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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Varun is a distraction

Last night, Times Now telecast a fascinating interview with Narendra Modi. Unlike many BJP leaders who end up scoring self-goals, Modi was focussed and was not deterred by Arnab's attempt to sound aggressive. In fact, Modi dominated the show from start to finish.

One facet of the interview that struck me was the deftness with which Modi skirted the Varun Gandhi controversy. When asked the question he merely replied that the issue was sub-judice.

Modi is a canny politician. He is willing to talk at length on the IPL controversy but he insists on stonewalling questions on Varun. Why?

The reasons are obvious. Modi knows full well that the Varun issue has derailed the BJP campaign. The BJP wanted to make the UPA's record of misgovernance the theme of the election; the Congress and the secular media are delighted that Varun is the eye of the storm.

Of course, this is not to condone the arbitrary use of the National Security Act against Varun. Mayawati's response has been disproportionate to the alleged offence.

That point needs to be made but it is important that the BJP gets back its focus fast.

My earlier blog "The Varun tapes" elicited many hostile comments. I believe many of those were emotional responses centred on secularist double-standards. I don't disagree with the fact that Varun is being hounded because he speaks in a Hindu idiom. (It is tasteless all the same).

An emotional Hindu response is precisely what the secular lobby wants. They want to divert attention from the most vulnerable part of the Congress--its shoddy record of governance.

The Varun issue will be resolved in court. His election prospects will not be jeopardised if he happens to be in prison till polling day.

Let's get back to the issues that suit us.

Think strategically, not emotionally and in anger.


doubtinggaurav said...

Swapan Da,

In your later comments you said to the effect that arrest of Varun Gandhi under NSA has changed things. Do you think this arrest can be used as a issue in a low intensity campaign completely below the radar of English media.

doubtinggaurav said...

By the way your willingness to address even the critical comments is very much appreciable.

ayush said...

I absolutely agree with your views on Modi, He is one person who is playing his cards well.

The latest news of the induction of Retired IPS officer Abdullah Ibrahim Saiyad in Gujrat BJP has been a master stroke if the BJP can use it to their advantage across the country.

It is reported in the media just as a minor city news , this news should get prominence at the national stage.

If induction of Neera Yadav can get Prime time coverage so shoule induction Abdullah Ibrahim Saiyad.

A news item related to this -

Neelakantan said...

I actually listened to the interview on yourube after reading your post. Thanks for pointing it out.

I think it is a must see for all of us to see the questions that were posed to Mr. Modi. I am sure such questions would never be posed to MMS or others. Of course, he handled them deftly...

neo_reloaded said...

swapan da,
recently found your blog..was a regular reader of your columns in TOI(given up reading it as its sickeningly biased)...delighted to have you on have hit the nail on the head with the varun issue...this issue had entirely hijacked the media debate..when 832mn of our countrymen live on less than 20 bucks a day..our biased media feels its appropriate to discuss a stupid kid's emotional outburst for 4 pages in a 20 pg was very sad to see 30th march TOI, Advaniji had addressed the press meet about the swiss bank black money issue but the front page had only varun written all over it... the swiss bank issue did not even find any mention in the entire news paper..finally some sanity is returning in the media... i feel the BJP has balanced its reaction to the issue very well considering the MSM's bias..the focus must be purely on REAL issues and not the emotional issues..they are finally getting back on track..better late than never i guess..

Posterboy Politics said...

Some time back when Shri Arun Jaitley was in Ahmedabad for "Friends of BJP" event, he also reacted exactly in same manner as Modi.He also said that the issue is in court.

Now if the issue is in court, how come the other leaders of the BJP are talking on Varun issue and why only Arun Jaitley and Modi feel that the matter is in court and should not be talked about?

Venkatesh said...

Swapan Da,

As usual you have a great perspective. But do you really believe that India votes based on development related issues. If that is the case, should the congress have ruled for 60 years. If the case, why was the BJP booted out, as they did the maximum development.

Maybe from Modi's perspective, he is already a hindu hero and the does not want to derive any mileage out of it and perhaps not be attacked for supporting Varun and hence his silence.

if i take your argument that Modi is politically smart and hence maintained silence, then is Advani a bit naive to have come out openly in support of Varun?

I have tremendous respect for both Modi and Advani, as advani's yatra inspired me to try and know more about my religion. I for one am happy that there is some emotion in the election else it is too boring.

Thanks for having a dialogue with your fellow bloggers. Maybe I am emotional about Varun, but I truly believe that an attempt is being made to beat the boy into submission. If he is indeed a new sanjay gandhi, this should make him only more determined. Compared to the unintelligent and entirely insipid RG, this Gandhi comes like a whiff of fresh air.

Prasanna said...

Hi Swapanda

I think BJP has scored a huge self-goal in the l'affaire Varun Gandhi.The party's political managers are naive if they think that they can run with the hare and hunt with the hounds

I am pretty disappointed that pragmatic section of BJP (Advani/Jaitley/Modi) did not nip in the bud this ham handed attempt at "martyrdom manufacturing " .Rajnath Singh has wrought tremendous damage to the party by trying to electorally cash in on this nearly indefensible venow spewing speech of Varun(in case he really made it)

Rajnath (being a petty provinical operator that he is) cannot see beyond using the episode to secure his own victory at the husting(note how dubious ex-bureaucrats are being inducted in to the party fold just to get few thousand incremental votes).BJP stands to lose momentum in other states because of this entire episode

This was election which NDA could have clearly taken a runaway lead only by fighting on the plank of governance(All well run state governmens belong to NDA barring Delhi).Its pretty evident now that by self-inflicted damage,BJP has lost the plot and that too by defending a inconsequential politico

Know the verity said...

Swapan da, u must see this thread :

Here one old & experienced worker of the party (his name is Kranti Mishra) is contradicting u.

What I want to say is that in U.P u can't win election on the plank of security, development, good alliance (though it's necessary)etc only. These issue might work in other parts of the country. But in U.P only Varun brand of politics can help us win respectable seats. Other wise.............

Bhavananda said...

Dear Swapan da,
Although I very much disagreed on your previous post, I'm more inclined to agree with you on this one. For the simple reason that this whole Varun affair has outlived its purpose. This whole affair came as an opportunity to unite the ranks in UP (which unfortunately cannot look far beyond caste and religion) and BJP has milked-the-vote-cow for long enough. (As I said before, it is likely to pay rich dividends in UP) It would be pragmatic now for BJP to not let the issue dominate its campaign outside of UP. I think BJP has played its card well, *so far*, and from now on it should let the issue subside. And the best way to do that would be to stop commenting on this issue.
Bottomline: Yes, Varun was a *worthwhile* distraction. Let him be a martyr, and get on with business.

charuvak said...

Swapan da,

If Varun is a distraction, why is BJP not ignoring him?

Umashankar Das said...

Exactly my point..I has also posted possible repercussions in UP itself. Still, I think we should move in different directions now.

Maybe we should focus on what this Govt has done other than creating a tag 'THE DREAM TEAM'.

Let us move on...

socal said...

Thanks. Modi stuck to his points throughout. He may not have the diction, but his thoughts are cogent.

The point about that Goa candidate is very well taken. The idea of playing Bharat v India is a masterstroke. It's simple to argue but has to come from an honest place. And he managed precisely that.

Anonymous said...

Swapan da, you yourself are dwelling too much on the Varun Gandhi thing.

The whole issue is fading to a steady state level. Other issues too are catching up like the black money issue.

LKA was in Orissa last couple of days. He was talking about BJD betrayal. Btw, your assessment of the break up being solely dependent on seat sharing seems incorrect. BJD had been planning this for quite some time. I hope Naveen Patnaik pays for this in the coming election.

After the NSA thing, Varun Gandhi episode cannot be seen as a totally harmful to BJP. It is one of the issues to be used where it can be used. My friends from UP tell me that that voting in UP is based on caste and emotion and the Varun episode will help in a few seats. Not to say that I approve of what he said, realpolitik wise, it has its usefulness.

BJP cannot be seen as abandoning Varun when he needs party help and that too just because of a speech.

Dhruv said...

Modi's development policies have transformed the life of the poorest in Gujarat ...

He is a rare combination of a personality who is "seedha-with-seedha" and "teda-with-teda".

On one hand he does everything to protect and uplift the poorest, on the other he effortlessly demolishes the cunning and the evil opposition whether other political parties or the media.

And he adopts no shortcuts like caste / communal/ regional politics...

Modi is India's only hope.... Not a single leader, past or present, of his calibre have graced independent India's political stage.
I don't know any reason why any peace loving educated Indian would ever oppose his work or his thoughts ... When it comes to leadership options, Its not a choice between chand and suraj ... its a choice between mahal and the gutter …Congress and most of the regional parties are playing gutter politics, and destroying India …

Swapan-da , if you ever have discussion with your media colleagues, the anti-Modi types, just ask them whether they can read and interpret statistics? It’s an objective way to measure performance, no subjective analysis required if the figures are authentic, rather pure numbers in front of all to prove conclusively that progress has been made.
Why do these people have difficulty in swallowing the fact that what Modi is doing in Gujarat is nothing short of miracle, which neither they nor their baap would have ever seen in their lifetimes.
To add if people start regarding ‘DEVELOPMENT’ as just one aspect, than they deserve to live in gutters. DEVELOPMENT is the REAL ISSUE the biggest issue along with SECURITY, EFFECTIVE JUSTICE DELIVERY SYSTEM and FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION, which will provide real happiness and peace to poverty-ridden India.

doubtinggaurav said...

Swapan Da,

Kind of off topic, but I am interested to know what do you think BJP should do to neutralize advantage of secular establishment in media.

I think that BJP should try to undermine by waging below the radar war by establishing a network of local media like Cable TV, FM and Indian language newspaper.

Tarun Surana said...

I am a first time voter and watching politics keenly. I hope to see a stable government by BJP+ and Varun's issue has the capability to make or break it. Given BJP's lack of presence in Bengal, TN, Andhra and several key states; It is important for BJP to focus on UP to reach 150+ mark. Mint had a good article about possibility of BJP doing well in UP on the back of Varun and yet keep it on arm's length away in other parts of India.

your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Congrats for amazing and truly inclusive, excellent, mind blowing manifesto. Half the battle has won. Promised Income Tax limit will make each middle class person voting in favor of the BJP. The party should spread this news maximum. Now BJP ki Jai Ho!

Satya said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Satya said...

Why isn't anybody concerned about Rahul Gandhi "showing" a fake degree as his "education" credentials and lying to the Election Commission, twice [ in 2004 and 2009]?

Can't we send an email to the Election Commission?

ankan said...

Swapan da,

On a different note, I think Narendra Modi should do as many interviews as possible. He has an ability to take the fight to the secularists and beat them on their turf. I used to think that the secularist media, itching to lynch the man, would decimate him when they get a chance to interview him. But in interviews after interviews, it seems that the paper tigers actually crumble when presented with facts and arguments in a combative manner. I am sure Mr. Modi's interviews are an excellent tool against the secular propaganda.