The government has good reasons to be wary of the BJP PM candidate as he emerges as the leader India needs.
He frightens them because he is everything that the present day politician of India is not — a man of strength and steel, with no skeletons in the cupboard that can break his strength or buy him up, and no greed for personal financial aggrandizement.
Before I proceed with my weekly piece, let me wish my readers a very Happy Diwali. May this Diwali truly usher in the victory of good over evil and bring peace and prosperity to our people and our country.
Now, to my piece. Narendra Modi has created the political upheaval that I expected he would. The Congress party appears to be in a huddle, with no clue as to how to deal with this new political phenomenon. Even our Prime Minister, best known for moderate and terse statements, whenever he is not silent, used a rather extreme word, "onslaught" to describe Modi's entry into the national political stage, a word normally associated with combat.
How comfortable and cosy previous national elections were. Election behaviour of political parties was predictable; everyone knew everyone else's secrets; everyone understood each other's mediocrities, and empathised with one another's personal ambitions. They sportingly accepted mutual election unpleasantness and acrimony, with a remarkable understanding and bonhomie. After all, verbal acrimony during elections happens all over the world and is a sign of a mature democracy. And by no means did it disturb the political comfort levels of leading political figures. The dynasty was given due respect, even when criticised, and conversely, it had its own favourites in the Opposition for its own reasons, whom it never criticised. Election manifestoes contained a host of promises, several of them unfulfilled promises of yesteryears. But all political parties would rest assured thereafter, knowing full well that once the election was over, they would never be held accountable about them either by the people of India or their own party brass. The lucky winners could then start the serious and exciting business of plundering India, alongside forming appropriately understanding alliances with the Opposition.
What is it about Narendra Modi that seems to frighten the comfortable ruling establishments, present or prospective, out of their wits? As I have stated earlier, he frightens them because he is everything that the present day politician of India is not — a man of strength and steel, with no skeletons in the cupboard that can break his strength or buy him up, and no greed for personal financial aggrandizement. This is what the present political system of India cannot stomach. How dare he not be like one of us, is what is written beneath their anti-Modi script.
Next, he frightens them, because his record of governance suggests that he is a patriot who places our country before anything else. The Congress governance model is based on electoral vote bank politics, even at the cost of breaking the country asunder. Neutralisation of vote banks spells doom for the Congress, and rumblings from the minority communities are already being heard. He frightens them because he is a quick decision maker, something anathema to a regime that believes in plundering the country through multiple pathways, with the chief political executive looking the other way, dithering or passing the buck. The UPA dispensation has made decision making by the Prime Minister unnecessary, undesirable and extinct. It has become a regime of GOMs and PMO (as differentiated from the Prime Minister) and NAC. And unless the Prime Minister has a personal interest in an issue, such as coal block allocation, the PMO has innovated a theory of "distancing itself" from the murky goings on in government, a new coinage, whatever it means, in the Arthashastra of South Block. The Modi critics believe that this implies true team spirit in running a government that Modi lacks, and that unlike Modi, the Prime Minister exemplifies a true team leader, because he is always outsourcing decision making (his first and legitimate function), to his GOMs or to the Core Committee or NAC. According to them, there is no way that Modi being a quick decision maker can qualify to be a good team leader, because neither does he believe in disseminating his accountability or responsibility to extra constitutional authorities like GOMs, and nor does he require their safety of numbers. Quick decision making and taking responsibility for it scares South Block and frightens it like Banquo's ghost. It must be exterminated before it strikes, for the sake of saving team leadership and secular unity, which in reality means the best financial interest of the ruling establishment. So start labelling decisiveness as divisiveness or communalism or lack of team leadership without explaining any of them, and keep repeating them until they stick.
What has started terrifying the ruling establishment even more is the magnetic power Narendra Modi holds over the crowds, and the ease with which he establishes a rapport with them. Psychologists call this quality "charisma", a gift which one either has or doesn't have; a
As Modi's oratory and charisma become more and more visible to the nation and his rallies keep increasing in size all over the country, opinion across the country (including within the Congress establishment) is that as a political leader, he stands unmatched and unstoppable.
The Congress party, during the last decade, had a single point objective on which it concentrated, using all the might of the state machinery it controlled. And that was to somehow get Modi personally indicted in a court of law for the 2002 riots that would finish his political career. For it was in Modi, more than anyone else in the political arena, that they saw the real threat to its power. Modi is neither intimidated nor pays obeisance to them, regardless of the historical halo they claim. However, they were neither able to politically assassinate him nor banish him into disgrace.
The Congress is in crisis — frustrated and frightened. They must helplessly countenance day after day Narendra Modi's steady and hard earned success finally reaching the national political stage, and being declared the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate of India. How will the party vice president compete with the charisma, the oratory, the experience and insights that can only be acquired by being a three-time Chief Minister?
The country is aghast at the party vice president's attitude and oratory, starting with the gate-crashing at Ajay Maken's press conference. He then indulged in a speech evoking death images of his father and grandmother. This infuriated the Sikhs and Tamils. In his next speech, he dwelt upon the Muzzafarnagar riots, as usual wrongly blaming the BJP, the real reason being the Jat-Muslim dynamics as manipulated by the ruling Samajwadi Party; and made the startling disclosure regarding the IB informing him of ISI agents recruiting Muzzafarnagar Muslim victims. This time the Muslim community was infuriated and the Home Ministry rubbished the statement.
The serial bomb blasts at Gandhi Maidan Patna were shocking. But what came through to the people of India, and what I regret has not been noticed or lauded by the media or political commentators, was Modi's composure and demeanour while he was speaking, even as low intensity bombs were going off, and danger and death confronted him in the face. The country requires no further demonstration of his courage in the face of mortal danger, his presence of mind, his leadership qualities, and forbearance.
Article credits -Ram Jethmalani is a senior politician and eminent lawyer.
The Sunday Gaurdian,Nov 2, 2013