With the ascent of Modi to the top of the BJP hierarchy, its shocking how much of a one-man show the party has become. Seasoned senior leaders have been given the go-by, with the exhortation that the new generation has taken over. Modi may well enjoy the glory for now, for it serves his interests very well. But the shrinkage in the leadership pool of the principal opposition party should be a matter of concern in a democracy. Just look at how Modi’s elevation has done that:
First, Modi’s elevation has come in a most un-gainly way, with four out of the top five BJP leaders being cut-up with the act. There is “rusted iron-man” Advani of course, who went public with his disenchantment. Then there is “one step forward, two backwards” Sushma Swaraj, leader of the opposition (she said she wouldn’t be able to function in that role if Modi was made PM nominee; what will she do now?), who did her typical two steps back move towards the end. And “oppose always, because we are the opposition” Yashwant Sinha, who is hardly visible or audible these days. And then there is the true blue…..no “truly saffron”, Murli Manohar Joshi, who has quietly decided to give up his opposition, and possibly his Lok Sabha seat in Varanasi to Modi. Now, the result of all this has been that all these stalwarts are out of the picture. Expect them to keep a low profile, hardly be the feisty fighters that they otherwise are. The brigade of the light-weights, the Ravi Shankar Prasads, the Venkaiah Naidu’s, the Nitin Gadkari’s and the Rajnath Singh’s (I call him a lightweight in spite of him being the party Pres) has taken over the mantle from the stalwarts. For Modi is comfortable with the lightweights! And, since Modi is also the party’s campaign chief, the entire exercise is being run by him. Modi has taken full advantage of this, and appointed his close flunkey of “Sohrabuddin and Vanzara” fame, Amit Shah in UP. This is the “I, me, myself” trait that Modi has got best known for!
Second, look at the party’s dependence on Modi. Even the national campaign for 2014 was kick-started on Modi’s birthday! This is bizarre, considering that the elections are still at least 8 months away, and any date could have been chosen. But the party, full of servile leaders as it is now, chose to fete Modi by this act, as if he were some dead and gone freedom fighter! Modi of course, the humble man that he is, acquiesced!
Third, look at the political strategy of the BJP now that Modi has become Lord Almighty. The main plank is Hindutva of course, set by the RSS, but championed by Modi. His “I am a Hindu nationalist” posters, the “burqa” and “puppy” remarks, are all developed around Hindutva with Modi in the center. The secondary poll plank is development. The model? Gujarat! Who cares about the success achieved by MP, Chhatisgarh and…..oops, there are no other states ruled by the BJP! Equally, who cares if the data is so bizarrely wrong that it has earned him the sobriquet #feku! And of course, who cares about esoteric things like HDI! The biggest industrialists give him a salute and that’s enough. Then the poll plank of governance and decision making. Again, the sole exemplar of this is Modi! Who cares that a solid majority in Gujarat allows him to take decisions, and the Congress doesn’t disrupt the assembly there! Then take alliances. Again, it is Modi personally appealing to Jayalalitha (his “friend”), Chandrababu Naidu in AP, Raj Thackeray in Maharashtra and of course, Yeddy in Karnataka…..everything is led by Modi, the super-hero! The party Pres will just affix his signature where required! The Parliamentary Board – oh that can be managed! When it comes to commenting on important Congress laws like the Food Security Bill, it is Modi whose comments sound the loudest. On India’s relations with neighbors, again, it is only Modi who has the wisdom to opine. Why, even the BJP’s minority outreach program is fronted by the one and only Modi (so what if he is suspected to be a Hindu Hriday Samrat by the minority community!). Modi decides when to shun a skull cap, and when to order people to wear them at his rally. Modi decides to charge Rs 5 as entry fee, and to change that the next time. It is Modi all the way!
Fourth, look at our media. It appears that the only leader traveling the country (only cities, mind you!) is Narendra Modi. TV channels gave full-speech coverage on Sunday when Modi spoke in Rajasthan. In contrast, Rahul’s speech in Rajasthan a day later got just a minor mention on TV. As far as media is concerned, Modi is the Anna of 2011. There is saturation coverage of Modi. But Modi should not forget the whims of media. He should only remember the fate that awaited poor Anna once media had wrung him dry. Media dropped Anna like he was a pariah. Today, one hardly remembers Anna or his long fast. Modi’s fate could likely go the same way. Media loves Modi today, but give it a little time, and in spite of Modi’s astute PR skills, he could well become an equal pariah one day.
Fifth, look at the opposition to the BJP. Today, the biggest movement has suddenly transformed from anti-Congressism to anti-BJPism. This is amazing, and has gone mostly unnoticed. This suits the Congress just fine, giving it time to cover lost ground. Has anyone noticed how the Cabinet Committee on Investments (CCI) has been been clearing projects at a pace faster than Chris Gayle’s on his best day out in cricket?! The Congress will find itself to be the darling of the smaller parties, with both RJD and JD(U) in Bihar, Jagan and TRS in AP, SP and BSP in UP vying for a deal with it. Equally, the BJP has been reduced to just 2 allies, with a possibility of AIADMK joining in later. But surely BJP remembers its experience with this whimsical Southern sultress from its earlier stint!
This is way beyond a Presidential form of election. Modi is Romney and Obama folded into one. He is Putin, Merkel, Cameron and Hollande all bound into one. He is the combination of Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikanth and Sylvester Stallone multiplied by ten. He is God! Blessed is India that a new avatar of God has descended on earth! China, Pakistan, US, Europe….beware! G8 will soon be replaced with the G1. Surely this is the golden era for India!
The real truth is that the BJP was always, by geographic spread, a regional party with a presence in the West, and part of the North. Now it has shrunk further and become a one-leader party. Looks like the BJP has found its manna from the skies…..and its magic mantra!