Confidence, bluster or desperation?

PM Modi’s speech in Parliament replying to debate on the ceremonial “President’s address” at the start of each legislative calendar has attracted fair share of attention.

The usual “Modi cannot be, should not be, will not be PM” crowd was torn between calling the speech arrogant and too aggressive and therefore not statesman-like or one clearly showing desperation and weak.  Modi dared to mention past regimes and the holy family that controls the liberal narratives and the eco-system. Blasphemy!

He should simply listen to all insults, both verbal as well as disgusting cackling, rude disruptions and cacophony designed to ensure his speech is never heard, and say nothing in return. Then of course, he can be attacked for having no answer to the “facts” brought out by the debate!

Of course, commentators more sympathetic to Modi like Sandip Ghose had a different take.

In fact the looming series of state elections finally culminating in the 2019 General elections, which may even be called earlier, was clearly in focus, not just in Modi’s speech but in every reaction to it. It is just that PM is always in “election mode” if he replies, but those attacking him are “doing their duty” or “speaking truth to power”.

Be that as it may, a few things are clear as far as 2019 goes

  1. Modi has to stand on his record. There can be no doubts about it. In fact, he has been clear on this right from the beginning, using analogy of students and “report cards”.
  2. Modi, beyond a point, cannot go back to UPA’s “misrule”, even if he manages to jail or convict a few UPA era ministers. Prospects of law catching up with the first family on the National Herald matter appear dim despite best efforts by Swamy.
  3. But that is a twin-edged sword. It also means the pre-2014 propaganda, Godhra etc. cannot become vote catching tricks any more. This is precisely why the so-called “liberal” media hunts for anti-Modi narratives in every case of violence, even if they happen in Congress ruled states and even if they have nothing to do with Hindutva or Modi or BJP. As 2019 comes closer and purse strings open up we may even see repeat of fake stone throwing incidents aimed at churches and staged outrages.
  4. But that doesn’t mean people casting votes will look only at Modi’s track record in delivering what he promised in 2014. Yes that “question” will get a lot of marks in the final report card, but the bigger question will be “Who else”.
  5. This is where the recent efforts by the corrupt intellectual eco-system and Pidis of media to rehabilitate “Pandit” Rahul Gandhi acquire significance. Not a day passes without some shill or the other declaring that Rahul has “arrived”.
  6. The prospect of return to golden era of UPA, enormously juicy contracts from RSTV, gigs in various Delhi “cultural” bodies, living luxurious lives at taxpayer cost, supplemented with generous funds and wine bottles donated by Western aid agencies must be tempting indeed.
  7. Modi surely knows where he stands, he is not far removed from the grass roots although he may come across as aloof. This has been his style right from the 90s and to expect him to change now is futile.
  8. His speech has already diverted the attention of all his critics and perhaps blinded them in case they did have their eyes open – bulk of it was explaining, defending and advertising his various welfare schemes. Yes the nasty barbs at the first family was very much there but that was not all.
  9. In fact, these schemes, whatever be the criticism about their implementation success or otherwise, will form the backbone of the 2019 campaign. Along with trademark attacks on the first family that will have the Pidi’s seething in rage!
  10. After all, if Congress thinks its track record is better, it can campaign on them. It does seem it doesn’t have any positive agenda beyond attacking Modi day in and out without any alternatives.

With improving economy, receding fears on growth, stable GST and higher tax collections as well as job prospects, 2019 may not look as bleak as it does now to some “bhakths”.  It may yet see BJP losing absolute standalone majority but the prospects of Congress return to power look as remote as they did few months ago.

Time will tell!

 

Is BJP losing Naidu?

BJP has been having trouble keeping allies. In a way this is quite a strange problem for a party that had serious troubles attracting allies for years. This was because of the pseudo secular untouchability status conferred on the party by the corrupt ecosystem.

And now it can’t keep them!

Shiv Sena, Akalis and now TDP headed by Chandrababu Naidu?

As the sensible editorial in The Hindu points out, each of these situations has its own dynamics.

Be that as it may, what should BJP do? Actually the more important question is what it should not do! What’s the bottom line?

It should not lose a valuable ally like Naidu. Why? Because he is the sort of progressive, pro-business and pro-development leader that India needs more, not less. And the other option in AP – YSR Congress represents everything bad about Indian politics – dynastic succession, corruption on large scale, far beyond legitimate election expenditure needs, personal enrichment running into tens of thousands of crores. It is a disgrace.

Is this the sort of option BJP should pursue?

But then can it give up on AP ambitions? Of course no party wants to write off a state where it has legitimate chances of improving its own space, tally & votes. And accept junior status.  There in lies the dilemma. Which CBN should perfectly understand as well.

But then what is the choice?

There are tried and tested formulas – you keep the center, we run the state model is one. Contest independently but openly, transparently announce a post-poll alliance once people decide who is better is another.  Yes, this may mean splitting votes. There could be others.

They should even consider merger!

Yes this may seem heresy but CBN as a great leader, has to have the sagacity to think beyond his own lifespan. What next? What is in AP’s best interest, for the next 30, 40 years? Does he want the state to be looted again by dynastic looters for 5 years or more, simply to “teach BJP a lesson”? Is that what BJP wants? Ask hard questions.

Then it should be easy to find answers.