Why Adityanath will one day give Modi a bad name

These very saffron forces are trying to dwarf PM's development agenda.

 |  6-minute read |   21-08-2017
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Is this a bad time to criticise you, Mr Prime Minister? Just when you are grappling with two "natural calamities" - one in Gorakhpur and the other in Muzaffarnagar?

We realise the head of a brute majority-led government is too sublime a person to be trifled with, to be judged by us commoners. The task must be left to standup comedians - the specialists in the field.

But, honestly, years from now I don't wish to tell my grandchildren that we had this prime minister who had a great development agenda and an overweening confidence in the long-term, especially the watershed year 2022 when only good things are destined to happen to an entity called "New India", but squandered the grand opportunity.

Just because he allowed an extra-constitutional authority to ride roughshod over him and impose its foolish and irresponsible agenda on the nation.

Maybe, Mr Prime Minister, you too now have similar misgivings about saffron goals, which are clearly incompatible with your development objectives, and are feeling marginalised and persecuted like the rest of us. Almost like a hapless swayamsevak who must stick to the RSS template and respond to the diktat from his feudal overlords.

No wonder, the other day at Red Fort, we did not get to see your usual charm offensive: Rather you had the demeanour of a man who is talking to himself in an empty room - an illusionist who realises he can no longer wow his captive audience.

modi-yogi_082117010958.jpgNarendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath. (Credit: PMO/Twitter)

The audience, too, like the mindless "jamoora" (the sidekick who obeys each command of the roadside "madari") is getting tired of the political slapstick. It is able to see through the trite remarks and the incantations that have begun to stretch the limits of credulity.

No wonder you were stiff like a mannequin as you meandered through the motions of the Independence Day address, which had as many twists and turn as the swirls in your theatrical turban.

Pardon us - and an analogy is never an argument - but these were the jaded mannerisms of a salesman who realises both his sales pitch and the hair oil he is hawking are phoney.

When you were campaigning in 2014, we really did not mind the embellishments: it was all part of role play. Most of us rationalised and excused the exaggerations because you were talking in an idiom that we understood, and you seemed to be on our side of the social divide. You flattered us, cajoled us. It was invigorating - your capacity and the disposition to connect with the masses.

And therein lies the danger of painstakingly constructing an entire narrative around oneself - a persona of a decisive no-nonsense head of the government whose philosophy is supposedly very different from that of the fatigued Congress leaders. A pragmatic idealist who, we thought, would change the national discourse and the Indian way of doing things.

And now these very saffron forces are trying to dwarf your development agenda, chipping away at this persona bit by bit.

Yet you did not desist from shielding the saffron poster boy Yogi Adityanath and camouflaging the Gorakhpur deaths by linking them to climate change. Detractors blamed it on your narcissistic self which will not hesitate to fudge to dress up the embarrassing warts and moles - nothing should jar the image that you can see of yourself in the mirror.

Yet these uncharitable scums missed the irony of it all: while you were mounting a subtle defence of the Yogi, he did not bat an eyelid when blaming the hospital deaths on poor hygiene and lack of sanitation - and all this in the golden era of your flagship Swachh Bharat.

With that, it is beginning to sink in that we voted for the RSS, not the BJP; the party is just a front office manned by you, Mr Prime Minister, and your lieutenant Amit Shah. The Sangh, too, has dropped the mask of an ideological mentor and revealed what it really stands for - a saffron overlord which feels it has a divine right to control the nation's business and determine its ethos. And all this through a johnny-come-lately named Yogi Adityanath.

The roles of the main protagonists on the Sangh smorgasbord are clearly etched out: so, even as you, Mr Prime Minister, will preside over our fortunes in the guise of a development-oriented leader, the more important role of the religious polariser will be discharged by the Yogi.

Now, there is no ideological confusion - so, you Mr Prime Minister represent the 31 per cent of the electorate but the entire country is Yogi's preserve - his canvas is far bigger where he can inflict the absurdities of cultural nationalism on us.

No wonder, the saffron voices were firing on all cylinders while shielding the five-time MP from Gorakhpur in the face of the recent tragedy but it was left to minions in the BJP to defend the government in Muzaffarnagar.

So, even as the PM is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that headlines stay effectively managed in a perception-driven polity, Yogi weaves the alternative narrative that is more dear to the the RSS than the political outpouring.

Advani had rendered the Sangh and the BJP a similar service by spearheading the Ayodhya movement but was elbowed out when it came to the political sweepstakes. Maybe it is time now for course correction, albeit of a different kind.

Mr Narendra Modi may continue to believe that he is doing a great job and that he has a tenacious hold on the power structure, but at some point he will come face-to-face with his saffron alter ego.

The Gorakhpur tragedy, of course, was a setback and one can't help feeling sorry for the RSS: it has been let down by its saffron protagonist - with the polariser inadvertently bringing down the façade of development - a big embarrassment for the prime minister.

My beginner's chess tells me there can be no castling as long as the rook - under enemy fire - is hopping from square to square and the King is equally fidgety, feeling the heat from the flanks.

Sometimes the best laid plans can go awry.

Also read:Mood of the Nation: Modi might be a hit but his schemes are a failure

Writer

SS Dhawan SS Dhawan

The writer is the former editor of FPJ.

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