It appears that Narendra Modi has lost his political sense and prudence; else how could he choose to launch a ruthless attack on the opposition, and even target a section of his own party, just while the Lok Sabha election was hovering on his head. This observation may appear to be quite harsh or naïve but the fact remains that his actions do not conform to the political realities prevailing at the ground level.
With the assembly polls to five states being perceived as the prologue for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, this nature of action from Modi gives rise to many theories and trepidations. A closer look at his moves makes clear that he has never been concerned with morality, transparency in public life, or political ethics. It is also explicit from his action that he is out to finish his own party founded by stalwarts like Atal Behari Vajpayee, L K Advani, Nanaji Deshmukh, Murali Manohar Joshi and others. These leaders were instrumental in giving political and economic direction to a fledgling party in the 1980s and 1990s.
Even some senior BJP leaders nurse the view that Modi may not return to power for a third consecutive term, as he is determined to render the party hollow. The shelving of Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Maharani of Rajasthan having close relation with the RSS, is being cited as an example. No other leader in Rajasthan commands such huge respect and support. But she has been denied her rightful claim to be the BJP’s chief ministerial facein the state since she does not endorse the functioning of Modi. The same is the case across the country. Veterans and traditional leaders in every state have been sidelined.
These leaders think that Modi is deliberately trying to weaken the party by ensuring that no other leader should emerge to replace him, or be recognised as a better candidate than him. During his nearly ten years of rule, Modi has finished off political careers of a strong band of senior leaders and state satraps, while also not allowing a second generation of organic leadership to emerge from the BJP rank and file. Almost all the states are run by turncoats and the original leaders have been dumped.
The same is the case with the RSS cadres in the states. The cadres and local leaders who organised and developed the party at the grass-root level have been replaced by new elements. Having realised that the party was facing a bleak future and Modi cannot be relied upon as a future vote catcher, many have already started deserting the party, even without waiting for the final outcome of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Though the media and middle class bhakts of Modi continue to claim that BJP would win the elections in the five states, the realty is nonetheless just the opposite. Being ruffled on the wrong side, angry Sangh workers and old leaders have even extended their support to the anti-BJP candidates, in most of the cases to the Congress. Political pundits and even a section of the senior BJP leadership concede that an electoral situation like Karnataka of May this year is taking shape in the five poll-bound states. In Karnataka elections, the ground level cadres and leaders operated in complete disregard to the directives from the top. Of course, the state had a pro-Congress wave, but it was also the immense dissatisfaction within the BJP rank and file which helped the Congress.
These people see the situation getting repeated in the five states. The RSS cadres have already conveyed their feelings to their top leaders. They even feel pained that leaders, especially their chief Mohan Bhagwat, is averse to initiating any action. Obviously, this passive attitude of Bhagwat has made them believe that whatever Modi does has his tacit support.
On Sunday, while Modi put Chhattisgarh on highest campaign priority list, Amit Shah was in Patna on his mission to expose the alleged administrative failures of Nitish Kumar. For Shah, what required prime attention was the issue of caste-based survey, thus underlying BJP’s political bankruptcy, which tries to find fault in a landmark move to empower the marginalised castes and sub-castes in a significant way. Shah realises that his holding of even hundreds of public meetings to denounce caste survey would not reverse the truly democratizing forces unleashed by the Nitish-Tejashwi combine’s gutsy move to get the ball rolling. Shah, the so-called Chanakya of the saffron camp, described the caste-based survey conducted in Bihar by Nitish as a “sham” that was intended to do injustice to the Extremely Backward Castes (EBC).
Through his remark he tried to drive a wedge between EBC and OBC. He said: “I have come here to tell the Other Backward Castes (OBC) and EBC in Bihar that this survey is a sham. We had supported it, but did not know that the numbers of the Yadavs and Muslims would be inflated under pressure from Lalu Prasad (RJD chief) to do injustice to the EBC.”
Like his master, he too was parroting lies. One wonders how he could mislead people who are aware of the realities. According to the survey, the EBCs are 36 per cent of the total population and Yadav-Muslim combine have 32 per cent. Muslims are around 15 per cent. Realising the electoral strength of 32 per cent of the EBC, Shah danced to the tunes of some EBC leaders who recently jumped on the BJP bandwagon in the hope to cross the Baitarani (river of sin). The most ridiculous was Shah throwing a challenge to Nitish to choose someone from the EBC as the chief minister of Bihar.
When his presence is seriously needed in the five states where the electoral process starts on November 7, a vindictive Shah was busy destabilizing Nitish’s government in Bihar and questioning the four-time chief minister’s political commitments and credentials. Shah’s strategy, or the lack of one, sends out a loud and clear message that the BJP has lost the electoral battle even before it has officially begun the five poll-bound states. Shah’s craftiness lies in his ensuring that he’s not blamed for the inevitable defeat staring the BJP in the face and precisely to avert responsibility that he has been moving around.
If Shah’s Sunday visit to Bihar has proved to be an utter failure, Modi deputing his pet ED to bite Bhupesh Baghel in Chhattisgarh has been a complete whisker. Within twenty hours of the execution of the plot, the move has been exposed to be a part of BJP’s conspiracy to tarnish image of Baghel. It was unearthed that the cash courier who was caught in Raipur was a BJP man. Even the owner and operator of the Mahavir App was allegedly a close aide to prominent BJP leaders and functionaries. If at all the cash was meant for Baghel, in that case the ED after catching him, should have taken him to Baghel and made him confront the chief minister.
The ED had claimed on Friday that a forensic analysis and a statement made by a “cash courier” had led to “startling allegations” that Mahadev betting app promoters have so far paid about Rs 508 crore to Baghel and that “these are a subject matter of investigation”. Nothing could have been better than make the cash courier sit face to face with Baghel and make him confess his involvement. The bare fact is since the entire conspiracy was hatched out at top level, the ED could not muster courage to look straight into eyes of Baghel, thus exposing the nefarious plot.
Though Modi is not tired of claiming that India is not stricken by poverty, his announcement that the free ration scheme, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, for 80 crore poor will be extended for next five years, simply reinforces the charge that he has been lying about development under his reign. His own announcement makes it clear that these 80 crore people utterly lack purchasing power to even buy daily food. It is beyond comprehension that in Modi New India, out of its 142 crore population, 80 crore are so extremely poor that they would face serious starvation without government support. Ironically, Modi had invoked the “rewdi” — a cheap sweet — to disparage the freebies that political rivals offer to voters during elections, arguing such sops did little apart from harming the economy.
The government’s decision to extend the free ration scheme for another five years is an indication of the continuing high level of economic distress and growing inequalities in the country. This also underlines that the vast majority of Indians incomes have not grown in line with the sky-high prices of essential commodities.
It is worth recalling that Modi as chief minister of Gujarat had opposed the Food Security Act passed by the Manmohan Singh government. Now the same scheme has been rebranded by Modi to ensure his support base doesn’t diminish. Congress is correct in saying: “Modi, who is on a Desh Becho Abhiyan (Sell-the-Nation Mission) to one friend, had also made fun of the MGNREGA (rural job guarantee scheme), which came to people’s rescue in a time of acute distress.”
Mallikarjun Kharge has alleged that agencies such as the ED, CBI and the Income Tax Department become the real ‘panna pramukh (party workers)’ of the BJP as soon as elections come. “Seeing its certain defeat in Rajasthan, the BJP made its last throw of the dice! After Chhattisgarh, the ED has also entered the election campaign in Rajasthan and started action against Congress leaders,” Kharge has charged.
Modi is under the illusion that he would win the election, thanks to these caged parrots-cum-attack dogs. However, Modi ought to realise that he has been systematically turning these agencies irrelevant. It is in public domain how Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal have challenged the authority of the ED. He ought to realise that people have been watching his actions which would not succeed in coercing them while casting their votes. They are witness to the coercion, repression, torture and humiliation let loose by them during Modi’s rule. (IPA Service)