By PREM CHANDRAN
WEST BENGAL’S regional satrap Mamata Banerjee is silence personified while her comrade-in-arms Nara Chandrababu Naidu was laughed out of court in Andhra Pradesh. Naidu lost what he had in hand, and failed to get what he aspired for. Sand is slipping from under the feet of chief minister Banerjee too. When a people are quiet, the air is pregnant with meaning – signifying hope for the future.
In a democracy, the collective wisdom of the masses is the ultimate hope for a nation’s future and well-being. Here now, clear as sunlight, they saw through the vaulting ambitions of regional leaders and their hard-edged attempts to subvert the nation’s will. The nation rose as one, almost, and voted in a decisive manner to stem the rot. Democracy proved yet again that it’s all about people’s power.
Look at the “smartness” of these leaders who tried to fiddle with established systems even at the last minute – by creating a fuss around EVMs the moment exit poll results said Modi and the BJP would be back at the helm. See also the way Naidu and Banerjee went into hiding, like petty thieves, after the actual results were out. Naidu can now feel the comfort of being in a state of political sanyas; he having been floored at the hustings by rival Jaganmohan Reddy. No one wants to touch him even with a barge pole now.
The ‘tamasha’ in Delhi at Naidu’s behest is now a thing of the past. He has made enough and more of wealth, which will keep him in good stead; and what he lost was simply political power. For Banerjee, the frail figure from Bengal, this here might as well the beginning of her end. Trinamool Congress has never been a cohesive force; it grew out of the people’s disenchantment with the Communists. With a strong force like the BJP having come this far, somewhat neck-and-neck with TMC in Bengal, Banerjee’s chickens will come home to roost sooner than later. If the Trinamool breaks up, which is quite likely, Banerjee can hope to spend the rest of her life in her very own base, the alleys of Kalighat, in prayers, helped by her nephew in the form of a new dynast-in-the-making.
Note the fact that Banerjee sought to play all her games in the comfort of Kolkata, occasionally showing up in Delhi, but avoiding a reach-out to the rest of India. She knew she has no mass following outside of Bengal. Yet, she did everything in her capacity to try and force her way into the PM chair by hook or by crook. She stood in the way of emergence of a grand opposition alliance, with the Congress – and ‘Rahool’ Gandhi — at its head. She thought she was “senior” to Rahool. The misfortune for Rahul Gandhi, who headed the Grand Old Party, was that he ceded ground to pretenders like Banerjee and Naidu, rather than leading from the front. A confused India saw clarity in the BJP and its orderly leadership headed by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. For BJP, everything worked to the perfection and precision of a hi-tech machine. And, then the days of Rahul Gandhi tendering apologies to the Supreme Court; calling the PM a Chor and getting it back in a more toxic manner from Modi. It had all the ingredients of a comic opera in full play before an alert audience.
Naidu, who should have minded his business in Amaravati, was running up and down Delhi with rare frenzy. He wanted to impress India and let it know he’s the man for all seasons; the architect, the kingmaker, of what was to be a post-poll Opposition framework to unseat Modi. If a windfall comes for him in Delhi, well and good, he has kept son Nara Lokesh ready for leadership of Andhra Pradesh in the form of chief minister. But, as things unfolded on May 23, Naidu hid his face and ran for cover. He put in his resignation as his rival Jagan Mohan Reddy swept him and his TDP aside in the assembly polls and overnight ended Naidu’s stranglehold over governance. For Jagan, equally crafty as Naidu, it will now be paying-back time; word for word, deed for deed and blood for blood.
Then comes Aravind Kejriwal, another politician who found himself in deep embarrassment on May 23. It was our misfortune that we saw merit in men with feet of clay. The entire political enterprise Kejriwal sought to build was an impregnable fortress against the corrupt Congress and the UPA rules punctuated by scam after scam. Narendra Modi came from behind and occupied the centre-stage of that political platform in 2014; not before that. By then, Kejriwal had already sold out his anti-corruption plank and fallen at the Congress feet. He ran a government with outside help from the Congress in Delhi for 49 days — from December 2013 to February 2014. A year later, Kejriwal emerged triumphant in the assembly polls.
Sadly, the past nearly five years was also a period of his unmaking. This time too, he made a bid to craft an alliance with the Congress, his sole motto being to retain power. In other words, fighting corruption is old story; and winning elections and running government the new obsession. Any wonder then that the people in Delhi voted out all his nominees for the LS? He is satisfied with a single LS seat from Punjab – this, in a region where some backward communities formed the central base for the AAP.
In this round of polls, Kejriwal tied up with a non-entity, the Communists, and together they fell. Dynamic Delhi would suffer anyone but not a Sitaram Yechury or a D Raja. Election after election showed this. These reds carry with them the old wine – that too, not in new, but old bottles. They are mentally tied to the past, not the present. They care little for the poor. Their obsessions are the obsessions of the elitists or the English-speaking crowd. Yet, the sweat of the poor, in the form of trade union subscriptions, keeps their lives happy and content. Will Yechury’s obsessions sell in China or Russia?
The good thing about Modi happened to be his discipline and RSS conditioning. He is a nationalist to the core, at a time when the Congress had degenerated into an entity run by Mem Sahibs and their orderlies. India must be led by a crop of responsible leaders. See how a Mamata Banerjee refused to pick a call from the PM to discuss the flood situation. Her justification: “Modi is no more PM. His days are over.” Street-smartness is fine, more so in the streets of Kolkata, but someone who sits in the chair of CM should act and speak in ways that behove the dignity of the office. Modi tolerated such indignities heaped on him.
The nation reposed its faith in Modi again even as he failed to enthuse the nation. He had been given a thumbs up in the 2014 elections. He squandered such an opportunity by doing too little when a nation craved for decisive leadership. On the positive side, the PM acted with restraint. At close of the 10 years the BJP and PM Modi got to rule, there would again be stock-taking. A Pulwama or Balakot might not come to their rescue yet again. This is time for real action to transform India, to take it to great heights. A stronger growth for India is to China’s good too. China will find more of markets here for its long array of products. Pakistan is an irritant for now, but it is imploding from within. India’s destiny is now tied to the destiny of Modi. It may perform or perish.
Imran Khan too would be pleased; the results turned out to be the way he desired. This is time for India to hold out an olive branch to Pakistan; and vice versa too. Let’s live in harmony, the Modi style. firstname.lastname@example.org