The war of words between the Congress and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) is going from bad to worse. Other regional parties like SP, TMC, BSP, AIDMK and National Conference too have joined the Congress in the BJP, read Modi, bashing act. It is BJP versus all others since not only Congress but nearly every political party in the country has only one aim – how to keep Mr. Modi away from New Delhi. Day in and day out one can see the tired and crest fallen faces of the Congress leaders on various news channels trying to put Mr. Modi one down, since they seem to have given up the option of going one up. Leaders from other smaller political parties appear to be baffled and unsure of what to do since many of them are likely to lose their seats that they had taken for granted for many a years. Mr. Narendra Modi seems to have got under the skin of most political leaders in the country irrespective of their party affiliations. While all want to stop the Modi juggernaut, no one seems to have a clue on how to do it. The end result is that many senior non BJP leaders are resorting not only to foul language but also to statements that are potentially dangerous to the well being of the nation in the future. Frustration and fear of defeat is writ large over their faces and their knee jerk reactions only confirm the same. It is also no secret that some second and third rung BJP leaders too are going overboard in their enthusiasm to show support for Mr. Modi and making statements that possibly have roots linked to their personal prejudices and frustrations. It would be naive to assume that the views of such inconsequential individuals are also the views of the BJP. Without a doubt senior BJP leadership seems to be conducting itself much better than their counterparts in other major political parties.
A major worry for most politicians today, including some from the BJP, is the fear of being pushed out of their comfort zones if Mr. Modi comes to power at the centre. First and foremost it is no secret that politicians of all hues and colours have entrenched themselves in New Delhi irrespective of where they originate from since New Delhi possibly offers the best quality of life in whole of the country. Sprawling bungalows, green environment, good civic services, great connectivity, enviable social life are some of the privileges that most of these politicians enjoy at virtually no cost since most costs are debited to the state. In this connection one should read an article titled Fear and Loathing in Lutyen’s Delhi by Tavleen Singh. Being in Delhi also keeps most of the second and third rung politicians close to the powers to be and that ensures that they are neither out of sight nor out of mind. No wonder even a convicted leader like Mr. Lalu Prasad still holds a bungalow in New Delhi despite being stripped of his parliamentary seat. It is rumoured that he has taken an extension to retain the house for a year since he is sure that one of his family members, out of three who are contesting, will certainly win a parliamentary seat in the current elections and then the same bungalow will be allotted to him or her. The result, Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav and family will continue to occupy a Lutyen bungalow for another five years. If this does not work out Mr. Lalu Yadav has the other option of converting his allotted bungalow to a memorial or museum or may be a zoo – after all he is a master at eating animal fodder. Over the years the parliamentarians have found different ways to hold on to a bungalow in New Delhi to live in style without having to pay for it. It is still a mystery why every Member of Parliament is allocated a bungalow in New Delhi since the combined duration of the three parliamentary sessions (budget, winter and monsoon) is normally less than 100 days. In fact in 1950s the average parliament sittings were 140 whereas since 2010 the figure has dropped to less than 80 sittings. Add the disruptions and forced holidays at the drop of a hat, the actual number of days a consensus and sincere MP works is likely to be way below 60. A large percentage of MPs attend less than 50% of the parliamentary sittings. Surely no one deserves a bungalow in New Delhi costing over Rs. 100 crores for just a few weeks of work, that too in three different periods of time. The respective state establishments / guest houses built on prime location in New Delhi should be able to house their MPs for these few weeks. It is time the government takes a call on this as part of an austerity measure and save hundreds of crores annually.
The other important issue for the discomfort for many is that over the last few decades, most of the parliamentarians (including those from BJP) have developed a very close bonhomie with each other across the party lines. Based on the principle of you scratch my back and I will scratch yours, they have always looked after each other’s personal interests. The fact that nearly all MPs are financially sound, increased their wealth manifold and have a built up a lot of immovable assets over the years, whether in ruling party or in the opposition, proves this points beyond doubt. The need for coalition governments after last few elections has further benefitted the members from smaller parties who have invariably extracted their pound of flesh for supporting the coalition government. It is yet to be seen how many seats Mr. Modi and BJP can get in this election or would they also have to succumb to pulls and pressures from the smaller regional parties. Many of the old stalwarts would rue the day BJP garners a near majority as in that case there is bound to be a change in the way the system works and the old bonhomie is not likely to work with Mr. Modi at the helm. While this will bode well for the nation, most of the old parliamentarians may find the going difficult.
The Congress’s aspirations of Rahul leading them to a victory have evaporated and no wonder they seem to be flocking towards Priyanka Gandhi to bail them out. But then if Rahul was a reluctant leader who was in one day and out the next as far as politics is concerned, Priyanka was never really in. She is only a seasonal bird to be seen for a few weeks prior to an election once in five years. All she has done in the past is to seek emotional connect with Rae Bareilly and Amethi by projecting herself as the daughter of a martyred Prime Minister for some and being a young look alike clone of her martyred grandmother for others. It did work on last few occasions when there was no Mr. Narendra Modi on the scene and development was not the prime issue in elections. Unfortunately this time around that tried and trusted emotional blackmail approach is not likely to work. It is indeed a pity that instead of highlighting its campaign agenda, Congress has only worked towards Modi bashing. In all likelihood, most voters have had enough of it and are now discounting what the Congress says about Mr. Modi. Ms. Priyanka Gandhi has neither contributed to the nation in any way as on date nor can she boast of any achievement in any field what so ever. Thus she has no standing as a professional at all in any field including politics. Therefore it is unlikely that Priyanka will have any appreciable effect on the overall national electorate. At the best she can make a marginal impact in the two constituencies of Amethi and Rae Bareilly as things stand today. Any assumption by Congress that Priyanka could be an effective foil to Mr. Modi is not only wishful thinking but also shows a lack of understanding of the mood of the nation today. But then most Congressmen cannot see beyond the Gandhi family since political sycophancy seems to run in their blood.
In its single minded quest to keep Mr. Modi away from New Delhi, the Congress has failed to capitalise on the millions of first time voters since their campaign did not focus on the aspirations of the youth in any manner. The party has failed to realise that Gandhi name has lost its magic and in last couple of years for most people, particularly the young people, this name has become synonymous with corruption, extra constitutional powers, dynastic politics, appeasement politics and lack of connect with the common man. The youth today is primarily concerned about jobs, development, national pride and a nation that is on the move so that they have an opportunity to realise their aspirations. Religion, reservations, appeasement, past sacrifices of fore fathers of present day leaders and other traditional issues do not cut much ice with the young in India today.
Last but not least there is another set of people who are a very worried lot today and they are not politicians. This lot comprises mainly of pseudo social thinkers and the social activists who mostly live off the grants received from the government or from vested interests abroad. Without an exception this lot has been trying to portray Mr. Modi as a divisive force who has a Hindutwa agenda apart from painting him as anti poor and anti secular. By design they have over looked his achievements and capabilities that have seen him come to power in three consecutive state elections in Gujarat. It is no secret that most of these people have only two major agendas in whatever they do. One is to keep in lime light by being in the news at all times and second is to seek funding for their organisations and in turn from themselves. It generally suits their ends to keep the people they claim to represent and protect in an environment that is far removed from the benefits of modernisation. No wonder that they generally maintain that development is synonymous with destruction of environment and concentration of wealth with a few. Show them a development project and invariably they will oppose it on some ground or the other. However once a quid pro quo solution is found, their opposition fades away till another project comes up. They deliberately overlook the fact that to distribute wealth one needs to create wealth. Without a doubt they are the most selfish and confused lot in the educated elite of our country. These thinkers and social activists have thrived under the Congress rule where governance was poor and leadership weak. However with the possibility of Mr. Modi coming to power a lot of them feel threatened since their livelihoods are likely to be on the chopping block. Mr. Modi is known to be a strong administrator and a champion of development – both these traits spell trouble for this lot.
May 16, 2014 will be an important day in the history of India. If Mr. Modi and BJP secure enough parliamentary seats to form a government, hopefully governance will have a new meaning in the country for the better. The possibility of Congress leading another coalition government is very remote. However if BJP is not in a position to form a government and Congress decides to support a third front government formed with various regional parties, we can be assured of a new form of governance that will redefine words like chaos, anarchy and turmoil . What impact this option will have on the nation – your guess is as good as mine. Unfortunately the Congress Party will once again be responsible for it.
Author: Saroj Chadha
[Saroj Chadha is an engineering professional who served in the Indian Army for over 23 years till 1991. Since then he has worked in the Indian corporate sector and specializes in Marketing & Project Management. He worked with a leading electrical switchgear company and as a Consultant with a US MNC as their representative in India to facilitate their entry in Indian market. He has worked as a Marketing and Project management consultant with various electrical companies in India subsequently. Today he successfully runs a joint venture company in partnership with the French principals. Apart from his professional work, he has a deep interest in current affairs and other subjects of national interest. He occasionally writes as a free lance writer on some of these subjects. ]