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Monday, May 11, 2009

Tremors from Ludhiana

modi nitish

As propaganda exercises go, the NDA rally in Ludhiana was a roaring success. The rally achieved three purposes:

  • It scotched all speculation of a rift in the NDA even before the results are out. The Narendra Modi-Nitish Kumar photo-op in particular was good piece of showmanship. NDTV was particularly agitated and made it appear that Nitish's main crime was to have reneged on an assurance to Barkha Dutt. However, I don't think that Nitish was too happy over being ambushed by Modi--such public displays are not his style.
  • The symbolic presence of the Telengana Rashtriya Samiti, hitherto a part of the Third Front, suggested that the NDA's ability to draw in post-poll allies shouldn't be underestimated. However, don't take the TRS presence as constituting the last word.
  • The show of unity by the NDA was in sharp contrast to the perceived disarray in the UPA. There was an implicit message to other Third Front partners, notably TDP and AIADMK. The Muslim factor in West Bengal rules out Mamata Banerjee joining NDA, although she may ditch Congress if it cosies up to the Left again.

The BJP is wallowing in the euphoria of Ludhiana. It hopes the momentum will help it in Punjab and UP in the fifth phase of voting. The NDA needs to desperately recover ground in Punjab and consolidate gains in the Bareilly-Rohilkhand belt of UP. In the next two days, the BJP is planning two new advertisements.

  • The first, a brainchild of Narendra Modi, commemorates the 11th anniversary of the Pokhran-2 tests and showcases decisiveness in government.
  • The visual of the BJP manifesto advertisement has been modified to make it into an NDA appeal. Sharad Yadav has apparently given his go-ahead.

The Congress hasn't been sitting idle either. It has undertaken a few initiatives with an eye on post-poll arithmetic:

  • Sonia Gandhi and Rahul have not only cancelled their visits to West Bengal for the fifth phase but taken care to let it be known that this constitutes an overture to the Left. Mamata Banerjee is furious but she will hold her peace till voting is over.
  • The CPI(M) has been persuaded to soften its stand and agree in principle to approach the May 18 Politburo meeting with an open mind. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has said nice things about Somnath Chatterjee who was expelled from the CPI(M) for his opposition to the withdrawal of support to Manmohan last July. The CPI(M) hopes that keeping speculation alive could lead to a partial neutralisation of the Congress in the fifth phase in West Bengal--all the seats in that phase are being contested by the Trinamool. The CPI, incidentally, is not too happy with the perceived softening of the CPI(M).
  • Congress has gone out of its way to remove apprehensions in the DMK over the future. Congress candidates in Tamil Nadu were fearing that after Rahul's press conference and the cancellation of a Sonia meeting, the DMK cadres would not work for the success of P.Chidambaram and Mani Shankar Aiyar. Both these Cabinet ministers have made very strong anti-Jayalalitha statements, calculated to make the lady furious. Has the Congress pushed Jayalalitha to the NDA?

There is not much both parties can do in the next few days after Wednesday's polling but await Saturday's counting. All they can do is keep rapid response teams in place once the numbers are known.


robin said...

Two things must be done immediately.As you righly said Congress by going the extra mile to please DMK like MM Singh's visit to hospital and Sonia rally has pushed Jayalalitha closer to NDA. This is also supported by Modi taking up Lanka issue and speaking the same words spoken by Jayalalitha a day earlier.
But AIADMk is in danger of losing two seats South Chennai and Ramanathapuram as BJP candidates are going to make DMK win in these two constituencies. In other seats except kanyakumari BJP is going to help DMK by splitting anti aiamdk votes.This is what Mr Cho also has mentioned in the editorial today. Best way forward to ensure NDA govt is to transfer BJP vote to Tamilnadu except in Kanyakumari where BJP can request AIADMK for Mr Pon Radhakrishnan.

So BJP needs to make backdoor contact and be content with one win in Kanyakumari and boost AIADMK votes in all other constituencies.
Please take this arguement to BJP top decison makers

Anonymous said...

Ideal caption for thid photograph, the sweetest picture I've seen in my life..

"Cry, Barkha, Sagarika, Arnab, Prakash, Sonia. Cry."

Anonymous said...

"Sonia Gandhi and Rahul have not only cancelled their visits to West Bengal for the fifth phase but taken care to let it be known that this constitutes an overture to the Left. Mamata Banerjee is furious but she will hold her peace till voting is over."

This is absolutely shocking. Just because all seats in the last phase are Trinamool Seats. How the Congress can use its allies when they need them, and dump them when the allies need the Congress is positively shocking. Same happened/ will happen with RJD, LJP, SP, DMK...

Why would any party want to tie up with the Congress, ever? I would think that to Mamata, even the 'communal' BJP is a better option. If BJP can consolidate a vote share of 5-6% in the state, the TMC could atleast consider a long term alliance with the BJP in the state.

Anyway, everyone knows that the Congress-TMC alliance was the most opportunistic of the lot, and the Congress would dump the TMC the second the last vote is polled and go with the Left. I didn't expect the Congress to dump the TMC BEFORE the last vote is polled however. Signs of desperation...

doubtinggaurav said...


You made my day by taking potshot at the screeching harridan of NDTV, I suspect this is first time Barkha Dutt has been chastised by someone among her peers.

Siva said...

The Modi-Nitish kodak moment was simply wonderful. It has served some other purposes too, apart from what you mentioned.

It will ensure that Nitish will stay in the NDA for some time atleast, possibly atleast till the next Bihar elections. Laloo and Paswan will justifiably use this photo against Nitish is Bihar to polarize Muslims in their favour. I actually feel sorry for Nitish, he was forced into this Kodak moment by Modi. Significant muslim goodwill in Bihar probably would have evaporated in a matter of seconds. He will be forced to stick with the NDA. Thats ofcourse good news for us. Everyone knows that Nitish wouldn't have dared to share the stage with Modi if any seats in Bihar were left. Strangely, Barkha is right.

If has splashed egg on the face of all those trying to entice Nitish with the certificate of secularism - Congress and Left, Rahul and Prakash Karat. Though he completely deserves it, he will not get the certificate he actually yearns for, in my mind.

By 2014, I fully expect Nitish to have broken off from the NDA and be with the Left+LJP. He respects and supports Advani, but not Modi. And when Modi becomes PM candidate, Nitish will leave. But till then atleast, he will be with the NDA.

Anonymous said...

The key thing is Chandrasekhar Rao, who will bring in 7 MPs of the TRS, saying that he will help the NDA get more. That presumably means the TDP, a tough nut to crack for the BJP. So thats the real boost from the TRS presence yesterday.

Swapanda, any news on the state results in Andhra and Orissa. If TDP needs TRS, TDP probably will join NDA. If BJD in Orissa needs BJP, they will certainly join NDA. So these two states are critical. Any news?

rachit said...

ya swapan da!!
this time personally I think Mr.Gangwar will be very lucky if he wins from bareilly, praveen earan family is very popular in tht region and so this seat may go to congress but manika and varun will win...
wht u say on this??

horizon said...

South Chennai has a high concentartion of middle class and upper caste ppl and there is a good chance BJP might cut into AIADMK vote there. Also some constituencies from IT corridor has been included in south chennai and so there is a good chance that BJP could win too provided ppl come out and vote.

Mahesh Prabhu said...

What a statement swapanda...NDTV was particularly agitated and made it appear that Nitish's main crime was to have reneged on an assurance to Barkha Dutt.

Barka,deserved this shot..

Why are we all worried about Nitish Kumars Muslim Vote.India is divided by Congress and Barka dutt likes on basis of religion. Why like this. If Nitish Kumar is working for the growth of Bihar, it is Biharies who are developing. Not muslims,not christians and not hindus.
Let us stop speaking like this and create hatred. Muslims or christians are not fools.If they listen to Lalu on giving secular certificte to Nitish, then if minoritied trust Lalu ,then its bad day in democracy.

theprudentindian said...

SwapanDa this Nitish-Modi Milan @Ludhiana could be a watershed moment in this interesting times, may be the 'bogus' debate of secularism v/s communalism is finally settled and Public Discourse is brought back to performance based on relative developmental agendas and programmes. Sure this would hurt the 'Secular Industry' and my fear is this: if at all these 'secular wailing brigade' would ever allow this to happen.


robin said...

Let us look at this way.Before attending the meet Nitish must have deliberated the pros and cons before giving his consent.He knew that Modi was attending it. So this photo is not one which is unintended. It is to give new meaning to development and secularism.
Like Mr Cho said today if BJP gets 170 seats it will become secular.If it gets 150 it will remain communal. This is essence describes Indian politics and pseudo secularism

Siva said...

@ Mahesh Prabhu,
I completely agree with you that all biharis, be they hindu, muslim, christian etc are developing a lot under Nitish. He is doing good work for all Biharis. But I'm playing Devil's Advocate here, talking about the arguments which will come from the secular brigade - RJD, Cong, LJP, Left etc. For them, Modi and BJP are synonymous with the devil to Muslims. How many people know that according to the Sachar Committee, muslims are most developed in Modi's Gujarat? And do you expect that to get votes anyway?

The point is that there will be large sections of the population who believe the secular brigade, irrespective of the good work that is done, or reports like Sachar. The more discerning among the muslims will no doubt support Nitish, or for that matter Modi as they can see the fruits of development. The others will fall for the rhetoric of messrs Lalu & Co., and continue to consider Modi as the devil. Now we can only hope and pray that the proportion of 'discerning' people in the population increases - this is not restricted to muslims alone, but all religions, castes etc. - people who vote on the basis of development. But large sections of our country are not like that, unfortunately. Like you said, its sad for democracy. But thats the reality.

Return_of_Chanakya said...

This rally was really a good news for Advani. Although, reading across different stories in media point to an interesting conspiracy theory.
I hope I am wrong but it seems BJP might loose heavily in Gujarat. This is due to strange choice of candidates by Modi which has angered many Patel voters from the state. The conspiracy theory is that he will try hard that BJP loose this election so that he has a good chance in 2012/2014 election.
However, this might not be enough for MMS. As, Sonia and Rahul are trying hard that congress loose this election. The idea is that if an unstable govt comes for next 2-3 year, it will provide perfect launching pad for the prince Rahul. See the way they effectively killed the UPA number in Bihar/UP by not combining with Mulayam and Laloo.
Mayawati will not become PM because no one likes her ambition and aggression. End winner might be Nitish/Sharad Pawar or PN Sangma. These guys have friend across the party line. The one who is most stupidest of the three will accept to rule an unstable govt for next 2-3 years.

Anonymous said...

It is well known that Jaya agrees with most of the BJPs ideological issues - Ram Temple, Ram Sethu, POTA etc. She is infact the ideal ally, ideologically, and without doubt will join the NDA if the price is right.

She can however be very demanding. What the BJP should do is offer her the Deputy PM post if necessary. Or at the very least, give a lot of attention to Tamil Nadu and the Tamil crisis in Sri Lanka if it is able to get to power. She will be looking to the state assembly elections of 2011.

That being said, I don't think the BJP should back off in TN or support the AIADMK candidates, or for that matter have an alliance with the AIADMK in the next elections. Alliances with regional parties have always cost us our own vote share - in UP, Orissa, AP. We should strike out on our own, and try to win votes and seats on our own. We have a large 7 party alliance in TN, which can, in the future, win seats for us and hopefully we can grow as a party in the state.

horizon said...

Nitish made an incredible statement when asked about PM saying that he is not secular. He said is PM the the vice chancellor of secularism university to give certificates to ppl or something to that effect. I wish he has also added the MSM also in the university list

Ajay said...

"The first, a brainchild of Narendra Modi, commemorates the 11th anniversary of the Pokhran-2 tests and showcases decisiveness in government."

You made my day

Nemkal said...

hi Swapan,
If i switch on the TV Channels viz. Timesnow,CNNIBN etc the only word i can hear is Secular Govt and communal BJP.Can u please enlighten me whether only congress is the torch bearer for secularism?If left joins hand with fundamentalist forces like maudhani in kerala then its super secularism!
I am get sick of these sicular media.

Anonymous said...

@ Chanakya,
I too agree, many people have speculated about that conspiracy theory. Ofcourse, media also endlessly speculated about Nitish leaving NDA...

I believe it is true as far as Rahul is concerned. If UPA wins this time, he will be facing 10 years of anti-incumbency in 2014. If UPA loses and NDA forms government, he can truly come in as a fresh face in 5 years. Moreover, I'm betting on him becoming Leader of the Opposition either immediately or in a couple of years, so he will have the perfect launching pad to take on the BJP in Parliament and in public. He is aiming for an absolute majority for the Congress or close to it in 2014- he doesn't want to have to deal with pesky allies. That is why he is trying to improve that base in UP and Bihar.

However for Modi, it is not so. If NDA loses this time, it will be a severe morale loss for us, 10 years out of power. And seeing the foremost leader of the BJP for the last 20 years in the PMs chair will no doubt energize the party like never before. This can only help Modi in 2014. He has had over 220 rallies, given countless interviews etc. I don't think anyone can doubt his dedication to making Advaniji PM. He may be doing it to increase his own national profile, but it only helps us.

If the BJP in Gujarat gets anything less than 18, it will be seen as a major loss of face for Modi. He will loose tremendous goodwill within the party - everyone will see through his efforts at sabotage as u are implying. He too is aiming at 272 for BJP in 2014, so he doesn't want to lose support within the party. He has actually staked his reputation with his dubious candidate selection. If the candidates fail, it will be the first major blow to his reputation in quite a while.

So I think that to an extent it is true that Sonia/Rahul are intentionally hurting the Congress' chances in UP and Bihar looking to the future. But I think Modi knows the best hope for him is for Advani to be PM atleast for a couple of years.

Remember that in the BJP everyone is committed to making Advani PM in 2009, Modi in 2014, but 2009 is of utmost importance at the moment. But in the Congress, people wouldn't mind losing 2009 if it can help Yuvraaj get to the PM's chair in 2014.

Rakesh said...

I feel BJP should comvert Secular/Communal debate to Nationalsist V/S Pseudo Secularists and give list of incidents of proof of Pseudo secularism by INC/Left like right of muslims over resources , non-support to UCC , support to Madhani , allies when with BJP are communal and when with INC/Left are secular , Sachar committee report , survery in Army etc etc.

What do you say Swapanda?


Cho's comments are simply brilliant.

Swapan, I dare say, counting on Saturday feels better than the slog overs in the 20-20 IPL matches (the current IPL anyway is a big "yawn").

On Barkha - I could not agree more. Everytime NDTV tries to show her - they show her holding onto a Kashmiri youth in her bosom trying to shield him from the supposed misery around him. When you meet Barkha, please tell her not to wear that black Kashmiri salwar (its beautiful) but its been worn to death. I can see where her loyalties lie, but wearing it on the sleeve seems to have taken a different trajectory for Barkha.

Dhruv said...

Why should Nitish Kumar care for Muslim votes?

Possibly even with his current liberal secular image, he might not be getting any Muslim votes because of his alliance with BJP.

Muslims, whether backward or progressive, will never vote for BJP or any party in pre-poll alliance with BJP. In Bihar they would have voted for Lalu and Paswan !!

Also I disagree that Modi 'ambushed' Nitish, Modi indirectly helped Nitish openly express his loyalty to NDA. All NDA partners have to do business with Modi sooner-than-later ... so no point ignoring him, Nitish wisely understood this, hence the gesture with Modi.

Come May 18 and if BJP wins, the types of Burkha Dutt may find more challenging career opportunities and greater job satisfaction in the media houses of neighbouring country, as they can openly and more strongly come out against BJP (the Govt), and more openly sympathise with her poor ill-treated Kashmiri separatist friends. NDTV has operations in neighbouring country, rather the distinction of the only/ first Indian media house there, so her company will not have any issues giving her a transfer.... Who knows the neighbouring 'friendly' Govt may bestow the highest gallantry award on her for serving their interests well !!

Anonymous said...

I think NDA has learnt the game which Congress and Left have prefected. The game is this : Part ways when elections are around the corner and then play the secular card to form the government. This time, I feel Nitish and BJP played the game very well. They gave all indication that Nitish will have nothing to do with Modi and may ditch NDA , there by preventing tactical voting of minorities. I think the same game is also being played by BJP and Naveen.

Dr. Rajkiran Panuganti said...

New Definition of Communal according to our Media and MMS:

If a person holds hands of Modi, he is communal.
If a person does not share dias with Modi, he is secular.

Hats off!

Dr. Rajkiran Panuganti said...

Actually, as someone already said, Cho's comments were excellent.

BJP needs to get 170 to be labeled as "secular" :) ...

Swapan Dasgupta said...

I humbly disagree with those who suggest that some well-placed (but not winning) BJP candidates in Tamil Nadu should "retire" in favour of the AIADMK. It is important for the BJP to show the extent of its independent political clout. Recall that in 1998 Chandrababu Naidu came over to the BJP-led alliance only after the results showed that BJP had polled above 16 per cent and won 4 seats on its own in Andhra Pradesh. Regional parties always want to know what the national parties can contribute by way of electoral value addition. This was also the reason why George Fernandes and Nitish Kumar allied with the BJP in 1996.