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How Could Anyone Dare?

How Could Anyone Dare?

Not many people may know that not even one of India’s Union Council of Ministers was voted out through a no-confidence motion. However, even if there was ignorance in the BJP brass on this, it would not be the reason why the Narendra Modi Government has not taken measures to face the no-confidence motion which has been blocked for a week now.

Officially, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan says that the House has to be in order to take up the notice for a no-confidence motion, as she needs to check whether the motion has the support of the minimum 50 MPs. While the support of more than 50 MPs look clear on paper, if she wanted to go through the formality of physically counting, she can evict protesting MPs to bring the House to order. She has taken the extreme measure of suspending Congress MPs earlier. All she needs to do now is to ask the House marshals to accompany out protesting MPs.

And who are the protesters? One group is from the AIADMK. Imagine a party which has not even whimpered in Parliament since the death of Jayalalithaa creating a ruckus over speedy constitution of the Cauvery award implementation board. Its MPs may be overlooking the fact that most of farmers in the Cauvery delta may want them to ask for the verdict to be reviewed.

The other group belongs to the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti, which has been Modi’s proxy all these years. And what does it want? Its state government has passed a law to increase the percentage of reservation in jobs to above the 49% stipulated by the Supreme Court.

Despite the playacting by Modi Government’s proxies, the real reason is not secret among those who know Modi’s nature: Modi’s self-righteousness cannot even tolerate the thought that history would show that a motion of no-confidence was moved against his Government. It is not that he or anyone in the BJP or Opposition fear/fancy the motion would be passed. But the very thought that someone had the gumption to move a no-trust motion seems unacceptable to the ‘most popular leader’ of the world’s ‘largest democracy’.

Minister for Comedy

That is not an official title yet, but practically that is what Ravi Shankar Prasad has been ever since pompously appearing as the Modi Government’s spokesperson.

The self-righteous vigour seems to have rubbed on to him, but his fellow ministers seem to pity him for his amazing skills of scoring self-goals. In the latest instance, Prasad alleged that the Congress had used a data analytics company to win elections. Any other person would have asked oneself, ‘but how many elections has Congress won after all such things came to being?’ And/or ‘isn’t our party more known for utilising all things tech for manipulating elections?’

But no such thoughts seemed to have crossed Prasad’s mind. Minutes after Prasad made the accusations, Congress hit back with records and reports and internet links to show that the said company has officially claimed to have helped Narendra Modi win the 2014 general elections, apart from four other state polls. These claims were not contested by the BJP then.

Shortly after the Congress news conference, the website of the company had missing pages, only to reappear on social media via cache.

A charitable explanation could be that Prasad was just pre-empting to limit damage to his party. And, not to be belittled, Prasad also warned Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg that he was ‘answerable to India’s Information and Technology Minister’ if his firm had mined personalised data and manipulated elections. Last heard, Mark Zuckerberg has taken refuge in a cave in Tora Bora.

Sorry Figure

It seems Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal has something similar to the Chinese Zodiac. He keeps apart each year for different things. If 2010 was the Year for Defamation, 2011 was the Year of Agitation. If 2012 was Year of Party Formation, 2013 was the Year of Jan Lokpal Bill. Unlike the Chinese year, the next one, the Year of Fighting Elections, lasted from 2014-17. And finally, 2018 is the Year of Apology.

In the last few days, he has made three apologies to settle defamation cases against him. Apparently, there are more than 30 apologies he is currently processing before the year ends.

What is that got Kejriwal into such a sorry state? They say that he was done in by Nehru. Unlike Modi’s banal claims to blame India’s first PM for his Government’s failures, this one has a sound base.

Kejriwal rose to fame by defaming leaders of the Congress. Though much-maligned by the tag of Emergency, social activists, politicians and journalists of different hue would admit that Congress politicians are more tolerant.

Emboldened by the meek Congress response, Kejriwal started rewarding people who would do things such as throw shoes at a Congress news conference. Even someone like P Chidambaram, alleged to be vindictive by Congress standards, was polite to the shoe-thrower.

By the time regimes changed at the Centre, Kejriwal had made it a habit to make accusations against any leader. But he learned the hard way that Union ministers of the BJP were not willing to tolerate his tirades. Hence, the spree of apologies.

Kejriwal’s deputy Manish Sisodia says that the apologies were to cut down legal expenses and utilise time spent in courts for politics. But may be Kejriwal could have done with just a single apology. He could have apologised to Prashant Bhushan, re-inducted him into AAP and asked the seasoned lawyer to take care of all his legal woes.

Rao and Modi

The Congress has finally acknowledged that it had an illustrious Prime Minister outside the Nehru-Gandhi clan. Since his ejection from the Congress President’s post, Narasimha Rao was an ‘unmentionable word’ in Congress documents. However, in the recent AICC plenary session held to endorse Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as the party president, the Congress devoted enough literature to praise the efforts of Narasimha Rao in saving the nation from economic disaster in the early 1990s and his efforts in reshaping India’s foreign policy in a unipolar world.

Congress’ late realisation of its Machiavelli in the time of no-trust motion, reminds one of something else: Rao started his stint as PM heading a minority government in 1991, however, by 1996, he managed to cobble up a majority. Narendra Modi, on the other hand, started off with a 70% majority, but has seen a gradual slide. Things have reached such a pass that if the no-trust motion is put to vote, BJP would want to reach out to allies such as Shiv Sena and issue a whip to party MPs to ensure safety of numbers.

( abey.kay@gmail.com)

(Published on 26th March 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 13)