Good piece by Shekhar Gupta for Modi and BJP
In substance, there is no denying Modi's BJP another moment of electoral success. Their political Ashwamedha Yagna is looking as unchallengeable in the Kaliyug as Bhagwan Shri Ram's in his enormously more virtuous Treta Yug. It has duly added one more state to its bag. More importantly, the state is chronically troubled but phenomenally promising-Jharkhand, which never voted for a majority in its 14 years of existence. But BJP's tally shows a loss of nearly 20 segments of the 56 it won in the Lok Sabha elections. The party hasn't quite conquered Kashmir either, failing to live up to its boast of 'Mission 44'. But it has succeeded in replacing the Congress as the leading national party there, thereby also confirming that the party's decline is pan-national as well as secular. Why are we still complaining?
While winds are still blowing BJP's way, Maharashtra and Jharkhand are the first indications of a weakening (though far from a shifting) momentum. The party fell way short of majority in Maharashtra, thereby failing in its gambit of dumping the Shiv Sena. The Jharkhand majority is marginal. Both tallies were way below the promise of its inhouse Kautilyas or pollster Chanakya. Even in the Kashmir valley, its 3 per cent vote share and forfeiture of deposit by all candidates but one is a good reality check. If you read these results along with the debacle in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan bypolls, you get the picture. The period when Modi's name was good enough to sweep an election, as exemplified notably by Haryana, is now passing. A mind as sharp as Modi's can't miss another nuance: all cakewalks are confined to states where the Congress is his direct rival. Other players, from JMM to PDP/NC to RJD/JDU/SP are managing to defend their territories much better. The post-May 2014 "lamp post" phase in electoral politics is ending. Modi and the BJP have to return to old-fashioned political grind, build state leaders, rethink the strategy of discarding old allies and, most importantly, haul back their politics and government on the rails on which they rolled to power-rails of good governance, growth, development.
Narendra Modi, INDIA TODAY's Newsmaker of the Year for 2014, has many unique and remarkable talents. He is our most effective political communicator in decades, better than even Vajpayee. He is our first entirely self-made, genuine national leader. But even more importantly, he understands the power of the media-traditional, social and anti-social-the utility of spin and the value of perception better than any other public figure in our history. He is also at the peak of his power. So here is my question to Modi: Why is he, then, letting others, ally as well as adversary, steal his headlines? That is never a flaw to be found in a genuine practitioner of power politics. I am conscious that I write this almost in the precise hour when the RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat arrives in New Delhi for a three-day visit that could be more profoundly significant than any head of state's. It is possible that some of the questions I raise will be settled by the time he returns to Nagpur, or wherever else he may choose to spend the eve of what is, by the way, just the Christian New Year. But the fact today is that the RSS and its affiliates are systematically stealing their own prime minister's headlines. They have also let the opposition get a look-in through these cracks.
However abhorrent the idea of using parliamentary disruption as a strategy may be, RSS, VHP et al have gifted the opposition a new, secular moral high ground. Nobody knows if our Vedic scientists and vaidyas had the ability to bring a corpse back to life. But their Sangh Parivar legatees are achieving the miracle of bringing an equally dead opposition back to life, on that old, effective, if farcical, elixir of secular unity. Well-informed observers of the valley's mood and politics, for example, say Modi's repeated visits and speeches were appreciated for their ring of sincerity and his party would have done better if the environment had not been fouled up by the rash of new headlines on conversions and then that description so hard to erase from the mind now, "haraamzadon". As with most expletives and profanities in native-speak, this sounds much worse than its sanitised English translation. It also makes for much sexier headlines than any accomplished by Swachh Bharat. (Disclosure: this columnist has been nominated a Swachh Bharat ambassador and has, in turn, announced his list of nine to continue the chain.)
To the extent that I know Modi, which I confess isn't a lot, I cannot believe that he is secretly happy at this turn of events. Or that these are merely playing out to his script, as his detractors say now that they have found their voice again. Modi is no Vajpayee and he never pretended to be a clone either. Nor is he a hypocrite. He has never concealed his faith in Hindutva. But while he defines the concept of Rajdharma in his own, original way, letting ideological freelancers have a free run, it has never been a part of his scheme of things. He is reviled by critics for running a Hindu partisan government in Gujarat, but if you look at facts without prejudice, there is his stellar record in putting the RSS and the VHP, notably one Dr Praveen Kumar Togadia, in their place. Like all real power people, he does not believe in outsourcing his governance to ideologues with no accountability. Why is he allowing that now? I do not, for a moment, buy the view that this is what Modi really wants; he is a committed swayamsewak, a pracharak, after all. That, I confess, does not conform to my reading of his mind and style, however inadequate.
One has to use such self-characterisations carefully these days, but as an old Lutyens' Watcher, or even Insider, I have to admit I can't say what I believe the truth is: is the RSS doing this with his quiet nod (least likely); is it doing it to prove to him, the rank and file and the world who the boss and Big Brother is; is it a conspiracy by those in the Parivar who detest him, like Togadia; or is the RSS just being itself, the incorrigible RSS? One thing you can now say is that the lazy explanation, that all this reflects the stupidity of the fringe, mere static that counts for nothing, does not wash. Not after the Sarsanghchalak has spoken. Because you'd need to be enormously foolhardy or brave to say the Sarsanghchalak is fringe. And I am neither.
Six months in power and well into the honeymoon phase of his politics, this is Modi's first moment of truth. If he allows further dilution of his political and moral capital, he will risk a real setback within a couple of months. Modi is too shrewd to fall for the delusion that fighting Kejriwal's AAP will be a breeze like rolling over nobody's Congress in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and now Kashmir. A Kejriwal revival in Delhi is by no means an impossibility, and if it were to happen, it could mark the end of the honeymoon and return of national politics to the old normal. The RSS and its children can then make all the headlines they want, they will gradually fade away from them with their government. Will Modi have the courage to say this to them?
MEANWHILE, distant from the politics of the season, Assam was back in the news with another massacre in its tribal districts. Reporters on the spot will tell you the how and why of this tragedy, but the larger political point must be made: that for four years now, since CM Tarun Gogoi, now almost 80, had his heart surgery, Assam hasn't really had a government. Whatever little hold it had was lost after the surprise BJP surge in the General Election this May. This is now a government with none of that untranslatable quality, best stated in Urdu, iqbal. The Congress high command is to blame for this. They let Gogoi go on too long, let him bring his son in the Lok Sabha polls and ignored the ambitions of diligent, ambitious and resourceful young leader, and now former health minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma. They had a homegrown successor, but left him to rot, along with their government and party. The grapevine has it that Sarma, frustrated, sought an audience with Rahul Gandhi and asked what it would take for him to achieve his ambition of being chief minister? How many more years' work, and doing what? Particularly if he wasn't born in a political dynasty. He doesn't seem to have hit an answer, and is drifting. So is the government, now a shocking example of the high command's indifference to the party's fate. My question to them: if they have indeed decided to hand a polarised Assam over to the BJP with the local Owaisi, Badruddin Ajmal, as custodian of the Muslim vote, why take two years doing it? Just end the hapless state's agony. more
The govt is only achieved to do something worthwhile for country, yes we'd strengthen the govt but compromsiing for it would be nongranted. Shekhar Gupta and all those achievers of unIndian feats should now leave and contribute for nations that identify him. This country is already already on a path and we dont need distractors like you. We need atleast 50 years of unhindered repair and resurrection work for our beloved country! May be stooges like him and mnay that we know cant find a suitable place for their asses to lodge.
If Kashmir hasnt chosen BJP its their crime just the crime Islamist did in last 1300 years to kill Aryavart, so what ? let them pay and we'd make them pay. We'd keep surging, if one wants to come along he'd be welcome .....
Dr Shailesh Gupta. more
"Let My Country Awake"
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action -
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. more