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Mainstream, VOL LX No 35 New Delhi, August 20, 2022

Modi on the mission to dissipate his opponents | Arun Srivastava

Friday 19 August 2022

by Arun Srivastava

The compulsion of political survival has turned Narendra Modi so desperate that he has embarked on the mission to completely weed out his adversaries, even belonging to his own party and also to finish the leaders of the opposition parties.

From the day Bihar formed the Mahagathbandhan government, all the senior BJP leaders and even ministers have been instructed to launch a vicious tirade against him and his government. Two main allegations have been levelled against him; first, with his return the Jangle Raj has resurrected and second, the legislators with criminal records have been made the ministers.

Criminals enjoying political patronage have been the old political trait, but their dictating the politics and economy of the country is also not a new development. Politics was criminalised in eighties. No party can claim that it is immune to the criminal dictate and interference. But it certainly does not mean that criminals should rule and subvert the Constitutional norms.

The BJP leaders had made the people in nineties that it was a party with difference. People had reposed their faith in Narendra Modi’s assurance in the hope that he would weed out corruption and crime from the country. But what we witnessed during the last 8 years of his rule that politicians with criminal history are lording over the political institution of the country. Modi government has been using ED and CBI against the criminals belonging to opposition camp. But once they shift their allegiance to BJP, they turn into a pious soul.

BJP leadership at no stage tried to keep their promise made to the people and eliminate the menace of corruption and crime. Crime has been endemic in Bihar. During the NDA rule, in which BJP was a partner every day at least two people were shot at in Patna, but BJP leaders never cautioned the government. But now with Mahagathbandhan coming to power one or other union minister holds press meet and condemns Nitish and his government.

An insight into their allegation would make it explicit that their focus is not against crime and criminals, instead they intend to foil the move of Nitish to work as the fulcrum of the opposition unity. In their perception a condemned Nitish will lose the sympathy and create an atmosphere of disconcertment against him in the opposition rank. Commenting on the killing of a class 12 girl student and a solider in Patna, a former union minister said; "These are no routine crimes and show how emboldened criminals have become in the state within days of the new government assuming office. If this is the situation in the state’s capital, one can well imagine where the state is heading. The state is returning to jungle raj".

Nevertheless Nitish dismissed allegations of return of jungle raj by the BJP and asserted "I will answer them at an appropriate time. They are speaking a lot. At this moment, I just need to assure people that the pace of development under the new dispensation will be greater than ever before."

The recent political actions of Narendra Modi without any ambiguity underline the threat of India turning into an authoritarian state. Modi has turned so self-aggrandizer that he is reluctant to stand to his critics belonging to his own party.

He is on the drive to weed out such elements, though done behind the veneer of revitalising the party and honouring the stalwarts. What made Modi to suddenly realise the importance of rehabilitation of the old leaders whom he had remove from the scene is really intriguing. The fact cannot be obliterated that Nitish Kumar’s jolt has unnerved Modi and has been using all kind of machinations to boost his image and position.

Modi who already nursed egotism has turned more arrogant. He did not like to have any adversary even in his dreams. The latest move of dropping efficient union minister Nitin Gadkari and MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan from the Parliamentary Board of the party is a candid example.

In a major reshuffle ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP on Wednesday reconstituted its two top decision making bodies, 11-member Parliamentary Board and 15-member Central Election Committee dropping Nitin Gadkari and Shivraj Singh Chauhan, indicating their diminishing stock in the party. Undeniably omission of Gadkari from the powerful board signals a major generational and political shift in the highest echelons of the BJP in the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah era. Modi has sent a clear message that he was not willing to tolerate any kind criticism to his leadership.

Gadkari is also a former BJP chief and by virtue of this he should have find a place in the board. The party keeps former presidents in the decision-making process. Gadkari is also known for his proximity to RSS; more close than Modi. The party made six new entries, including Punjab cadre IPS officer Iqbal Singh Lalpura and Haryana leader Sudha Yadav, in the Parliamentary Board. Headed by president JP Nadda, the two panels include who’s who of the BJP — Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh. Significantly former Karnataka chief minister B S Yediyurappa and union minister Sarbananda Sonowal have found place in the new committees. Yediyurappa was forced to resign as the Chief Minister on the allegation of his being involved in corruption. Though his induction points to Modi’s desire to expand in South India, it also aims at countering the domination of RSS.

Modi and Amit Shah nurse strong dislike for Gadkari. The party insiders maintain that Gadkari was against projecting Modi as the prime ministerial candidate. He had tried but he had to retreat as the then Hindutva protagonist L K Advani had thrown his weight behind him. When Gadkari was the national president of the party, Amit Shah was externed from Gujarat. He was facing some criminal cases. Modi and Shah treat him as their personal enemy. Incidentally he is the only minister in Modi government wide respect for his efficient performance. He is also close to RSS, even more than Modi. Only recently he at a meeting of the senior party leaders presided by Modi, had openly claimed that he enjoyed the trust of 200 MPs. Obviously Modi and Shah did not prefer to have him in the all powerful decision making committee just ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, who led the BJP to an unprecedented second term in the state, has not been “rewarded”. He too is not on good terms with Modi-Shah. Both are scared of his moves during the general election. It implied that he has no role to play in the decision making process.

Modi was working on the design to combine the RSS’s traditional sense of organization with the populist nature of politics. Initially he succeeded to a large extent but now in the prevailing situation he finding himself in a bind. Precisely this is the reason that he is trying to present his image larger than the image of the RSS. Modi had helped the party to win municipal elections. But these utterly lacked the economic issues. It was purely based on caste equations. In a way Modi has mastered the art of using caste and communalism. And this has doing in the prevailing situation too. Using his skill he strengthened the party’s electoral base in Gujarat.

Claims by his friends that in his speech from the Red Fort he has unveiled a new vision is an instance. But these people could not cite even one tangible instance. Even his friends cannot deny that Modi is in the prevailing political situation is held in low esteem. Obviously the reply lies in the wisdom that he has failed to fulfil the popular expectation of the people that he would come up to their expectations and provide good governance and maintain personal integrity.

His saffron friends are within their right to eulogise him and at the same time throw bitter jibes against his political adversaries, but they cannot assertively claim that Modi during his eight year rule has provided an enduring and people oriented governance. He has simply activated the Hindu –Muslim hate narrative and simply inject the element of mistrust in the communities. While he resorted to this mechanism to appease and win over the trust of the RSS leaders, in true sense he utilised this to boost his own image and project him as the towering leader India has ever produced, even taller than Jawaharlal Nehru.

In the process he never bothered to think that what nature of footprint he intended to leave behind. His style of functioning and utterances make it abundantly clear he liked to have complete political authority but unfortunately he could avail of it as he was not clear about the proper and correct use of this authority. His method was more of the nature of revenge than doing the good to the country and its people. This has been the reason that his speech from the Red Fort to mark the Amrit Mahotsav could not be perceived as the harbinger of new era.

It cannot be denied that during his eight year rule he has miserably failed to deliver a new direction to the country and also has not succeeded in encouraging intellect. He simply played with the rhetoric and turned the youth of India into a gang of hate mongers.

His Nehru bashing is based on his philosophy that any kind of softness would erode his personal appeal. Precisely this was the reason that he resorted to a vicious campaign against him. No doubt Nehru owes blames for some of his wrong decisions and steps. But the modern India he created has given birth to Modi. If at all Patel would have been the prime minister then the political character of the country would have been entirely different and in that backdrop Modi would not got the opportunity to emerge as the prime minister

The manner in which he has been projected as the creator of New India and addressing the real meaning of freedom who abolished the century old mental servitude and provided a national identity has made him think of being a super politician without whom India cannot exit.

He has come to nurture the feeling that he is even superior to the RSS and he instead of taking calls from the RSS leaders could dictate them.

Modi has been blue eyed boy of RSS, but his desperation to outgrow has of late strained his relation with the RSS. The most recent example is his call “Har Ghar Tiranga”. This move of Modi had actually put the RSS is an embarrassing situation. Just ahead of the final day, August 15, some of the RSS leaders put flags on the houses. This ambivalence of the RSS leaders had prompted the Congress leader Jairam Ramesh to say; "We are putting DP of our leader Nehru with tricolour in hand. But it seems that the message of the prime minister did not reach his family only. Those who did not hoist the flag in their headquarters in Nagpur for 52 years, will they obey the prime minister?"

It is a fact that Modi’s endeavor to flood social media profiles with the national flag has not moved RSS. It also did not obey Modi’s ditrective to change the display profiles to the tricolour to mark the 75th year of Independence. The mood could be made out from the observation of a senior RSS functionary: “We don’t take any decision under anyone’s pressure. If the display pic of our official Twitter handle has to be changed, it will be in due course of time.”

The RSS leadership is beleaguered with the sense that BJP leadership has been trying denying its inherent right to oversee the BJP’s morals and manners and it does not like drafting of the senior RSS leaders into the BJP. The party leadership is pursuing its own independent political line which are not approved by the RSS though it provides foot soldiers to ensure the victory of the BJP candidates in the elections. The feed backs received from RSS cadres working at the ground level has been quite disappointing and it feels that the BJP is losing ground, though Modi is the only vote getter.

World is watching them but both, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his lieutenant Amit Shah are not at all bothered of their global perception and impression and continue to harp on their pet thesis of ushering in the country into the era of ’New India’.

While Modi was addressing the country on the auspicious day of August 15, the Independence Day, his party’s government of Gujarat in utter violation of his own government’s circular was setting free the dreaded criminals from the jail who were serving the life imprisonment.

The circular from the Central government clearly underlines that a person serving life imprison cannot enjoy the benefit of remission. Though the Supreme Court has asked the government to look into the matter of only one person, who had petitioned the court, how could Gujarat government club all the 11 accused persons?

In his speech from the Red Fort he simply indulged in bashing of his political opponents, instead of providing a blue print for the future dimension of the governance and development of the country. It would not be an exaggeration to say that his speech was bundle of confusion.

It was certainly not a coincidence that on the same day Amit Shah in association with the senior BJP leaders and members of the core group of party was working on the design to throw out the newly formed mahagathbandhan government of Nitish Kumar in Bihar.

After Nitish broke out from the NDA and entered into alliance with the RJD led opposition parties, the BJP leadership has launched an all-round attack on him. Though the taunts and insults are political in nature, attempts are not spared to depict in poor light. Old phrase of Nitish being opportunist are being raised, but it is a simply a façade. The BJP duopoly realise that the colour of the political structure is changing and Nitish’s action was simply a manifestation of this change.

The RSS leadership had come to assess the looming threat to their hegemony and political supremacy. Basically this was the reason that the BJP leadership at the directive of the RSS appointed Sunil Bansal, a prominent RSS face, party’s key election manager, as its national general secretary in charge of three opposition-ruled states — West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana — in run-up to the Lok Sabha polls in 2024. Bansal, who was the party’s general secretary (organisation) in Uttar Pradesh, is credited with overcoming the Samajwadi Party challenge and ensuring its victory in UP. He had handled three elections in the state; 2017 and 2022 UP assembly polls and 2019 general elections.

Bansal’s appointment came a day after the BJP lost power. His primary task is to prepare the blue print for the change of power in Bihar and strengthen the saffron party’s position and prospects in these three states where it made substantial gains in the last general elections. Thee three states are of vital importance for Modi and Shah, and more than them for the RSS. He has assisted Amit Shah in 2014 elections. His clout and strength could be judged from the fact that he replaced three general secretaries Kailash Vijayvargiya in West Bengal, Tarun Chugh in Telangana and D Purandareswari in Odisha.

The BJP has been evolving the strategy to make up for the possible loss of Lok Sabha seats in two prominent eastern states Bihar and Bengal. Bihar (40) and Bengal (42) together have 82 Lok Sabha seats. The BJP, along with then ally JDU and the LJP, had won 39 seats in Bihar and 18 in Bengal in 2019. Nevertheless BJP leaders confess that it would be difficult to retain their seats in Bengal and Bihar. But hope that the latest move of Modi-Shah will do some magic.

If the sources are to be believed a core group of some five senor RSS and BJP leaders would camp in Bihar in the next weeks and try to engineer a major split in the JD(U) as well as RJD. Names of some Congress leaders also feature on the list. It is not that Nitish and Tejashvi are unaware of Shah’s move. Already strict vigil is being kept on the gullible members.

Even the senior BJP leaders confess that they haven’t been able to make credible inroads among the OBCs, EBCs and Dalits in Bihar and frantically need a powerful leader with public appeal to ovrcome the caste combination in Bihar.

Of late some of the RSS imprints are missing in the functioning of Modi. No doubt the relations between the BJP and the RSS are better than what it was during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s regime but taking advantage of this situation Modi wants to override on the RSS. Basically this is the reason that RSS has been reminding him that the BJP would not have won the elections without their support. It is Sangh’s way of conveying the message that the election verdict is not about an individual, but about a larger cause. Sangh’s message, many insiders believe, is meant for the burgeoning tribe of rootless-yet-powerful BJP leaders who try to be more loyal than the king.

The RSS is also not too happy at the way Modi was striving to build a cult of his personality. But keeping in mind the urgency of the situation it has been maintaining a passive silence.

Basically Modi’s design to divide the post 2014 India from the past through observing Amrit Kaal is a devious mechanism to split the identity of India and its sense and spirit of nationalism. While Modi has been swearing by the name of Subhas Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh and Gandhiji, he has been harping in India getting its freedom in 2014. A change of government does not bring a change of identity and cultural character of that country.

Celebration during the Amrit Mahotsva simply hurts. A look at the programmes would unravel how this great occasion has been sacrificed at the altar of communalisation and commercialisation. Modi decided to commemorate August 14, the day Pakistan was declared as an Independent country as the Partition Day.

Recalling the massacre that has been associated with the partition of the country is nothing but manifestation of pursuing a communal agenda. It is most deplorable that Modi has been commemorating the partition as a day. He has been trying to reinject the venom of partition in to the minds of the younger generation instead of propelling them to march towards a better future. Modi has been trying to raise a battalion of mercenaries. It is beyond imagination why Modi has been playing with the lives of the crores of the youths. This is the most shameful act.

Do we celebrate January 30, the day Gandhiji was killed as Gandhi’s assassination day? Instead it is being observed as martyr’s (shahid) diwas. It also symbolises the supreme sacrifice of other freedom heros who laid down their lives for the country. The role of the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha in the freedom struggle is now the part of the history. They do not have any document to show to the people that they had participated in the freedom struggle and had to suffer. Now they have suddenly started boasting of committing supreme sacrifices. But intriguingly so far they have not succeeded in producing any documentary evidences of their sacrifices. It is a fact all the BJP leaders (borrowing the phrase from LK Advani) are pseudo-nationalists. What is most unfortunate is that they have launched a vile propaganda against the Muslims who have sacrificed for libersting the country from the Britishers. An insight into their activities that they are desperate to split the country.

RSS and BJP have conveniently forgotten the fact that nationalism is ornate with the ideas of unity, equality, fraternity. It has no place for hate, violence and deprivation. There is no denying the fact that Modi’s speech on August 14, has been insipid and more of the nature of expressing the “strange” confidence that he would continue to rule India for 25 years.

One spectacular omission from Modi’s speech was he has let the country down by not discussing the promises made by him in the last eight years and by not giving an account of his tenure. He talked of corruption. It was quite soothing to listen to his promise to fight against this menace. But he did not speak a word about BJP bribing the opposition legislators to change side. It is known fact that a Shiv Sena MLA was offered Rs50 crores to switch his loyalty. The JD(U) MLAs were offered Rs 10 crores. From where BJP got this money. Was it a white money.

Besides while launching demonetisation in2016 Modi had promised that corruption and menace of black money would be eroded through this scheme. On the contrary it has acquired the character of endemic. More black money has gone to Swiss Bank. He did not elaborate the reasons of his failure to check it. In fact he patronised the game of black money by not revealing the actual nature of his Care Fund.

He is victim of his own words and there is no enthusiasm or zest in his speech as most of the promises made in the last eight years remained unfulfilled. What happened to the promises of doubling farmers’ income, giving houses to all, bringing back black money, employment and giving Rs 15 lakh in every bank account.

Neither the common Indian or the Modi Bhakts had expected that Modi would speak truth and give a matured speech in consonance to responsibilities and the dignity of his post. Yes he catered to the desires of his bhakts by delivering a polarising lecture. He used the auspicious occasion to spew vile and reduce the stature of national leaders like Jawaharlal Nehrul and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

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