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Gandhi Outshines Modi

Gandhi Outshines Modi

The late TVR Shenoy had once said that it was possible to travel from Kerala to New Delhi by train without touching a Congress-ruled state. He was right as all the states on the way were ruled by non-Congress parties at that time.

The situation has drastically changed since the results of the recent elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, and Mizoram were announced. The Congress has come to power in MP, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan which together account for a sizeable number of seats in the Lok Sabha.

Earlier in May this year, the Congress wrested Karnataka from the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Congress had already returned to power in Punjab.

The voters have given a slap to those who sought to make India a Congress-free nation. The elections proved that a person can be condemned for some time but not for all time. The reference is to Rahul Gandhi, whom the BJP has always been condemning as a useless entity.

It is significant that on the first anniversary of his taking over as the President of the Indian National Congress, his party won three heartland states.

The BJP with its large army of cyber warriors has been portraying Rahul Gandhi as a good-for-nothing leader who had to read out scripts. Rumour-mongers were busy portraying him as a nincompoop and spreading imaginary stories about his cluelessness.

The fact is that he had successfully defended his seat even when Narendra Modi had fielded the glamorous Smriti Irani against him in the 2014 election. The Prime Minister rewarded her with a plum post for trying her luck against the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Abuse has been the pivot on which the BJP campaign has been turning. One way of doing it was to call him a political ignoramus, a person who could not measure up to Modi or his sidekick Amit Shah. Contemptuousness was raised to the level of a political stratagem without realising that the people did not approve of such crass negativeness. After all, they have been watching how Gandhi has been going around the country visiting Dalit and tribal homes and sharing their joy and sorrow.

And what has Modi been doing? He has been hobnobbing with the richest and the most glamorous like Mukesh Ambani and Priyanka Chopra. And pursuing such pet and nonsensical ideas as building the world’s tallest statue of a person who was a Congressman all his life and who died a Congressman and introducing bullet trains on borrowed money.

Whatever the Supreme Court has said, Modi alone could have introduced a company formed just a fortnight before the Rafale deal was signed as a partner in the multi-billion dollar business. Again, he alone could have given the institution-of-eminence status to the Ambani-owned Jio University for which not a brick had been laid, not a student had been enrolled and not a teacher had been appointed.

At one time Modi and his spin masters had been declaring demonetization as the greatest economic initiative since Independence but he did not utter a single word about it during the recent elections. He owed an apology to the thousands whose business and livelihood had been devastated by Modi’s midnight madness called the ban on high-denomination notes.

Again, he organised the midnight joint Parliament session to announce the launch of the one-GST-one-country initiative. Nobody has any clue as to how the new tax regime has simplified the taxation system. His management of the economy is such that his own hand-picked man to head the Reserve Bank found it easier to quit the job than to tolerate nonsense. It was the same motive Raghuram Rajan had when he quit the post to take up a teaching assignment in the US.

Now, Modi has brought a historian to replace Urjit Patel as the Governor of RBI. In his abundant wisdom, Modi would have thought that the RBI now needed a historian who can write a book titled The Decline and Fall of the Reserve Bank like Gibbon’s much-celebrated book on the Roman Empire.

Modi had all along been claiming that the Congress was the epitome of corruption. Four and a half years after he came to power, has he been able to arrest a single Congressman and ferret out the thousands of crores of rupees that the Congress leaders had allegedly stashed away in foreign banks?

Instead of letting the CBI do its work, the government has been turning it into a handmaiden of the ruling party so much so that it has lost its glory as the pre-eminent investigative agency. When characters like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi disappeared, it found happiness in linking them to the previous regime. It is like blaming the British for the high petrol prices.

Now the question is, has Modi been able to fulfill any of the promises he made to the electorate? The value of the rupee vis-a-vis the dollar and the Euro has been falling even as the petrol prices have been threatening to touch the 100-rupee-mark. Forget the Rafael deal, look at the BJP office that has come up in Lutyen’s Delhi with its ultra-modern features and state-of-the-art infrastructure. Did any of the readers ever pay a single paise for its construction?

It is claimed that Modi wears a Teflon dress that wards off corruption. How is it that all the organisations that come under what is called the Sangh Parivar are flush with money? No, Modi is a gentleman, who can never support corruption.

Wherever the BJP had won an election — be it a bye-election to a panchayat or a municipality — Modi and his publicists had claimed it as his victory. Yet, it is strange that he did not take the blame for the defeat. After all, he was the star campaigner in the elections hopping from one constituency to another.

Modi should have owned the responsibility for the defeat in all the five states that went to polls and quit gracefully to let the party elect a leader who can lead it in the 2019 elections.

He has proved his incompetence to lead the nation. All his grand travels to the far corners of the world in the company of his business friends have brought little to the country even as his passport has been getting more and more visa and exit stamps.

Surrounded as he is by his hangers-on, he may not realise that he has been becoming a laughing stock. His Mann ki Baath has lost its relevance. It is time he should tell the nation about his achievements, rather than mouth what others tell him and call it Mann ki Baath. He is in a fool’s paradise if he thinks that the voters want only a temple at Ayodhya. They need jobs, good roads and bridges.

He should have realised that the BJP lost miserably when elections were held in the wake of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Does Modi know that the party’s stand on the temple reminds the nation of the famous quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi — "a post-dated cheque drawn on a crumbling bank?"

Nobody would have told him about the results of a few municipal and panchayat by-elections in Kerala that came a few weeks earlier. The BJP lost miserably despite raking up the Sabarimala issue.

The people are confused about the BJP’s stand. Sometimes it supports the right of women to enter the temple, sometimes it supports the tradition that does not allow it. Has anywhere in the world had a whole state been brought to a standstill because a much-married and much-divorced man committed suicide because he was "tired of life". Just because the man in flames ran in the direction of a BJP pandal, he was declared as a martyr and a bandh was called and enforced. Is this the good governance that Modi promised?

All the power is concentrated in the hands of two persons in the country. They are Modi and Shah. Of course, there is the extra-constitutional authority called the national security advisor whose credentials are that of a spy. In any case, a spy cannot be very scrupulous but to elevate him to the status of a strategist is stupidity of the highest order.

When the question who after Modi arises, one answer is the name of the UP Chief Minister. This gentleman in saffron dress has been going to all the poll-bound states promising a change of Muslim names of places and institutions. It is a surprise that Modi does not know that he is more a liability than an asset.

The people in his constituency rejected him. The people in his own ward in the Gorakhpur Municipality had rejected him outright and elected a Muslim woman. He can only think of the cow. He has come up with another great idea. To construct a statue of Lord Ram. He does not know that Ram lives in the hearts of the people and any needless wasting of cement and steel to perpetuate his memory is an insult to the Maryadapurushothaman.

The elections prove that if there is unity among the Opposition parties, the result in the next parliamentary elections would be quite different. Modi would have no chance to return to power if the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, and the Congress are able to form an alliance in Uttar Pradesh and contest the election jointly.

Let there be no mistaking that the BJP would be reduced to the status it enjoys in the Delhi Assembly and the status it enjoyed in the Lok Sabha following the 1984 elections.

The elections have validated Rahul Gandhi’s competence to lead the party.

One saddening aspect of the election is the way in which the Congress tried to imitate the BJP. There was a time when the party used to give tickets to many Muslims. This time the number of Muslims who were given tickets had fallen below par. It is not a good strategy to deprive Muslims of adequate representation in Parliament and Assemblies.

Indian Muslims are the least influenced by the Islamists who have been urging the faithful to take up arms as has been done by the IS. The nation owes a duty to the Muslims and other minorities to give them a level playing field. The fear that if Muslims are given tickets, the Hindus would be unhappy is misplaced.

The average Hindu in India would not mind if he is ruled by a competent Muslim. He would certainly mind if he is ruled by a foolish Hindu. In short, in politics, the qualities needed in a political leader are intelligence, sincerity, and commitment to the Constitutional provisions. It does not matter whether he is a Hindu or a Muslim or an atheist.

Nobody is bothered whether Rahul Gandhi is a Shiv bhakt or a Vaishnavite as long as the cat can catch the mouse. Modi will no longer call him or treat him like a Pappu. He has emerged as a leader in his own right. There is little doubt that he will play a greater role in 2019 than Modi, who is a sure recipe for disaster.

If the BJP has to remain in the reckoning, it will have to pack the two off to Gujarat, eschew the politics of temple, evolve policies which are inclusive and take everyone into confidence. Today India has Leftists in the form of the CPM, the CPI and the RSP, the centrists in the form of the Congress and many of the regional parties and the rightists in the form of the BJP.

To be a rightist does not mean that the party concerned has to adopt a religious stance and use its symbols and traditions.

In short, the BJP should evolve like many of the rightist parties in Europe who go by the name conservatives. There is no need for a BJP-mukt Bharat. The party must play its assigned role of the Opposition in all the three states and wait for better climes. For that, it must get rid of all those who should be in jails and not in positions of power and authority. Jai Hind

( ajphilip@gmail.com)

(Published on 17th December 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 51)