What this New India means?
While Abhinandan Barthaman has truly proven himself as a national hero, has the prime minister really crowned himself with glory with his uncalled for jingoism and blood curdling cries?
Does this ‘New India’ means that the entire nation shall go berserk with a clarion battle cry for eliminating Pakistan from the face of the earth? Does it mean that its ubiquitous prime minister, far from being foresighted in his words and actions, lead the entire nation as a frenzied mob seeking an eye for an eye, without least being concerned about the fact that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Is this new India means that the studio warriors, instead of showing the infinitesimal restraint, are ever eager to jump the gun to aid and abet the mass frenzy which is the surer recipe for bringing the destructions all around? Is this ‘New India’ means that its’ prime minister, while thumping his 56 inches chest publicly, instigate the mass hysteria towards an impending war which is all set to engulf not only the South Asian Sub- Continent, but the whole region into the jaws of an impending catastrophe? Notwithstanding the prime minister swearing by Ataljee’s glorious legacy, all his actions and deeds are fundamentally opposed to what Vajpayee steadfastly stood for throughout his whole life. Unequivocally then, Modi’s blood thirsty ‘New India’ is sharply in contrast with that of Vajpayee’s resplendent vision of Bharat Varsha which reflected the ancient wisdom and its timeless values embedded in its eternal mantra of ‘Vasudaiv Kutumbakam’.
As the nation remains beholden to its national hero, Abhinandan Barthaman, for bringing glory to 130 crores of his fellow citizens by destroying F16 fighter plane of Pakistan, with his own outdated and obsolete mig 29 fighter plane, entire nation suddenly slipped into the celebration mode unwitnessed in the post- independence India. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to suggest that, after Swami Vivekananda’s glorious return from USA, in the wake of his historic speech on Santan Dharma, in the Parliament of Religions in 1893, this was the one glorious moment for the nation when its valiant hero returned to the rapturous welcome of his fellow citizens from across the country. While there cannot be any doubt in the unparalleled valour of Abhinandan’s triumphant return after giving the Pakistanis the jinx that was long overdue, the hype that his return generated, especially by the electronic and print media, with unrestrained comments claiming victory at a platter from political class, even from no less a person than a Prime Minister of the country, has unequivocally resulted in the intensification of the tensions between the two nations, rather than showing any sign of its imminent decline. While Imran Khan, showing maturity of a democratic leader, although more out of diplomatic and military compulsions, showed his statesmanship by publicly announcing for the release of enemy pilot, Abhinandan, by way of a peace gesture, Prime Minister Modi, in his most belligerent and jingoistic avatar of being a Prime Minister with 56 inches chest, continued to target his immediate predecessor, Dr Manmohan Singh, for doing nothing in the wake of Mumbai terrorist attack. Significantly, Prime Minister, especially when he should have guided the nation in restoring calm and sanity, had transgressed the prime ministerial dignity in no tangible terms by patting his own back and undermining that of his predecessor’s inaction in attacking the enemy nation in the wake of Mumbai terrorists attack. Willy nilly Modi is re-defining his own version of a ‘New India’, where the entire nation will be in a state of frenzy , ever drum beating for a war with an enemy nation to wipe out the whole population which can dare target their motherland.
Not to be left behind in this race of one-upmanship, the columnists supporting the strong measures, especially Swapan Das Gupta, while writing his columns in Times of India, had advocated for strong measures when he had called upon the nation to be prepared to collect the bags of the dead bodies of our soldiers. Worse still, the diplomatic community, too, chipped in with scores of ambassadors re-defining the role of political leadership, where they chorused that nation must go for a war to avenge the death of our soldiers and civilians dying on borer and in Kashmir. Regrettably, as the cacophony assumed monstrous proportion, the entire nation appeared to have degenerated to the level of cheerleading to every posture, gesture and gesticulation of the Prime Minister which are far unbecoming of a leader of a democracy, far less, a leader of such a matured democracy like ours. Amidst this gloomy environment, when everyone is going berserk, the very speech of Sushma Swaraj, as a guest of honour, in OIC meet in Abu Dhabi, was a beckon light, words of wisdom uttered with caution and dignity. Sushma Swaraj, while giving the introduction of India as representative voice of more than 18.5 million of Muslims, had sought to distance terrorists away from any religion whatsoever, and her invocation of the eternal mantra of Vedas, ‘Ekang Sadvipra bahuda vadanti’( All diversity finally lead to a union in one god), had sought to isolate Islamabad, when it was desperately seeking to polarize the Arab world on the ground of Islamic brotherhood, was the only silver lining amidst the dark, hysterical sounding of bugle of war cry from one and all. Why the situation has descended to this level, when the blood curdling cries from the polity, has come to reflect the national sentiment in black and white? Is India on a perennial warpath to straighten the record with its neighbour to seek an eye for an eye, and will this national outrage of vengeance to wreak havoc on the enemy nation, really bring a reprieve to us which eluded us for decades? Is an air raid into an enemy territory, where the destruction of the terrorist camps are being bandied about, a certain guarantee for insulating our territory from future terrorists attacks, or protecting us from the notorious ISI and scheming generals from unleashing another major offence? Or, should we go all out for taking Pakistan headlong, irrespective of the consequences of the nuclear confrontation, in a mode of ‘do or die’ battle: ‘we destroy you, even if you destroy us’, approach? Unfortunately, the spark is already there, confrontation can happen anytime if urgent peace is not restored. Worse still, the failed state like Pakistan, where the terrorists and its symapthisers are ruling the roost, have an avowed mission to attain: to ensure India’s decline. Regrettably, the ‘New India’, as being envisaged and envisioned, by the new Indian leadership, is simply the precursor to play into the hands of ever waiting scheming generals across the border that need a spark to ignite a conflagration. And in an effort to whip that hyper- nationalistic sentiment to win the election, Modi has, unfortunately, provided them that spark.
In a historic letter written by Abraham Lincoln, one of the tallest world leaders and a former President of USA, to the Principal of his son, wherein the great leader had suggested that the principal must teach his son not to join the bandwagon where the crowd is unthinkingly queuing up to enter into it. In the same vein, the great president suggests that the principal must teach his son to stand and fight—and must fight the whole world, if he thinks what he believes is right. The current national scenario is one of such kind where everybody is joining the blood curdling cries; where the crowd somehow has come to believe that their Prime Minister is mighty brave heart who will ensure them a victory on a platter with his own 56 inches chest, forgetting conveniently in the process that playing to the gallery for winning votes is one thing, and preparing the nation for a longer battle, is exactly the another. In the garb of his nationalistic vision, Modi has been only fulfilling his own mission: the second term for his government. Or else will a prime minister in the middle of the ongoing tensions with an enemy country, talk about the booth management to his own party cadres? Will a prime minister, who is genuinely fired by the nationalistic vision, and not sheer political expediency, take to drum beating about the exploits of his air pilot and, that too, even before he was released by his enemy, to the people of his own state of Tamil Nadu, to inflame the narrow regional sentiments for boosting his party’s electoral prospects in the upcoming general election?
While the nation is, undoubtedly, passing through the gravest crisis as ever, the onus is on the intelligentsia class to show the light to the masses, especially when the ruling class is prepared to go to any extent to exploit the situation in their favour for the forthcoming election. The entire gamut of national interest has come to be expressed in terms of narrow partisan political interest of the political parties the broader national interest has long ceased to bother the policy makers. The relations between the ruler and the ruled, is being viewed from the prism of a ring master of a circus taming his caged animals for entertaining the audience. The Prime Minister has elevated himself to the role of a ring master of a circus with his own series of entertainment tactics to beguile the people of the republic through his mystifying coining of such names as, ‘India first’, ‘Stand up India’, ‘Start up India’, ‘Swacch India’, and so on and so forth. Interestingly, the ring master has serendipitously stumbled upon a new phrase ‘New India’, where the mass frenzy can be built around his 56 inches chest and, therefore, a war mongering attitude can be inculcated in the people so long as the election is won once again. Significantly, Modi has discovered a wide gap between the promises he had made to the people and what he actually delivered, leaving him in a state of invoking hyper nationalistic feelings of his countrymen to build up a war hysteria and, therefore, what could be of greater electoral value than whipping up the mass frenzy around drumbeating about the war with Pakistan? But then Modi should note that a spark can lead to a conflagration. The heroic return of Abhinandan, is no guarantee of India’s victory at a platter, for the rogue nation like Pakistan is not given easily to accept defeat or capitulation. On the contrary, provoked to the point of being the ‘loser’, a fresh incentive is given to Pakistan to save its self- esteem, which may even force it to take recourse to nuclear option. Hence, Prime Minister must take the lead in dissipating the notion of his so-called ‘New India’, which hubristically bears the stamp of his own arrogance for power and domination. Instead, the ‘New India’ must be sought to be built around the time tested vision of India’s ancient wisdom, as envisaged and envisioned by the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he had said, ‘ We can change history but not geography’. Let that vision of ‘New India’ encompass the vision of ‘Akhand Bharat’, where the peace and compassion should be the building block of defining ‘New India’. That ‘New India’ should not give a blood curdling cries and not seek an eye for an eye but instead seek to isolate the terrorists and rogues from the general masses. Let the vision of this ‘New India’ characterize the burning aspiration of the speech of Sushma Swaraj that terrorists have no religions, and the ninety nine names of Allah only symbolize peace and not violence. Let Prime Minister change his style of belligerent jingoism to the statesmanship that only can promote peace and prosperity to the entire region of South Asian sub-continent. Unless Modi’s speech and action converge in giving an impression that he truly believes in ‘Vasudaiv Kutumbakam’, he may live in today but never in tomorrow. His living in tomorrow means his giving up gully boy jingoism in favour of embracing the statesmanship view for India and the world.
Is India really safe in your hands, Mr Prime Minister?
From Vajpayee’s statesmanship to Modi’s jingoism, India’s political deterioration is almost complete.
Vivekanand Jha is an author of ‘Delhi Beckons: RaGa for NaMo. He has been one of the staunchest supporters of Prime Minister for ushering in Modi raj( His book on PM was launched by the PM himself in Vibrant Gujarat Education Summit.)
Whereas Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India, had displayed the unprecedented political statesmanship by restraining his force from attacking Pakistan, despite building a huge political and diplomatic pressure on it in the wake of attack on Parliament in the year 2001, Narendra Modi, going overboard, having pathetically reduced the gravitas of Prime Minister’s position, like a monarch or dictator of a banana republic, gesticulating his hands and drumbeating while patting his own back in a muscular one-upmanship to win certain brownie points, had severely jeopardized the security of the republic in the long run. Worse still, Prime Minister, in order to prove himself the supremacist—a man who hubristically believed that what India is today—is all because of him, and everything India has achieved and, that too, in the last four years during his tenure, will go down in the history as a Prime Minister who, for the sake of winning elections, had unleashed a Goebellsian Propaganda to bring the unseen and unheard elusive glory to the nation, little believing that soon his very hyperbolic claim is all set to be punctured by his government spokesperson. The moot question now: Does India need a jingoist Prime Minister who can tear into India’s security for the sake of winning an election, or we need someone far more calibrated in his nationalistic vision like what Atal Bihari Vajpayee was?
Speaking, soon after the Indian Air force surgical strike into Balakot, in Paksitan, at a rally at Churu, Rajasthan, Prime Minister Modi was in the best of his unparalleled jingoism, unbecoming of a nation’s Prime Minister, far less that of a nation which he himself sought to elevate to the status of Jagatguru, roared in his usual playing to the gallery style: ‘ Kasm hain mujhay us mitti ki, main desh ko kabhi jkhuknay nahi dunga. Ab desh surakshit haton mein hain’( I swear by the soil of the motherland that I will never let the nation’s pride to get besmirched, and the nation is indeed in safe hands). While Prime Minister was speaking to the nation as a triumphant general in the battlefield, little did he know that all his grandstanding will soon end up as another mighty blow to the nation’s image: The capture of an Indian air force pilot by the enemy nation, in course of a hurried air force attack, if it is true, which purportedly appears to be true on the basis of External affair ministry’s statement, and Prime Minister having gone into a huddle with his chiefs of military forces, exposes Modi government of lying to the nation yet again. What made the Prime Minister playing to the gallery, even before the dust was finally settled in the aftermath of air surgical operation, unequivocally exposed him to the serious charge of playing with the national security for winning the general election by posing himself as a national hero for winning the battle of on upmanship against the arch rival, Pakistan, and his opponents back home. Had Modi himself remained silent while the government spokesman did the talking on behalf of the government, as the foreign secretary Gokhale did , possibly could have been the right strategy in the given context. But, Unfortunately, Modi, unable to resist the temptation of scoring brownie points over his opponents, did the maximum damage to his own image and that of country’s long term security by chest- thumping his exploits in public. Regrettably, by appropriating the gain, if at all it was purportedly made, the President of the BJP, Amit Shah, euphorically burst forth, invariably gave the credit of taming Pakistan to Prime Minister. Unfortunately, Modi had seriously exposed himself to the risk of a serious charge of Mamata Banerjee that, despite having been provided with intelligence inputs, why the Central government failed to prevent the attack? Would not the government be exposed to the serious charge of dereliction of duty now, when it is increasingly becoming apparent that the Prime Minister was in tearing hurry to extract political mileages and chest- thump his jingoistic image a sign of his 56 inches chest and, that too, without the proper and adequate fact checks?
Surprisingly though, the former ambassadors, virtually in every T.V. channels, unthinkingly and obsequiously, went on hailing Prime Minister’s machoism in teaching Pakistan a lesson, irrespective of reflecting on the graver risk to the national security that this air attack had exposed. Reprehensibly, the diplomats, focusing on Modi’s unprecedented air strike, failed in their wisdom to consider the negative fallouts brought about by this air force surgical strike. While they speculated on the various responses of Pakistan on India’s air surgical strike, they collectively failed to consider the grim issue confronting Pakistan: What about the rogue military and ISI, in their sheer vengeance and utmost frustration, brought about by public pressure, finally resorts to retaliating with nuclear, and if their first target is New Delhi, the heart of the nation? Will the people of India, still remain beholden to Modi’s machoism, embracing death and annihilation all around? Or, for the sake of argument, a far fiercer fidaen attack is unleashed in the parts of the country, contributing to massive disaster and destruction of men and materials, will public opinion still continue to back the Prime Minister for his valiant air force raid into the interiors of Pakistan with little tangible gain apart from bringing a psychological satisfaction? Or, does Prime Minister, by his short sighted vision, unequivocally pushed the nation on the brink of war and greater disaster brought about by his jingoistic approach to win the election, rather than securing the nation from future terrorists’ operations and an impending military confrontation from Paksitan? Worse still, in scoring his brownie points over his political opponents within the country and also emerging as a strong leader internationally, Modi has jeopardized the future of ‘Sava Sau Crore Deshvasi’ he never tires from invoking in most of his public speeches. Significantly, Modi failed to draw a lesson from Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statesmanship vision in the wake of terrorist attack on Parliament in the year 2001, when the provocation was monumental and the outcry of the nation was unprecedented to counter attack Pakistan. Yet, refusing to succumb, the statesman Prime Minister of India did not go by the public opinion, why?
The gravest provocation ever by Pakistan was caused by its daring terrorist attack, was in the year 2001 when Jaish e Mohammad attacked Indian Parliament, even exposing the lives of the then Prime Minister Vajpayee and the opposition leader Sonia Gandhi. Unequivocally, it was the attack on India’s sovereignty. The entire nation was numbed, giving Vajpayee a solid reason to launch an attack on Pakistan. And he did go for the military build- up at the border. The situation almost came to the war, with the formidable public pressure pushing Ataljee towards an impending war. But then what the then Prime Minister said had simply elevated him as the Prime Minister whose summum bonum was the future of the nation, and the future of South Asia and even the world. While replying to a journalist, who questioned him as to why he was stagnating on his decision to order his military to cross into Pakistan, especially when he had mobolised the vast army on the border? What Ataljee said in his typical response, although exposed him to the severe criticisms of hawks within Sangh Parivar and the public at large, his overwhelming concerns of the welfare of not only the 110 crores of his fellow compatriots, but also that of 15 crores of Paksitanis’, which motivated his decision to avert the war. Incidentally, the paramount thought that weighed his mind was: how his decision would be dubbed by the history?. The statesmanship of Vajpayee transcended the immediate goal of narrow party partisanship, for his decision to attack Pakistan would surely and unequivocally have found a national endorsement going by the bruised national ego when India’s sovereignty was challenged. Yet Vajpayee did not let the nation’s demand override the greater cause of nation, sub- continent and the world’s security, as his shrewd political mind and statesmanship vision deterred him from undertaking any political adventurism which ran the risk of an escalated military confrontation, because both India and Pakistan were the recognized nuclear powers. No wonder the diplomatic steps were preferred over that of seeking a war against the arch rival.
Kandhar fiasco when flight 814 was hijacked from Kathmandu to Kandhar, which was considered as a blot on Vajpayee government for bowing down to the terrorists, was another foresighted step taken to insulate the sub- continent from an imminent was. More Importantly, when the cabinet was divided on the issue of releasing the dreaded terrorists like Azhar and his cohorts, with hawkish Advanijee demanding the sacrifice of the hostages at the altar of the national interest, the Prime Minister Vajpayee dissented with his colleagues argument, which establishes him, beyond doubt, that his concerns for his fellow citizens when he had famously said, ‘I may have sacrificed my own relatives at the altar of the national interest but I cannot take the same liberty with my own countrymen’, immortalized Ataljee for- ever. Had he waged a war on Pakistan, nation would surely have blessed him in the general election in 2004, especially when Kargill war had brought him a windfall in 1999. But Ataljee stood by the supreme national interest of peace and prosperity for the south Asian sub-continent at the cost of jeopardizing the national security in the wake of both India and Pakistan being the nuclear states. Bu then the question arises: Was Vajpayee and his successor Dr Manmohan Singh were peaceniks and the nation needed a strong man who can follow the military policy of Israel, that’ if you killed our own citizen, we would retaliate by killing four of you’? Does the policy of Israel hold water for India, especially when India aspires for a Jagatguru status while Israel has little credibility for all its jingoistic approaches? However the fact should be kept in mind that Israel attacks a non- nuclear state of Palestinians and, notwithstanding its jingoistic approach, it remains interlocked in the eternal war with Palestinians. Would Pakistan, being a nuclear state, be then provided with an eternal immunity despite bleeding us for decades , while we remain the spectators to its rampant violation of our sovereignty? Should not we retaliate with full might to teach the rogue nation that thus far and no further, we must take you to task, irrespective of consequences?
India’s surgical strike into Pakistan was, undoubtedly, a strategic decision which should have been kept under wrap. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister, unable to resist the display of 56 inches chest, took a lead in reminding the nation that his 56 inches chest was enough to browbeat the Pakistan into submission. Small wonder the drum beating by no less a person than the Prime Minister of India, provoked the terrorists into launching the attacks on Pathankot and subsequently at URI. The aftermath of Uri was followed by the surgical operation undertaken by Indian army, was so hyped that Bollywood sought to encash the whole script by making the whole episode into a movie. While the surgical strike into Pakistan was a strategic decision, blowing it out of proportion and political appropriation of the credit for the same, once again stood the Prime Minister and the party in a poor stead. However the jingoism of Modi and his party as the savior of India’s honour, continued to put India on a war like situation. While the domestic failures brought about by de- monitisation and GST, was sought to be camouflaged by the drum beating of hyper nationalism to distract the public opinion from the government’s abject failures, the public by and large too remained enveloped in the government orchestrated illusion of all is well. The government, rather than being a performing government on all fronts on its much vaunted narrative of ‘Sabka Haat, Sabka Vikas’ aroused the national passion towards the powerful Prime Minister’s macho image to put Pakistan on defensive, rather than following the strategic vision of the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee towards Kashmir and Pakistan. The peacenik images adopted by Modi’s predecessors, including Manmohan Singh, although prima facie appeared to have compromised with national security, especially in the wake of one of the most dreaded terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008, the deeper examination of the facts reveal that Dr Manmohan Singh’s approach was guided by Vajpayee’s statesmanship to show restraint even in the face of grave provocation. Now, if the charge against Manmohan Singh is that of having acted as a soft prime minister, the same could well be levelled against Vajpayee? Was Ataljee’s decision was cowardice, a sign of political lack of foresigtedness, or it was keeping in view of insulating South Asian sub- continent from the full -fledged nuclear war?
The latest air surgical strike in the wake of Pulawama terrorist attack by Indian air force, which appeared to be a counter response to grave provocation brought about by the daring terrorist attack on Indian CRPF forces, was contemplated in haste in all probability, especially when it has increasingly become apparent that Indian air pilot was captured by Pakistan, and Indian government has lost its face in the public, after claiming that its none of the pilot was captured or no aircraft was destroyed. Further, the concept which is gaining currency that, far from being a thinking politician, Modi is proving to be a Prime Minister whose summum bonum is to ensure the victory of BJP at the hustings while retaining his own premiership, even if the nation is pushed to war. Or else what prompted him to go all out to hog the public limelight claiming his strong leadership skills in teaching a befitting lesson to the arch enemies when all his predecessors’ soft- peddled the issue of terrorism, in Churu barely after a day of attack? And he did win the cheerleading nation’s admiration in the last two days. Apparently, Prime Minister had successfully convinced the ‘eye for eye’ seeking revenge from his fellow citizens, by drum beating his exploits in the air raid into Pakistan. Unfortunately, the latest revelation of the hole in his government’s theory that Indian air force had valiantly escaped unscathed after destroying the three dreaded terrorist camps at Balkot, Paksitan, will surely dent the Prime Minister and his government’s image. Putting the country to the risk of a confrontation of a war which might well degenerate to nuclear exchange, was unfortunately given a go bye, keeping in view the short term electoral permutation and combination of the ruling party at the centre. Also, China factor was not given an adequate consideration in the whole gamut of political decision making. China’s greater interest lies in protecting its famous CPEC( China –Pakistan-Economic Corridor) and consequently it can go to any extent to preserve its interest. No wonder the public pressure in Pakistan too can motivate it to side with Pakistan, albeit clandestinely, to damage India further. Also, its far superior air force will collude with Pakistan to lend it further teeth to its evil design to retaliate with full might. Prima facie, Its blunt refusal to buckle under any pressure to designate Azhar as a global terrorist when other permanent members of United Nations Permanent Council seeking to designate him as a global terrorist, vindicates Chinese game plan to keep India bleeding, and also on tenterhooks. This Chinese factor too was ignored, or not given a due weightage, in formulating the decision of launching an air force surgical operation. Worse still, the joint opposition statement, coming close in the heels of government claiming all party’s support, that government’s has sacrificed the sovereign interest at the altar of its short term political goal to win the election, will surely resonate with the masses if the government, after rising so high in the public estimate in the aftermath of air force raid, appears abruptly on the back foot, begging for the release of the pilot detained by the Pakistan through its diplomatic efforts, or going for further confrontation which has all the potential for escalating into a full- fledged war, even degenerating into a nuclear exchange. Worse still, the opposition will now have its own counter argument to offer: Anyone can be a better Prime Minister than a man with 56 inches, for none will be so eager to win the brownie points over the opposition, putting the nation on path to confrontation and, thereby, jeopardizing the long term national security and even to a greater peril. Little wonder then Modi’s 56 inches chest flies in his own face and the face of his own government in the wake of the fiasco of air force attack brought about by the contradiction of his own government’s stand. Unfortunately, Prime Minister has given a fodder to reflect for the nation on the eve of the general election 2019: Will 56 inches be safer for the nation any more, or his continuous taunting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as servile Prime Minister who, although did not have the large chest, but had the calmness and maturity to look beyond the short term political gain by reflecting adequately on the grim reality that was so delicate in Indo- Pak relationship which contributed to nation’s time tested resilience for decades?
Will 2019 be a battle between Modi versus Mamata?
The most precise and comprehensive analysis of the message emanating from historic Brigade Parade Grounds, Kolkata.
With speaker after speaker eulogising Didi, for rallying opposition against their collective fights against the formidable Modi, Mamata has strategically shifted the focus away from Rahul as the face of opposition in this upcoming election of 2019. Small wonder Modi, who was cautious enough to be dismissive of giving her any prominence while targeting Rahul all this while, had directly hit her in the aftermath of a hugely successful rally at the Brigade Parade Grounds, yesterday, which consummated her long- standing aspiration to be the face of the opposition for the ensuing general election against the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate. Willy nilly Mamata has achieved her first mission: Becoming a rallying point for bringing opposition together against Modi. However, whether her clarion call to change the rule in Delhi, will have any tangible impact, the answer would be: Delhi Abhi Bahoot Door Hain Didi, Pahlay Kolkata ko to Sambhal Lo.
Didi indeed had her ways in the historic Brigade Parade Grounds on 19th of January, 2019, when she had proved to the world that opposition, which was in tatters not in too distant in the past, could be weaved as a cohesive unit to present a united face. In fact, the assemblage of almost all the opposition leaders barring Communist Party and Stalin of DMK, was a definitive indication that faced with the most powerful enemy, they can come together, even forgetting their basic differences and internal contradictions. Undoubtedly, it was a grand success event when the leaders from Kashmir to Kanyakumari had come to grace the platform that she presented as the get together for declaring the end of Modi raj. From Farooq Abdullah to Chandrababu Naidu, to that of Akhilesh to Satish Chandra Mishra, along with the glittering presence of the rebel BJP leaders like Shatrughan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, among hosts of others, reflected the growing bonhomie among the opposition leaders to work in tandem with a singular mind: to oust Modi. Interestingly, while the motley group of leaders mouthed only platitudes, it was only the former Prime Minister Deve Gowda who spoke sense: His very observation that mere joining hands would not suffice unless the opposition presented an alternate vision for gaining the credibility in the eyes of the electorate, was the saner and matured voice which served as a caution to the leaders that mere joining hands with a sense of brouhaha was not a recipe for winning the electoral battle against the well lubricated electoral machinery of the BJP. Although Mamata was overboard in her overwhelming enthusiasm when she had given a clarion call to oust Modi regime as it has passed its expiry date, the very presence of the galaxy of opposition leaders effusively praising her one by one, was enough to boost her motivation level. Notwithstanding the longevity of the impact of this rally in the months to come, Didi had succeeded in seizing the nation’s attention as being the focal point for the opposition’s voice and its leadership.
What indeed comes out of this mammoth rally is this: feisty Didi has once again picked up the gauntlet against the formidable foe who, not in the too distant past, was presumed almost invincible. But then Didi holds the reputation of being a challenger to the powerful in the past. She had the unique distinction of uprooting the entrenched communists from their citadel in West Bengal almost after three decades of being in power, when she decimated Buddhadev Bahttacharjee in 2011 and seized power. And it was a legendary struggle that she had waged before she eventually dethroned the communist czars who had begun fearing her like the living ghost. Her daunting challenge to the patriarch of Communist, Jyoti Basu, had the veteran almost at his wits end to negotiate with her political theatrics and deft manoeuvrings. In fact, the famous joke would go like this: The very strand of hair of Jyoti Basu would stand erect on hearing the name of Mamata Banerjee. Such was the dread of her physical presence that the communists abhorred her like anything. Her apogee of struggle that saw the mobilisation of the highest magnitude in the famous land acquisition battle at Nandigramand Singur, which witnessed the descending of the national level politicians at Nandigram, causing the biggest setback to the ruling Communist czars then. Unsurprisingly then, Didi’s determined struggle to evict Tata from Singur and Nandigram, eventually witnessed Tata seeking refuge in Sanand in Gujarat. In fact, the very accommodation of Tatas’ at Sanand in Gujarat, was the beginning of an internal rivalry between Didi and Modi. The message that went across was: while west Bengal was the graveyard of industries, Gujarat was the heaven for doing business with ease. It was much later that Didi sought to revive that damaged reputation by organising the global business summits in Bengal to dispel the notion that Bengal was no longer a graveyard for business, but has transformed into a business hub under her dynamic leadership.
Narendra Modi’s rise as the Prime Minister of India, has whetted the appetites of almost all the chief ministers to aspire for the Prime Ministership. The chorus went like that: ‘if Modi could, why cant we?’ No wonder then not only Didi but almost all the regional chieftains have been secretly nursing that desire to reach the 7 Lok Kalyan Marg in the post general election phase of 2019. Significantly, the very gravity that Prime Ministerial position entailed till the national leader like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani and Sonia Gandhi dominated the political scenario, became a relics of the past. However with the exit of the veterans from the scene, and the elevation of the regional leaders to the power citadel of Delhi, had almost triggered the swelling of ambitions of the regional chieftains to grab the Prime Ministerial chair by any means available to them. Therefore, 2019 is ‘now or never syndrome’ for all these regional chieftains: Mayawati, Chandrababu Naidu, Chandrasekhar Rao, Sharad Pawar, Kejriwal, among others, have been vying for the top slot. Nonetheless, all these aspirants lain low till Modi was publicly perceived to be invincible. However, with de- monitisation and GST doing the credible damage to Modi’s impeccable reputation, and BJP’s series of defeats at the hustings, resulted in the emboldening of these disparate groups to forge an opportunistic alliance against Modi. Worse still, Modi government’s letting loose of the CBI, ED and other investigative agencies on the opposition leaders, unnerved them to such an extent that if they did not come together, and Modi comes back, their clipping of the political wings was almost certain.
Worse still, the regional chieftains shrewdly analysed that the Congress was unlikely to win more than 150 seats and consequently even Rahul Gandhi’s chance of becoming the Prime Minister was anything but bleak. In such scenario where neither BJP nor Congress mange to bag beyond 180 seats, the chances of forming the government with outside Congress support could well be a possibility. They are anticipating Gowda and Gujaral like situations to recur when, Congress given its own compulsions to stop BJP from regaining power, would inevitably back the rag tag regional coalition groups. Hence, Didi, Mayawati and others are envisaging the unfolding of such similar situation as it happened in 1996 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee had to resign and Deve Gowada emerged as a dark horse to lead the nation with Congress’ support. This time too, given the more pressing compulsions of dynasty led Congress to see Modi’s downfall, it will blindly back anyone to get rid of Modi nemesis. Sensing their respective chances, the proposal to moot the Federal Front has been undertaken. The Brigade Parade Grounds, where almost all the opposition has collected, was a manifestation of the leaders joining hands to ensure that their dreams attain fruition in the post- election phase. Leader after leader eulogising Didi’s pioneering initiative, was a vindication of the fact that Didi had indeed succeeded in pitting herself against Modi. But then while Didi was reaping the harvest of showcasing the mammoth opposition gathering, far away in the state of Tamil Nadu, Stalin, the leader of DMK, had publicly announced that Rahul Gandhi will be the face of the opposition for PM. So, the very face of Prime Ministership is not yet settled within the opposition, as even Akhilesh had publicly articulated that the next Prime Minister will be from UP, insinuating that Mayawati will be his preferred choice.
Although Delhi abhi door hain, the preparation for the journey to that destination has almost kick started with the mammoth rally at the Brigade Parade Grounds in Kolakta, where Didi had succeeded in parading the galaxy of opposition leaders, thus giving the semblance of the unity among them. Whereas there is least surety whether Didi’s candidacy will be endorsed by the nation in view of her inconspicuous presence outside Bengal, she has a sure chance as the front running candidate if her party bags the maximum seats among the regional parties. Perhaps Didi, too, has this probable scenario in mind, and, therefore, she appeared very euphoric with the electrifying presence of the opposition leaders of all hues lapping her up. Also, Dilip Ghosh, the head of BJP in West Bengal, recently dubbing her as the most suitable Bengali face to grace the Prime Ministerial chair, sent her to cloud nine. But, despite all hypes and hoopla, Didi must note that Modi, notwithstanding his vulnerability on account of decline in his popularity, is still rated as the best candidate for the post of PM. People by and large will still vote for him. Even those who are endorsing the alliance of Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, are secretly endorsing Modi as the next Prime Minister. Consequently, Modi may be down but he is far from being out. Hence in this backdrop, to write off Modi would be premature and childish, for when the real time will come to vote, a large segment of undecided voters will still go for Modi, because Modi is a beckon of hope, whereas the motley group of disparate opposition provides a scary situation of uncertainty and chaos. People will be reminded of the scary scenario of power brokers like Harkishan Singh Surjeet, A.B.Bardhan and others appearing on the T.V.screen to determine the leader who will lead the nation and once again take the nation to ransom for the whole tenure of the rag tag regional opposition playing havoc on the future stability of the nation in the post- election phase. Will India still be prepared to commit the same mistake as it did in 1996 when they have a stability and certainty under Modi, is the million dollar’s question? No matter what the outcome, Brigade Parade Grounds has successfully sent a message to the nation: it will be Mamata versus Modi in 2019 general election. However, regarding her clarion call to change the rule in Delhi, the legitimate answer would be: Delhi Abhi Bahoot Door Hain Didi, Pahlay Kolkata ko Sambhal Lo.
Marie Antoinette of Indian Politics
‘Accidental Prime Minister’ of Sanjay Baru and ‘One life is not enough’ of Natwar Singh, only vindicate that Sonia Gandhi is the Marie Antoinette in Indain politics of twenty first century.
With the trailer of ‘Accidental Prime Minister’, the saga of a family taking the nation to a ransom, has once again picked up its heat. In fact, the timing of the movie could never have been more timely, especailly when the nation is weighing its options to elect the next government in 2019. Significantly, the nation has to be reminded at the crucial juncture that how Sonia Gandhi, in her latest avatar as Marie Antoinette of Indian politics of twenty first century, did everything to upend the system to institutionalise her son as the nation’s next Prime Minister. No wonder while Modi’s coronation as a grassroot politician, climbing upto the citadel of power, strengthens Indian democracy, Rahul’s superimposition as the Prime Minister will push the country back to the medieval times when dynastic feudalism ruled the roost.
When I read ‘One Life is not enough’ of Natwar Singh, i must admit honestly that i was indeed taken aback by the mastery of Natwar Singh’s literary skills, especially the sequence where he described his wife’s going to see a movie under such a protective cover, which so fastidiously ensured that she was very carefully insulated from the prying public gaze. The way Natwar Singh had portrayed that sequence, spoke volume about Nawar’s sound literary skills which behoved that of any consummate novelist like Jhumpa Lahiri describing a scene in one of her world class novels. To his full credit, Natwar had dwelt at length on the life styles of various leaders of Nehru- Gandhi family of several generations. Having been a family loyalist all his life, except for last few years, when the bitter realisation had dawned on him: Gandhi- Nehru family had traditionally used the family stooges to serve their ends and the moment their( family’s) objectives were realised, they were chucked out like flies from the milk. While Natwar had minced no words in lavishing his praise on Pundit Nehru who, Natwar felt, was India’s greatest Prime Minister, Natwar was equally effusive in his praise for Indira Gandhi barring the interegnum of emergency era. Justifying his foreign service background, the ace diplomat had justifiably covered the vital part of India’s foreign policy, especailly those pertaining to NAM( Non aligned Movement) and Indira Gandhi’s valiant leadership. Regrettably, Natwar had just given a cursory reference of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s leadership, when he had mentioned an incident where Ataljee, in all his magnanimity, had arranged for the security of Sonia in USA, when Natwar had specifically requested Ataljee for the same.
So far, so good. Natwar, like a loyalist of the highest order of the family, had gone on boasting his proximity with the three generations of Gandhi- Nehru family, and how he managed to remain in the good books of all of them–Nahru, Indira and Sonia. Thankfully, while Natwar’s conduct for being a family stooge was not edifying, he should however be applauded for bringing out the long held secrets of the family in the public domain. Among all his revelations, the fact that how Sonia Gnadhi befooled the nation by enacting drama of a famous ‘sacrifice’ of throne and her princeling son going a step ahead in dubbing his mother as the paragon of all virtues and renunciation–the reincarnations of Damyanti and Gargi in the twenty first century India. Natwar’s powerful revelation of long held secret of the family, had numbed the vast number of citizens of this country who, till such revelations were made, innocently believed in the Buddha like renunciation of a lady who made a big drama of abdicating power when it came her ways. It was not that Sonia had befooled everyone with her political shenanigans of making sacrifice of power and calling it as a ‘poison’, but the majority of innocent Indians still believed that she let go the power when she could have grabbed it with both of her hands. However, Natwar deserves kudos for exploding that myth which the dynasty had so tactfully built around itself.
Significantly, the other revelations that Natwar Singh had made about her demeanour, which was thus far hidden from the public gaze, was that of her being characteristically vengeful. How Sonia had snubbd one time loyalist Arjun Singh, and that how Arjun Singh had to run from pillar to post to placate her and, that too,only with his help he could finally manage to mend his fences with her, establishes Sonia as the self- conceited lady who treated everyone as her slaves who dangled carrots when she liked someone and displayed stick when she resented others.Interestingly, the most important revelation of Natwar was that how Sonia had throughout wanted her son to replace Manmohan and, therefore, had chosen him as the stop gap arrangement. Small wonder 2014 was the appropriate time that she had planned to coronate her son but for a Chaiwallah from Gujarat who threw cold water in her carefully nurtured plan. Natwar had further gone on record to bring in the public domain that how Sonia and her daughter Priyanka Vadra had gone to meet him to dissuade him from going ahead with the publication of the book, which revealed the closely guarded secrets of Gandhi- Nehru family.
Sanjay Baru’s ‘Accidental Prime Minister’ is the building upon the very foundation already led down by Natwar Singh through his classic ‘One Life is not enough’. Sanjay Baru’s famous revelation that how Sonia Gandhi was acting as an extra constitutional authority by summoning confidential files at her home through Pulak Sen. Moreover, Manmohan was nothing more than a devoted loyalisit of Madam which became obvious when she would call him as ‘Manmohan’ in private. Worse still, Sonia would never give any credit to Manmohan for any victory and was always inclined to attribute the personal victory of Manmohan Singh to her own Party. Poor Manmohan was only rewarded to do a bidding for her. Had it not been the same, the competent Pranab Mukherjee was made to play the second fiddle to poor Manmohan. Baru had punctured the claim of Manmohan Singh as a power centre, for he proves beyond doubt that how the real power centre rested with Sonia and how all the ministers and buraucrats would make the beeline for meeting Sonia as she was the defacto Prime Minister while Manmohan was a persona non grata in private dealings.
The books of both Natwar Singh and Sanjay Baru, proves beyond doubt that how Sonia Gandhi’s exclusive objective lay in anointing her son as the next Prime Minister of India. The decades of the rule of dynasty had corrupted the system in such abysmal ways that its influence almost penetrated the instituitions that premised the fountainhead of our democracy. Little wonder then the peddlars of the virtues of dynastic rules, emerged from everywhere, media being the most vocal in its support to it. Even good actions of Modi government was dubbed as ‘arrogant’ moves and every conceivable anti- Modi campaign was orchestrated to defame Modi and bring down his government. Sonia’s new avatar as Marie Antoinette of India of twenty first century was almost complete as her single minded agenda was to foist her son on the nation as its Prime Minister. Let the nation go to dogs, Sonia would least bother, what indeed mattered her, was her son’s coronation. Invaribaly, in the eighteenth century, a french queen Marie Antoinette had the similar obsession: to ensure the coronation for her son, even when her entire family was put to gallows one by one before being publicly hacked to death to death. Sonia’s lust and an overwhelming obsession to see her son as the Prime Minsiter of India makes her Marie Antoinette in the truest sense. However, the fact remains to be seen whether she, too, will die like Marie Antoinette without succeeding in her mission to make her son the next Prime Minister of India, or she will prove otherwise by succeeding on her mission. The answer to this question lies with the people’s mandate in the upcoming general election of 2019.
Where a ‘good Modi’ fights against a ‘bad Modi’
Whether a trumvirate of NDTV, The Wire and the National Herald be able to defeat the conviction of those who believe in ‘good Modi’?
Even after four years the mystery of Modi phenomenon continues to confound the republic. While the supporters and admirers say there cannot be another Modi, as he is god sent messenger for the nation to ensure the salvation for the multitude, his detractors and haters say that he is, thus far, the gravest curse on the republic. Unequivocally, 2019 will witness the fight between a ‘good Modi’ versus a ‘bad Modi’
Notwithstanding the Goebbelsian propaganda unleashed by the Modi detractors, especially the triumvirate of NDTV, The Wire, and the National Herald, and his own government’s various omissions and commissions, Narendra Modi is all set to return to power in 2019. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to say that more the anti- Modi opinion makers are trying to polarise the public opinion against the prime minister, stronger is the resolution of the common mass to bring him back to power in 2019. Small wonder then all the venom that were unleashed against Modi by the anti- Modi brigade ever since his entry into 7 Lok Kalyan Marg in the mid of 2014, appears to have fallen flat at their faces. What is there in Modi that majority refuses to believe anything against him, is a glowing tribute to the phenomenon that Narendra Modi is today in our midst?
My recent flipping through the news of Anil Ambani’s filing defamatory suits against various newspapers, especially The Wire, National Herald, and NDTV, suddenly revived certain memories of past years. The chain of past events deluged my mind: It was in the year 2010, i was invited to Indian Habitat Centre by Anirudha Behal, a journalist, now into hiding, in the face book, for participating in a media debate on ‘Media Azadi on Kashmir’. It was my first visit to Indian Habitat Centre, where i had accidentally stumbled upon Arundhati Roy, with whom i had some engrossing discussion. Javed Naqvi, Madhu Kishwar and other distinguished guests adorned the dais, while thousands like me, most of whom were the journalists, were sitting in the audience. Siddhartha Vardarajan, then with Hindu as its editor, was the moderator. It was the first time I saw a self- conceited guy called Siddhartha Vadarajan, whose very face emitted the sort of arrogance that could not be matched by even Dr Amartya Sen. In the entire programme, Siddhartha would not let the speakers speak their mind properly, especially when it came to Madhu kishwar, he appeared to have resented her presence to the core of his heart. A peculiar feature that I had noticed then was that speaker after speaker went on heaping scorn on government of India’s policy on Jammu and Kashmir, without any murmur of protest coming neither from any speaker nor from any member of audience. Of course, Madhu Kishwar was the lone exception who spoke cadidly. While speaker after speaker excoriated the government of India for its repressive policy towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir, my patience ran out, I quickly stood up to register my protest as i questioned them: ‘tell me o opinion makers, who will determine the Lakshman Rekha as to what should be the role of the government’s intervention in regulating media? Should the media themselves fix the limitation of the role for the government of its interference in their affairs or, should it be the court of law or, should it be the people of India? My stubborn dissenting stand, while it had the potential to silence all the secular journalists seeking the bifurcation of the republic on dais, Madhu Kishwar alone had backed my stand then. I was disillusioned to see that none had the audacity to challenge the authoritarianism of the secularist forces who took Sonia- Manmohan government to shreds for what they dubbed as a repressive and an obscurantist policy against the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Siddhartha Vardarajan, that same self- conceited man is presiding over the affaris of The Wire now as its editor, which is fast emerging as the authentic newspaper for the Modi baiters and haters. Siddhartha is a known Modi baiter, who is unfit to call himself as an editor, notwithstanding his linguistic skills and penmanship, he had openly observed while he presided over the destiny of Hindu as its editor that he would never allow Modi’s news to come in the first page and that he will ensure that it comes only in the third page, loses all his credibility in the eyes of the thinking citizens of this country, especially when he expresses his deep contempt for no less than a person who was all set to take over as the nation’s prime minister on account of his personal prejudice. Little wonder Subramanian Swamy’s investigative zeal had seen Siddhartha being forced out of the office of Hindu only to return as the editor of The Wire to spew venom on Modi government and to ensure that how quickly the dynasty of Congress Party returns to power once again. In the process, Siddhartha and all his cohorts, conveniently choose to soft peddle on the issue that, howsoever scathing his judgmental pieces are in The Wire, the intelligentsia of the country, especially those who have no left leanings or sympathy for the fading appeal of the dynasty, will consider all his news peddling as nothing short of bunkum with a tinge of anti- Modi bias.
When a journalist sells his conscience to the power that be, he accepts the government rewards such as Padmashri or Padma Bhusan, for no government worth its salt, would nominate anyone other than its stooges and cheerleaders in the media for such prestigious awards as mentioned above. Shekhar Gupta is one of such journalists who has sold his conscience and soul to the earstwhile Congress government by kowtowing the dynasty and, consequently, bagged the pretigious Padma Bhusan in the year 2009 from Manmohan Singh government. Although Shekhar Gupta never let any opportunity go to be in the good book of Modi regime, but he drastically failed in his singular mission to win the favour of the prime minister for bearing the tag of a dyansty loyalist, if not its stooge . The consequence was for all to see: Shekhar today has sided with other Modi detractors like Siddhartha and Prannoy Roy to hasten the departure of Modi government and bring back the worthless dynastic prince on to the power citadel.
Prannoy Roy’s NDTV is another agent to promote the Congress Party. In fact, the journalists at NDTV leave no stone unturned in their endeavours to besmirch the reputation of Modi regime. Unsurprisingly then, this triumvirate of Modi detractors have joined hands together to ensure the downfall of Modi government in the ongoing assembly elections and the susequent general election in 2019. But the moot point is: Do these opinion makers have enough of credibility to dent Modi’s image, especially when Modi is still looked upon as a dedicated prime minister by the general mass? How the nation will come to have the trust in such media houses which are run by such dodgy characters who, not too in the distant past, sung paeans for the dynasty and resisted tooth and nail the emergence of an alternative to the grand old party in the republic? Significantly, the inordinate media coverage given to Rafale deal in the recent months by the triumvirate, speaks volume about how these media houses will leave no stone unturned in its diabolical attempts to bring Modi government crashing down in 2019. National Herald, a newspaper founded by Jawahar Lal Nehru is the mouthpiece of the dynasty which has vociferously started the campaign to oust Modi by giving al its attention on Rafale and to make it appear like a mountain out of the molehill.
But then Modi is made of different stuffs. He is not the one to meekly surrender to the inimical forces that seek his ouster by unleashing the bogus charges and propaganda to malign his image. For the triumvirate knows that maligning Modi alone is the key to winning election today, for Modi alone has the credibility in the eyes of the electorate. While Modi’s authoritarian streak in marginalising the other BJP stalwarts cannot be ruled out, yet he still remains an unsullied face amid the deluge of corruption charges against the other leaders, endears the prime minister to his fellow citizens of the republic. Surprisingly, the nasty attempts of the Modi detractors to paint him as the cronies of Ambani and Adani, too, has failed to cut much ice with the common mass who continues to trust him as before. In this backdrop, when Modi remains still insulated from the rampant corruption charges brought against him, is the biggest USP of Modi to take on the collective might of the rag tag coalition that might eventually be formed to take on him. Small wonder then Modi for his admirers, remains the messenger of god who is born in India for ensuring the salvation of multuitude, while for his baiters and detractors, he is the gravest curse to ever have happened to this country. The upcoming general election will be a battle between these two views: Where a ‘good Modi’ fight against a ‘bad Modi’. But, given the size and proportion of ‘good Modi’ backers, they will overwhelm those who believe that ‘bad Modi’ is wreacking the country and, therefore, needed to be shown the red card.