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Sunday, September 16, 2012

TWO FACES OF CHANGE - The Congress’s decline means new positions on the other side

By Swapan Dasgupta

The paralysis of governance that began in August 2010 with the scandals associated with the organisation of the Commonwealth Games has lasted for over two years and is showing absolutely no sign of easing. On the contrary, with all the economic indices showing southward inclines, a crisis that was hitherto confined to the ruling United Progressive Alliance has spread to other sectors of national life resulting in national despondency and cynicism. The much-trumpeted ‘India story’ that aroused enormous expectations throughout the world appears to have run out of steam, if not derailed.

In parliamentary democracies, the time-tested method of breaking a big political deadlock is through a fresh election. Ironically, returning to the people in the next months for a fresh mandate does not appear to be on the agenda of either the Government or the Opposition. With successive opinion polls suggesting that a snap election will produce a horribly fractured Lok Sabha, the consensus in the Indian Establishment is that it is preferable to persist with a Prime Minister who appears to have de-facto abdicated until May 2014. The intervening 16 months, it is being hoped, will result in greater clarity over the shape of the alternative.

Of course, these calculations are premised on the fragile belief that the brinkmanship that is certain to be a recurring feature of day-to-day politics does not lead to unintended consequences. The Government, it is understood, is on shaky ground and could find itself deprived of its majority abruptly.

In times like this when an incumbent regime is waiting passively for the guillotine to fall, the temptation among stake-holders is to put their weight behind an alternative. After the election of 2009 it was widely believed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s second term would be followed by a smooth transition of power to Rahul Gandhi. Indeed, the efforts of the Congress in the period immediately following the 2009 general election was to regain its hold in the Hindi heartland and reduce the party’s future dependence on coalition partners. However, this attempt to restore Congress dominance at an all-India level has faltered horribly and Rahul has compounded the problem by being perceived to be lacking in application and seriousness.

A similar situation had confronted India in 1996. At that time, Atal Behari Vajpayee was the beneficiary of a quiet process of realignment during the two choppy years of the United Front Government led by H.D. Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral. A BJP which was regarded as a pariah in 1992 at the time of the Ayodhya demolition, and failed to secure any worthwhile support in 1996 (during Vajpayee’s 13-day Government), was suddenly blessed with a multitude of regional party support in 1998.

There is a feeling in some circles that the coming months could witness a growing momentum in favour of Narendra Modi. Since 2009, Modi has emerged as the favourite son of BJP-inclined voters. In terms of popularity, he has eclipsed all other BJP notables. Opinion polls suggest that the Gujarat Chief Minister has broadened his appeal considerably to embrace a vast section of urban India, the middle classes and the youth. Today, Modi’s appeal is far wider than the support for the BJP, a development that both excites the rank and file of his party and leaves a section of its leadership deeply worried.

Whether or not Modi becomes the face of the anti-Congress mobilisation for the next general election will, of course, depend substantially on how he performs in the Gujarat Assembly polls scheduled for later this year. If he wins conclusively, it is going to be virtually impossible for Modi-sceptics in the BJP to resist the groundswell from below.

It is interesting to note that those outside the BJP who are inimical to Modi being projected as a prime ministerial candidate believe that his rise is unstoppable. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has issued enough public warnings to the effect that he will not remain in the National Democratic Alliance in the event of the BJP endorsing Modi. At the same time, Nitish seems to simultaneously believe that the BJP leadership will not be able to stop Modi’s rise to the top. As such, he has already begun preparations for life outside the NDA.

The simplistic view is that Nitish is too committed to ‘secular’ politics to even contemplate cohabitation with a Modi-led BJP. No doubt, Nitish has compulsions similar to Mamata Banerjee. In both West Bengal and Bihar, Muslims account for more than a quarter of the electorate, and there is a political price to be paid by parties who are seen to be supportive of Modi.

For Nitish, however, there is an added dimension to his anti-Modi politics. The Janata Dal (United) in Bihar appears to have concluded that a go-it-alone strategy in today’s environment would witness interesting shifts. It is likely that the BJP will wean away the bulk of the upper castes and a smattering of backward castes from the main regional party. However, this would be more than compensated by a general collapse of the votes which earlier went to Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress. Nitish, in short, expects to recreate the social alliance that kept Lalu in power for 15 years.

An interesting facet of the calculations that are driving Nitish Kumar is the belief that by the time of the next general election, the Congress will be too discredited and demoralised to put up a worthwhile fight anywhere in India. The Bihar Chief Minister believes that the real challenger will be a Modi-led BJP. There is enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that Modi’s presence will galvanise the BJP throughout the Hindi heartland, not least in Uttar Pradesh.

Confronting Modi on the issue of ‘secularism’ alliance is not something that appeals to his political opponents. This is because the Gujarat leader is certain to make ‘development’ his one and only plank and allow identity politics to play a subliminal role. Instead, what could happen is a Nitish-led initiative to forge an alliance of ‘backward’ states, particularly in eastern India. Together, such a bloc has the ability to win nearly 75 seats in the next election.

In the next few months, Nitish is planning a series of programmes centred on the demand for greater accommodation by the Centre to backward states. Whereas, Modi has been proclaiming the virtues of the ‘Gujarat model’ based on creating an environment for entrepreneurship to flower, Nitish will be highlighting the need for regional equity complemented by good governance.

At one level, these competing visions may suggest an India-Bharat tussle involving the role of the state in the development process. One will highlight the state as a supporting plank for a rule-based, transparent market economy. The other will revive the call for a redistributive Centre to facilitate lowering of regional disparities.

However, there is a point at which both the Gujarat and Bihar experiences converge: the question of federalism. From different positions, both Modi and Nitish are asking for a fundamental review of Centre-state relations and the role of the Planning Commission in the country’s economic life. Whereas Modi would want the statutory, non-discretionary transfers to the states by the Finance Commission to become larger, Nitish would insist on a larger equalisation principle to confront backwardness. And both would be united on two points. First, that the planning process devolve to the states; and, second, that the size and scope of the Central Government be reduced.

As the Congress decline gets more pronounced, there are positioning games on the other side that warrant greater attention. 


Anonymous said...

Though I have read a lot about Narendra Modi & heard him , I am very clear & categorical in my choice.

The right leader for India is Smt.Jayalalithaa.

The reasons I give are all as usual my OWN opinions. Hence I don't want to debate with Modi supporters.

DMK & the rest are total untouchables.Let us leave them out.

Modi is praided for his lack of corruption. And the economic prosperity of Gujarat.

When I hear him talk with sickening unctuousness while banning gutka that he would not want to see a single woman widowed,
a single person stricken with cancer I sit up ALARMED. That is Hiranyakashipu style of wishing.

We all know about the good & bad things of this world.That way all Scriptures exhort us to tell no lies.Why are we still extolling Raja Harischandra then? Let us not forget the undeserved SUFFERING Harishchandra & His Wife & son were put through.

We people always draw the wrong flawed deductions from our abstruse Puranams. So many hindus chanting Sri.Ram's name & shrieking for a Ram Temple at Ayodhya don't even possess the requisite credentials to take His very Name.

I am also extremely scared of RSS.I have interacted with many of them.They are VIRULENTLY anti women. Hindu men the vegetarians are deceptively docile. They are mostly indescribably cruel. And somehow Indians cling tenaciously to the belief that hindi is the language of communication.

Narendra Modi & BJP gaining power is not something I would pray for from my heart.

Worldwide in so many countries good infrastructure , good governance , food self sufficiency,economic buoyancy have always been a GIVEN sans any Narendra Modi.

I want to steer myself away from Modi because he is passionately promoted & sold by Kanchan Gupta.
The same Kanchan Gupta is still an admirer of Vajpayee who I loathe.For various self styled reasons.Another hindi maniac.RSS member.

In that televised talk when I heard Modi expressing his solitary unfulfilled desire for "America to pine & desire to seek visa for this merabharatmahaan" GODFORSAKEN India in future , Modi also became an UNTOUCHABLE in my mind. That very attitude is very revolting.

I would never want ANY country to lose its dignity & poise to such an extent as to PINE & BEG for a visa to visit any neighbouring country. This was exactly how the uptight brahmins slowly resorted to banning Temple visits to certain others. I mean the ATTITUDE.

Total ban on alcohol , tobacco etc is just not practical.That kind of attitude only leads to the extreme form of Islam banning music , dance , free healthy interaction between men & womwn. Many edifying parodies have been made rulers proclaiming no one should laugh , no one should satirise....

It took a Thenali Raman to bust such idiocy in an otherwise very wise humane king.

We can only EDUCATE. Above all LIBERTY is something that cannot be traded.No single person can define or ladle out it to me.

Jitendra Desai said...

With Keshubhai factor and ticket distribution problems,Modi may not be able to cross 150 seats which he thought was possible, few months ago.
You are right abt Nitish and his limited ambition of ruling over Bihar for few more years.If BJP goes it alone in Bihar with Modi as PM candidate,Biharis will rather vote for Modi than for Nitish.Nitish knows this.Hence this positioning for state leadership;with muslim votes.
Congress is likely to travel further down in next two years.Reason, why BJP should put an end to the leadership issue and start planning for what it would do, if voted to power.It appears, BJP is still in "opposing" mode.Look at its stand on FDI or fuel price increases.

Anonymous said...

The two politics are going to come together...inevitable...because the cause is same...betterment of India/Bharat

Agneya Shyamvarni said...

Response to the first comment - Jayalalhithaa is primarily a Thamizh politician, and though a twice born by birth, she is a shameless opportunist by character. It is very doubtful what kind of impact, if any, she would have on the national stage (outside Thamizh land). I can't say much about Modi's growth model (a lot of it is gas) - but the good thing is that he understands and fully appreciates the thin line between secularism and appeasement. And more importantly he is also a pucca businessman - and that is where he redeems himself in my eyes. And the ban on gutka should be seen in a different context - the entire gutka industry is controlled by middle-east Bhais, who use it to fund activities which (while they consider fight for freedom) many in the world consider dastardly.

The only reasonable way forward, in my very very humble opinion, is a complete dismantling (inevitably proceeded by collapse) of the current socialist governance that we have (some call it interventionist) and a movement towards absolute free market polity [which we had before the Moslem invasion]. [Communism as we all known is a failed experiment] - with powerful states and weak federal government. Centralization (the hallmark of socialism) breeds corruption and the ruling party with over 50 years of experience has amply demonstrated this idea - so centralization is something we can do without.

And back to Modi - if the Saivite Sena's of the Karnatick had not come to Bengal after the anti-Hindu Buddhist Palas or if the honorable Shri SP Mukherjee had not done what he did during partition, there would not be any Hindu Bengalis today. The only reason why Modi might be useful is to ensure that 100 years down the line 90% Indians don't go to masses/ services or greet each other peace be upon you.

Anonymous said...

Smt. Jayalalitha,

Looks people don't understand what is required quality for PM, this madam took 15 long years to come out of her state go to next state which is her own state/home state and just to appear before court in disproportionate case, while Madam never hesitated to go Delhi.

While in case of Modi he did cooperated with all investigation without delaying...All Investigation includes SIT and TV Channel's prosecution...

While we talk of Nitish-Modi then we need to see performance of JD-U when it went alone in Bihar with out alliance, JD-U's performance was utter poor, and we should not forget that it was Vajpayee's choice that Nitish was made CM...It is due respect to Vajpayee that BJP is tolerating him or else don't forget BJP has capacity to throw Keshubhai out of power then who is Nitish??

Please post JD-U's performance and compare with BJP without having alliance picture will be clear who is gainer if they go alone.

Anonymous said...

This line from LK Advani's Blog on Modi VISA chauvinism does exist or what?: - Or for those who think getting US VISA is more important to be countries PM..

LKA writes....
"I recall that in August, 2008 U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during an official visit to India, called at my residence. Apart from discussions on issues like Indo-U.S. relations and the global war against terrorism etc. I raised with her the issue of denial of U.S. visa to Narendra Bhai Modi. I said to her: “This may be the first time that an elected Chief Minister of a state in the world’s largest and most vibrant democracy has been denied a visa. What really surprised all of us here was that the denial of visa had been announced by Washington without Modi having sought it. “I have not even applied for a visa, Modi has informed me,” I told Ms. Condoleezza.

She looked at the officials accompanying her, “Is that true?”, she asked. The officials confirmed this, and added that the report was based on an official reply given to a letter from a senator.

The irony is that while the U.S. Government has refused a visa to Modi, a report prepared by a think tank of the U.S. Congress has in a 100 page report assigned very high marks to Modi for his governance.

Deepak said...

Response to Anonymous first comment: When I started reading the comment I assumed it to be from someone from Tamilnadu and expected to read something about the good governance of Selvi Jayalalitha led AIDMK. Instead it was all about Modi, RSS, BJP and Hindi. And suddenly it occurred to me that Anonymous is not at all from TN, because had he been from TN he would not have addressed Jayalalitha as Smt (short for Shrimati). Smt is typically a north indian salutation for a married woman. The real purpose of the comment is to abuse Modi, RSS, BJP, Hindi and Hindus.I would request fellow readers to ignore Anonymous's comments as they are seeped in his/her deep hatred for Indian values and culture.

Deepak said...

Response to Anonymous first comment: When I started reading the comment I assumed it to be from someone from Tamilnadu and expected to read something about the good governance of Selvi Jayalalitha led AIDMK. Instead it was all about Modi, RSS, BJP and Hindi. And suddenly it occurred to me that Anonymous is not at all from TN, because had he been from TN he would not have addressed Jayalalitha as Smt (short for Shrimati). Smt is typically a north indian salutation for a married woman. The real purpose of the comment is to abuse Modi, RSS, BJP, Hindi and Hindus.I would request fellow readers to ignore Anonymous's comments as they are seeped in his/her deep hatred for Indian values and culture.

Anonymous said...

Hindus have been needlessly overreacting to this alleged visa denial to Narendra Modi by America.
America I am sure would have various other reasons than what hindus would want to imagine.

Much earlier there was one male servant called Patel ( Gujarati) in UAE who killed ALL the members of an Emirati family including their young children very gruesomely & FLED to India.When Dubai Sleuths sought help of Indian Police ( Mumbai & Gujarat) the latter purposely feigned ignorance. The culprit could never be apprehended.

Hindus including many Vedic brahmins harbour virulent animosity towards the Arabs.I have heard & seen their attitude.

It took a Ramana Bhagavan to shun such half baked knowalls.
As a young boy famished with hunger & thirst seeking Thiruvannamalai Bhagavan Himself says:-

" The Lord Came In The Form of a Maulvi directing me to the correct train as I was in the wrong train".

Anonymous said...

There is this holier than thou brahmin family living in Thiruvallur ( Tamil Nadu). Claim to be very very close to Kaanchi MahaPeriyavar.

The father's name is Shankar Iyer.Sons called Ramaswamy ( doing some business) & Gopi a lecturer in Sanskrit college Mylapore.

When I took pure unadulterated honey,rosewater,saffron--all from the Arab country I live in ( for Puja in Kaanchi Mutt) he contemptuously spat out:-

" AfterAALL coming from a muslim country".

But grabbed them all for FREE.Took the almonds also for FREE as the whole family wanted that 85+ Shankar Iyer to reclaim youth & vitality. Much more happened.I know their superciliousness , dishonesty & ARROGANCE.

They collect money in the name of Kaanchi Pontiff but invest a considerable amount in amassing land , computers , jewellery for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Why did sanctimonious India BAN & ERASE most of the Hymns of Pithukuli Murugadas after he gave a concert in South Africa.

RP.Goenka took over HMV & ensured all of them were rendered extinct.
A few that came in the form of cassettes years later ( after a Padma award conferred on P. Murugadas) were heavily edited.

Those Hymns are as potent as Vedic Chantings & should not be tinkered with whimsically.

Anonymous said...

Whatever Modi has brought about in his State like ban on cow slaughter,
evengelical chicanery & weeding out of corruption are ll enshrined in our Scriptures.

Tragedy being congress , dmk & leftists of India did not CARE to implement them.

Smt.Jayalalithaa is highly capable of enforcing the above mentioned & a lot more. As for alcohol banning
Cho rightly pointed out Tamil Nadu people would then take to brewing illicit liquor etc.At the end of it useless people would blame everything on Jayalalithaa.

Anonymous said...

@Deepak's non omniscient self congratulatory comments above remind me of RSS Gurumurthy.

I have written a detailed account of the WANTONLY IGNOBLE malicious acts of several hindus --all belonging to hindu brahmin family spreading across Tamil Nadu , Kolkata to Middle East , America , Canada & Australia.

I have also seen & experienced first hand the cruelty of the converted christian brigade , the vegetarian jains etc.

MUSLIMS are not truly villainous as bludgeoned on our heads.Proof is the Islamic country I have been living in.

More potently , my paternal grandmother had a brother who was the only truly educated person in the entire family. There were lot more brothers & sisters but all useless scum.

This brother called Varadharajan was looked after as a child by my paternal grandmother Rajam.He always held her in high regard & showed it in actions & words also.

Anonymous said...

Continuing ,

Varadharajan had a chequered career.Brilliant mathematician.Was setting up question papers for Indian Statistical Institute. Also worked in Chittaranjan Locomotives.Has been an Engine Driver & had interesting anecdotes. Travelled to England , Scotland also.

Very important he was NOT ASHAMED to take his non English speaking wife Savithri with him wherever he went. He was always gladly holding her hands , stroking her head in front of all the jealous fuddy duddies of that brahmin family.

He was so appalled at the gross misconduct of family members, left them all & took refuge under an Islamic Guru. What that Islamic Guru taught in Tamil was the same Hindu Scriptures like Sivagnana Bodham , Vinayakar Agaval etc. As a young girl I spent ten days in that place. The spartan lifestyle, lack of good toilet facilities plus my father's absence were the only annoying features.

Thanks to fear of strict uncompromising punishment there were no RAPES condoned as karma of previous janma. Or any crimes for that matter.No tv . No noise. No needless talking. There were many plus points.

Anonymous said...

At that young age I could not fathom why Varadharajan earnestly justified strict Sharia styled punishment for thievery , infidelity etc.

Much later when I saw the movie Bicycle Thief ( extolled by Sathyajit Ray also) how the theft of a bicycle throws the owner's entire life awry I ruminated maybe Varadharajan had a valid point.

RSS Gurumurthy like Deepak above is quite annoying when he paints the entire West as bad & hindus alone angelic.Women have had adequate rights , liberty , opportunities in the West that started much earlier.

On the contrary it is India that is still an enigma to me.

Anonymous said...

DMK drew its sustenance from atheism,whipping up of animosity between hindus & muslims & clinging to some idiot Bishop Caldwell's aryan/dravidian gobbledygook.

Whereas Smt.Jayalalithaa has had an indepth knowledge much before venturing into politics.

I had said earlier.Ramana Bhagavan's " WHO AM I " is the BEST weapon to erase this animosity permanently for good.

Once Sri. Sadasiva Brahmendrar walking by saw a Shaivite & Vaishnavite sleeping side by side. He remarked :-

" Whatever happened to the seemingly real animosity between the two ? Both are snoring contentedly".

Anonymous said...

Above all Smt.Jayalalithaa be it inside the State Assembly or elsewhere really expresses herself well. She is very clear in her objectives; is uncompromising while dealing with wrongdoers & by God's Grace has never stooped to the level of dmk & the unprintable expletives used by them including karunanidhi.

Even when the rival dmk's Azhagiri faced some difficulties as a Central Minister in Delhi it was the ever gracious Jayalalithaa who pointed out the language barrier being the problem.

Her Tamil has always been good.Right from her youth as an actress.

She as a person has been put through the ordeal of fire. Has faced a lot of troubles in her life. Hence that rare quality called EMPATHY is inhered in her.

Whereas in many the same suffering turns them vindictive & cruel.

Anonymous said...

RSS Gurumurthy is one such mulish fanatic who aaAAALways finds only (sic)the solitary Sonia Gandhi the cause of all problems of India & by & by the whole world.

If monsoon rains play truant he will blame Sonia Gandhi.If there is bountiful harvest he will NOT credit Sonia Gandhi but attribute it to Varuna The Deity. Such is the erudite matha mota RSS Gurumurthy.

I really admire Priyanka Vadhera for expressing her reluctance to join Indian politics. She can derive lot more happiness by looking after her family.

When I think of the hindus' immorality I find Sonia Gandhi very NORMAL , SANE & GOOD.

mokrish said...

Don't know how you conclude "There is enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that Modi’s presence will galvanise the BJP throughout the Hindi heartland, not least in Uttar Pradesh" - if this was true, BJP should have unleashed Modi in UP during the recent elections. UP voters were angry about a no growth misrule. And Modi had no constraint campaigning in UP - unlike in neighbouring Bihar

Narendra Modi said...

We have launched a petition to request President Obama to reconsider US Administration’s stand on Mr. Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat, India.
Please visit MODI360.COM to review and sign this petition.