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Fifth Column: Remember India shining?

When for the hundredth time I heard somebody tell me that Modi was assured of a second term, and that his successor was going to be Yogi Adityanath, I started watching what was going on in the Congress party more carefully.

Written by Tavleen Singh
Updated: July 23, 2017 5:23:33 am
India Shining, Narendra Modi winning a second term in 2019, Modi assured of a second term, Yogi Adityanath Modi successor, Rahul Gandhi Congress on Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi about Narendra Modi, Muslim voters Narendra Modi, Narendra Modi cow vigilantism comments, Modi on killing Muslims and Dalits in the name of cow protection It is true that by 2014, the dynasty’s façade of being socialist while sitting at the top of a corrupt, colonial system was being seen as an obvious sham. So when Modi as chief minister of Gujarat started talking of the need for real change, it appealed to Indian voters across those ancient divisions of caste. Muslim voters were more cautious, but Modi could not have been given the mandate he got if some Muslims had not voted for him. 

If you talk to anybody in political circles in Delhi these days, they will tell you that Narendra Modi winning a second term in 2019 is certain. BJP politicians say this openly and ‘secular’ politicians privately. The more I have heard this said, the more I am reminded of the summer of 2004 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee seemed invincible. Just before the election results, I remember being asked by CNN if there was any chance of Sonia Gandhi springing a surprise, and me recklessly declaring that there was none.

We know what happened. Ever since then I have been more cautious about mixing political analysis with prophesying. So what I am about to say is spoken as a political analyst, not an oracle. When for the hundredth time I heard somebody tell me that Modi was assured of a second term, and that his successor was going to be Yogi Adityanath, I started watching what was going on in the Congress party more carefully. I observed that Rahul Gandhi has, alas, still not learned the fine art of political communication. So, when he rails on these days about genuine distress in farming communities, he says, ‘I told Modiji to excuse farmers from paying their loans.’ He speaks like a prince ordering a peon to carry out a task and makes the Prime Minister gain a few votes every time.

His Mummyji, on the other hand, seems to have benefited hugely from her months of convalescence from that mysterious illness. So when she speaks now it is hard not to notice that she is hitting Modi on his weakest flank and she is hitting hard. When explaining reasons for opposing the BJP’s choice for President, she said, “We cannot and must not let India be hostage to those who wish to impose upon it a narrow-minded, divisive and communal vision. We must have confidence in the values we believe in… the fight for an inclusive, tolerant and pluralistic India is being truly waged.”

It is true that the Congress party’s vaunted secularism has been mostly a sham. It is also true that it is a sham that has been so skillfully honed that it has fooled millions of Indians for a very, very long time. So, it is not a sham that can be taken lightly. Whenever there are signs that marginalised and oppressed communities are being targeted by high-caste Hindu leaders, the secularism sham stops being a sham and becomes something that Indians turn to in the hope that it is truly the glue that binds India together. This is one of the main reasons why the Congress and the Gandhi dynasty have ruled India for most of her years as a free nation.

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It is true that by 2014, the dynasty’s façade of being socialist while sitting at the top of a corrupt, colonial system was being seen as an obvious sham. So when Modi as chief minister of Gujarat started talking of the need for real change, it appealed to Indian voters across those ancient divisions of caste. Muslim voters were more cautious, but Modi could not have been given the mandate he got if some Muslims had not voted for him. They hoped that he meant what he said when he emphasised the importance of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’. If this had actually happened in the past three years and all Indians had benefited from better governance and better economic policies, then Modi would indeed be invincible.

If he seems in need to guard against the mistakes that led to the Vajpayee government’s defeat in 2004, it is because he seems to have fallen into two Congress traps. When it comes to exalting poverty instead of helping people escape it, nobody has more experience than the Congress. So when the ‘suit-boot’ jibe made Modi change course and start speaking about public money as being something that poor Indians had first right on, he made his first mistake. As Mrs Margaret Thatcher once said, there is no such thing as public money. It is money that belongs to taxpayers. Socialist politicians think not and Modi has started speaking like one of them.

The second mistake he made was to abandon his promise of treating all Indians equally. When the goons that make up the ugly underbelly of Hindutva started asserting themselves and killing Muslims and Dalits in the name of protecting cows, they harmed Modi personally. He seemed not to notice and remained silent in the face of sickening violence, and this emboldened cow vigilantes so much that according to India Today we have recently seen an average of four incidents a month.

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All the victims have been either Muslim or Dalit. How did the Prime Minister forget that these are the two communities who have always been the Congress party’s most reliable vote banks?

Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @ tavleen_singh

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First published on: 23-07-2017 at 12:20:05 am
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