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Ready for race: Kovind as dark horse

By PREM CHANDRAN A DARK HORSE has emerged to not just fight but also win the July 17 Presidential poll. .....




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06-20-2017
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Thumbs up Ready for race: Kovind as dark horse


By PREM CHANDRAN

A DARK HORSE has emerged to not just fight but also win the July 17 Presidential poll. The game’s up, and the BJP/NDA is already smelling success. Both Amit Shah and PM Modi played the cards close to their chest, and the media as also the Opposition was virtually seen blinking Monday afternoon when the announcement was made. In fact, they had allowed themselves to be misled, and kept coming up with fancy names day after day. It goes to show how the Modi establishment manages to keep the movers and shakers in the Indian media at a safe distance. It also shows how today's media is game dishing out not just truth, but also half-truths and lies as and when it suits its vested interests.

To simply hazard a guess, it would appear that among the reasons for selection of Ramdev Kovind as the NDA nominee is the BJP's agenda for the 2019 General Elections. Kovind, who headed the BJP Dalit Morcha before he became Bihar Governor in 2015, hails from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. BJP's eminent emphasis on Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha polls is in tune with the long-held wisdom among poll analysts that the party that wins UP will win India. BJP won UP hands down in 2014 and it won India as well. UP has 80 seats in the Lok Sabha; one-seventh of the house’s effective strength of 530.

Prime Minister Modi, and BJP chief Amit Shah who held charge of UP in the 2014 polls, are keen that the BJP should leave no stone un-turned in its push for the 2019 polls especially in the Hindi heartland. It is believed that Modi sent Shah to Nagpur to seek the support of the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to the game plan for the presidential poll. Modi is keen that the Dalits as also the backward communities should stand with him and the BJP. This would be a guarantee against the Muslim consolidation against the BJP and PM Modi, which though has failed to materialise, let alone make a mark in the recent UP assembly polls. The BSP of Mayawati, which fielded Muslim candidates on a disproportionately large scale, bit the dust; while the BJP that put up not a single Muslim candidate, while conceding that they do not vote for the party, romped home to success; leading to the installation of Yogi Adityanath as CM.

RSS, by now, is sure that as long as Modi is in the forefront, the BJP will keep getting the support of the backward sections of the society. With RSS backing the BJP to the hilt, the support of the Brahmins and upper castes is assured. This would mean the BJP would continue to enjoy the support of the wider Hindu society. The more the Pak-inspired terror attacks in Kashmir or the rest of India, the Hindu consolidation will continue. The constant fight by Muslim leaders against Modi and the BJP has led to a situation in which, from a position of strength, neither the BJP nor Modi even remotely thought of fielding a Muslim as Presidential nominee this time. This is despite the fact that Modi, after becoming PM, was willing for a reconciliation with Muslims pitted against him. He stated that the Indian Constitution will, from day one, be his Bhagwad Gita, to guide him and his conscience as PM. Muslim leaders failed to see the opportunity and instead continued to draw inspiration from the likes of Sitaram Yechury. Still, it by now is no secret that a small section of Muslims are backing Modi and the BJP, and most prominently in Gujarat.

As per BJP reckoning, Kovind's candidature is unassailable. He has the credentials; he has been a leading lawyer at the Supreme Court for the past four decades; he functioned as Union Government's standing counsel in the apex court for a period; and he represented India at the UN at one time and addressed the General Assembly. His intellectual capacities or understanding of law -- so essential for a President -- are beyond question. He has a clean record, and he functioned as governor of a state as big as Bihar for over two years. It is here that Modi and Shah have put the Opposition on the defensive. If, by chance, it was Draupadi Murmu, a tribal BJP leader turned governor of Jharkhand, the issue would have been raised as to what was her locus standi to be the President. It’s here that men like Sitaram Yechury was left speechless once the NDA nominee's name was announced. Yet, he regained composure fast, and said the Opposition would come up with its own nominee to fight Kovind; something that the Congress was hesitant to state forthwith, with equal emphasis. Now, let’s wait for June 22 for the “drama” to unfold.

Congress has much to lose if it opposed Kovind; it gets its electoral support from Dalits to a large extent. Yechury and his party, the CPI(M), have nothing to lose. The party is virtually a non-entity across India, thanks to the leadership of what was once a mass-based party by men like Yechury, who lived and functioned from a glasshouse with no direct contact with the general masses. These leaders practise elitism of the first order; and the common man who once reposed faith in the Communists has by now acquired the political understanding to see through their games. The CPI(M) and its leaders survive by virtue of the stir they create in the English electronic and print media –though not in Kerala and Tripura where local leaders hold sway.

Yechury's perceived support to Islamic extremism, if not terrorism, via universities like JNU and Hyderabad Central University shortly after he took over as party secretary a year ago has not only damaged his image but that of the party too in the wider Indian society. His constant yapping and defence of secularism -- meant that he’s still cast in the Nehruvian mould, a kind of Congressism to win electoral backing of the minorities -- and also showed how he failed to grow with the times. The likes of him also demonstrated a poverty of ideas on their part to come up with slogans that would inspire a new generation. He mouths anti-Modi, anti-BJP rhetoric, and impression strengthens he’s shameless in singing the Congress tune, also for the reason he could not craft a different tune for his own party. Most Indias, even 70 years after Independence, remain wretechedly poor, undernourished and famished. The likes of Yechury have no word of solace for them. They are still mouthing the old slogan: secularism.

Is secularism under threat in India, where people live in the best show and spirit of co-existence? But, for a Sonia Gandhi and Yechury, secularism is under threat! There is little wonder if Yechury is in the forefront of a push against the NDA nominee, if only to gain an extra dose of media glare. But, the moot point is, will such obsessions help a party grow; or rather harm it?

Kovind is no intellectual, as the elitists’ advocate, the Indian Left, will be quick to assess. A Kovind will not enthuse them. Yet, as Shah has insisted, the Bihar governor has all the necessary qualifications to be the President. His nomination has vertically divided the Opposition, rather than uniting them. Mayawati was naturally enthused; and her statement that the BSP would back him unless the Opposition, of which BSP is a part, came up with a more qualified nominee, is significant. She has put it so succinctly. Mulayam Singh's SP is bound to back Kovind; Bihar's Nitish Kumar has expressed his personal backing for Kovind. So did the southern satraps like K Chandrasekhar Rao and Chandrababu Naidu. And so did the two AIADMK factions. The YSRC too has said it would back any nominee of the PM.

Clearly, even if a straggler like the Shiv Sena breaks ranks yet again and goes its way, as it did in the past presidential polls too, the NDA nominee's victory is assured. Maharashtra chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has already thrown a spanner in Shiv Sena's wheels by saying, by way of a warning to the Sena, that the state BJP is fully prepared for a mid-term poll. Uddhav Thackery is unlikely to pay heed; for, he's set on a disaster course for a party that his dear (and deceased) father had cobbled to great health by raising the banner of sectarianism in the western metropolis. The last civic poll results have already put the Sena on notice; BJP is set to grow further in Mumbai and Maharashtra if recent trends are any indication.

Make no mistake about it; the BJP is the central political establishment in India today. It has, despite the occasional cat calls and violence against Muslims by some saffronites that are no more than aberrations in a nation of one billion plus, an all-encompassing view of India and its citizenry. It controls corruption, to an extent. It has a national development agenda. The BJP is sharing power with a Muslim party in Jammu and Kashmir. It is doing so with parties backed by the Church in the North-East. It conducts itself in a responsible and disciplined way, and so are its leaders, thanks mainly to the discipline the RSS has instilled in the party's rank and file. This is time for the BJP to have its nominee in Rashtrapati Bhavan as well, if only to smoothen the future course of India's growth and for the transition from the Congress culture that fanned corruption and nepotism across the length and breadth of the nation. It's time for change. premcee@gmail.com

Last edited by Premchandran; 06-20-2017 at 12:47 PM
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