The Modi Juggernaut
Irony and decency die a million deaths each time Rahul Gandhi opens his mouth. Rahul indeed is the most powerful man in India today; consider this—ever since he took over as the Congress party’s Vice President, a single statement, any statement he makes has the power to crush the economy. India is a beehive. India is energy. India is a bouquet. Poverty is a state of mind. India doesn’t need infrastructure. An endless stream of demented thoughts when he doesn’t even have a ministry. Just imagine what’d occur if he actually becomes the Prime Minister and begins to implement these…errr…ideas (?).
On the contrary, just the inkling that there’s a Narendra Modi speech scheduled in some place is enough to galvanize millions of Indians. Indeed, as we’ve witnessed in the recent past, these millions of Indians have turned up in colossal numbers to his speeches, and those who haven’t been physically present, have tuned in to TV, mobile phones, iPads, and other devices after dumping whatever work they had just so they could listen to him. Speech after speech, rally after rally is a visual demonstration of how they hang on to his every word and how they never seem to get enough of him. It is certainly not an exaggeration to say that Modi is perhaps the only tallest, self-made leader since Independence. One could argue against this by dropping Mrs. Gandhi’s name but there’s a key difference: Mrs. Gandhi began with a 90% advantage. She was seen in the company of freedom fighters in her childhood apart from being Jawaharlal Nehru’s daughter. Narendra Modi had none of those advantages—he carved his destiny with his own hands rising from extremely humble beginnings. This is exactly what angers dynasty worshippers like Ramachandra Guha who despite professing an “egalitarian” ideology like Communism look down upon Modi contemptuously because he rose from humble origins.
Besides, what both the Congress party and its stooges of various hues don’t realize is the fact that Mrs. Gandhi lived in an India where a largely naive people looked up to politicians as maai-baap. That and the fact that the Congress ensured that this maai-baap mind set was perpetuated to perpetuity so it could remain in power forever. That generation is all but dead today and the post-70s generation—for good or bad—is impatient and has a low tolerance for stupidity. More so with politicians who claim superhuman powers for themselves like singlehandedly wiping out poverty. From an era when even newspaper editors would refer to politicians in reverential tones to an era of the Unreal Times, which mercilessly lampoons everybody including the all-powerful Sonia Gandhi. And gets away with it. But the Congress still harbours an illusion that what worked till the early/mid 1980s will also work today. The best evidence of this lies in the numerous clampdowns against free speech and the hounding of critics of the Congress party—a phenomenon that only accelerated since 2009. Needless, this is a classic case of a tyrant whose tyranny is explained by his/her insecurity. In the case of the Congress, its current insecurity is explained by the fact that it is stuck in a time warp. The pulse of modern India is this: it wants prosperity, personal wealth and a good standard of living (and life); and it wants these things without having to suck up to the Government. And as we see, from 2004 till now, the Congress-led UPA has done everything to choke this pulse and by implication, the nation.
So what explains the 21st century Congress being stuck in the 1970s time warp?
Let’s look at this from a different angle by casting a glimpse into the mindset of the Congress party. If there’s one thing that characterizes leaders in the Congress party—from the dynasty heads right down to state leaders—it is the fact that they’re singularly unapproachable. If they condescend to open their mouths at all, it will be to talk down to the people of India from a Prophetic pedestal which almost always has the I-know-what’s-best-you undertone. It is this haughty attitude that has insulated them from reality—every single downfall in Congress history has been preceded by this attitude taken to its extreme: the Emergency and now, the impending doom of the Sonia-led Congress.
There’s yet another key factor that’s been overlooked.
The last time the Congress party was in power was between 1991–1996. And that was under the stewardship of a non-dynasty Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao. And so we need to discount his tenure because it was so thoroughly unlike any other Congress Government until 1991. That effectively takes us back to 1989, which saw the Congress receive a severe drubbing at the polls. What this means is simply that the dynasty-led Congress was out of power for fifteen years, a timespan almost equivalent to one generation. In this interm, India had rapidly changed. On its part, the Congress, instead of attuning itself to these changes, was embroiled in internal feuds and the ugly spectacle of elevating Sonia Gandhi for no other reason than sheer survival. As we see now, the nation is now paying the price for that elevation. And so when it won in 2004–-not an absolute majority but nevertheless—it was set on a course of hurtling India back to the Stalinist ’70s because that’s what the Congress knows best. By September 2013, that process is nearly complete and will only worsen till the next elections are declared.
Look at the scenario today from whatever angle: there’s a yawning political vacuum. In fact, this vacuum has existed since 2009 but has now made its presence felt almost visibly, like a living being. And Narendra Modi has simply stepped in to fill that vacuum. From the Congress party’s perspective, he stands out like sore thumb: he is approachable, open to new ideas, mingles with all strata of society, doesn’t use discredited and dead theories, works tirelessly, demonstrates results, is not divisive—most importantly, he speaks in terms of the nation instead of targetting and splitting society on caste and religious lines. Now how does a party which has internalized the worst of the worst human tendencies for over six decades, even muster a semi-decent, semi-coherent response? This then is the real stumbling block for the Congress in its pathetic efforts to counter Modi; it is also why every such Modi-countering effort continues to boomerang upon it. This and the fact that the Congress has nurtured only servile minds and medicore talent starting with Nehru who initiated it. And so, today, we have some of the best minds firmly behind Modi because he has shown respect for talent and initiative. Apart from Modi’s decisive governance ability, his respect for talent is also a key contributor to Gujarat’s stellar development record.
And so we’re back at Rahul Gandhi’s beehive, bouquet, and state of mind. These aren’t even platitudes. They’re a brutal joke on the people of India made by a semi-literate scion of a rotten dynasty. And on the other side, we have a mere Chief Minister who’s already ready with concrete, actionable visions for the development of India. And he already has the solid backing of millions of Indians who want him as their next Prime Minister—this even when he hasn’t himself expressed a desire for the post.
There is nothing that the Congress can do to stem the march of Narendra Modi. It would rather be wise for it to gracefully step aside and allow the Modi Juggernaut to roll on unimpeded. If not for any other reason than the sole reason that Narendra Modi is infinitely more capable of actually making garibi hataao a reality and has demonstrated in Gujarat how Bharat Nirman is actually done.
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