By Sushil Kutty
The rupee struck 80 and trespassed into the BJP’s ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ territory, and the opposition parties took note of it. But none from the BJP cared to respond, even when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a swipe, tweeting “Amritkaal at 80”, and newly-minted Congress Rajya Sabha MP Randeep Surjewala tweeted “Marg Darshak Mandal”, around the same time when on the other side of the planet, Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked “what if President Joe Biden dropped out of the 2024 race?”
Carlson spoke for himself. “There will be a scramble for power.” A registered conservative, Tucker is no admirer of President Joe Biden. But a big swathe of America agrees with Carlson that Biden is living a cognitive error, the only “adolescent, President” the USA has ever had. Tucker himself doesn’t miss a provocation to question Biden’s quotients, both intelligence and emotional.
And to buttress his reading of President Joe Biden, Tucker often posts telling videos, one of them showing Biden turning from a podium, after giving a speech, and very naturally shaking the hands of someone invisible, someone who nobody else in the room could see. Carlson added ‘masala’ to the hype created with the “revelation” that FLOTUS Jill Biden had been feeding “cognitive pills” to President Joe Biden to keep him from behaving “like a child”.
The White House did not put out a missive to wake Tucker Carlson out of his daytime reverie though the WH has had enough of Carlson’s innuendos fed via Fox News. But in the United States, FoE is not limited, or partitioned, and the WH did not want to hazard a backlash over FoE.
In the USA, FoE is a talisman. Contrast this with India, and the world’s largest democracy is a poor facsimile. India’s much vaunted democracy has been witnessing a slow erosion of talking the mind, speaking the bald truth. The impartiality of democracy has been missing a glove in India for a long time. Instead, India’s democratic institutions continue to take hits, more so after 2014.
A huge number of Indians will vouch for the distinction between “before 2014” and “after 2014”. Fact-checker Muhammad Zubair’s big crime was separating ante-2014 from post-2014. Perhaps, because it separated pre-Modi-rule from post-Modi rule, and made a comparison of the two time-periods. The Supreme Court agreed that the distinction could not be ignored. FoE is a birthright, which sections 295A and 153 cannot paper over.
So, what happens if Narendra Modi drops out of contention in 2024? People will laugh. “Impossible”, the so-called Modi-bhakts will gasp. Even seasoned political analysts will contest the thought. As of now, there is no alternative to Modi in the BJP. That said, like Tucker opined in Biden’s context, if Modi steps down, even hints of stepping down, there will be a scramble for power.
But who will be scrambling? The 80-plus age ‘Marg Darshak Mandal’ cannot. They have been comatose for years. It has not met even once since it came into being. Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and who else? Each of them is locked in the castles of their memories, their ambitions curtailed by the ambition of ‘One’.
It’s a cruel world. Especially in politics. Modi, like leaders before him, are like the oak that stunts the growth of everybody in its shade. Even older oaks, hawks in their own rights, wilt, and wither. In the Congress there’s always a Gandhi to take the place of the Gandhi before. Modi may have his reservations about dynasties, but there’s no unholy scramble for power when a powerful Gandhi moves on.
That said, Modi is not going anywhere. He’ll be there in 2024. And there will be no one in the BJP to stop him from taking a shot at prime minister for a third straight term.
Modi’s ‘friend’ Boris Johnson was forced to quit because his ministers made him resign. They quit, expressing no confidence in him, forcing him to jettison ship. Modi’s ministers don’t have the same steel. You cannot expect a Rishi Sunak in Nirmala Sitharaman, nor a Liz Truss in S Jaishankar, or a Ben Wallace in Rajnath Singh. There will be no scramble for power in 2024, Modi won’t be challenged by anyone within the BJP. (IPA Service)