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Magnetism of Power: 1998 revisited?

February 28, 2014

Political pundits including yours truly had expected this all along. This has not come as a surprise at all. That it took so long to happen is the only thing that has surprised many. BJP and Modi baiters had been using all tricks in the book to run down the man and the party. The 2002 Gujarat riots were milked for political brinkmanship ad nauseum. People got fed up of the rant and many got irritated as well. Most of the media outrage was generated and stage managed as it were.

Congress and the UPA quoted growth figures that were specious and useless – for two reasons. One, it ignored the simple fact that double digit inflation negated any such growth. Secondly, the growth figures came largely from BJP ruled states and did not represent the whole of India. The one huge achievement that Rahul Gandhi gloated about was the ‘power’ that he and his party had given to the people with bills such as the RTI (Right to Information) and Lokpal Bill. The other great achievement was the ‘jobs’ (read doles) that the government gave to the people through MANREGA. People cared two hoots for RTI and MANREGA was more a right to easy money for the Sarpanches than real devolution of resources to the common man. Rahul Gandhi even now claims that he wants to give power to the people. But never does he elaborate as to how he will do so. And so the question of devolution of power to the people – to women and tribal and the weaker sections hangs in the air. I am told Rahul Gandhi is Harvard educated. I am sure he must have heard about creation of jobs. US and Europe and other parts of the world give weekly jobless figures. UPA and Mr. Gandhi do not realize that it is jobs that are the crux of the matter. And jobs are not created by devolution of power – that is clearly of no use to the common man. What they need is a steady income. And that can happen only when investments are made welcome and industries and business prosper creating jobs.

The disenchantment of the people is so acute that they have thronged to Modi rallies. There is a Modi wave. I have written about his rally in Varanasi in one of my earlier articles. Clearly there is a paradigm shift in the political climate in the past few months. There has emerged a so-called Third Front which has been woven around the Left Brotherhood, but that is a non-serious outfit – a conglomeration of 11 parties hoping that neither the NDA nor the UPA does well and they manage to bring around another 11 parties to form a government. There is an outside chance but one that is very unlikely to happen.

The real game changer is Narendra Modi and his BJP led NDA coalition. Other political parties are sensing the mood of the people and converging towards NDA. Those who are with the UPA or had promised to align or assimilate with the Congress are running shy. Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP (Telugu Desam Party) has joined the NDA again. Jagan Mohan Reddy is so peeved with the Congress that he is ready to support any party that manages to keep the Congress out of power. Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP has aligned again with the BJP and is now a part of the NDA after a hiatus of 12 years. Athawale’s RPI is also back in the NDA. The sad anecdote of the unceremonious eviction of Ramnath Athawale from his residence by Congress government is the reason why he joined the NDA again.

Nitish Kumar and his Janata Dal United has seen a revolt when Shivanand Tiwari and four other MP’s were ousted from the party. Tiwari had criticised Nitish and his style of functioning. On an earlier occasion he had praised Modi and had been heckled by Nitish supporters. I will not be surprised if he joins the BJP.

Telangana Rashtriya Samiti had announced that they would go with whosoever forms Telangana. Congress made Telangana happen. Chandrashekhar Rao then announced the merger of TRS with the Congress. Later he withdrew. I am not sure he will be a part of even the UPA. He has got Telangana and he knows he will have to deal with BJP led NDA government in the years to come. It makes no political sense in merging his political outfit with a declining Congress. The rats are jumping off a sinking ship that is the Congress.

There is a background to Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party joining the NDA. It appears that Paswan was not too comfortable with the rightist posture of the NDA. It could well be that he urged Rajnath Singh to issue some kind of regret or ‘apology’ for the 2002 Gujarat riots. Rajnath Singh did so with the caveat that if there has been any wrong doing against any minorities by his government in Gujarat then he apologizes. That was good enough for Paswan. With Paswan on the NDA bandwagon the Dalit and backward votes should come NDA way and the threat from overtly backward and Dalit parties like the BSP will be marginalized.

The icing on the cake was however the longest serving chief minister from Arunachal Pradesh, Geogong Apang’s decision to leave the Congress and join the BJP. The man has been CM for 22 years. The man understands the mood of his people and knows that the shift is decisively against the Congress. There is a background to such political developments in the North East. BJP fielded Purno Sangma as their presidential candidate against Pranab Mukherjee. They knew Sangma would not make it. But it was a shrewd political move. Many within the BJP wanted Pranabda to enter the Rashtrapati Bhavan. But by fielding Sangma, a Christian and a tribal they made three statements. One that they are secular by backing a Christian. Second, that they were pro-tribal. And thirdly and most importantly they were friends of the people of North East, which again was true. Modi rallies in the North East have had a tumultuous response. Apang joining the BJP therefore does not come as a surprise. The media has played this down but this is perhaps a body blow to the Congress.

Power has a magnetism of its own. I am sure the BJP will do very well in the coming general elections. It is veritably a walkover by the Congress and the UPA. World media is talking about the change of guard. The US ambassador Nancy Powell met Narendra Modi in Gandhinagar. The man is being wooed by those who matter not only within India but globally.

It is 1998 revisited when more than 20 parties came together under the leadership of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee to form the government. The apology of sorts for Gujarat riots by Rajnathji has rattled the UPA like nothing has. The secular media is trying to make is sound as an empty rhetoric for political gains. But then wasn’t Telangana formed for political gains too? It is amazing how far politicians will go to secure power. Telangana was an out and out a political move to ensure 15 odd seats for the UPA. The bad news for them is that TRS has deserted them and have had their cake and eaten it too. Its too late for the Congress to unleash the CBI against Chandrashekhar Rao. Rao is no Lalu who can be cowed down by graft cases.

There were talks of Sharad Pawar’s NCP joining hands with the BJP in Maharashtra. Udhav Thakre’s Shiv Sena put their foot down and told the BJP in no uncertain terms that NCP joining the NDA was untenable. Shiv Sena and the BJP have managed to rope in many smaller parties in Maharashtra who are from the Vidarbha region and should undercut Pawar’s NCP. By the way, Sharad pawar is not fighting the Lok Sabha elections this time and his daughter Supriya Sule will fight from their home constituency of Baramati.

As I write the news is that DMK Supremo Karunanidhi has called Modi a hardworking man and a friend. Indian politics and politicians leave me breathless.

There is a clamour to be a part of the NDA bandwagon. Teesta Setalvad and other activists unleashed by the UPA have vanished. Modi and the NDA are the flavour of the political grapevine in Lutyen’s Delhi. Its time Modi got a bungalow in Delhi, where he belongs.

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