Confounding the confused



A good friend of mine, who has watched Indian politics from the inner circles of more than one political party, once told me, “The nature of the people in this country is such that they never endorse anyone who openly expresses the desire to become the Prime Minister of India.

Sharad Pawar was desperate to become PM and he was pipped to the post by PV Narasimha Rao. Similarly, LK Advani was overtaken thrice — once by Atal Behari Vajpayee and twice by Manmohan Singh.”

What then does one say about Rahul Gandhi openly discounting his desire to be Prime Minister and Narendra Modi throwing his own hat into the ring the same day?

But while we might leave it to 2014 to decide their futures, I must say I was highly amused by BJP spokespersons scurrying for the dictionary to look up the meaning of the word ‘compassion’ which , of course, means the same thing in all the Indian languages and indeed in every dictionary in the world. However, I should not have been surprised that compassion escapes the BJP as it did Advani in 1992 when he brought down the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and set off a chain of terrorist attacks in India (still ongoing) against Hindus as it did Modi ten years later in 2002 when he presided over the killings and gang rapes of thousands of innocent Muslims and both haven’t yet said they are sorry – which is the primary meaning of compassion in everyday life for the less fortunate among us.

Compassion escapes Narendra Modi even today when he criminalizes farmers in his own state, at the behest of multinational water companies, for drawing the water from their own wells and throwing them in the slammer when they do not understand. And compassion also goes out of the window when he displaces thousands of tribals to benefit a crony capitalist to set up a cement company on water rich agricultural lands. He lacks compassion again when he has disposes off rivals like Hiren Pandya with a ruthlessness rarely seen even in the BJP.

So while BJP spokespersons might have thought that giving offence to Rahul Gandhi might be the best form of defending their party their bad natured quarrelling with Congress spokespersons tells me that in their backrooms they might already have conceded defeat to the Congress at the 2014 elections. Not simply because Rahul Gandhi’s address to the Confederation of Indian Industry charmed most of their own donors – and awakened them to the possibility that their businesses might suffer rather than prosper under a divisive force and communal disharmony at the next elections – but also because three of the four Ms of Indian politics – Mulayam (Singh Yadav), Mamata Banerjee and (Narendra) Modi seem hell bent upon giving the Congress that advantage.

Mulayam’s flirtations with LK Advani combined with the killing of a Muslim police officer in Uttar Pradesh by a cabinet minister in his own son’s government  has not endeared his party to a core voter base without which he cannot hope to do as well as he did at the Assembly polls in 2012. Friends in Calcutta tell me the anti-Left secular vote in West Bengal is most certainly going to be mopped up by the Congress next year because of Mamata’s repeated outrageous acts, including dismissing rapes  as a Left conspiracy against her and the death of a student in police custody as a trivial and petty matter. And Narendra Modi has just snatched the advantage of a moral victory over the Congress by his enormously one-sided Lokayukta bill that is more a joke than an attempt to stop corruption. The terms of the bill clearly demonstrate  he is afraid of corruption being exposed in his state  and that he means to squash all attempts in that direction leaving even the BJP in no position to formulate a whitewash.

Meanwhile, I am quite enjoying the spectacle of the Congress’s attempts at confounding the confused BJP, though I do not know why we in the media are not able to see through the deliberate veil of confusion that is being spun by the Congress, starting with the Prime Minister’s one-liners like “I am not ruling myself in, I am not ruling myself out,” as PM candidate at the next elections. Then, again, the divergent views of two Congress general secretaries of the stature of Digvijaya Singh and Janardhan Dwivedi would not have come into the public domain without a good deal of thought having gone into this  attempt at deliberate confusion over the existence of two power centres in the UPA.

Once upon a time we used to accuse the BJP of speaking in many voices to confuse the nation about their policies and ideology. It is interesting to see that today while the BJP is struggling to pin its future on one face – and  one voice  rising above all others – the Congress is deliberately muddying the waters, leaving  the party  and particularly Modi looking too eager and too much in of a hurry to jump the gun.

I do not care how the BJP makes a laughing stock of itself but I would not like  us in the media to be smirked at by the Congress as I am sure they are now doing behind closed doors  even as they make polite interventions  against the cacophonous BJP spokespersons and leave them to catch their breath in the television studios while all of them exit (or enter) halfway through the BJP diatribes and tirades.

Nevertheless, with the countdown soon beginning, it will be interesting to see if my friend is right about people with ambition to become Prime Minister of India never being allowed to get the top government job in the country!

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