Saffron spread across nation punctures the Congress’ pride
By Pushpesh Pant | Published: 05th August 2017 10:00 PM |
It seems that the ‘last days of loud-mouthed Lalu Yadav’ are here at last. The ‘dirty tricks department’ of BJP/NDA appears to have pulled the rug from under his feet just as he was preparing to anoint his son as the worthy crown prince to rule Bihar. Officially, Tejashwi Yadav was the deputy chief minister, but he threw his weight around in a manner that left no one in doubt about who was the boss. Nitish Kumar smarted, but swallowed his pride repeatedly. Having parted ways with the BJP and spoken stirringly about the challenge to ‘secular-democratic’ fabric of India from reactionary obscurantist forces, allegedly represented by the Sangh Parivar, his options were limited.
It is not the JD(U) that on its own had defeated the BJP in the Assembly elections. Nitish rode back to power with the help of the RJD—the senior partner in the alliance against NDA. The RJD secured more seats than the JD(U), and Lalu ‘graciously’ let Nitish remain in the CM’s kursi (chair). He had, of course, extracted more than his pound of flesh. Two sons were given lucrative ministerial ‘births’ (pun intended), and Rabri Devi and darling daughter Misa were sent to Rajya Sabha. Not a bad deal struck by some one convicted by the courts and banned from contesting elections.
Lalu lost no time in signalling that it was back to business as usual—‘happy times’ were back again for the ‘bullies and baddies’ in the Jungle Raj. The Yadav patriarch shamelessly flaunted his friendship with the likes of notorious mafia dons such as Shahabuddin. The good work done by Sushasan Babu went gurgling down the drain. What Lalu and his brood were oblivious of was the change in the mood of the people of India in the last three years. Bihar could not remain untouched.
What repulses the young voter today is the vulgar sense of entitlement and abuse of identity politics to perpetuate dynastic misrule through corruption. Lalu and clan may shout themselves hoarse about political vendetta and try to play the victim card till cows come home, but they stand badly exposed without a fig leaf within reach. Lalu can, and no doubt will, continue demonising Modi and the BJP as facists-communalists, descendents of ‘murderers of Gandhi’ etc, but no one is prepared to listen to his rant. They want development and concrete signs of its fruits passing down to the grassroots.
The Mahagathbandhan is in a shamble with no hope of revival in sight. Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati may posture, but they, too, appear unable to retrieve lost ground. Captain Saheb is keeping a low profile in Punjab. A good soldier, who has been in the heat of battle, knows that there are times when discretion is the better part of valour. Poor Siddaramaiah has badly blotted his copybook by fanning the flames of anti-Hindi agitation and encouraging anti-non-Kannadiga parochialism. Having failed to deliver on the governance front, he has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Trying to stifle media has not improved his or Congress’ image.
It is not only the chieftains in the Opposition camps that appear demoralised and in disarray. The Congress party, the main opposition in the Parliament, is also shell-shocked. Events in Gujarat have left the Congress vice-president red-faced. Not that this makes any difference to him! Blessed with a skin thicker than a one-horned rhino in Kaziranga, he can shrug and charge wildly in unforeseen directions. He can take a break in the middle of a full-blown political crisis and return dramatically to cast his pearls of wisdom before his porcine subjects. (Let’s not forget that Lalu’s is not the only family that believes in its divine right to rule.)
Alas, the thick skin of a rhino or a pachyderm is no protection against the poachers. And this is exactly what has brought the Indian National Congress to the verge of extinction in Gujarat. Ahmed Patel, the ‘trusted troubleshooter of Sonia G’, finds himself in deep trouble at the moment. Defeat in the Rajya Sabha elections is staring him in the face and smuggling out untrustworthy Congress MLAs out of the state has not exactly covered the GOP in glory.
It is easy to give all credit to the ‘one and only Amit Shah’ for the impressive strike rate, but actually it is RaGa—the albatros round the Congress’ neck—who has ensured that the Modi Juggernaut accelerates unimpeded. Slowly but surely, the saffron patch is spreading on the political map. The balance in the Rajya Sabha is also beginning to tilt. Very soon, the Opposition is going to find the going getting rougher. With the BJP President in the Rajya Sabha, we are likely to witness more fireworks in coming days. There is hardly anyone across the trenches to match this firepower. This should be cause for real worry in a federal polity and a plural society. But whose fault is it? As has been aptly said, there are none as blind as those who refuse to see.
Former professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University