Saturday, June 24, 2017

Prez Polls: Opposition desperation in fielding Meira Kumar is linked to new generation politics

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Is there a bit of hate politics going on in India? The answer is both - yes and no. I have tried to raise this question and also answer it in the perspective of the July 17, 2017 Presidential elections. The anguish against Narendra Modi by the opposition parties and especially the Congress party is palpable.

It goes without saying that as Congress keep losing states after states --- there is immense frustration growing. The frustrations due to prolonged exclusion from the citadel of power. It is natural in such a situation that the Congress and the other opposition parties should concentrate their fire increasingly on the personality of Narendra Modi. Thus, the ensuing Presidential polls is more about Narendra Modi and his style of functioning than Ram Nath Kovind or Meira Kumar battle.

The fact that the much talked about Presidential elections of 2017 has been reduced to a Dalit brother against a Dalit sister contest is more ways than one attributed to the new generation politics we are witnessing.
There is a strong NAMO factor as much you need to blame both pro-Modi and anti-Narendra Modi schools of politics.
Late Vamuzo, former Nagaland CM, used to say Nagas go mad when they do not get early morning plate of rice and Congressmen go mad - when they are out of power !
Pitting a Dalit woman against a Dalit --- the Congress seemed to have walked into a trap;

In 2002, when the BJP fielded missile scientist APJ Abdul Kalam, the Congress showed the maturity and backed him. The gesture did not go in vain as two years later -- the Congress got back its rhythm in national polity. But in 2017 they are into full-fledged war against Namo. This war - in effective manner - suits Modi the most. Narendra Modi is no Atal Behari Vajpayee --- so another round of big shocker from the BJP camp is expected.

Even as the mandate of 2014 Lok Sabha polls was clear in his favour, by around two and half years of his tenure Modi wanted to use the UP elections as yet another political milestone. The demonetisation and sudden financial restrictions on parties like BSP did all the magic for him.
Still Modi-Shah did not leave things to chances and thus stepped up hardcore Hindutva politics as well. Like every authoritarian ruler, Modi has been in quest for legitimacy and the UP mandate gave him a great opportunity.

The UP mandate actually has boosted Modi's confidence. A ‘no-contest’ Presidential election would have given him another opportunity. Hence some credit must be shared by Sonia Gandhi, the Left and other opposition leaders for fielding a formidable candidate in the form of Meira Kumar. The numbers may be with the government --- but there are enough merits in the case being build up by the opposition camp that there has to be an “ideological” contest as Ram Nath Kovind is also a RSS-loyalist and also that the opposition parties led by Congress with the support of hardcore anti-BJP the Left parties needs to sustain a strong anti-BJP or for that matter an anti-Narendra Modi politics till 2019.

In fielding Meira Kumar, it is true that the Congress President Sonia Gandhi and other opposition leaders have put some pressure on the JD(U) leadership. Despite being a Dalit and a woman, Meira Kumar is also a seemingly ‘more qualified’ leader than the NDA nominee.

Now, some kind of looking at the rear mirror has become essential at this juncture - when Modi is alleged to be an autocratic. 

"There was a nauseating contrast between the professions of the ruthless rulers and the grim realities of the situation in which the innocent lived in constant fear of the vast government agencies to whom housebreaking was a routine affair," Nani Palkhivala wrote in a Foreword for book 'Democracy Redeemed' penned by V K Narasimhan. The reference was not of Modi era, but the dark days of 1970s -- when "democratic" Congress was at the helm of affairs.

But as one tries to expose the false claim about 'freedom of expression' etc etc -- now being championed by the Congress; what is important to note here is all kinds of autocratic rule have a similar pattern. This is what Modi should be careful about. But so far he is going by his own wisdom and yardstick drawn by his few select men. 

It is said about Indira Gandhi that her decision to go for elections in January 1977 was erroneous. Narasimhan ( a prominent journalist) writes rather authoritatively: "It is inconceivable that Mrs Gandhi would have decided on going to the polls if she had the slightest suspicion that the outcome would be adverse to her. She must have reckoned all the advantages in her favour and all the odds against her before taking the decision".

Here again, like all dictatorships which are curiously similar is their modus operandi, Indira Gandhi establishment also gave short thrift to truth. With censorship and social networking far from human imagination - the real feelings of the people hardly reached her.

Modi has certain advantages that way and he probably gauges public mood by the manner it unfolds in social media than the mainstream media.

It goes without stating that beauty of Indian democracy lies in the strength of the Indian constitution.

Apart from constitutional safeguards, time and again, however, people have to bank on the courage and vigilance of the masses. In a Presidential election – that power rest with the members of the electoral college. The MPs and MLAs can take advantage of the secret ballot. They can press the button according to their conscience. Number wise, Ram Nath Kovind is all set to succeed Pranab Mukherjee,


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