Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rejoinder to “Reinventing Narendra Modi” – by Dr Hilda Raja

This is in reference to 'Reinventing Narendra Modi' by Arati R.JERATH(March 6th TOI) (article given below ) The dynamics of reinvention is essentially the making of the media and of writers who does not spare a chance when it comes to bashing Modi. Modi will be Modi and cannot be Vajpayee and surely that is not called for. Each one has one's own  background, learning experiences and perception to deal with the problems of Indian politics. Vajpayee had his own. I would not want the same of Modi because times have changed. Each leader leaves his/her own footprints in the sands of time. Why should one fit into the other? If Modi invocated Vajpayee as his role model he had the right to do because Vajpayee is his leader.

Modi from what one perceives is capable of handling two constituencies-namely the core Hindu support and the 'multiple disparate ego-centric regional satraps'.Vajpayee had his own ability to draw a consensus. He yielded easily to these 'ego-centric satraps'. The DMK joined the BJP for all its anti Hindu stand when Vajpayee most willingly offered the plum post of a Cabinet minister to Murasoli Maran. When on the death of the latter the BJP refused to take his son Kalanidhi Maran as a minister then the DMK withdrew its support calling the BJP communal. Similarly with Mamata who was roped in by yielding to her whims and fancies and offering plum posts. This is what Vajpayee did. May be Modi will have his own way of dealing with the coalition partners.

Today what India needs is a strong Prime Minister at the centre who can withstand the combinations and permutations of coalition governance. Nobody appears on the political horizon with a wealth of parliamentarian experience. One learns in due course by dealing with problems and governance. It is a bit strange that the media and Congress considers Rahul Gandhi  fit for the PM's post when he has none of the stature,  sharpness and vision for such a job. The one fact being that he is Nehru-Gandhi family. Still the fact that he is even considered shows that no eligibility or criteria of abilities, perception and political acumen are called for.

How effective will Modi be is to be seen. The test of the pudding is in the eating of it. He has been effective in whatever he has so far undertaken. He certainly does not need to fit himself in the shoes of Vajpayee because he has his own. He does not belong to the dynastic category to fall back on his grandmother and father. He is on his own. A self made man. More important he belongs to the ordinary class/caste. And hence he understands the problems of the ordinary.

The Gujarat riots are the only sad episode that is being held against him. Even here it is prejudice and a double standard that is being applied. Why Rajiv Gandhi was not made accountable for the Sikh massacre? Why was the Congress an acceptable political party to govern this country when it failed not only to protect a minority community right in the capital but its leader even  went to the extent of justifying the genocide? Its leaders who indulged in brutality and in massacre were rewarded for this. How has the media taken to this? How have writers been soft pedaling this issue?

Why only Modi is being arraigned for something in which the courts have not found him guilty? Is the Congress and others afraid of having a strong man, a man courageous in words and actions-whom writers term as 'muscular brand of politics' unacceptable? Do we need a soft approach-some blue eyed mamma's boy so that the country can be continued to be looted and expose the country to scams on every aspect of governance. But then was there governance at all with the UPA 1 and 2?

Call it dictatorial but a firm and strong man/woman we need at the helm of affairs if the wrongs has to be righted and if right has to be upheld. What Modi can dream of doing and not doing is his business. It is unfair and illogical to prejudge. As one sees Modi is the right man for the top job-if he thinks he needs to reinvent himself-reinvent he will. He has the ability and the foresight to meet challenges and accordingly act. Is this worrying the Congress and a few anti-Modi-writers? He will carry everyone along with his governance-the majority and the minority but he will at all costs uphold the Constitution of this country.

Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,







Arati R Jerath


It would have been amusing if it weren't such a travesty. Narendra Modi's invocation of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as his ''role model" at the BJP's just concluded national convention not only struck a false note, it smacked of blatant opportunism.

The faithful and the committed fell hook, line and sinker for Modi's fulsome praise for Vajpayee's moderation, as is evident from the adulatory res-ponse of his mesmerised audience. But the tension that marked the Vajpayee-Modi relationship in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots is too well documented for this belated appreciation to be anything more than a hollow ploy to widen his constituency.

Politicians are entitled to reinvent themselves. And because we live in an era of instant coffee, they believe, perhaps, that masks can be worn and shed at will and images changed with the wave of an adman's hand. Modi has clearly decided to cast himself in the Vajpayee mould for his march to Delhi. But can he abandon the muscular brand of politics that has served him so well in Gujarat and made him a runaway success with the BJP rank and file, for the conciliatory approach that made Vajpayee an effective coalition leader? Can he shrink his 56-inch chest and soften his machismo to deal with the likes of Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and Jayalalithaa?

The harsh truth is that despite the hype and the crescendo of the Modi worship in urban India, the BJP is simply in no position to win a majority on its own. Not as yet, not until it increases its spread in the south and east. The next government will necessarily be another coalition. At best, the BJP can hope to lead it; that too, if it manages to repeat the Vajpayee formula and win 180-plus seats in the Lok Sabha.

But to attract enough allies to reach the magic majority figure of 272, the party will have to throw up a prime ministerial figure with the ability to straddle two constituencies: the core Hindu supporter of the BJP and the larger political establishment in Parliament that is made up of multiple, disparate parties led by egocentric regional satraps. In other words, it needs another Vajpayee.

It is farcical for Modi to aim to do a Vajpayee. They are as different as chalk and cheese and the contrast goes beyond the well-worn secular versus communal argument. Vajpayee ticked two important boxes which Modi cannot dream of doing. He had a wealth of parliamentary experience that gave him stature and acceptability. And he genuinely believed that consensus was the way forward in a parliamentary democracy. It was not an image crafted by a clever brand manager to win allies and sit in the PM's chair.

There must have been some spark in Vajpayee for Jawaharlal Nehru to mark him out way back in 1957. So impressed was the Congress stalwart with the young Jana Sangh MP's parliamentary skills and oratory that he predicted that Vajpayee would one day be prime minister. Vajpayee's long years in Parliament with stints in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha not only helped him understand the nuances of the Westminster model, they also ingrained in him the importance of consensus building – something which he perhaps learnt from Nehru.

He was a staunchly Hindu leader of the right-wing Jana Sangh, but he never allowed political and ideological differences to get in the way. In fact, he was often jokingly referred to as the ''right man in the wrong party".

It was inevitable then that the BJP should have chosen Vajpayee, not L K Advani, as its prime ministerial face when the time came. No one but Vajpayee could have brought on board allies like the TDP and DMK, prising them out of the Left fold to turn Right and help form the first ever BJP-led government in New Delhi. And although the art of coalition management involved plenty of give and take, Vajpayee was always able to negotiate from a position of strength, not weakness. He had the stature, clarity of purpose and a sharp enough political sense.

These are the shoes Modi has chosen to try and fill by invoking Vajpayee. The irony is that in many ways, Modi is more like Advani than Vajpayee. His aggressive, confrontationist style of politics has echoes of Advani at his peak. Like Advani, Modi too appeals to a yuppie, urban middle class whose motto is survival of the fittest.

It was Advani who prepared the groundswell of popular support for the BJP with his rath yatra but he could not take the party beyond a certain point in terms of votes and Lok Sabha seats. When the time came to push for government formation, the BJP was forced to turn to Vajpayee who had what Advani lacked: support from the political class. The party has an Advani in Modi today. But to lead the next government, it may require a Vajpayee. In trying to do a two-in-one, Modi could end up as neither fowl nor fish.

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