the general elections. How would the Congress, BJP and Aam Party then fare? The Congress has hardly the time to re-invent itself or cast off the burden of corruption and high prices. The Kejriwal’s AAP could sustain the present level of popularity but by then Kejriwal would have to enunciate his political policies.
THE MODI CONTROVERSY
There is nothing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. Narendra Modi today is the most talked about leader. He creates extreme liking or fierce hatred. He and his actions are under microscope all the time. Currently, the debate is over. Was there a Modi wave or Modi factor, which boosted the performance of the party in the just-concluded state assembly elections? Indians love to argue and the “intellectuals” believe that negativism, even if not based on facts or logic, confirms their credentials as high thinkers. The time spent on arguing whether Narendra Modi had any impact on the outcomes of the elections was almost as much as the time consumed in the analysis of the results and their political consequences. One feels that the panelists on TV channels derived much more pleasure in concluding that neither there was Modi wave nor he was a factor that helped BJP’s record wins in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, nor in the fightback by the party after the initial scare of losing Chhattisgarh to the Congress Party. But, in fact the BJP’s final tally of 49 was just one short of the number in the outgoing assembly.
In Delhi, the hung assembly was the ‘proof’ of the absence of Modi wave or factor, which was touted by the ‘intellectuals’ and Modi-haters and baiters. They pointed out that the BJP falling short of majority in Delhi was the ultimate pointer to the fact that Modi could not influence voters in Delhi. These people, who smugly smiled after damning the Modi wave, must be a very contented lot—their hate-object has been a failure. In their intellectual arrogance, this group did not deign to analyse whether there was any Modi factor, instead they gave a snap judgment.
But first, what is a wave, or a factor, in elections? Wave means movement that becomes a surge. A factor is a person who is in the mind of the voter when he is deciding whom to vote for. A Modi wave is thus ruled out. But in the post-Independence political history, there never was any wave blowing because of a leader, howsoever big and popular. There never was any wave that could be termed the Nehru wave. He symbolised ‘freedom’ and that was that. He would tour India before a national election and that itself would create a favourable climate for the Congress. So one can say that Nehru, as long as he was alive, was a factor in polls.
A wave, which surged to sweep the country and pushed a party towards the victory post, was witnessed only a few times. The wave against Indira Gandhi and her Congress pushed her and the party out of office, after the lifting of the Emergency. It was then that workers of Congress candidates defected before the polling and sided with rival candidates. It was again seen, a sympathy wave, in the election after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. And a wave limited to North India, fanned by VP Singh on Bofors pay-off scandal was witnessed and which led to the ouster of Rajiv government. The absence of a Modi wave is thus self-explanatory. But to deny there was no Modi factor is an audacious attempt by ‘secularists’, ‘intellectuals’ and those in the media and politics who hate him to satisfy their own ego. The BJP fell short of majority by four seats. For all the ‘sanctimonious’ reasons, most of the top BJP leaders in Delhi were too busy plotting to be the next prime minister and therefore they tried to put their men in key positions. LK Advani, it is said, got Vijay Goel as president of BJP’s Delhi unit. Controversies and objections over him erupted from day one.
A split became imminent. But no one could dare touch him, he was noimnee of Advani, untill Modi insisted Dr. Harsh Vardhan replace Goel and be projected as BJP’s chief minister-nominee. This soft-spoken Doctor is not a charismatic, inspirational leader who could just jump into the election and beat all the rivals. The party was considered faction-ridden and a loser. But then it came within the striking distance of the halfway mark and became the single largest party. Who turned the wind against it? The answer is clear, the hectic whistle-stop rallies by Narendra Modi in the last couple of weeks before elections drastically changed the scene. Secondly Modi’s insistence on Dr Harsh Vardhan helped—A controversy-free leader who could pull in votes. This is clear to everyone, although a majority in the media and the ‘intellectuals’ have been shouting themselves hoarse tell us, “No Modi effect”. That’s their way of fooling themselves, but they cannot the people on the streets.
In other states too, the BJP-led by Modi did far better and succeeded in thrashing Congress in Rajathan and in Madhya Pradrsh, where BJP fell short of a two-third majority by just one. In Chhattisgarh, the sympathy wave for the Congresss in the Mao-infested tribal area, and which won a large number of seats for the Congress, was countered in the urban areas where Modi addressed a number of meetings. And the fact that the chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh praised Modi for his contribution in winning their respective states is more than enough to believe that there was Modi effect.
Now that Modi effect has been accepted, albeit grudgingly, it would be interesting to analyze whether it would have impact on the next Lok Sabha. In all 72 seats are filled by these states and if the assembly poll trend continues Congress is likely to lose 30 seats from its present tally.
The Congress and its huge number ‘secularist’ sympathisers would have to admit of the existence of an anti-Congress wave. This should concern the leadership more than arguing whether there is a Modi wave, effect or factor. And worst of his critics would have to adnit that presently he is the best public speaker, the contents of his addresses are topical, local and regional and his style is inimitable. The combined impact of all these is tremendous. It is futile to discuss about Modi wave, Modi factorand Modi effect, for the man has a formidable presence, connects easily and evokes confidence, unless one looks at him through the prism of hatred. (VD)
Kejriwal was challenged by his vanquished opponent Sheila Dikshit to take over the government and try fulfill the promises he made like bringing down electricity bills by 50 per cent. Kejriwal has yet to accept the challenge. He must realise his limitations to fulfill the promises he made as an opposition leader. This is why he is possibly eager, at least for the present, to sit in the opposition. But the risk is that if he does not translate the mandate given to him by his voters, he could find AAP to be as normal as any other political party. The phenomenal success of December 8 would evaporate in no time. There were other first-timers like NT Rama Rao in Andhra Pradesh and Prafula Mohanta in Assam, who did not last long, once the euphoria was over.
In any case, Kejriwal, who became a darling of the anti-BJP media, would find in May 2014 a tougher and stronger BJP to run over. Harsh Vardhan has proven his credibility and the help he got from Modi’s whistle-stop corner meetings to rally 32 seats (see Box). By then the “central leadership” in Delhi, whom we said earlier Kejriwal must thank, would become utterly irrelevant to the voters. It might break out in the media like the Sun breaking out of thick clouds during monsoon but for the people it is already a fading history.
As for the Congress, Rahul is not a game-changer as yet. The anti-Modi lobby, which includes Nitish Kumar, who instead of looking at his own backyard is busy taunting BJP and Modi, the section of the media, the DNA of which is anti-Modi , could hope for Rahul to become overnight a knight on a white horse riding to rescue his party in distress or create a record by lumbering through ground realities and take his party to the winning post. This lobby realise that so far Rahul has consistently failed them. His style of speaking and repeating himself like a jaded record has so far succeeded only in making even limited number of crowd to melt away.
No change is expected in the BJP. In fact despite the Nitish’s and the Congress’ TV panelists lobbying hard to demolish the belief that Modi factor was existent, Narendra Moidi did matter and the extra bonus in Madhya Pradesh and the near extinction of the Congress in Rajasthan was due to his whirlwind meetings in the two states. The BJP retained Chhattisgarh with almost the same number of seats, even though it looked tight. “All the above scenarios weren’t some mystery that the Congress media cronies couldn’t see earlier. They did see the writing on the wall quite clearly but in their…..so- called pro-secular frame, the BJP simply had to be defeated. Nitish is swearing that Modi effect disappears when voters get an alternative like in Delhi. One would like to see in the parliamentary polls when voters get an alternative in the JD(U).
As for the scenario for 2014 May general elections, it seems, therefore, it is unlikely to change much from what it is now. One does not expect the Congress Party to be battle-ready in five months time. Its search for regional partners in all likelihood would be futile. All parties know that the Congress is streaking down, and it is a loser, people are angry and there is no controlling of runaway prices nor of corruption. Out of 189 most top corruption country, India is 94th.
Rahul has made the media and lobbyists batting for him lose their credibility and are despised widely. A jackal does not change his spots in one day. As Ravinnar said, “The Congress doesn’t have an answer to Modi so far nor do the media slaves. Shankarsan Thakur said on Times Now Congis are afraid to blame the Gandhis. Laughable! I keep saying the media boys and girls piss in their pants and skirts when they have to mention ‘Gandhi’, so are they now expecting Congis to blame or name Gandhis? The cowards and slaves in the Congress are no different from the cowards and slaves in the MSM. …” How true!
But it has also to be conceded that Modi effect is not uniform. It is not so noticeable in the South. But his insistence in getting back BS Yeddyurappa would yield positive results in Karnataka. In Chennai, his two rallies got over two lakh strong crowds. In fact, even if he succeeds in securing seven or eight MPs from the South , it would be quite an achievement.
The Dynasty is bereft of leaders with no traits of leadership in Rahul. But sycophants and spineless members in the Congress won’t let Rahul feel that he has as yet to learn how to organise and modernise his party. His party-led UPA has been paralysed and there has been absolute lack of governance but it has never hesitated to use institutions. Col (Retd) Arjun Jung Bahadur noted there was therefore total non-acceptance of responsibility and accountability at all levels of hierarchy and there was zero integrity, insensitive and corrupt administration but then there was state of denial on all issues and worse arrogance and attitudinal posture in the Rahul party.
This is why the voter decided that the Congress should be demolished. And they did. The political alignments with this state of the party is in doubt. Even the Modi-baiter Nitish who was ardently courting the Congress has done an abrupt withdrawal.
One has earlier discussed about the Aam Aadmi Party. Despite the hullaballoo at the present, the equations would be different at the time of national election. In summary, one can foretell with some certainty that with the possible support of Jayalalithaa, who would trounce DMK to garner maximum number of Lok Sabha seats, and that of Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh, who is expected to trounce the Congress in two-third region of Andhra Pradesh, and with either of the two Thackeray cousins and the exiting alliance with Akali Dal, BJP appears to be unstoppable. One reaps what one sows.
Would Modi-haters glare to kill if one calls Modi a Whirlwind? According to a lore, ‘Whirlwind was the warrior who attacks all enemies within eight yards in a whirl of steel, causing a percentage of weapon damage to each enemy. ‘Whirlwind is an effective way of dealing damaging to multiple targets, and is only desirable when attacking groups of enemies. Unlike its appearance in Hearthstone, it does not deal damage to friendly targets.’
Is this not true!
By Vjay Dutt
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