Friday, November 20, 2015

Modi’s Stalingrad

Pankaj Sharma
9 November 2015

It will be interesting to see the manipulative skills of Modi in days to come - if he is left with any.

It is Bihar’s decisive and very strong intervention against highly autocratic, aggressively divisive, and totally self-obsessed style of functioning that is being witnessed by the whole country for the last one and a half year. This is not for the first time when Bihar has positively intervened and put the nation on its correct path. Bihar is perhaps doing this for the fifth time in our nation’s political life.

First such intervention came when Mahatma Gandhi began his struggle against the imperialism from Champaran. Second was when Jai Prakash Narain began his campaign against the Emergency. Third, when the Mandal Commission changed the social map of India. Fourth was when the chariot of hatred was stopped in Bihar with the arrest of Lal Krishna Advani during the Babri movement. Fifth is now when Bihar has shown the mirror to the political arrogance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Why is Bihar so important when Assembly elections happen routinely? Why does it remind of historical milestones from Stalingrad to Babri demolition? I hope Modi would better analyse this with a calm mind instead of dismissing it as a local election going wrong. Refusing to respond to opposition and public opinion presumably blinded by invincibility is not going to help him any further.

Bihar has rejected the politics of Communal polarisation and the politics of doles. Bihar has upheld the very basis of inclusive politics. Bhartiya Janta Party leaders have every right to ignore the fact that these results are a referendum on the 18-month rule of Narendra Modi at the Centre. Bihar results have established once and for all that the Indian voter will not tolerate tampering with the Idea of India.

Bihar has strongly rejected Modi-Shah brand of politics. BJP in Bihar has paid a price for its politics of bans, politics of package, politics of beef, and the politics of duping people by making false promises. I have no doubt that internal bickering in BJP will take an ugly shape in coming days when its leaders will do course correction by questioning their leadership.

The factors of the language used by BJP leadership, including Prime Minister Modi, during the electioneering; utter insensitivity displayed by Modi government in dealing with the weaker sections of the society; skyrocketing prices of pulses, mustard oil, and onions; and the “intellectual discourse” by people such as Gen V K Singh, M L Khattar, Mahesh Sharma, Sanjeev Baliyan, Yogi Adityanth, Sakshi Maharaj, and Sadhvi Prachi have been given a befitting reply by the poor people of Bihar.

It is curious, almost bizarre, that Bihar Assembly election of 2015 should remind some intellectuals of the historic battle of Stalingrad in 1942 when Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Army fell to Soviet forces during World War-II. But this is a deeply terrifying manifestation of the political ambience in the country today when the overriding concern is the impending advent of fascism. That explains the invisible link between Bihar and Stalingrad. I can only hope that Modi and his lieutenants read the writing on the wall correctly instead of continuing to bulldoze sensible public opinion which is raising the red flag against the divisive agenda of the Sangh Parivar.

I attended a two day conference organised in New Delhi on last Friday-Saturday to commemorate the 125th year of Jawaharlal Nehru’s birth and it was truly ironic to witness the top intellectuals participating in the seminar full with deep concerns about the outcome of Bihar elections. All of them had the similar fear in their minds that the BJP victory in Bihar would be read as an endorsement of its approach in the matters such as the protest by authors, historians, artistes, film-makers, and scientists; Dadri lynching; and, Prime Minister’s silence on scams like Vyapam and Lalitgate.

Bihar has jolted Modi in a manner no argument, no logic, no rationale and no pearl of wisdom could have done. After all, the Sangh Parivar has consistently proved over decades that it does not have the capacity to respond to wisdom; its bigotry prevents it from changing its views and is dedicated to the sole agenda of establishing a theocratic Hindu state. Mahatma Gandhi failed to be convinced of it. History could not inject any sense into its mind. It hasn’t changed one bit; the Jan Sangh accused Nehru of eating beef and put up posters showing him chasing cows to the slaughter house with a sword during the third Parliamentary election. The BJP did the same in Bihar election. Isn’t it the time for the RSS-BJP to realise that gone are the days when the innocence of masses could have exploited through vicious campaigns? Bihar has shown that people have become intelligent enough to see through the real motives under the garb of “developmental agenda”.

Bihar has proved that there is no NDA in its DNA. This certainly is a referendum on the style of governance that Modi is pursuing. The Congress also has played a significant role in creating the strategic balance for a stable JDU-RJD-Congress alliance during this election. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi ensured that the pro-poor and anti BJP-RSS forces come together on one platform and spoke in one voice. It is now evident that if the political forces opposed to RSS-BJP sponsored communal agenda together are in a position to pose a very formidable challenge to Modi and company in days to come.

High jacking democracy is not a cakewalk now for anybody. Only until few months back BJP was riding a winning horse. But its dreams of ruling the country for at least 10 years are in shambles now. The states going to polls next year will not be same for Modi. The Assembly elections in the heartland of India are also bound to give Modi a very tough time in coming future. He will be facing the heat of internal organisational feud next month when the term of his man-Friday Amit Shah will be over as party president. Though after sensing the wind, the chorus for giving him the second term had begun even before the results of Bihar elections were out, it is not going to be easy for Shah to tip the scale in his favour. The survival of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister till 2019 has also come under serious threat because of already annoyed RSS. It will be interesting to see the manipulative skills of Modi in days to come - if he is left with any.

(Author is Editor and CEO of News Views India.)

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