Heads, I Win. Tails, You Lose.
By R K Misra
Destiny is a tyrant’s authority for tomfoolery and a fool’s excuse for failure. More so in politics. Not all are born great; some have greatness thrust on them but then neither are those perceived as great, always wise.
And when respected citizen-journalist, Arun Shourie speaks, the toast of the times, Prime Minister Narendra Modi need take a reality check on his politics and pursuits rather than be guided by personal pique to engineer a contrived PR show counter. Shourie, unlike the two other mercurial mavericks, Subramaniam Swamy and Ram Jethmalani, who stood by Modi in his worst hours of crisis (2002 communal riots etc,etc), commands respect in both journalism and politics. A man of unimpeachable integrity, he has earned every bit of it through his exemplary conduct, and high quotient credibility. And when he speaks, people listen.
For most of those who have watched Modi and his politics over years and decades, he has now become very predictable in his unpredictability. So was the first exercise at damage neutralization. Thus it was that the doyen of media PR in Delhi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called over selected big media names for a get together where the Prime Minister just sauntered in by happenstance, as genial as ever, though seeking to avoid any reaction on Shourie’s views.
Shourie has referred to the triumvirate of Modi, party president Amit Shah and Jaitley ruling the BJP. The union finance minister only proved this point. Shah owes everything to Modi and Jaitley quite a bit. Inducted into the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat courtesy then chief minister Modi, Jaitley saw no conflict of interest or pangs of guilt in defending scamster Ketan Parekh in the supreme Court against the interests of lakhs of Gujarat depositors of the besieged Madhavpura Mercantile cooperative Bank (MMCB) of Ahmedabad. Jaitley had faced angry protestors seeking his resignation for betraying people’s interest though being an MP from the state in 2005.He remained unfazed and Modi too chose to go along with Jaitley though it led to a major split in the ranks of the party.
Shourie’s words are no revelation. Everyone in the party knows about this concentration of power. ‘Minimum government, maximum governance’, is the slogan he first coined as Gujarat chief minister. It was an exercise in deception.The fact however is that the state never saw so much concentration of power in one hand ever in it’s 55 year old history as it saw in the 12 plus years of Modi rule. For almost two full terms,Modi did not make political appointments to state boards and public sector corporations, preferring bureaucrats to head them. After an initial tussle for power, he was the government and he was the party. Even within the Gujarat BJP, those not with him were deemed to be opposed to him and therefore marked out for political obliteration.
It was after the advent of Modi on the Gujarat BJP scene that maximum number of party stalwarts were either packed out or sent into the wilderness.These included seniors like Shankersinh Vaghela, party patriarch Keshubhai Patel and former chief minister Suresh Mehta to name a few. Ironically, Modi used L.K.Advani to send all these seniors packing and then finally neatly sidelined the former deputy prime minister himself. One has been witness to the spectacle of Modi hanging onto to Advani’s coattails in 2001 and then pushing him into oblivion last year. Modi does not believe in sharing power. He only commands,even his colleagues in what is a master-follower relationship. Take the case of the Tata move of the Nano plant from Singur in West Bengal to Sanand in Gujarat. The policy concessions to the business house required a cabinet nod and yet not a single minister knew the contents of the agreement signed.
Except the three emergent angles of the BJP triangle,everyone can see the slowly gathering turbulence within the party, particularly in the aftermath of the Delhi election results.The posters episode on the occasion of RSS leader Sanjay Joshi’s birthday was the firstly overtly defiant posturing against the dominance of the threesome. Modi has no hesitation in opening lines of communication with China and the USA which stoutly refused to give him a visa until he became Prime Minister but yet shuns a dialogue with his own RSS colleague. All manner of state and central agencies kept tailing Joshi when he recently visited Gujarat. But the more, the present power grouping treats him as a pariah, the more is Joshi’s popularity on the increase, particularly amongst the cadres.
National party chief Shah,on his part, seemed to be more interested in soliciting details about who all from the party were reaching out to Joshi in his home state, then the disappointing draw of the party in the recently held local self government polls in West Bengal. The BJP had claimed a voter strength of 42 lakhs there but it found hardly any proportional reflection in the results. Shah has gone on record to state that the real strength of the enrolment will be visible when the Assembly elections are held there next year.
According to him, the BJP national enrolment figure has crossed ten crore. There are complaints galore on this count.This correspondent’s wife received an sms thanking her for becoming a member of the BJP, giving her enrolment number and asking her provide her personal particulars though she had never ever applied to join any political set up. Lots and lots of people have received such messages. This is one of many examples.
And now word is out that prime Minister Modi is set to join all time greats like Emperor Ashoka and Chandragupta Maurya in a tele-serial. The mahurat for it was performed recently.
Self generated illusions can lead to delusions of grandeur but it is at best a mirage that disappears with time.