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Victory on a Platter

By Prem Chandran A mild sympathy wave is evident in New Delhi in the days preceding the historic assembly polls. .....




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02-04-2015
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Thumbs up Victory on a Platter


By Prem Chandran

A mild sympathy wave is evident in New Delhi in the days preceding the historic assembly polls. And that wave is set to catapult the Aam Aadmi Party to power possibly with a single party majority. Caught on the wrong foot is the BJP, which many thought was all set to repeat one more success.

It looks like Narendra Modi’s grand show at the Republic Day parade was also his undoing. In many ways. Just to cite one instance: the highly publicised presence of the party’s CM nominee Kiran Bedi at the demonstration f India's reasonably good defence might and more, and the blatant disregard shown by the establishment to Arvind Kejriwal, the man who was Delhi’s Chief Minister for nearly two months – not two days -- by denying him an invitation to attend the grand event. Adding a fresh wound to injury, Kiran Bedi, like an immature schoolgirl, held forth: “Sob, sob, sob!”, making Kejriwal a Mr. Sob, for the reason he complained he didn't get an invitation. So, what is the culture that she was seeking to bring into the hallowed, though stinking, halls of Delhi’s power circuit? She stood exposed. And so did the Modi-Amit Shah combine, without whose tacit nod such a grim scenario would not have unfolded. The desperation in the BJP camp is evident as not just Kejriwal is called names, like ‘mandar’ (monkey), but also his community: ‘Upadravi’ (trouble-makers) Agarwals!

Indication that those led by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, if not the two themselves, have begun showing the arrogance of power. Can we, the people, be taken for granted? Kiran Bedi has proven to be a perfect fit in the Modi-Shah power durbar. But it is a moot point as to whether she would prove to be a perfect fit in the people’s court.

The induction of Kiran Bedi as the party’s mascot for this election itself is another proof of the arrogance that has come to govern the Modi-Shah combine, after, at last count, the party recorded an impressive performance in Jammu and Kashmir. From a small number, the party rose to a big number, though not to power, there. One more success –in Delhi—would turn the two into something like bulls in a China shop. God forbid!

Symbolisms are stark in this campaign scene. Not very surprisingly, the very man who built the BJP inch by inch in Delhi, and inspired the rise of the party across India, is nowhere in the picture in this election scene. Lal Krishna Advani. His pregnant silence alone will likely turn out to be the Oracle of Delphi for the BJP seeking to ascend to power in Delhi this time. True, Advani has acted in ways he should not have when the Goa conclave of the party was all set to anoint Modi as the party’s PM candidate. But, after winning power, it was time for Modi to reconcile to the situation and make every effort to keep the patriarch in good humour. But, clearly, Modi is drunk with power that he has little time to spare for the one who helped him rise in politics.

A Padma Vibhushan means little for a leader of Advani’s profile. Advani had his faults, like when he adopted short-cuts to ensure the political rise of his party; like his Babri push at the grave expense of alienating India’s Muslims from the national mainstream. More than Godhra, it is Babri that rankles in Muslim minds even now. The minorities felt being shamed to their bones. Rather, granted that Hindus see it as the birthplace of Lord Ram, painstaking negotiations with sensible elements in the minority community should have been the way forward. But, the aim about going hammer and tongs at what was an old structure that would crumble and fall on its own in due course was political expediency. At what cost? Ayodhya's link to Godhra too is all too clear. To many, Advani is still the villain of the piece. But, Advani, for the BJP, should be no cast-away. Age might not be on his side, but his faculties are working perfectly well. What’s happening in BJP now, the undercurrents that’s building steam and noise too, with the recklessness of Shah and the rest, should be music to Advani’s ears.

That noise is like the one sent out by the campaign committee chief of BJP in Delhi polls the other day when he put in his resignation from the party, citing the arrogance of its CM nominee, for whom he was working day and night through this campaign period. No one would desert the party that is now at the height of glory. While he was upset with the “dictations” from Bedi, he was upset as well with the way things were happening in the party, which he did not state though. Getting a rank outsider to lead the way up to power in the capital demoralised the entire leadership in Delhi BJP. The Delhi BJP chief himself has been relegated to the background. An “imported” leadership with little understanding of Delhi is seeking to call the shots. If there is going to be an electoral rout, neither Shah nor Modi will have an escape route. No one is so very sure Bedi will win her own constituency. She might, afterall. Otherwise, she has her high-sounding alternative programme ready: “Will go and lecture at Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge.” Losing Delhi is no great shakes. And, without her, how will the world’s top institutions of learning sustain themselves! We, the underlings, do not know whether these institutions have an ‘open door’ policy to accommodate all defeated candidates from India on its lecture circuit of the world's 'top-class brains'. Really.

The general public mood apart, opinion polls are near unanimous in predicting a victory for the AAP. The BJP leadership, on the other hand, is running around as if its tail has caught fire. One or two public addresses by Narendra Modi by themselves are unlikely to change the scenario. Rather than running around campaigning for local polls and playing host to global leaders – that too, going to ludicrous levels – Modi and his team are expected to do the job the nation has assigned to them. The Rupees One Million Suit, whether this is true or not, is not going to impress anyone out here. Nor are the people happy with his narcissistic tendencies. Having a sartorial taste is not an altogether bad idea, but excesses should not be the PM’s way forward. A captive media may be singing his praise at every turn, but that is not the whole story either. We are waiting to see action, not a drama. We also do not want to wait for a tragi-comedy of sorts.

Delhi may or may not give a shock to the BJP. We will wait for the people’s verdict. Arvind Kejriwal making it clear that confrontation will not be the way forward for his government vis-a-vis the Centre, if he forms one, should be reassurance to the people that they are not headed for chaotic days ahead. It shows he learns lessons from the past. Grow, yes! A vote for Kejriwal in this polls will, as it turns out, be a vote not just against the BJP but also against the political culture that the Modi-Amit Shah combine is seeking to introduce to the nation. Some sections of the populace are likely to vote en bloc for the AAP this time. Even Congressmen might do this, this time, if only to spite the BJP.

Advani’s resort to short-cuts in politics has not taken him far. Nor will Modi’s or Shah’s, like the import of a rank outsider as the BJP’s face in this polls. At what cost, after all? If at all BJP wins this polls, it will be a pyrrhic victory sans its sheen. premcee@gmail.com

Last edited by Premchandran; 02-05-2015 at 12:31 AM
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