Capital Grapevine  
Capital Matters

Capital Grapevine  

Virendra Kapoor

Even if reliant on allies, not in Modi’s nature to run an indecisive government

Having seen the writing on the wall, and most reluctantly reconciled themselves to Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkar, the Opposition seems to have shifted the goal-post. Now it hopes to deny the BJP a majority of its own. Even if it cannot defeat Modi, it would like a weak prime minister, dependent on allies for survival. A prime minister, hobbled by allies from outside and senior party colleagues from within, is the next best thing for the anti-Modi elements in the absence of a coalition of various non-BJP, non-NDA constituents. A weak Modi would have to necessarily yield to the Opposition, which has felt suffocated and marginalized these past five years, some space rather than steamroller it as he did in the last five years. At least, this is what the Opposition seems to think.

Also, the BJP winning majority on its own sends shudders down the spines of most Opposition leaders, particularly those who are on bail and/or those who are obliged to run to courts every few weeks to get protection against arrest on account of on-going investigations into their sleaze and scams while in power.

Even the regional parties would have reason to fear the return of a strong prime minister since he would not play ball on the terms prevalent in the promiscuous political environment before 2014. Having built up his image as an incorruptible leader, Modi cannot be expected to cut underhand deals with the likes of Mayawati and Mulayam Singh both of whom face multiple corruption charges.

A strong and decisive prime minister’s authority is unchallenged domestically while foreign powers deal with him with due circumspection and respect. A strong prime minister can pull off feats, such as the launching of surgical strikes against a recalcitrant neighbor, or global blacklisting of Azhar Masood, to cite but only two recent examples. A prime minister constantly looking back at his shoulders fearing backstabbing by allies or ambitious colleagues cannot feel confident.

Now, whether the voters will grant the Opposition its wish will be known only May 23. The BJP is confident of repeating 2014. Those who do not see the 2014-type wave had failed to see it last time as well. Post-result discovery of a wave is an ingrained habit of the media everywhere. As against 2014, this time you can clearly notice a strong undercurrent in favour of Modi. Even Modi’s visceral critics have reluctantly acknowledged a Modi wave even in the remote villages of UP and Bihar, MP and Rajasthan.

But let us return to those whose heart bleeds for a weak coalition, even if headed by Modi. A prolific commentator wishes to see Modi heading a Manmohan Singh-like coalition. Quite clearly, he fails to take into account the diametrically opposite personalities involved here. Modi’s mental make-up, the political ethos in which he grew does not have anything in common with Singh’s. It is like comparing chalk and cheese. Singh by nature is submissive, meekly doing someone else’s bidding. Modi, on the other hand, is assertive, resistant to dictation. Even if Singh were to be prime minister in his own right rather than being nominated, Singh would still have difficulty getting a handle on government, or in preventing colleagues from raking it in by the bushelfuls.

Modi, on the other hand, has an ingrained aversion to corruption. He is a control freak. Even if he falls short of a majority, and heads a NDA coalition, it will be hard to rein him in, to curb his freedom of action. Because unlike Singh, who, come to think of it, has never been without a job since he first joined the Punjab University in 1957 as a lecturer, Modi has never held a steady job. He became chief minister of Gujarat in 2001. While we are still at it, let me add that Singh’s bank balance, all legit, of course, is multiple times that of Modi. Modi simply has no use for money, having been brought up on a meagre stipend of a RSS pracharak. He has no use for any kind of monetary accoutrements.

Therefore, those who are hoping for a weak coalition do not reckon with the Modi persona. Whether the BJP has a majority, or requisite numbers are made up by its allies, so long as Modi is prime minister his authority would be hard to curb. Modi is even different from the avuncular Vajpayee who was rather laid-back as prime minister while his trusted aides took care of the routine chores. But Vajpayee was blessed with a talented team, something the Modi Sarkar has lacked somewhat. Hopefully, in his second term Modi will fill this lag, also to avoid mistakes that stem from arbitrary decisions .

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Mask of secularism shed for Hindutva façade

Digvijay Singh has for all practical purposes forfeited his claim to be the torchbearer of secularism-liberalism. For someone who shed tears at the `fake Batla House encounter’, for someone who unfailingly addressed Osama bin Laden as Osamaji, for someone who endorsed Islamic preacher-cum-patron- of- terrorists, Zakir Naik, for him to proclaim from housetops about seven temples in his house, of being a devout Hindu, exposes the hollowness of the entire secularist-liberal crowd. Their `progressivism’ is a façade, a mask worn only to allow them to feel superior to those whom they abuse as `communalists and reactionaries’.

But when it comes to the crunch, they immediately tear away the liberal mask to reveal their true colours. ( Remember the 1984 pogrom. Almost everyone in the ruling party justified it, arguing that Sikhs had to be taught a lesson … jab bada ped …) We have seen how Rahul Gandhi, the darling of the liberal-leftist media tribe, overnight became a Shiv Bhakt, a devout janeaudhari Hindu, hopping from temple to temple. But not a critical word was heard from these secularist warriors who 24x7 wire venom against the RSS-BJP. Hypocrisy and double-standards is the second name of the Indian secularist-liberal.

Imagine what the poor Muslim voter in Bhopal would be thinking when Singh competes with Sadhvi Pragya havan for havan and mandir-for-mandir, and when he lines up a huge caravan of saffron- clad babas to buttress his claim to be a practicing Hindu. Why, if the Muslims in Bhopal feel orphaned, with no party willing to embrace them publicly, they should know who is to blame.

As a keen observer commented, for the secularist leaders Muslims are like the ~twaiaf~ whom they all want to visit but only after dark. Singh desperately wants their votes, but does not want to be seen wooing them for fear of tearing the mask of a devout Hindu. If only the Indian Muslim had pride, he would teach these pretenders a lesson by exercising his vote to punish deceit and fraud. Better an enemy who fights openly than a self-avowed well-wisher who stabs them by stealth.

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A modern-day Mirasi

Apropos Navjot Singh Sidhu. Like the Mirasis of old Punjab, he can be made to sing paeans in praise of whichever party he happens to be at the moment. Often you have to only replace names of leaders and party while the text of his speeches virtually remains unaltered. A couple of his speeches in which he is heard describing Modi as an angel- on-earth are now doing the rounds on various social media sites. To be fair to the loudmouth Sardar, who was once staring at time in prison on a charge of second-degree murder, he gives it his all whoever he is tasked to support at a given time. All bluff and bluster, at the end of his speech one is invariably left wondering what message, if any, it had sought to convey!