Google+ Followers

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Use Your Ghatotkachas And Indra Shaktis Wisely


Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 20 July, 2013

Copyright © Dr. Seshadri Kumar.  All Rights Reserved.

For other articles by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, please visit http://www.leftbrainwave.com

You can reach me on twitter @KumarSeshadri.

Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.

*********************************

The past few months have seen frenetic activity in India’s political landscape, much of it involving the rise of Narendra Modi, the Gujarat chief minister, to the forefront of national politics in India, and the reaction of the UPA and other political parties to this continuing development.

The rise of Mr. Modi has been neither smooth nor easy.  In fact, the rocky ride to the top of the BJP of Mr. Modi has given much cause for cheer to the Congress party, the JD (U) led by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, the Samajwadi Party (SP) of Mulayam Singh Yadav, and other detractors of Mr. Modi, even prompting some of their members, such as Manish Tewari, Digvijay Singh, Nitish Kumar, Renuka Chowdhury and Shashi Tharoor, to gloat publicly with unrestrained glee at what they perceive as Modi’s discomfiture.

I argue that the UPA, the JD (U), the SP, and other parties opposed to Modi do not really have any cause for cheer in the developments that have happened in the last couple of months.  On the contrary, they may have a lot more to worry about than they did before June 2013.  Either they are ignorant of this, or their cheer and gloating is much like the nervous laugh that some of us exhibit when we are embarrassed – in an obvious attempt to cover up our discomfort at a joke that may have been made at our expense or when an uncomfortable personal detail that we wanted kept secret is revealed without warning in public by one of our friends. 

Why this conclusion is warranted, viz., that the UPA, the JD (U), the SP, and other adversaries of Mr. Modi should all be very worried about Mr. Modi’s actions, and not celebrate right now, is the focus of this article.

The Perceived Troubles of Mr. Modi

To say that there has been turmoil in the BJP in the last few months is to state the staggeringly obvious.  Let us remind ourselves of some of the factors responsible for the turmoil:

1.       Supporters of Narendra Modi step up pressure for him to be named BJP’s PM candidate.
2.      Bihar CM Nitish Kumar makes some not-so-veiled comments expressing concern about Modi.
3.      BJP conducts its national meeting crowning Modi as chairman of its election campaign committee.
4.      Advani resigns from the party due to his opposition to the party elevating Modi.
5.      BJP convinces Advani to return to the party – without giving him anything in return.
6.      Nitish Kumar decides to leave the NDA (National Democratic Alliance), his party’s 17-year old alliance with the BJP.
8.     Mr. Modi gives an interview to Reuters, in which he talks about the 2002 riots and likens the death of the Muslims under his rule to a puppy coming under the wheel of a car which he was not himself driving.
9.      The vice-president of the Delhi unit of the BJP, Aamir Raza Hussain, resigns after criticizing Modi’s attitude to Muslims and taking exception to his “puppy” remark in his Reuters interview.
10.  Amit Shah goes to Ayodhya, makes a statement about building a grand temple to the baby Ram there.  The next day, Rajnath Singh, BJP president, clarifies that Amit Shah’s statement should not be taken in a political vein but as a personal statement from a devout Hindu. 
11.   More recently, in the same Reuters interview, Modi claims that he is a Hindu nationalist and that there is nothing wrong with being one.  Posters of Modi saying “I am Hindu nationalist” come up all over Mumbai, on orders of the BJP.
12.  The CBI files a charge sheet against the Gujarat police and the Intelligence Bureau, accusing them of engineering a fake encounter against Ishrat Jahan, a suspected terrorist, in 2004.  There is widespread TV coverage of the event, and lengthy debates on the integrity of the Gujarat police, and whether they were wrong in engineering a fake encounter.

The Congress and its allies have, understandably, felt very satisfied at the turn of events surrounding Modi and the BJP.  To the UPA, these events indicate to them that, under Mr. Modi’s leadership, the BJP will lose all its allies; it will lose all support from minorities and liberal Hindus; there will be dissension within the BJP, pitting supporters of Mr. Modi against those of Mr. Advani or Ms. Swaraj; and the talk of Hindu nationalism will turn off voters who are charmed by Modi’s development agenda.

All these are valid conclusions, but they ignore one fundamental truth about politics – that the three most important things (after money) in political campaigns are timing, timing, and timing!

Lessons from Sun Tzu

The importance of timing in war (and a political campaign is really a war) has been recognized since ancient times.  For example, the tremendously destructive second World War would never had happened had France sent its troops across the German border the day the Germans invaded Poland.  France had the numerical superiority to defeat Germany, which would have been caught unawares, and the entire war would have been over in 2 weeks.  It was France’s failure to do so at the right time that led to 6 more years of fighting to defeat Hitler.

But this is simply a modern example.  A commentator as ancient as Sun Tzu (ca. 500 BC) has talked extensively (inasmuch as the word “extensively” can be applied to Sun Tzu’s writings) about the importance of timing, the importance of surprise, and the need to catch your opponent in his weak moments.

I quote from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” Chapter 1, Verses 18-25:

18. All warfare is based on deception.

19. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

21. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

22. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

23. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.

24. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

25. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.

What do all these have to do with Narendra Modi?  The principles enshrined in the Art of War have clearly been understood by Modi, whether or not he has read Sun Tzu (although listening to his speeches, one is tempted to think that he surely must have – he is a fairly well-read man and often makes references to China and Korea, indicating an interest in the Far East).  His moves have perplexed friend and foe alike – hence the emphasis on deception.  

Further, careful observers will notice that Modi did not respond himself to the various provocations by Nitish Kumar, Advani, and many other people from his own party, hence, following the maxim, “when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive.”  Modi, instead of shying away from his record as a proponent of Hindutva, is actually asking the BJP to put up giant hoardings of his claiming he is a Hindu nationalist – hence, “Hold out baits to entice the enemy.  Feign disorder...” with the intention to later “...crush him.”  The interview with Reuters is also an example of following the maxim, “If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him.”

The Modi campaign is full of surprises.  Who would have imagined that Amit Shah would be put in charge of UP and, shortly thereafter, make a statement about building a Ram temple there?  Again, “appear where you are not expected.”  In fact, given that the biggest monkey on Modi’s back is the 2002 riots, one would have expected him to make a lot of secular-sounding statements, play down the Hindutva card, forbid any talk of a Ram temple, and talk only about Gujarat’s development.  

Yet Modi continues to surprise, and no one should make the mistake of thinking these are slips of the tongue or ill-thought-out moves.  He clearly has aces up his sleeve, but he will not talk about them now, following the maxim that these aces “must not be divulged beforehand.” If one can characterize one thing about Narendra Modi with crystal clarity, it is that he is a political animal and his instincts are very sure.  His three election victories in Gujarat are no accident.  Modi understands very clearly what he is doing and why.  But before we get to that, let us examine lessons from another ancient classic, this time closer to home – The Mahabharata.

The Curious Case of Karna and the Indra Shakti

The BJP has always been known to have a favourable stance towards Hindu mythology and Sanskrit.  While it may be debatable whether India would have been better off with Sanskrit instead of English, as Rajnath Singh recently suggested, in today’s knowledge economy, there is no doubt in my mind that the Congress, the JD (U), and other self-styled “secular” parties would do well to understand the lessons from our ancient epics such as the Mahabharata.  It might actually help them defeat their arch-enemy, the BJP.  In fact, I hold that not understanding the lessons from these epics has led to them making important tactical mistakes in the recent past.

One of the most interesting characters from the Mahabharata is Karna, the half-brother of the Pandavas whose real identity is known to very few in the epic.  Karna, being the son of the Sun God Surya, is said to have been born with a natural coat of armour and divine ear-rings, the possession of which rendered him invincible in battle owing to the fact that the armour could not be pierced by any weapon.  

Arjuna’s father, the God Indra, realizing that a final battle one day between Karna and his son Arjuna was inevitable, intervenes on the side of his son by resorting to deceit.  The noble Karna had a habit of giving freely to Brahmins whatever they asked of him after his morning prayers.  Indra appeared before him as a Brahmin one day and asked as alms Karna’s natural armour and ear-rings.  Without a thought Karna cut off the skin from his own body and handed it over to Indra, knowing full well who the Brahmin really was.  

In return for this unprecedented act of generosity, Indra offered a boon to Karna.  Karna asked for Indra’s infallible weapon, the Indra Shakti (also known as the Naikartana).  Indra understood who Karna meant to use it against and gave him the weapon, albeit with a rider – that Karna could use it only once in his life.  The person whom Karna chose to use it against would definitely lose his life, but after one use it would return to Indra.

In the final, climactic battle of the Mahabharata, at Kurukshetra, on the 14th day of the battle, the battle is extended beyond sunset.  Now, the second Pandava, Bhima, had a son, Ghatotkacha, by his Rakshasa wife, Hidimba.  The strength and power of Rakshasas were said to multiply manifold at night and they had in their possession powers of illusion which increased their menace.  

Consequently, on the night of the 14th day, Krishna advises Ghatotkacha to attack the Kauravas and specifically Karna, even though Arjuna volunteers to fight Karna.  Krishna tells Arjuna that the time for Arjuna to fight Karna has not yet arrived, for Karna still possesses the deadly weapon of Indra.

In the long and deadly fight between Karna and Ghatotkacha, while Ghatotkacha is unable to faze Karna, he still kills tens of thousands of Kauravas, and as long as he is alive the Kauravas will continue to lose lives.  In desperation, they call on Karna to use the Indra Shakti against Ghatotkacha and save them, which he eventually does.  As expected, Ghatotkacha dies, and the Indra Shakti, having accomplished its task, goes straight to heaven and to its master, Indra.

There is great grief in the Pandava camp at the loss of Bhima’s son, who was a great warrior in addition to being a close relative.  Everyone is sad – except Krishna.  Krishna actually dances a dance of joy and, when Arjuna is puzzled about this and questions him on his behaviour, explains that as long as Karna had the Shakti, Arjuna could never defeat him and would probably have been slain by him – but now that Karna has used the Shakti on Ghatotkacha, he can be slain and Arjuna is safe.  And this is what eventually happens.  The death of Ghatotkacha did not cripple the Pandavas - the death of Arjuna would almost certainly have done so.

The Indra Shaktis of the UPA, Nitish, and Advani

In light of this, consider what has happened with Narendra Modi.  In recent months, several developments have happened that would have rocked the BJP to its roots had they happened at the right time.  The revolt by Advani, for instance, is the equivalent of an Indra Shakti being hurled at Modi.  For a while, it did shake Modi and the BJP.  But Modi the chairman of the election committee, one year before the election, is a Ghatotkacha, a different person from Modi the challenger, the Arjuna, 3 months before the election.  Had Advani performed his stunt 3 months before the election, the effect on the party would have been chaotic and the action would have probably thrown the party into disarray, from which they probably would not have recovered in time for the elections.

Similar things can be said about Nitish leaving the NDA.  Had he done so 3 months before the election, the resulting perception could have been catastrophic for the BJP.  But what has happened instead?  Modi and the BJP have taken these blows on the chin and stood their ground.  Nitish has already quit the NDA; he cannot cause more damage by quitting a second time.  

Advani’s revolt is now a forgotten matter and, more to the point, he cannot do it again, just as Karna could not use the Indra Shakti again!  Advani has already tested the BJP’s response to his stunt – and seen that while he could get people worried, he could not shake them.  Knowing this, and having taken back his resignation, Mr. Advani only stands to lose whatever esteem he still has left if he tries another stunt.

Similarly, Nitish Kumar struck, and struck as hard as he could, but the BJP has survived, and it is not really a matter of concern any longer to the BJP.  A desperate UPA then unleashed the CBI to cause more damage to Modi’s image.  The CBI charge sheet, indicting the Gujarat police for engineering a fake encounter to eliminate Ishrat Jahan, a suspected terrorist, was the focus of much debate.  The CBI may, indeed, even have proof that Ishrat Jahan was eliminated in a fake encounter.  But as a weapon against Modi, the attempt was quite lame.  

The reason is that fake encounters have been used extensively by Congress governments to finish off terrorists, Maoists, and political opponents.  The best example of this is the Punjab, where the Congress government, under the able guidance of KPS Gill, is alleged to have committed more than 41000 murders in the form of fake encounters, according to the US State Department and Amnesty International.  

While the TV channels were abuzz with outrage against the Gujarat government for a couple of days, on the third or fourth day I saw a debate on NDTV (yes, even NDTV) talking not about the Gujarat government in particular, but about whether or not fake encounters are good or bad.  The discussion freely mentioned the many killings in the Punjab and the anchor even intervened at times to try to take the partisan angle out of the debate.  So this Indra Shakti, too, had failed – and, as with the others, it cannot be used again.

Of course, there have been other Indra Shaktis aimed at Modi, all of which have damaged other Ghatotkacha avatars of Mr. Modi – such as the 2002 riots probes against Chief Minister Modi, which certainly did sufficient damage to Mr. Modi’s reputation that he still cannot get a visa to the USA.  But, having wreaked its destruction on Chief Minister Modi, it cannot be used again against Prime Ministerial candidate Modi, because its energy has been spent and various committees, such as the SIT investigation committee, have not found any evidence linking Mr. Modi to the riots. 

Another case which was the equivalent of an Indra Shakti launched by the UPA against Modi was the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, in which the UPA shed tears for a known underworld criminal who had 60 pending cases against him at the time of his fake encounter, including cases for extortion and murder, not to mention proven links with international terrorists like Dawood Ibrahim, India’s most wanted criminal.  The UPA couldn’t have chosen a worse person to portray as a hero who was cruelly struck down by a fake encounter at the behest of Modi – but that Indra Shakti has also returned to its master, and no link of the entire episode to Modi could be proven, although his right-hand man Amit Shah was implicated. 

The Indra Shakti of Communalism

The latest surprise from Mr. Modi’s campaign is his portrayal of himself as a Hindu nationalist.  Much like Krishna asked Ghatotkacha to challenge Karna to battle on the night of the 14th day of the battle of Kurukshetra, in order to entice Karna to throw his Indra Shakti at him, this is another ploy by Campaign Committee Chairman Modi, the current Ghatotkacha, to get the Congress to throw (probably) its last remaining Indra Shakti, that of the communalism charge, at him so that PM candidate Modi (Arjuna) will not have to face it.  These moral arguments, be it fake encounters or communalism, simply do not have the same force or appeal when used a second time.

Modi is a very canny political calculator, and has understood the effect that his speeches at SRCC in Delhi, Fergusson College in Pune, and other places are having on the educated middle class of the country.  He knows that the middle class understands his economic policies and his vision for the country so well that he will not have to worry about losing their support.  

But this message might not resonate everywhere in the country, especially in the rural hinterland.  To some of them, and to reassure many of the BJP’s traditional supporters, the people who think building a temple for Ram at Ayodhya is important, Modi is mixing and matching his messages to appeal to a broader base.  I personally know of people in Tamil Nadu, where they don’t even speak Hindi, who have been captivated by Mr. Modi’s vision.  This confidence of so many people in Mr. Modi gives him the luxury of broadening his base without losing anything.

Part of this Hindutva message is also for internal consumption.  Modi needs to reassure his backers, the RSS, without whose help he could never have overcome as formidable an opponent as LK Advani, that they have chosen the right man for the job, and these are sops to the hardline right in the BJP and RSS, whose support Modi certainly needs in the upcoming elections.  Make no mistake: if Modi leads the BJP to victory in 2014 and is made the PM, he certainly will have to do something in return for the hardline rightwingers of his party, although development will likely still be the centerpiece of his administration. You have to pay your political dues.  But as long as Hindutva is only a sidelight and not the highlight of his rule, those who support Modi in the belief that he will bring in a new era of development in India need not worry.

Mr. Modi knows that publicly announcing his support for a temple at Ayodhya and calling himself a Hindu nationalist will cause a backlash from the “secular” media and the “secular” parties, but his plan is very clear - to take the blows on the chin at this stage so that he is never forced to act apologetic about being called a Hindu nationalist in the future.  The advantage for Mr. Modi with this strategy is that once the flurry of accusations stops, he will not have to defend himself again on that count.  Another Indra Shakti rendered useless, wasted on another Ghatotkacha, another avatar of Modi.  Only this time Mr. Modi has asked for it himself.

Why is he doing all this?  As I said at the very outset: timing, timing, timing.  With the UPA and its secular friends having emptied their quiver of all their Shaktis, it will be very hard for them to counter Mr. Modi later.  There is still a year to go (or maybe 6 months if early elections are called) before the elections and if your opponents’ arsenal is already empty, it will be tough going for them.  

Sure, there are still smaller weapons being hurled at Modi, such as Uddhav Thackeray saying he’s not thrilled about Modi, but clearly the potency of the weapons has gone down a notch.  Uddhav is no Advani or Nitish, and his own leverage is unclear with the death of his father and the rise of his cousin, Raj Thackeray, whom many expect will eclipse Uddhav in the next election, and who has a good rapport with Modi to boot.  And the resignation of the vice-president of the Delhi unit of the BJP doesn’t compare even to Uddhav.

The one demographic that Mr. Modi will probably not be able to win over, whatever he says or does, is the Muslims (except probably in Gujarat, where they seem to have voted for him very strongly in the recent elections held there).  He is widely seen as the villain of 2002 by Muslims and, as a practical politician, he has calculated that nothing from him will win that vote in the upcoming elections, and so he doesn’t bother to apologize for 2002, despite innumerable demands to that effect.  

His refusal to apologize gives him an aura of being a Hindu “strongman” among the RSS  faithful, whereas apologizing for 2002 will likely not win him any more Muslim votes anyway.  This is similar to his strategy for Gujarat in 2002 where, immediately following the riots, he prevailed in the elections despite not having any support from the Muslim voters, because he could count on the Hindu votes.

Why are They Wasting Their Shaktis?

The obvious question, of course, is why the Congress, Mr. Advani, and others are wasting their Indra Shaktis at Ghatotkacha instead of Arjuna.  For this, the credit must go to Rajnath Singh, Modi, and the other top organizers of the BJP, who had the wisdom to declare Modi the frontrunner with one year to spare, even taking in their stride a revolt from one of the founding members of the BJP.

The foresight of the BJP top brass in making the leadership of the elections of 2014 clear at this early stage has forced their adversaries to use up their Shaktis prematurely.  It might not make sense for Nitish Kumar, for example, to accept Mr. Modi’s elevation without protest now and then complain 6 months later – it would be difficult, but it could have been done, and I regard Nitish Kumar’s not having done this and acting precipitately as a tactical mistake by the JD (U).  

The Congress probably jumped the gun by asking its stooge, the CBI, to press charges against the Gujarat police so soon – they could have caused much more damage by delaying this – but now the weapon has been discharged, and has lost its potency.  The Congress was probably feeling desperate, though, and their premature release was probably a result of their performance anxiety.  You have to feel their misery, though.  If they press the CBI charges now, they run the risk that the momentum will dissipate well before the elections (as it seems to have); if they wait too long to file the charge sheet, Modi might get so ahead in the polls that people may not care.  In addition, more scams might hit the UPA, which would make their own case much weaker.  That could explain why they were so hair-triggered about this.

Advani’s reason was probably slightly different.  If he wanted to be the face of the BJP for 2014, it was indeed a now-or-never moment for him.  He had to protest now – had Modi been accepted as the party face for 2014, it would have been very difficult for Advani to make the demand in 6 months time that he be named the PM candidate.  So his hand was forced, too.  As a side observation, since it did not happen now, it will never happen for Advani.

Concluding Thoughts

In light of the events of the last few months, it is now clear that Rajnath Singh achieved a master stroke by installing Narendra Modi as the chief of the electoral campaign of the BJP in 2014.  The pecking order in the BJP is clear now, and the troublemakers have been silenced.  The magnitude of this achievement cannot be underestimated.  Six months ago, the BJP seemed to be in chaos with so many contenders for the party leadership, and today the party is unified under Modi.  The BJP faces an uphill task in order to win 2014 convincingly.  Preliminary surveys like the ABP-Nielsen survey show that the BJP would win 206 seats if the elections were held today, but that is not sufficient for the BJP to hold power on its own terms.  

For the BJP to do better, it must sweep the Hindi heartland, and try to do as well as it possibly can in the remaining parts of the country.  An alliance with Jayalalitha, who looks set to sweep Tamil Nadu, is the obvious strategy of advantage to both parties.  But the achievement of winning the Hindi belt is far from easy and far from having been achieved.  To achieve this, Modi requires a dedicated and united team behind him, and having the dissensions out in the open and resolved (at least Advani cannot try his stunt again) at this early stage will contribute tremendously to enable to BJP to achieve this objective.  

Losing allies is not desirable, but this is a truism only if the allies add to the union, not when they detract from it.  A large machine with parts that don’t fit will not work as well as a smaller, well-oiled machine that is put together well and runs efficiently.  So I would say that the events of the past couple months have been extraordinarily positive for the BJP.  

Rajnath and Modi realized that you cannot achieve a historic victory with constant bickering in the party and with allies, and so decided to clarify things very early.  The same cannot be said for the UPA, as it still struggles to define whether Manmohan Singh (who is sure he is ready for a third term), Rahul Gandhi (who is not sure about anything, except that he likes Girish the painter – or the carpenter), or someone else will lead it in 2014.

I should have concluded with that, but I had second thoughts. You see, I suddenly realized I may have been wrong about the Congress.  It, too, may have read the Mahabharata and understood the lesson about using the Indra Shakti only once, but not enough to use that knowledge against its adversaries – similar to how someone can understand a language but not speak it.  For, it is clear that the Congress has used this concept, not to attack the BJP, but to protect itself.  

Manmohan Singh has clearly been playing the role of Ghatotkacha to the hilt, taking the brunt of every Indra Shakti from the opposition – the 2G astra, the CWG astra, the CoalGate astra, the RailGate astra, and so on, and will surely be destroyed by the cumulative effect of these astras, as Ghatotkacha was by the Indra Shakti – and being destroyed in this way, he can save the Congress’ Arjuna – Rahul Gandhi.  That would explain why the Congress is not in any hurry to declare who their PM candidate is – let Ghatotkacha absorb all the scam-astras before he dies, and at the last minute bring in Rahul baba as the PM candidate.  So, expect a coronation announcement for Pappu not earlier than 3 months before the elections.

55 comments:

  1. Very interesting analysis, and well described. Great job. You are right, both parties are playing on timing their positions.

    I also think Modi very shrewdly turned the term Hindu nationalist. He said "I am a nationalist, I am a Hindu, therefore I am a Hindu nationalist". Which made the term plain vanilla and took away the sinister sting of the term, which normally applies to "nationalism based on Hindu ideology" or "Hindu nation"-ism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dhananjay!

      You are right that Modi tried to evade the question, which referred to the second meaning of the word that you describe, but from what I have seen on the internet, not everyone is impressed by it. I have seen some articles explaining what Hindu nationalism connotes and which accuse Modi of sophistry in his reply to Reuters. Modi's explanation is rather like someone saying, "This is a girl, and she is my friend, so she is my girlfriend." Of course that is nonsense, as everyone knows.

      Delete
    2. First of all, I loved your article and is very well written. The meaning of Girl Friend as per the dictionary:

      girl·friend (n)
      1. A favored female companion or sweetheart.
      2. A female friend.

      So, the girl friend doesn't have to be a romantic companion as you might be referring in your analogy to Hindu Nationalist.

      In the today's prevailing secular environment, proud Indians might even stop uttering "Jai Hind" after National anthem, thinking that "Hind" is a communal. The very same Indians unaware of the fact that "Indian" is a corrupted word for "Hindu". (Hindu is also a corrupted word for Sindhu)


      Delete
    3. Dear Mr. Raman:

      Thanks for your kind words. I am glad you liked the article. Please do spread the word!

      Now, as for your dictionary definition of girl friend, I don't disagree with it. However, there is a qualification to this. When girlfriend is used for a man, the meaning is usually that of a woman with whom a man has a romantic relationship. When girlfriend is used for a woman, the meaning is that of 2., viz., a female friend. This is the accepted convention. We can split hairs, but that is the accepted meaning.

      But, on the question posed by Reuters to Modi, I have a question for you and all the defenders of Hindu nationalism. Why didn't Modi answer the question directly? His refusal to answer it directly and to say that Hindu nationalism = Nationalist + born Hindu seems to suggest that he thinks there is something to be ashamed of in directly saying yes to the question.

      From what I have read, it isn't obvious that he needed to be. There is some confusion that people have between Hindu nationalism and the idea that India is for Hindus alone; but clearly, apart from Savarkar and Golwalkar, most RSS people were not opposed to Muslims being part and parcel of a Hindu rashtra.

      Gandhiji himself freely referred to Ramrajya. Here is Gandhiji talking about Ramrajya: “Whether Rama of my imagination ever lived or not on this earth, the ancient ideal of Ramarajya is undoubtedly one of true democracy in which the meanest citizen could be sure of swift justice without an elaborate and costly procedure.” He also emphasised that it meant respect for all religions: “My Hinduism teaches me to respect all religions. In this lies the secret of Ramarajya.” (From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_nationalism).

      If you look at the same wikipage, it talks about interpretations of Hindu Rashtra by RSS ideologues such as HV Seshadri and AB Vajpayee which are inclusive. Given all this, why didn't Modi simply answer the question with a "yes" and qualify his answer?

      Delete
    4. Sir I do not agree on this point though not going to agree or rebutt everything "apart from Savarkar and Golwalkar, most RSS people were not opposed to Muslims being part and parcel of a Hindu rashtra." - Your this thought is based on hearsay or perceptions. Savrarkar or for that matter Gowalkar as per my believe did not had any problem with Muslims but at the same time their anger against the community was for the reason congress was playing in the hands of Jinnah. RSS focus was to not to divide India because there is uproar or dissatisfaction among Muslims which was perpetrated by Jinnah for different reasons. Congress specially under Gandhi was not bold enough to think on national interest and I am sorry but have to admit were more on pseudo-secular lines. This game of minority and majority is being misused by many articulate person to either attain sainthood or political goals.

      Delete
    5. Mr. Nilanjan,

      You are wrong. My impression of Savarkar and Golwalkar is decidedly NOT based on hearsay or perceptions. I have already given the wikipedia link of the article on Hindu nationalism to justify my views on Savarkar, Golwalkar, and Gandhi. Please refer to it.

      But in case you regard even those as based on hearsay and perceptions, I will, for illustration, talk about Savarkar, straight from the horse's mouth, as it were.

      I am going to quote some passages from Savarkar's book on Hindutva: "Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?" By Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Veer Savarkar Prakashan, 1923.

      On the cover, Savarkar explains succintly who he considers a Hindu:

      "A Hindu means a person who regards this land of Bharatvarsha, from the Indus to the Seas as his Father-Land as well as his Holy-Land that is the cradle land of his religion."

      As he explains throughout the book, this definition includes Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs, but specifically excludes the Abrahamic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - because their Holy land is not India, but Palestine.

      Savarkar further goes on to explain what not being a Hindu in India means. On page 135, he says:

      "Look at the Mohammedans. Mecca to them is a sterner reality than Delhi or Agra. Some of them do not make any secret of being bound to sacrifice all India if that be to the glory of Islam or could save the city of their prophet."

      In other words, Muslims in India cannot be trusted; if there is a contest between an Islamic nation ("if that be to the glory of Islam") and India, they will not be loyal to India.

      He further elaborates on this on page 136, when talking about the Jews:

      "Their love is, and must necessarily be, divided between the land of their birth and the land of their Prophets. If the Zionists' dreams are ever realized - if Palestine becomes a Jewish state and it will gladden us almost as much as our Jewish friends - they, like the Mohammedans would naturally set the interests of their Holyland above those of their Motherland in America and Europe in case of war between their adopted country and the Jewish State; would naturally sympathise with the latter, if indeed they do not bodily go over to it."

      It is clear what Savarkar thinks of non-Hindus - they are a hindrance to the unity of India and to the idea of Hindustan as he sees it. So, do I think he has a problem with Muslims being part of a Hindu rashtra? Most definitely, yes. If you think there are people in your land who are potential traitors, won't you have a problem with them? I would. So I say, yes, Savarkar had a problem with Muslims.

      On the same page, Savarkar further clarifies:

      "The ideal conditions, therefore, under which a nation can attain perfect solidarity and cohesion would, other things being equal, be found in the case of those people who inhabit the land they adore, the land of whose forefathers is also the land of their Gods and Angels, of Seers and Prophets; the scenes of whose history are also the scenes of their mythology."

      Since Muslims do not fulfil this ideal, they are a hindrance to the idea of a Hindu rashtra.

      Need I say more?

      Delete
    6. not arguing whether Modi meant what you driving the conclusion to,
      where was savarkar wrong in his analysis? precursor that you have read Quran and hadidth.

      Delete
    7. Ankur:

      I am not going to get into the debate of whether or not Savarkar was right in his analysis. That's a completely different topic and a huge tangent off what we are discussing here.

      My point in mentioning Savarkar was that Savarkar was the one who first defined what the "Hindu Nation" was, and therefore what a "Hindu Nationalist" was; and that by that definition Muslims are second-class citizens who could not be trusted; and that this is probably the reason why Modi hesitated to give a straight yes as the answer to the question from Reuters as to whether he (Modi) considered himself a Hindu nationalist.

      I pointed out that other RSS/BJP folks, such as HV Seshadri and AB Vajpayee, have moderated that definition to be more inclusive, and that by the definitions of HVS and ABV, Muslims are not second-class citizens within a "Hindu rashtra" and so I wondered why Modi was being so shy of giving a straight answer.

      You are free to agree with Savarkar's definition; but the question is not whether you agree, but what is in the interest of the BJP to agree with. If Savarkar's definition was agreeable to the BJP today, they would never have changed it via the HVS/ABV definitions. They felt compelled to do so because of the need to win elections.

      The RSS is not a political party and doesn't need to worry about winning Muslim votes in an election; the BJP is a political party and has to care about winning at least some Muslim votes.

      You cannot possibly win the votes of a community if you tell them that they are second-class citizens in your vision of India, especially when that community is likely to be 20% of the population or more (for some reason, the last census was taken in 2011 but the percentage of Muslims has not yet been revealed, but it is quite possible that it is as high as this.)

      My whole point was that given that the modern definition of Hindu nationalist, according to RSS ideologues themselves, was more moderate and did not consider Muslims as second-class citizens of India, Modi could still have answered Reuters' question on whether he was a Hindu nationalist in the affirmative without apology.

      My only explanation for why he did not do so is that probably Savarkar's shadow looms large - almost 50 years after his death - so large that even after others have modified his original concept of the Hindu rashtra, people still remember what he said and may consider that the true meaning of Hindu rashtra.

      Delete
  2. Great analysis as usual, Seshadri Kumar. Let's see if things play out according to the script...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mr Modi is not playing the usual secular-communal tango between the political parties. He is a boxer like Mohammed Ali, who was always taunting, prancing about and out foxing the challenger. The rules of the old game are being changed by him, much to the annoyance of his opponents and the cronies in the MSM. It is proving very tiring and draining for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment. I am glad you brought up Muhammad Ali, because I had meant to write about him in the article but forgot; and when I remembered later, I didn't want to take the trouble of figuring out exactly how to fit it in the rest of the narrative. But the analogy I wish to use is not the "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" image you describe.

      The incident of Ali that is most applicable to this case is that of the "Rumble in the Jungle," his famous fight with George Foreman, that took place in the Central African Republic. Ali allowed Foreman to punch him to his heart's content in the early rounds, taking care to cover his face, though (the rope-a-dope technique), and tiring out Foreman in the process. Once Foreman was tired because of so many wasted punches, Ali let loose and knocked out Foreman.

      Modi, in asking for giant posters of his to be put up stating he is a Hindu nationalist, is behaving much like Ali, inviting the UPA to take their best shot at him and lose their energy now so that he can attack at the opportune time and knock out the Congress.

      Delete
    2. You have made a correct assessment. Regards.

      Delete
  4. Finally a nice perspective giving all concerned parties due credit !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amazing article Sesh, all these while i have been telling my friends about "The war has not begun and Congress is out of ammunition", if one can closely watch, Modi has not responded to any of enemy attacks, just like Ali did, he is evading everything and when the time comes, Congress better watchout for his heavy punches. Regarding his popularity in Tamil Nadu, I'm from chennai and my friends here believe that if Modi wins once, he might win it 2 more times. So it will Modi as PM between 2014-2029 (fingers crossed)

      Delete
  5. Amazing article Sesh, all these while i have been telling my friends about "The war has not begun and Congress is out of ammunition", if one can closely watch, Modi has not responded to any of enemy attacks, just like Ali did, he is evading everything and when the time comes, Congress better watchout for his heavy punches. Regarding his popularity in Tamil Nadu, I'm from chennai and my friends here believe that if Modi wins once, he might win it 2 more times. So it will Modi as PM between 2014-2029 (fingers crossed)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much, Freedom Writer!

      Thank you also for corroborating my statement about the support Modi gets in Tamil Nadu. If indeed Modi brings in the kind of governance to India that we hope he will, I think everyone, not just people from Tamil Nadu, will be happy about your prophecy.

      I would like to make a comment, though, and I hope the BJP will do something to address this perception. The BJP comes across too strongly as a "Hindi" party. Even Modi makes all his speeches in Hindi. I cannot imagine but that this will hurt the BJP in places like Tamil Nadu, where most people do not understand Hindi. I think it is Modi's personal appeal that has transcended this for now, but the BJP, in my opinion, needs to address this. The BJP has the potential to be an all-India force, but it needs to shed its Hindi-only image to do this. I wonder what you think about this.

      In fact, it is for the benefit of non-Hindi speakers that I translated Modi's speech at SRCC: http://www.leftbrainwave.com/2013/02/great-modern-speeches-modi-at-srcc-feb.html

      Delete
    2. Thanks for replying Sesh, not just you, many of my friends who do not know hindi have raised this question. But its not to do with Modi or BJP as a whole, its to do with the BJP TN unit. Isnt it their foremost job to make sure that whatever talks Modi does about governance is put across to people in Tamil Nadu in either Tamil or English, so that people know what Modi's vision for 2014 is? The problem with BJP in most of India is that, they do not have strong faces to lead the party in the respective states. They do not have likes of Raman Singh (Chattisgarh), Sushil Modi (Bihar) Shivarj Singh Chouhan (MP), Vasundhara Raje (Rajasthan), Rajnath Singh (UP), Modi in Gujarat (now a Pan India appeal), if they can somehow address this, then by 2020, BJP will be in power in almost all the states. And regarding the SRCC translation, u have done an amazing job

      Delete
  6. Good One !! As we know main Mahabharat is yet be fought , we like to see more from you !
    Thanks,
    Narendra
    stockholm

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very impressed, well presented by you Dr.

    I followed 2009 LS elections very closely & I find one important & big change in Indian politics with reference to BJP. During the campaigning for LS 2009, many of Congressi Spokesperson (so called "Neutral") like Vinod Mehta repeatedly were saying "UPA has done badly, but there is no effective opposition to take on Congress". To strengthen such an idea that even though Congress is weak & doing badly, the opposition is not strong enough to take On Congress, Congress Supremo created some monsters like Arvind Kejriwal & Anna Hazare & friendly media projected as if they have taken Congress Head On while BJP failed on it. If closely observed, it becomes obvious that Arvind Kejriwal or Anna Hazare are engaged in mock fights against Congress trying to occupy the Opposition space, which BJP was not doing. To confirm my opinion that Congress Supremo created these monsters, look at the way media treated them. Another apparent example is how Baba Ramdevs people were treated vis a vis Anna Hazare / Arvind Kejriwals supporters were treated by UPA govt. In brutal attack, Congress killed Rajbala daring Baba Ramdev to oppose them. In fact, the fear factor has slowed down Baba Ramdev after that midnight arrogance of Congress Supremo. On the other hand, Anna & Arvind till now are touring left & right engaged in mock fight against Congress.
    If BJP could not have elevated Narendra Modia & if the status quo could have prevailed, it could have been a repeat of 2009. It is amply clear that powercuts, price rise, poor economic management etc are pinching the common man in all levels & there is growing anger against Congress government from the public. All it needs to defeat UPA is just one party to show themselves more anti-Congress than others to win in 2014.
    Whether Modi attacks Congress or Congress attacks Modi, the net result in public perception is the same i.e. BJP under Na Mo is the only strong opposition against Congress. This in itself shall take BJP to a resounding Victory in 2014. The anti-incumbency, anti-Corruption, anti-Congress sentiment is not spilling away, no pilferage & Narendra Modi has encompassed the opposition space all within himself leaving no space to others. This is the most important factor & all the other anti-Congress parties are not in a position to speak enough against Congress due to the Secularism factor. Take an example of Chandrababu Naidu – He can’t talk about Afzal Guru, Indian Mujahideen, 26/11, bomb blasts etc, because he is fighting for the same Secular space that Congress is also targeting. Public outrage against price rise, corruption, weak economy, anti-incumbency accumulated over 9 odd years everything goes against Congress & it needs one party against them to receive all those negative votes. NA MO fits this bill correctly.
    Another point is the void of Prime Ministerial candidate is so unique about 2014. There is absolutely no candidate who can take on Narendra Modi, who has a pan-India image. There is a clear void in the Prime Minister candidate from the ruling as well as opposition side. Ask Jayalalitha – Who is the Prime Minister candidate if a citizen votes for her party? She cannot nominate any person till the elections. For a country that had spent more than 9 years without an authoritative Prime Minister, any Indian origin PM with little bit of Pan-India image would be more than adequate. It is important that BJP also annoints Narendra Modi as PM candidate without any delay to grab the void space for candidature.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for responding and thanks for the kind words.

      I am afraid I do not agree with your view on the Anna Hazare agitation. I think the government did not use the kind of force against the Anna agitation that they used against Ramdev simply because they didn't see the need. They calculated that the movement would simply self-destruct if they delayed things, which is what happened. I have written several articles on the agitation - you can refer to my summary article on the movement here: http://www.leftbrainwave.com/2012/08/itna-sannata-kyon-hai-why-this-silence.html

      I hardly think the govt. needs to worry about Anna and AK moving around and giving speeches - I think you will agree they are a spent force. Why would the govt worry about suppressing them now? Let them give speeches!

      The BJP cannot win without NaMo as the PM candidate. I am with you on that. But I don't think it is merely a matter of being anti-Congressi, and this is something that all supporters of Modi should be seriously thinking about. What is it that they want from Modi apart from kicking the Congress out? Do they like his economic ideas, for instance? How would they want him to build up the defense of the nation? I think the debate is fast approaching the stage where NaMo cannot bank only on an anti-Congress wave but also on the strength of his platform (which I'm sure he has - the point is that more energy needs to be spent on what Modi brings to the table rather than "throw the Congress out.")

      Delete
  8. You are so right! .. even Digvijaya singh is being forced to visit templesand publicise his visits!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting!

      Yes, in a way, that's what Modi is trying to do - change the terms of the debate - control the debate. So far, the Congress was controlling the debate and forcing the BJP on the defensive. This attitude is so ingrained in the BJP that even Modi, who I see is trying to change the basis of the debate, gave a rather weak answer when asked about Hindu nationalism (see my reply above to S. Kumar). That's a defensive answer.

      The BJP needs to think a lot more about this campaign. It isn't over by a long margin.

      Delete
  9. Sesh,
    Even Character of Bhisma Phitama can be compared with Modi in comparison to the power they both held but But you missed one very important character of Mahabharata "Shikandi"...Who that person will be?

    In 2004 Even ABV was considered as Bhisma Phitama but Shikandi turned out to be Italian Lady, people voted blindly to this lady.


    Congress surely will come up with their Shikandi Character...

    If things move as it is now then Congress may launch priyanka later stage...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congress were relying on sulking old Advani, communist turncoat Kulkarni etc to do the job for them but the RSS put a stop to Advani's sabotage. However Advani et al may strike again if given half a chance. Many great hurdles lie before Mr Modi and the BJP. But Mr Modi is a formidable chap who had endured the most vicious and malicious campaign in Indian politics and still come out on top. Godspeed to him.

      Delete
    2. I am confused by your statements. You appear to be a BJP supporter - so why are you clubbing BJP leaders with the Kauravas? Last I checked, it was the Kauravas who were the bad guys and the Pandavas who were the good guys!! :-)

      If you want an analogy for 2004, why don't you think of ABV as Dharmaraja Yudhishthira, who was deprived of his rajya by Shakuni Sonia Gandhi and sent to vanvas?

      Now, as to your other question - who is Shikhandi (keep in mind, I am treating the BJP as the good guys! :-), here is one possible list of Mahabharata characters from the UPA and the BJP. Strictly tongue-in-cheek, mind you, and I am sure each person can assign different characters to different persons, but here is my list (I spent only 5 minutes on this, so this is not deep literary thinking and analysis! :-) - take it with a pinch of salt, of course - the Bhishma character may not be as noble as the one in the epic, for instance! :-)

      To the pols - this is a joke, so please don't take offense that you may have been equated with someone!

      Kaurava Side

      Manmohan singh - Dhritarashtra
      AK Antony - Kripa
      Sharad Pawar - Bhishma
      P. Chidambaram - Drona
      Rahul Gandhi - Duryodhana
      Digvijay Singh - Karna
      Sushilkumar Shinde - Dussasana
      Kapil Sibal - Jayadratha
      Sonia Gandhi - Shakuni
      Ajit Singh - Vikarna
      Anand Sharma - Kritavarman
      Jairam Ramesh - Salya
      Kamal Nath - Aswatthama
      Farooq Abdullah - Bhagadatta
      Jaipal Reddy - Bhurisravas
      Beni Prasad Verma - Durmukha
      Abhishek Singhvi - Dussaha
      Shashi Tharoor - Chitrasena
      Manish Tewari - Susarma
      Jayanthi Natarajan - Alambusha

      (if you need more, Duryodhana had 100 brothers)

      Pandava Side

      Modi - Arjuna
      Rajnath - Krishna
      Jaitley - Satyaki
      Advani - Drupada
      Vajpayee - Vyasa (I know, technically Vyasa is neutral, but I had to give the non-playing ABV some role)
      Raman Singh - Dhrishtadyumna
      Manohar Parrikar - Virata
      Shivraj Singh Chouhan - Yudhishthira
      Ravi Shankar Prasad - Sahadeva
      Sushma Swaraj - Bhima
      Uma Bharti - Nakula
      Smriti Irani - Abhimanyu
      Nirmala Seetharaman - Pandya
      Rajiv Pratap Rudy - Dhrishtaketu
      Varun Gandhi - Shikhandi
      Meenakshi Lekhi - Ghatotkacha
      Prakash Javadekar - Kuntibhoja

      Ok, that's enough fun for now!

      Delete
    3. S.Kumar: There was more honor in the time of the Mahabharata. Because of that, I cannot really find parallels to Advani and Kulkarni - there really was no concept of turncoats then. If you agreed to fight on one side, you simply fought on that side. Matter of honor. Take Salya for example. He was tricked by Duryodhana into joining him, against his own nephews Nakula and Sahadeva. But he fought loyally for Duryodhana and died for Duryodhana. We can only make parallels to some extent! :-)

      Delete
    4. There could a debate about other characters, but Sonia Gandhi perfectly fits the character of shakuni...a foreigner who wants to destroy not only the pandavas but also the kauravas.....:)

      Delete
  10. Very good article... could I translate it into Telugu and publish it... with a link to original blog... :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much!

      I am flattered that you'd like to translate it. Yes, please do as you suggest, with proper credits and a link to the original, and send me the link - I will pass it on to my Telugu friends!

      Thank you! :-)

      Delete
    2. Can someone translate this to malayalam, Kerala is one state in South India, where BJP can grow at immense rate if they put their heart and mind into it. Malayalam translation please

      Delete
    3. So, Krish, have you done the Telugu translation? If so, please point me to it!

      Delete
  11. Hi,this is my first time here..It is a very detailed analyses of the present situation..Would it be right to compare that SatYug to current KaliYug?
    However,India needs a change and presently....rightly or wrongly...Modi seems the only answer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for coming here, and please do visit more often!

      Thanks also for your comment.

      To respond, the Mahabharata was not in the Satya yuga (or Krita yuga). There are 4 yugas in the cycle - the Satya (or Krita) yuga, the Treta yuga (during which time the Ramayana is supposed to have happened), the Dwapara yuga, and the Kali yuga. The Mahabharata is supposed to have happened in the late Dwapara yuga. In fact, the battle of the maces between Bhima and Duryodhana occurs at the very end of the Dwapara yuga and spills over into the Kali yuga. Bhima commits a foul by hitting Duryodhana on the thighs - a contravention of the rules of war in those days. Balarama, the guru of both Bhima and Duryodhana, is furious at this brazen display of adharma (he arrives at Kurukshetra just in time to witness the fight) and is about to kill Bhima for his transgression of the rules, when Krishna intervenes and calms him down, saying that the age of Kali has begun, and so it is not proper to judge Bhima's actions by the rules of a previous yuga.

      So yes, I think it is proper to compare the Mahabharata to today - they both had some Kaliyuga.

      Delete
  12. I don't agree all these arrows directed against modi as 'Indra Shakti'. No they may be Agni Baans or Amogh Baans (Agni & Amogh arrows) but certainly not the 'shakti'.

    If it was Indra Shakti then it'd have done its work by now.

    No! Warhead has been mated, the shakti is being prepared to launch but not launched yet.

    You see the shakti being prepared in implicating the 'Intelligence Bureau officer' in ishrat case, the whole of IB, RAW etc. have been warned that alerting about terrorist attack from pakistan can land them in trouble. So when LeT, JeM terrorist cross the border to kill modi and amit shah there path should not be hindered. That my friends will the 'Indra Shakti' that modi cannot escape. :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for visiting and for your comment.

      I sincerely hope you are wrong. I would imagine that, because of the 2002 riots and the various death threats he has received, NaMo is already under extremely tight security. Hopefully, since he is the CM, he can arrange his own security and prevent what you fear.

      Delete
  13. What a fantastic analysis with analogy to greatest of masterpieces. Keep on writing such things it encourages us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much for your kind words and thanks for visiting!

      Delete
  14. I'm very much glad to read the whole article and the comments, might get handy in future.

    All thanks to Seshadri Kumar for his brief analysis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much for visiting and your kind comments!

      Delete
  15. Hi Sesh,

    Nicely thought out analysis with regards to current events and NaMo.
    But Congress (with Madam's backing) is trying to woo poor India by bribing them with freebies such as Food Security Bill and passing an ordinance with regards to it without a house debate is worrisome, since we have seen that on previous occasions granting numerous subsidies and waiving of farmer loans worth billions have paid them off. Congress does have politicians more cunning than Shakuni.
    I wish Modi in the form of "Krishna" (not Arjuna) will expose the dangers of freebies and the damage done to the nation. But I think poor voters in India get swayed easily and it's tough to predict the outcome.
    Thanks,
    Ravi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ravi,

      Your fear is quite reasonable. But poor voters have become a lot more smart in recent years. Let me recount a story to you that will hopefully make you feel better.

      I was coming home from the airport one day in Mumbai and, as is my wont, I started chatting with the taxi driver. I learned that he was originally from UP (as most taxi drivers in Mumbai are). The guy told me about his past in UP. He said that politicians used to come to their slums just before the elections and hand out the food and the booze to make them vote for them. He said, in the past, people used to vote blindly. But now, he said, both the ruling party MLA and the opposition MLA came to their slum and wined and dined them and told them to vote for their parties. He said they accepted money from both parties and eventually everyone voted for whom they wanted to vote for!

      Later, the losing politician came angrily looking for our driver, because he thought he had betrayed him. After hiding for 3-4 days, he met with a friend who advised him to stop hiding but confront him. So he went straight to the politician and faced the angry man. He pretended total innocence and said that he and his friends all voted for this guy - it's the others who betrayed him (without naming anyone). He also feigned anger and said that if this is the way he was treated, he'd go and switch sides. Immediately the politician calmed down, tried to appease him, and poured him a glass of whisky and told him they were best friends, why would he think of defecting to the other side?

      So, moral of the story: our villagers aren't poor idiots. They have seen through the games politicians play. There is yet hope for India.

      Delete
  16. very interesting article with lots of examples and comparisons with Mahabharata.. I hope we (bjp )reach at least 220 seats..dont know how..yesterday CNN-IBN with Hindu Newspaper has come out with analysis on many of the states, how it will vote..in bihar as per the analysis, bjp will win only 8-12 seats (cant believe this)..

    what do you make out of these analysis..are they confusing the ppl or is this the ground reality as of now ?

    thanks,
    gopal

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JK,

      Thanks for visiting and for your nice comments.

      I saw part of the CNN-IBN election tracker show. I watched a fair amount of the Bengal portion of the show. The basis of CNN-IBN's Bengal portion discussion was flawed, since they kept showing statistics of 2009 and comparing them to the vote share they estimated from the survey today.

      As Yogendra Yadav pointed out during the show, this is wrong because what you should be comparing with is 2011, when Mamata's popularity hit its peak. So Sardesai makes some wrong conclusions, such as saying Mamata has improved one percentage point since 2009 (the impression the audience gets is that she is gaining in popularity.) In reality, though, her popularity shot through the roof in 2011 when she won the election. I don't know the vote share in the assembly elections, but the Trinamool won 77% of the seats in the assembly. I think the vote share was above 40%. Given all, this, the figure quoted for today, viz., 29%, is a big drop. So they are not comparing apples to apples.

      As to your question on Bihar, I don't know, this might be the ground reality today. But I think things can change very fast. The BJP is making all the right moves. Modi's ascendancy, the formation of the committees, and the creation of a charge sheet against the Congress, all indicate a determined and unified BJP campaign. Sure, there will be irritants, such as what happened in MP yesterday, with Shivraj Chouhan (probably on Advani's instance) not using Modi's image in the pre-election posters. If the BJP can manage to change the parameters of the debate, then a decisive victory is quite possible.

      Delete
    2. Biggest fault in this survey is comparing the 2009-2013 vote percentage of state leaders & party (TMC & JD(U)). For Mamata and Nitish, the comparision should be between 2011 vs 2013, 2010 vs 2013 respectively, that will show what they have gained and what they have lost. VOTE % IN SEATS CONTESTED for TMC in 2011 was 50.15 and it had 38.3% votes against its name in total valid votes polled, but whereas today it is 32%, which is fall of 6%

      Delete
  17. It is imperative that following question is honestly and courageously answered.
    "WHO ARE THEY?"
    These sections of people, who call India home (political entitlement) have rejected India's unique Hindu (narrowly sectarianized as religion and bracketed with global polarizing creeds from the west) Civilization as the essential core ingredient of what makes up their sense of belonging and unmistakeable identity. They are inextricably chained to fragmented and suspicion ridden relationship with reality. The resultant self-inflicted hurt in their in psyche never seems to heal. Until the healing is done there can be no internal peace. No external peace either. They are tormented singularly with intransigent self-centeredness.They will remain constant irritant to the society as a whole. They will play compulsive spoilers and hijackers of the nation's endeavour to blossom on the terms of its own home grown genius. Who are they?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Loved reading this article. I have been thinking the same thing for a while - that Modi is a very astute politician and he has created a unique space for himself which others simply cannot occupy. His appeal is very broad across the Hindu majority among those who wish to see a "Hindu strongman" but also equally strong among the rapidly growing middle classes who want to see economic development. No other politician has been able to create this kind of space for himself. In addition, Modi is also an OBC who constitute 38 per cent of the vote in UP and 50 per cent in Bihar.

    There is no doubt that the opposing parties are very very worried about him and their behaviour is starting to betray a sense of blind panic. That is already a bad sign. If you panic wildly about your opponent, it is even harder to win. The election will be decided in UP - if he and Amit Shah can pull off 50 odd seats, I think it is game over.

    ReplyDelete
  19. As more a reader of Western than Hindu philosophy (though have respect for both), I wanted to add my own 2 cents, if you will.

    I don't know if Modi has read Machiavelli but he may have done. I think the key problem that the Congress and the so-called "secular" parties face today is that they are utterly unable to capture the imagination of the young who are connecting to the internet in droves. Their attacks on Modi for being "communal", had they been effective, would have finished him off by now. Yet why is it that with every attack on him he keeps getting stronger? Modi was relatively unknown until 2002 when he became CM of Gujarat. Secondly, even then a few people had heard of him due to the riot coverage but he wasn't driving the news feeds 24/7. Modi has actually turned the media's attacks on him into an asset. I would venture to say that the vast majority of people don't know anything about the Chief Ministers of other states but everyone knows who is the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

    In democracies, politics changes very fast. Pardon me for giving western analogies but I can think of so many examples. Kennedy v Nixon in 1960 showed the power of television. Nixon v Humphrey in 1968 showed that the white south had shifted allegiances from the Democratic to the Republican party (first time ever) - it was a permanent shift that is in place in even today. Closer to home, 1989 was a seminal election which finished the Congress off as a party that could win a majority on its own.

    The next election may not be "swung" by the social media/internet crowd but it seems that this growing force is a real problem for the Congress. You only have to see the pronouncements of Digvijay Singh and wonder how out of touch these people really are with the youth of the country. The abuse hurled at him on Twitter and various blogs is further proof of this fact.

    Anyway, whether Modi is as good a politician as I think he is will only be confirmed when the election is over. I have, however, quiet confidence in his ability to ambush his opponents. The Congress Party is fast running out of ideas on how to counter him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting and for your kind words. I am happy you liked the article.

      You are absolutely right that Modi's opponents are panicking. Many of the attacks on him betray a sense of urgency that can only be equated with panic. You are also right that the election will be decided in UP, as I have mentioned in the article itself. Bihar will also prove to be a surprise, even for all the pollsters today. CNN-IBN and TimesNow have run polls as of today indicating who would win the elections if held today, but things are changing fast and the results of a poll held six months later might well be very different. So again, I agree with you that in politics, things can change very fast. The problem with the TV pollsters is that they are not "forecasting" - they are only reporting. It is like saying that the weather in Chennai is really fine, even though there has been an earthquake in Indonesia. It takes some time for the tsunami to reach Chennai; so the current weather in Chennai is not a good indication of what will happen when the tsunami hits. I believe Modi is riding the crest of a tsunami, which all these pollsters are ignoring.

      The effect of social media is indirect. As someone else said (don't recall the source), there is a very small percentage of Indians who live in the twitterverse, facebook, and the internet in general. But since most of our journalists live in the twitterverse, what happens there makes its way to TV debates - and then the impact is nationwide. So, a statement or controversy that has its origins in twitter eventually finds its way to Arnab Goswami's desk and, from there onward, to you, with the qualification, "The nation wants to know!" So twitter and facebook have a huge influence, and clearly Modi's followers are far more net-savvy.

      One further comment on social media. Many media commentators speak about the abusive rants by many on twitter against the UPA (which you have alluded to) and act as though this discredits their opposition to the UPA regime. The truth, however, speaking simply as an Indian living in India, working in an office and talking to real Indians, moving in my neighborhood at home, talking to my neighbors, the shopkeepers, the taxi drivers, and the delivery boys, is that the anger that is displayed on twitter is merely a digital manifestation of the seething anger among millions of Indians. In my office most people are on facebook, and when there is an angry or ridiculing post on FB against the government, people gleefully talk about it at lunch or at the watercooler. If NDTV or CNN-IBN or the UPA for that matter chooses to ignore the anger of the masses, they do so at their own peril. The anger is very real.

      Delete
  20. Dear Mr. Kumar, Thanks for such amazing analysis. For some time, I have been wondering why Mr. Modi is not responding to all these attacks from various quarters. But, after reading this article, his strategy looks very clear to me.

    One thing I still don't understand though is the role of media in all this. I am sure you would have noticed that most of the Indian media is Anti-Modi. Take CNN-IBN, NDTV, Hindustan times, Hindu, Daily bhaskar etc. All these news channels/ news papers churn out daily doses of Anti- modi news. With a large chunk of media against him, how do you think he can counter that?

    The other factor which worries me is the 'Vibhishan Factor'. To me, the biggest threat to Mr. Modi comes from BJP itself. Take the case of Shatrughan Sinha. I wonder how decisive will be this internal dissent in the outcome of 2014 election results.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Mr. Mukerji,

      Thank you for visiting and for your kind comments.

      Regarding the role of the media, I wouldn't say all the media is against Modi. While, as you say, CNN-IBN and NDTV, among the leading cable news providers, have a clear anti-Modi bias, I see TimesNow as having a pro-Modi bias. And yes, The Hindu has always had an anti-Modi stance. It is a communist newspaper that does not like the capitalism Modi espouses.

      In any case, I do not think the media can greatly influence the election any longer. This is not to say they do not have influence, but even if you are against someone, you have to have some facts to twist. As I argue in my article, most of the Indra Shaktis thrown at Modi have fallen flat. It is very difficult to continue talking about them.

      To add to this, the BJP central leadership, and Rajnath Singh in particular, has been extraordinarily clear-headed about the election. They have realized the enormous popularity of Mr. Modi, and elections, regardless of what the Bihari Babu might say, ARE based on popularity.

      But the popularity Mr.Modi has is one based on his record of achievement in Gujarat. Mr. Bachchan, in spite of his enormous success in movies, has no record of achievement in politics. So Mr.Sinha's statement should be taken for what it is - empty rhetoric.

      Mr. Sinha's statement is another example of desperation. Let me give you an example which will illustrate what I mean. If you live in India and drive here you will understand the analogy. Suppose you are trying to get ahead in traffic in India. In India people don't follow lanes, etc. - it is whoever can get ahead first - each man for himself. So you see two lanes merging, and you hit the accelerator and get into the single lane before the other car, who was in the lane right next to you. Now what happens? The other guy angrily blares his horn. You know he's angry at you. But do you stop your car, get out and debate with him? No. You just ignore him and drive on. All his honking won't the change the fact that he lost the battle for the single lane. His honking is simply an act of desperation.

      Our Bihari babu's comments on Modi are a similar act of desperation, on realizing that Modi is the PM choice of the NDA. Sinha is known to have a close personal equation with Nitish Kumar, being as they both are from Bihar, and Sinha appears to be upset that Nitish won't the choice for the PM (he lost that lane to Modi) - and he's honking now. Modi is not going to dignify the honking by stopping the car and debating Sinha.

      Delete
  21. totally agreed with your analysis and now it seems to be right; let's see the result

    ReplyDelete