5 reasons it is all downhill for Modi sarkar from now

Sadly, though we are done with almost 18 months, neither the PM nor the parivar has any Plan B. Bihar polls has not helped either.

 |  7-minute read |   16-11-2015
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In Delhi the BJP had lost to a man of destiny whose rise was co-terminus with Modi and whose success added to the dissonance against the UPA and helped the BJP elsewhere in the country. The fact that the AAP threat was confined to one of India's smallest states made it easier to cope.

Politically, however, Nitish, Lalu and Sonia have dealt a body blow. These are no heretic revolutionaries who had mesmerised the voter momentarily; they represent exactly the so-called old school that the Modi juggernaut claimed to already have destroyed once and for all. They have progressed even as the parivar has regressed.

For a party that had won 282 seats with over 31 per cent votes, Bihar has been a rude wake-up call. The arithmetic is telling. Even a half-wit can guess that pitted against a united opposition the BJP should increase its share of votes to well over 40 per cent if it wants to win in 2019. However, instead of a strategy of inclusion which would create a larger base for itself, the party is allowing exclusion and bigotry to flourish in its ranks albeit not as a formal policy. Much like a Shakespearean tragedy, an inevitable downhill journey without brakes is set to continue due to five key reasons.

1. Dual power centres

Operating with two power centres, of which one is neither elected nor electable, is very poor judgement indeed. To make matters worse, the rudder seems to be with one who has a baffling socio-cultural vision belonging to the Vedic period in a world that is rapidly evolving. But the PM seems to have made his choice.

This divergence between the government and the parivar will continue to create divisions irrespective of what the Prime Minister may or may not majestically proclaim. The people causing the embarrassment report to a higher body.

Cow, Tipu, Art 370, Uniform Civil Code, Muslim Personal Law, Ram Mandir. The list of possible flash points which the parivar is officially committed to is long and meaty. With approximately 40 months left and with the realisation that simply inciting violence may not help earn a second term, the parivar will scale up, rather than down its agendas.

In a similar situation, Vajpayee had treated the parivar with contempt and, therefore, given himself the elbow room to govern. But Modi lacks either the courage or the intent to break free. On the contrary, he has taken governance to a new low by leading his council of ministers for an evaluation by the parivar, in complete disregard of their oath of secrecy.

In due course he will be pay a steep price. But sadly, so also will India.

2. Politics of hatred

The assumption that politics of hatred is a simple switch on/off activity for the parivar is to seriously misread the situation. Hatred of not-invented-here religions is no election-time strategy; it is the very raison d'etre of the parivar.

How is that so?

For reasons unnecessary to be discussed in detail here, the parivar has taken on the extraordinary challenge of codifying what is otherwise an extraordinarily free-spirited religion. Unlike most other religions which operate within accepted codes, nothing can be said about Hinduism without the opposite being equally true. Most would see that as the most delightful aspect of a very tolerant religion which is able to handle diversity with consummate ease but not so the parivar which has taken codifying Hinduism as a mission in itself.

Unfortunately for them, there are virtually no other points of intersection common to all Hindus. And when there are none, they have to be manufactured. And that is done by distancing itself from not-invented-here religions like Christianity and Islam. Luckily for the parivar, the cow was an easily available off-the-shelf package. The Tipu controversy needed a bit of prodding. But many more are waiting to be exploited.

Just as hostility towards India is an existential must for Pakistan, so are question marks around "foreign" religions an existential must for the parivar. Invoking Hindutva, talking of emotional nationalism, creating a Hindu template for patriotism are, therefore, not strategic but inherent to the raison d'etre of the parivar. To assume that it can give up all that it stands is to assume that a carpenter will decide not to work with wood just because his products do not sell.

3. Lack of strategic vision

Even before the elections, many had questioned the Gujarat model which merely seemed like rapid industrialisation in a state with decent infrastructure and an existing double digit growth rate. How that would translate for the rest of the country was always a mystery. And just as feared, the experience of the last 17 months has demonstrated that the Gujarat model has no learning in it for states at a different phase in their development story.

The lack of vision is telling. Till now, the government has focused on implementing initiatives of the UPA that they had blocked while in opposition. With adoption of GST and VAT the legacy initiatives would all have happened. What next? What's the blueprint? The big picture? Is there such a picture?

The Congress had been smart and wise. It understood that left of centre is the only possible approach for a party in power in a poor and developing country. And that schemes and subsidies, even if sometimes wasteful, are important as they create space for reforms which are necessary.

The BJP, however, with an essentially right wing DNA is floundering in between real politic, real man on the road and real votes. It wants to be heretic but lacks the conviction. The promise of "more governance less government" which suggested shutting down pointless ministries, departments and government-run businesses and starting the process of administrative reforms is not even vaguely on the horizon.

4. Lack of talent

That the Union cabinet suffers from talent deficiency is well-known even within supporters of the parivar. But that is only one part of the problem. The bigger issue is the failure to attract talent.

As an opposition party, the BJP was able to attract professionals as it was careful to hide its obnoxious parentage. But once in power it has discarded all discretion. The public announcement of the parivar as the real boss to which the ministers must pay obeisance is depressing. For one thing it almost naturally assumes that acceptance of an archaic ideology rather than talent is priority for the government. And secondly, talented people know they are rare and come with intellectual baggage. To believe that a Jairam Ramesh or a Tharoor or a Nilekeni will join the BJP knowing that their future will be decided at Nagpur is to live in a fool's paradise.

And without injection of significant new talent, the Modi government will continue to totter along with a significant handicap. If the likes of Jaitley, Irani, Giriraj, the "haramzaade" comment and several others in governments in the states and party positions are to be the deliverers of the great Indian renaissance, we are in trouble.

5. Failure to scope the issues

The Prime Minister started campaigning at least a year before the last General Elections and has been in campaign mode ever since. Over this period what had begun as rhetoric has now become his beliefs.

Whether egged on by the media or his party, the PM had actually started believing that the country could be transformed by electing a so-called "strong government". On the other hand the parivar had started believing that all our problems would be resolved by reverting to the Vedic age.

Both perspectives were sheer nonsense and the country is paying a price. But what is more shocking is that the ruling dispensation actually believed in them and probably still does. Though chances are the tide of such beliefs is slowly ebbing. And sadly, though we are done with almost 18 months, neither the PM nor the parivar has any Plan B.

Writer

Preet KS Bedi Preet KS Bedi

Chief Executive Officer of Percept Pictures Company.

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