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Bjp's hour of reckoning

COMMENT POLITICS By Prem Chandran FOR the saffron side, the hour of reckoning is at hand. With mass resignations from .....




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01-14-2022
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Thumbs up Bjp's hour of reckoning


COMMENT POLITICS

By Prem Chandran

FOR the saffron side, the hour of reckoning is at hand. With mass resignations from the BJP in recent days, involving ministers and MLAs who are flocking to the main political rival, the Samajwadi Party, there's every chance the BJP?s electoral and perhaps the political calculations too in Uttar Pradesh are going awry. Big question is what would happen to the BJP if things have come so far? Question is also, who cares for Modi and his leadership in this country anymore? What happens in the BJP in UP is a symptom of a deeper malady within the BJP.

The unalloyed fact is, Modi as the leader of the nation has failed India. The party will now pay a heavy price for this, but sadly, it would be the corrupt regional satraps who will laugh their way to success. India will be up for grabs if it ends up in their hands. But, Modi the hero of inaction is acting as the facilitator for what could be a grim turn in the nation's once-cherished history. What a pity!

Notably, the very foundation on which the BJP assumed power in state after state -- and at the Centre too -- is shaken. This foundation was built by a well-choreographed wooing of the backward communities who collectively formed the largest chunk of the electorate that powered Indian democracy. They are divided into different segments and castes, state after state, and yet showed a tendency to form into an electoral force in several states, be it UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh or Tamil Nadu. This is so even in Kerala, where two BC communities are the central mass base for the CPIM and in Karnataka where the Deve Gowda brand of politics is powered mainly by the BCs.

The BJP adopted this tactic more prominently when it held aloft Narendra Modi as the face of the BJP and PM nominee in the 2014 polls. Modi is only a scheming "convert" to the BC segment from what is essentially a trading community -- one that runs old-fashioned seed-oil extraction units and shops in Gujarat, an FC segment that got included into the BC fold around year 2000 to gain reservation benefits. Modi, scheming to rise to positions, effectively used this as an electoral advantage for him; sought to project himself as a BC, and the RSS took this bait to project him as the PM nominee at the BJP conclave in Goa in 2013.

The rest is history. Modi laughed his way to the PM post, sits through governance for a repeated term too, nearly eight years by now, and did too little for this country of 1.35billion mostly able-bodied people; a human resource of gigantic proportions whose energy is not being harvested into productive purposes due to India's weak leadership at its apex. It is clear by now that Modi cannot change India for the better. He lacks the courage and mental compass to think big for India. His governance style is by now pedestrian -- a by-now archaic system that Indira Gandhi left behind 50 years ago; latching on to the poor by big talks and he having a narrow vision about India and its future. If his predecessor Manmohan Singh had raised the hopes of the people by some effective action on the national economy for a quarter of a century, Modi and his incompetent finance ministers did exactly the opposite.

Modi failed India; and the BJP that kept him aloft would rue the day they made him the PM, though he has implemented some of its agenda, including the well-appreciated removal of special status for Kashmir. Modi has nothing else to crow about in his seven years other than that he built some highways and purchased some fighter planes. His nearly eight years in power at the Centre were wasted years; he has less than two years to be PM. A third innings for him in the PM post would be a disaster for this nation. It will not move forward. India regressed when the nations around it progressed. Keeping Modi in the front, the BJP may no longer hope to gain the upper hand in elections, and this is true of the present round of assembly polls in UP and elsewhere. If the BJP wins any of these states when the counting of votes takes place on March `0, it could likely be for reasons other than the "modi factor".

BJP's game of using the BCs as the central electoral force to win power might fall flat, in UP to start with, if the present developments in the state are any indication. The ministers and others who quit the BJP were from backward communities and they were set to join the SP. An anti-incumbency wave is quite likely in UP though Yogi Adityanath was perhaps the only BJP chief minister who had a clout of his own and did some good work for the state. The rest of the BJP CMs are mostly faceless figures, morons of a kind like Manoharlal Khattar who failed to get the BJP win the last polls in Haryana; and so was Devendra Fadnavis, who could not neutralize the sway of the likes of Sharad Pawar and the Thackerays in the state politics. Another incompetent figure is Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh, who survived in politics by playing the BC card of his own. BJP pushed the BC card in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, in the past, by holding aloft the likes of Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh as CMs.

The RSS perhaps cannot be faulted for encouraging BC leaders to take up top governance positions, with a view to grabbing power from the Congress. It proved to be a successful strategy. It sought to counter the Congress politics of the past, of keeping Brahmins and other upper castes in the forefront, somewhat exclusively -- the Kamalapati Tripathis, the Jagannath Mishras, the ND Tewaris, the (Kshatriya) Arjun Singhs and the like. The counter-weight to this, in public perception, was only the importance the Congress gave to a Dalit like Jagjivan Ram until the Indira Gandhi terms.

The Mandal card that VP Singh played in the name of ensuring Social Justice, granting reservations to BCs in government jobs, worked to the Raja's political disadvantage but helped rally the BC forces in politics in the Hindi belt since the 1990s. Those like Mulayam Singh Yadav in UP and Lalu Prasad in Bihar took full advantage of this emerging BC assertion in politics; and Kanshi Ram and Mayawati matchingly consolidated the electoral strength of the Dalits in UP. The BJP had already brought Kalyan Singh, a BC, as the CM of Uttar Pradesh, to start with.

Curiously, Maharashtra that was a strong base for Dalit and BC politics *Republican party, Khobragade) through pro-Ambekdar movements in post-Independence years, turned its face on such parties while Maratha leader Sharad Pawar and the parochialist Shiv Sena were on the ascendant in the western Maharashtra regions. Tamil Nadu held on to Dravidian-BC politics since the 1960s and remains so, though a Brahmin like Jayalalitha got into the AIDMK saddle and ruled the state for several years until her demise in December, 2016. MK Stalin of the DMK carries forward the DMK legacy in the state -- the only province where Dravidian sentiments are supreme.

The BJP's attempt to grow beyond the Hindi belt, also in Gujarat and Rajasthan, has not succeeded in the entire South, except for Karnataka. Regional satraps like Chandrababu Naidu and Chandrashekar Rao (both upper castes), Jagan Mohan Reddy (a Christian), and the Deve Gowdas (BC) are majorly influencing the politics in the South, apart from the DMK and AIDMK in Tamil Nadu and the CPIM led by Pinarayi Vijayan, a BC by birth but a Communist with a red mindset of his own. BJP could not make a mark in Odisha under the princely rule of Naveen Patnaik, son of legendary Biju Patnaik, for repeated terms from the very start of this century.

In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, a Brahmin, famously reigns supreme. The North-Eastern states are a class by themselves, and they mostly side with the party in power in Delhi; the BJP as of now; and this is not a guarantee to their continued backing to the BJP. Money power reigns supreme in North-East politics. Hindutva of the RSS-BJP brand is, otherwise, anathema to the Christian and tribal populations there.

These again leave the BJP as a Hindi-belt party. It is this Hindi belt that, with first indications from UP, now tries to turn its face away from the Saffronists led by Modi. If UP, as it emerges now is any indication, the BJP as a national party is set for troubled times in the run-up to the next parliament polls that will come knocking on our doors two years hence.

If the BCs in the Hindi belt ditch the BJP and side with parties like the SP, the future of the BJP is at stake. Under the current situations, a fair reckoning of the scenario is that the Congress will not stand to benefit from this in any way. Regional forces will take the upper hand in both UP and Bihar. The hope for the Congress, still, might be Rajasthan and Gujarat, but the BJP too is strong. Regional parties have not been able to make a mark there. But, regional forces might steal the wind out of the BJP sails not just in Punjab but also Haryana, where Khattar is mostly a joke.

In Punjab, the AAP of Arivind Kejriwal seems to be the toast of the season. The AAP's main political base in Punjab was the Dalits, but with Charanjit Singh Channi having been put by the Congress in the CM post, question is how the AAP would sustain this main Dalit electoral base for it in the state. Chances are that, after the assembly polls, the Congress might not retain Channi as CM if at all the party returns to power. The BJP is no electoral force in Punjab.

Why has the BJP come to this pass? Modi virtually swept the last two LS polls by his whirlwind election campaigns, which could not be matched by the Congress or Rahul Gandhi. Sadly, Modi is today just bluff and bluster. His big talks, or massive rallies where the ground is filled with a captive audience brought in by the money power of the BJP, are no more a lure to the voters. The last big elections -- in West Bengal -- proved this. The coming round of polls will reinforce this view. Worse, the BJP could not organise more than a couple of thousand people for the PM's Punjab rally in Ferozepur a week ago. The PM cancelled a political rally in Lucknow thereafter.

Modi is seen by many as a Hero of Inaction -- which was evident even when the Gujarat riots broke out in 2002, and he eventually turned his incompetence into his Advantage. His image sinking fast, Modi can no more be the mascot for the BJP if it seeks electoral success. The well-informed are getting disenchanted with his incompetent styles of governance. He failed to confront the vested interests ruling the roost in Indian society; he did many blunders and got away with it. Worse, he failed to check corruption in the bureaucracy, which is also dissuading people with funds to invest and start an industry. The manufacturing sector, thus, is down in the dumps; more of job losses and less of job creations when the nation is teeming with a young population idling way their time.

Why is the manufacturing sector losing out to China and Chinese goods flooding the Indian market? Corruption is dissuading potential investors here. From imported refrigerators and electronic items to cars, everything sold in India today comes from other countries. Even some of the vegetables come from China. If anyone tries to put their money into a business or enterprise here, bureaucrats will take a cut of 10 per cent on all such investment at the very start. If these are not paid, files will get stuck and no clearance will come from bureaucrats. Politicians as facilitators will seek their pound of flesh. Another 10 per cent gone too. Not a single file moves in the epi-centre of the Indian governance system at the central secretariat and at state secretariats across the country. This is the season of loot, started majorly in the UPA periods and taken forward with gusto by bureaucrats and regional politicians too, with great elan. See what was all about the bar bribe scam in Mumbai, which the city police commissioner exposed when he was pushed to the walls!

Xi Jinping started his innings as Chinese leader with a wholesale drive against corruption in bureaucracy and the Communist party. He threw out over 13 lakh of officials and partymen, put most of them in jail and cleaned the system before he set out to take China forward in its economic growth push when he started his innings in 2013. The results are there for all to see.

In India, will the elected leaders or the law help check corruption? Modi, the elected leader of the nation, has been a silent spectator to all these. He had no will to perform. He's all blah-blah? In his first term, he used his time on foreign jaunts without any significant benefit to the nation. Now, he's using all his energy on obsessions like his Mann Ki Baat, a boring, hour-long execise in futility, holding the nation to ransom, displaying his penchant to look back to the past, play vote bank politics, and exposing his failure to see the big picture ? of the present day India and its future. He's yapping --and who cares! And, he's woefully short of action. When the likes of Xi Jinping are working wonders for their countries, when even Nepal and Bangladesh are growing faster than India, and when Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is having the cheek to say the economy of Pakistan is today better performing than that of India, we are fed here on a diet of Modi's bhashans from the pulpit. The people are dispirited.

Modi used Covid as an excuse to sit back at his home and allowed bureaucrats too take a holiday for weeks and months. Nations like China and even tiny Malaysia are making hay when the Covid shines. They are mass producing kits and supplying them to India and making money. India is paying Malaysia hundreds of crores to buy things like hand gloves; and what of the rubber produced in India? The factories are there; not here! Modi is failing India on multiple fronts. Any wonder then that this is the time of disaster for the BJP ? and for the nation too? premcee@gmail.com

--The writer is a senior journalist, former Editor and an activist of India Against Corruption premcee@gmail.com


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Last edited by Premchandran; at 11:41 AM
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