India Against Corruption



Pretenders to the delhi throne

By Prem Chandran WHEN the central government repealed the three farm laws, Telangana's chief minister Chandrashekar Rao had a brainwave. .....

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Thumbs up Pretenders to the delhi throne

By Prem Chandran

WHEN the central government repealed the three farm laws, Telangana's chief minister Chandrashekar Rao had a brainwave. He quickly announced Rs 3 lakh each as a help to the families of over 700 farmers who died in course of the farmer agitation centered mostly around Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. There was hardly any echo of this agitation in Telangana; and, notably, several of these deaths were due to Covid19 or other ailments. Chandrashekar Rao knew as much; and yet why did Telangana, of all states, announce such a generous aid? Therein lies a tale.

BJP in the state posed the question, why did the chief minister not do the same for over 60,000 farmers who committed suicide due to debt burden in Telangana under his seven-year-rule? Chandrashekar Rao, known more endearingly as KCR in his native state, is seeking to cash in on his popularity in Telangana and aim for the moon in more ambitious ways. Narendra Modi's stock is steadily going down and there is a fair chance of the Opposition coming together or the regional satraps ganging up and flooring Modi and the BJP in the next parliamentary polls -- in 2024. Modi is failing to inspire while regional satraps are gaining more clout, state after state. The Bengal assembly polls only reinforced this view. In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena and the Sharad Pawar enterprise by name NCP stole the wind out of the BJP's sails in the last assembly polls in 2019.

Worse could be in store for the BJP in several states, and all eyes are now set principally on Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Though opinion polls say Yogi Adityanath would earn one more term for the BJP in the state, the ground situations are bound to see subtle changes as the campaign starts. Muslim votes matter significantly there and Asaddudin Owaisi reaching up there for the contest might or might not make a difference to the overall election scene there.

Modi himself is mindful of the gathering storm and the potential of regional satraps to upstage him and the BJP in the next polls. Reason why he raised the issue of political dynasties becoming a threat to democracy -- in his speech on the Constitution ratification Day on November 26. Modi had promised to neutralize the dynasty politics in his 2014 parliament poll campaign. Yet, when he took power, he put some "sons" too into his cabinet, most prominently the son of Yashwant Sinha. And, he has made another dynast, from the Bommai clan, as the chief minister of Karnataka. As long as it suits his interests, dynasty is fine for Modi. To his credit, however, Modi has not encouraged his extended family into politics so far.

Modi has begun facing the heat from dynasts though the principal dynast, the Nehru family that re-christened itself as Gandhi family for double effect, is lying low at the head of the Congress party. Mamata Banerjee proved the people are with her. KCR is going strong in Telangana; and Jagan Mohan Reddy, in two years of his governance, has earned a folk hero status by his welfare steps -- in a similar fashion as his father YSR did while as CM. MK Stalin, in a short spell as CM, earned more support from the people. They are all dynasts, they play to the gallery, and they go strong. Modi and his men, moving at snail's pace, are no match to them.

In specific, what of the BJP chief ministers whom Modi has installed in positions? Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra and Manoharlal Khattar in Haryana proved their incompetence to endear the masses and retain power as the last assembly polls showed. Thanks to Khattar, a regional party cam to his help to form the next government. People failed to warm up to the BJC chief ministers. They are mostly faceless figures, lacking the energy that is so vital to head a government. New India seeks energetic faces to lead them. Yeddiyurappa was stinking by them time he was removed from the CM post; his sons by his side. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, chief minister for repeated terms, failed the BJP in the last assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, but managed to get back to power after a while with manipulations in the assembly numbers. He survives less by good governance than by touting his identity as a BC leader.

In other words, BJP has a whole lot of bums, good-for-nothingers, ruling state after state. The only exception is Yogi Adityanath, who made a mark for himself and kept the BJP flag flying high too. He showed his governance skills and Modi, on the eve of this coming polls, is grudgingly admiring his qualities. With morons in CM chairs, and a PM who is increasing losing his carefully cultivated aura, the BJP as a party too is bound to face odds by the time the next parliamentary polls come. West Bengal called not only Modi's bluff but also lack of tact. Yet, it is no secret that Modi managed to get the Hindi belt firmly on his side in the 2019 parliament polls by a sleight of his hand -- the Balakot IAF bombing -- which was, perhaps, a bombing on some pine trees as the Pakistani establishment claimed. India, in the end, lost one or two fighter planes.

We are a big nation; but a big nation can work wonders only when it has the right leader(s) at the helm. After Indira Gandhi's term, India did not have a good leader with courage to guide its destiny. The worst disasters were IK Gujral, Deve Gowda and the like, propped up by the Opposition. They proved to be stop-gap arrangements. Narasimha Rao had the erudition, knowledge and administrative skills. Reason why he put an able economist like Manmohan Singh as his finance minister and effected a turnaround in Indian economy at the start of the 1990s. Rao was fine but, a good Brahmin, he lacked the guts to confront the enemies. Yet, he demonstrated intelligence to control the trouble-makers in the government and the Congress party. He ran a government for full five years despite the lack of an effective strength for the Congress in parliament. China, till then on par with India on most counts, began effecting administrative and economic reforms and effected a major growth in the past 20 years. Today, it enjoys five times India's strength in military and growth matters.

As Modi said, dynasties run by greedy politicians and their families, should, today, be a big worry for India. Modi has stated the fact and he stated it loudly. Question is, why are dynasties gaining more and more prominence in politics state after state? Fact is, the one who leads the nation from the front -- Modi -- fails to inspire the masses. Modi is today earning an image as the "Hero of Inaction," while the "action heroes" are the regional satraps. They have the grit and determination in them, be it in running the state or looting its precious funds in the guise of "organising funds for the party." Result: bridges built to last 50 years or more are crashing down in a matter of a few years; to cite just one instance. British era bridges, even bridges built a hundred years ago, are still standing erect and serving the purpose. Today, loot of public money has become the name of the game for politicians of all hues, worst of all the regional party leaders.

Modi's by-now-boring Mann Ki Baat itself adequately demonstrated the kind of mindset that he has. It dwells least on India's future or even of its present. It is more of a blah-blah about the past --the glory of India, a pat on Dr BR Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule or the like, because Modi is eyeing vote banks and seeking to endear the poor who form the bulk of the population and can be easily wooed with platitudes like this. He is not endearing the people by action; and his obsession stops at winning elections for himelf and the party. If Modi has a vision for India's future, a deep grasp of India's present, these must show up in what he says. Grand-grand Maas sitting at home without work might listen to such bhashans. The rest are switching off the TVs and radio sets.

One who leads the nation must, first and foremost, inspire the youths, the new generation. Modi carries with him the RSS mindset that looks more to the past than the present or future; and his men keep targeting Muslims, the minorities, and fail to understand the potential of getting all into the same boat and sailing together. This, per se, is a pre-requisite to nation-building. True, Modi on his part has not openly teased Muslims. When he took charge, he made it clear he would treat all as one and that the Constitution would be his Gita when he occupied the PM chair. Fair enough.

A part of the problem is with the Muslim leaderships. It is least advisable to fight the Prime Minister or the ruling party as long as they leave you in peace. In every election, Muslim activists are on a quiet confrontation course, ganging up to defeat Modi and the BJP, constituency after constituency. What of the Islamist countries around? Are Muslim parties not ruling them? Let's be at ease and at peace with an avowedly Hindu party running India.

Modi, by his failure to inspire the people, is giving fodder to the ambitions of regional satraps to eventually grab power in Delhi. Chandrashekar Rao has sort of groomed his son to be the next chief minister so that His Excellency the father can reach up to Delhi and take-over the governance of India; that is, if a favourable situation arose by 2024. His hurry to announce a three-lakh-rupee assistance to families of dead farmers was the first olive branch to the large army of farmers all over the nation. He is seeking to project himself as a farmer leader because farmers, the poor and hapless rustics, can be easily turned into the largest vote bank in his aspiration to usurp the gaddi in Delhi; he as the champion of those who sweat it out in the fields.

KCR is cited often as a master of deceit. He recently came up with a Dalit Bandhu scheme, promising a free gift of Rs 10 lakh to each Dalit family to set up their own enterprises. He did not bother to think as to from where he would raise the huge budgeted expenditure for this. He said he was implementing the project on a pilot basis in Huzurabad assembly consituency alone for now. It was there that an ousted minister, his enemy now, stood as BJP candidate against the ruling TRS nominee. The CM knew pretty well that courts will put a spoke into the wheel and stop the project sometime later and he would not have to keep up his promise to the Dalits or pay any money to them. But, by then, votes for his party would have been put into the electronic boxes. As it turned out, EC intervened first and later came a court injunction and the project stopped in its tracks. Worse, the BJP nominee won the election despite the outreach and huge flow of money from the ruling TRS. Those who took money from the TRS agents too voted for Etala Rajendar, the BJP's nominee.

Notably, in a public discourses before the 2014 assembly poll campaign, for the first polls after formation of Telangana state, KCR had promised to put a Dalit as the chief minister. When he won and formed the ministry, he, a Velama upper caste, took that post for himself and inducted his son and nephew as senior ministers. The three together run the government in the past seven years through two terms. Son KT Rama Rao is de-facto CM, already. In terms of population strength, Dalits deserved three minister posts. KCR gave them just one.

In a way, Chandrashekar Rao is following the footsteps of another Telugu pretender to the throne, Nara Chandrababu Naidu. He had teamed up with Banerjee to upset the BJP applecart in the 2019 parliament polls with the hope he could share power as PM or deputy PM in a coalition government of regional parties. He had begun to think that the CM post was too small for his growing stature. If he can have the whole of India dancing to his tunes, why limit himself to a state? Chandrababu had shaped his son Nara Lokesh to take over from him in the new Andhra Pradesh state, as and when he could take a flight and perch himself on the emperor's seat in Delhi. His hopes were dashed in the 2019 assembly polls when Jagan Mohan Reddy came from behind, swept the polls and installed his YSRC government. Naidu is still licking the wounds of his defeat.

Mamata Banerjee, another pretender to the throne, has readied nephew Abhishek Banerjee as her successor in party and government, made him MP from Diamond Harbour constituency in the 2019 polls and put him in the forefront of the 2021 assembly poll campaign. What of the rest of the seasoned leaders? They are sitting back and sulking, or somee have left the party and joined the BJP, just as Suvendu Adhikari, the former minister did. They are waiting for the right opportunity to show their real colour. Banerjee be forewarned.

Adikari went on to defeat the CM in the 2021 polls, but that did not stop Banerjee from taking over as Chief Minister again. Now, loads of funds are flowing from Kolkata to other states like Meghalaya, Tripura and Goa, preparatory to building TMC as a national party to strengthen Banejree's claim to the PM post in 2024. MLAs are allegedly being bought by hefty payments in Meghalaya to pull down the present government and form an alternative TMC ministry, as per talk in Shillong. When she says her aim is to "defeat the BJP" she's simply sugarcoating her intent; which is, her desire to occupy the PM chair even for a day.

Look back to the past, and it is clear that a regional leader cannot hold on to the PM post for long term. Modi as the nominee of a national party and with the abundant clout of the RSS, managed to compete a full five year term. Banerjee, or any other regional leader, cannot expect such a luxury. The multiplicity of forces at work in Delhi will act sooner than later and the government will fall like a pack of cards. More so about Banejree because she is not a team player. She being a part of any coalition is guarantee to its short life. Yet, her ambition to become PM could be served. Her confrontationist attitude with the Modi government at the Centre for the past seven years did no good to West Bengal. The state, rubbished by the Communists for 34 years at a stretch, lost out in many respects. It is losing out even today, through the arm of Banerjee, as she is indulging herself to build her political party in other states.

Neither Chandrashekar Rao nor Banerjee would spend money from their cash chests for playing out their fancies; they would use public money, our money, to feed their egoistic pursuits. This is the tragedy of India today.

Modi's denouncement of dynasty politics by itself is of little help to change the scenario for the better. Dynasties are not only running politics but also looting public money right and left. They are pocketing crores by the hour. See what was happening in Mumbai, where the police was asked by NCP's (then)home minister to collect Rs 100crore as bribe from bar and restaurant owners a month? Set against these sharks, Modi's perceived strength is that he is not seen as part of India's loot brigade. And, he is no dynast. This, by itself, is a great credit today in Indian politics. But, question is why is he not reining in the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats? The last seven years of his rule has seen the corruption scene in India progressively worsening. No file today moves without us greasing the palms of officials. This is said to be the case even with the Central Secretariat, directly under Modi's nose.

The inaction hero that Modi is, he is incapable of effective action; he runs away from situations as was eloquently demonstrated in the way the farmer agitation was handled by his government. The PM lacks the cutting edge. With what face can he govern the nation now?
--The writer is a senior journalist, former Editor and an activist of India Against Corruption

Last edited by Premchandran; 07-15-2022 at 11:43 AM


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