Source: News Bharati English24 Mar 2014 11:56:37
MODI : STANDING UP AND STRETCHING OUT
Col J P Singh, Retd
Narendra Modi today is the topic of discussion not only in media but also at every chuppal. The latest entry of ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ has generated public discourse in his favour. Disagree if you may, but in every social, informal and even in religious and obituary functions, politics is discussed where Narendra Modi invariably takes the centre stage. It appears that wise counsel of President of India to elect a stable govt has reached one and all. When we look around, we find that it is Modi alone who can provide a stable govt.
Politics which was a forbidden fruit for the armed forces in the past is not so now. It is because politicians and bureaucrats have jointly subjugated military and created unprecedented civil military friction. The most cherished civil-military cooperation of Indira Gandhi – Field Marshal Manekshaw era and its consequences in 1971 war is overlooked in the corridors of power. The result was Gen VK Singh’s outright confrontation and Naval Chief quitting. Hence soldiers’ resentment against virtual denial of voting right. Veteran journalist Vinod Mehta, an extremely vocal Modi detractor says that writing on the wall is clear, in, capital letters,” Modi will lead an NDA govt on May 16. Only divine intervention can stop him”. NDTV survey conducted through Hansa Research Group places NDA at 281. Coming from a renowned journalist and a reputed national channel confirms the current trend and acceptance of President’s cautionary advice.
Last year, when Modi was declared as BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, the contest looked like US Presidential contest between Modi and Rahul. Later Kejriwal’s hat in the ring made it triangular. At one stage, later, it looked like Modi versus Congress usurped Kejriwal with Rahul virtually opting out. Seeing another novice’s entry in the field, an understanding seemed to develop in those who were opposed to Modi that if he had to be stopped, it can only be done by a non Congress and non BJP front supported by Congress which looked tameable and reconciled to losing the battle at the husting but not to Modi as PM. Any arrangement preventing Modi’s anointation should be OK with Congress to later catapult Rahul to the hot seat when the hotch-potch coalition tumbles. Hence the contest has turned out to be Modi versus all the Tom, Dick and Harry of politics. Hence Modi is the main target of all non BJP parties and the main election issue of the lay man.
Narendra Modi’s popularity and communal mindset is no longer in question because migratory trends of secular politicians this time is towards BJP. In Rajasthan and Haryana half the MPs do not want to contest also reaffirms this trend. With Congress writing its own obituary after 10 years of rule leaves it breathing only in Kerala and Assam.
Even where there is no BJP, there is extreme thirst for good governance. This is what unites voters and cuts across traditional divide such as party, caste, religion or region. Only voters apprehensive of BJP and not yet decided are the Muslim but most of them are disillusioned with the Congress. Minority also sees Modi representing a decisive govt as seen in Gujarat which has generated economic growth and job opportunities and that is their aspiration as well. Electorate is looking into the future. Identity is losing ground to the economics. When he talks of development it makes sense because he has delivered it in Gujarat.
Given anti UPA mood and anger against the Congress, a coalition led by Congress is unthinkable. CPM’s initiatives on the formation of Third Front, Mamta’s initiative of Federal Front and Kejriwals’s anti Congress and anti BJP Front were doing the rounds in the recent past. The idea of pre poll 11 party Third Front ran into rough weathers with AIADMK, AG and BJD opting out and the Federal Front tumbled after Anna Hazare’s absence from Mamta Banerjee’s flop rally in Delhi Ram Lila Maidan on 12 March. Kejriwal’s chaotic diatribes against every one else is slowing his momentum unless it picks up again if he becomes a joint candidate against Modi in Varanasi. These are few example of others falling even before standing and Modi continues standing and stretching. Even though political pundits have written off Rahul and Congress but some of the regional satraps have not. They still talk of going with the secular forces, read Congress and continue holding their ground.
Thus the overall spectre of a fragmented electoral verdict portends bad days and revitalises serious thinking. Anything can happen in Indian politics is the dilemma. Ambitions of regional leaders and inability of Congress to be a serious contender in the coming election therefore leaves BJP far ahead of others in the race for 7 Race Course Road. With the economy in trouble, hopes are high that a stable govt could only carry the nation out of economic sloth and tackle problems like corruption, insecurity, inflation and joblessness. So it is a paramount obligation of BJP to come out of communal mindset and adopt a realistic economic agenda to attract voters for a stable govt. India’s electoral landscape from North to South and East and West suggests the nationalist spread which Congress enjoyed is on the decline. The vacuum can be filled by the BJP in this election.
In 2009, the fear of hotch-potch Third Front could at the centre actually worked in favour of UPA. The fear of a patch up coalition that could not have even agreed on a Common Minimum Programme of governance pushed the fence sitter to vote for Congress. This time such apprehensions can go in favour of Modi. Strong leadership and stable govt is considered as one of the pre-conditions for all round development of the nation. A weak and meek coalition or a front can stymie policy decisions and impair institutions of governance. If a strong leader does not head a stable govt at Delhi after this election, we will hear the same story of corruption and indecisiveness again and veteran anti corruption crusader Anna will not be able to rescue us any more. It will be now or never.
One thing which is hitherto standing out in the BJP election campaign is mellowing down of secularism versus communalism rhetoric. Hindutva and mandir politics is no more the core agenda of this time. Seeing the new aspirational mood of the nation, Modi has suitably modified his script which is more suggestive of development, good governance and nationalism. By re-branding BJP as pro development, he has attracted secular allies like Ram Vilas Paswan. Mamata’s pan-India set back, non existent third front, Kejriwal’s out of tune ambition and NCP’s pro Modi hints also boosts his spread.
When Kajriwal threatens to send journalists to jail and later denies despite unambiguous video evidence, he loses credibility. Even if he gets other parties support against Modi in Varanasi, he cant redeem his honour. What is left of him if he is not even truthful, hence loses mass support. Therefore Modi’s tea remains sweet as the voters vote become sour for many hopefuls.
The author is retired Col and analyst of military matters. As an Infantry officer he took part in 1971 Indo-Pak War in Poonch sector of J&K, in Sri Lanka as part of IPKF and later in 1999 Kargil Conflict as staff officer. He has served on the LOC and LAC for 11 years. He has also served as weapons instructor in Infantry School Mhow, Sqn Cdr in National defence Academy Khadagwasla, senior instructor in Infantry School Belgaum and NCC Group Commander in Pune and Sambalpore ( Orissa).