It doesn’t require the world to point out that Manmohan Singh is a puppet Prime Minister! The question actually is, who is the “real” Prime Minister? Unlike the perception of many, I don’t believe that Sonia Gandhi is or was the “real” Prime Minister. It was Pranab Mukherjee, the man who was virtually running the entire show of running the nation, while Sonia managed Manmohan and a large part of party politics. Can you believe it that out of a list of 40 plus EGoMs (Empowered Group of Ministers), Pranab Mukherjee was heading almost a whopping 66%? Yes, that’s the truth; Pranab Mukherjee was not just Congress’ crisis man, but also the man running the government and its intricacies. No wonder then that Congress was so nervous about announcing his candidature. And had it perhaps not been for the Mamata jolt, Congress might have still tried to think about alternatives! Now that the man – who should have been Prime Minister in place of Rajiv Gandhi long back, and definitely in place of his junior Manmohan Singh and at least the acting PM when Manmohan was hospitalized some time back – has been given his due, what happens to the government? Already, there are uproars and sarcasms over Chidambaram heading the spectrum EGoM (which, of course, Sharad Pawar didn’t even have the courage to take up). It’s actually not so much about who will head which EGoM, but more about a sudden realization of where are the leaders in Congress?
The death of mass leaders in Congress started from the times of Indira Gandhi when the inner party democracy – that at one point elected Lal Bahadur Shastri as the PM – gave way to dynastic politics. Indira, at least herself, became a mass leader; but by the time Rajiv became the Prime Minister purely on sympathy, the mass leaders started finishing off. The last of the mass leaders in the Congress under Sonia – Sharad Pawar – left Congress; and YSR, the one and only mass leader left, met an unfortunate end too. So now, what the Congress is left with, from Sonia to Manmohan to Chidambaram to Rahul, are all well-planned and planted leaders from here and there instead of leaders with a mass base. The real politician – though again without a semblance of a mass base – Pranab Mukherjee, through his sheer number of years, is now in the President’s chair, and with the number of times he has been betrayed, not necessarily the Congress plant many are assuming him to be. With a mind of his own and wounds unhealed, he can turn anybody’s way when it really matters!
Compare that to the BJP! From its father-figure L K Advani to its current leaders Narendra Modi, Shivraj Chauhan, Raman Singh, Khanduri to Yedurappa, one after the other of them are not only the real mass leaders of this country but also with a completely honest record, most of them! So, contrary to speculation that BJP is leaderless, it is actually the only party with mass leaders of various proportions spread nationally! Yes, this is despite the fact that last time the Congress won – don’t forget, middle-class sentiments, NREGA etc have their own life spans. What one also must not forget is that the last time L K Advani refused to pave the way for the next generation, creating all sorts of vote divisions. Further, getting a few Muslim votes here and there is a different story but playing silly Jinnah cards got them nowhere. BJP needs to forget getting Muslim votes in bulk for the next fifteen years at least, till they work hard and uplift the Muslim community and win their trust – which I believe the party is very capable of doing in the long run. So what is it that is still keeping them away from being outright favorites for 2014? The lack of clarity about who is the face of 2014 and not the lack of leaders or public dissatisfaction with the Congress. In fact, with Pranab gone, Congress is now weaker than ever before and one can easily expect our so-called PM, Manmohan Singh, to mess things up very soon – the fact is that he has not been in the thick of things ever! Also, the media has given undue credit to him for his early 90s liberalization policies. It was a global wave sweeping every part of the world and India almost had to embrace it by default, given our situation then.
Thus, the only thing right now between BJP being portrayed as an outright winner in 2014 and being in the fray, is the declaration of its face. Or should I say, declaration of Narendra Modi as its face? Gujarat under him has progressed like never before and even Muslims in Gujarat are better off than they are in other states. It is safe, it is clean and it is being led honestly. BJP has a committed 18% to 20% voter base in India and it’s only Modi who can retain it intact – that’s his strong appeal in that particularly staunch BJP vote-base. Add to that about 3% to 4% swing votes specifically due to the massive Modi abuse that the Congress and CPM etc will launch, forcing the public to feel more for him than oppose him, especially given their dissatisfaction with Congress and want for a strong leader to take India out of the massive mess and web of pathetic corruption. There is a future Prime Minister clearly waiting in him. And it’s not just the global business community that adores him, but worldwide, as I interact with more and more intelligentsia, there is clear realization inside me that they are all growingly waiting to see him at the top position – or should I say, the position left vacant by Pranab da?
- 26 July 2012 |
- Arindam on Indian Politics