Saeed Naqvi | Is BJP turning into Congress led by Sardar, minus Nehru?

Deccan Chronicle.  | Saeed Naqvi

Opinion, Columnists

What gave BJP winning numbers was its secular, economic measures — rations, cash, money for housing. Is this not some kind of welfarism?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP President J P Nadda during a BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, at Ambedkar International Centre, in New Delhi. (PTI file photo)

What happened was for the good”, as Krishna said to Arjuna. Muslims, disheartened by the recent election results, are missing the big picture. Should they be content seeking protection from a caste party, or does the community’s larger salvation lie in a new regional architecture which a radically altered global situation is dictating.

These changes, which may come slowly, will bring harmony to the nation of which the Muslims are a part. Admittedly, 36 Muslims MLAs are a consolation, not long-term relief.

A stable Narendra Modi is better placed to cope with the consequences of the United States floundering from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan, and now Ukraine. The Western media painting Vladimir Putin in lurid colours doesn’t quite disguise Joe Biden’s isolation, an outcome exactly the opposite of what the US President wanted. War is always horrible; these horrors are being visited upon the people of Ukraine. Heart-rending stories are the Western media’s staple today. But where were they when 1,400 Russians were killed in Donbas by neo-Nazi militias since 2014? That was the ignition.

Since America’s debacle in Afghanistan, there’s a certain inevitability about an entente with our neighbours. And, towards that end, something is astir.

Have you of late seen our TV channels telecast a positive India-Pakistan story? Something extraordinary happened last month. For three days, the channels reported not a bullet was fired by either side for a year; the ceasefire signed by the armies had held. The back channels are meeting in Muscat and Dubai. There are signs of good sense on the Chinese front too.

Had Mr Modi done badly in these elections, the adjustments the region requires would have been seen as from a position of weakness. A buoyant Mr Modi is better placed to spell out alterations in foreign policy without any change in the key relationship.  

Akhilesh Yadav has established beyond doubt that he simply doesn’t have the “killer” instinct needed for big sport. He has now led the party to four defeats — two Assembly and two Parliament elections.

There is a difference between advisers and a coterie, which neither the Gandhi family nor Akhilesh understood. Akhilesh was advised to forge an alliance with Chandrashekhar Azad of the Azad Samaj Party. He happens to be an impressive dalit leader whose spell in Yogi Adityanath’s jails has imparted to him a certain aura.

Akhilesh must rue the day he said “no” to the proposal. Look how Mayawati is now a cipher as the dalit vote deserted her and fell for the BJP’s social engineering. How clever! Field hundreds of dalit candidates to lure dalit voters, secure in the knowledge that the candidate will win as the upper castes too will vote for him as he represents the BJP. What a cleverly contrived electoral confluence of castes otherwise opposed to each other.

Without this massive shift of dalit votes, the UP outcome may well have been different as the vulgar edge given to Hindutva at the street level appears not to have increased the BJP’s numbers. Compared to 2017, the party is down by 52 seats. What gave it winning numbers was its secular, economic measures — rations, cash, money for housing. Is this not some kind of welfarism?

Will the experience of recent electoral battles therefore tone down the BJP’s saffron, smoothen its craggy rough edges? The image of a moderate BJP is quite incompatible with Yogi’s habitual excesses? The optics of Modi and Yogi looming large may be covering up the shifts at the ground level. Nastier shades of Hindutva did not win it votes. Social welfare schemes, dalits and sundry other groups did. Does this evolution make the BJP into a semi-saffron Congress under Sardar Patel — minus Jawaharlal Nehru? Credit must be given to Mr Modi for having made shades of saffron the colour of Indian politics.  

Of the other dramatis personae in play, does the Gandhi family not have an iota of pride and self-respect the way their own partymen call them names, insult them? They still stay on, piling defeat upon defeat. How thick can a skin be?

The media, either on official signals or due to its own class preference, keeps the Gandhis in play. Will this last after these results?

That’s a matter of concern even for the BJP. The Congress had become its pliant “B” team which occasionally jousted with the BJP. Now the Congress can’t be set up even as a scarecrow. At this precise moment, the Aam Aadmi Party has set the cat among the pigeons by rearing its head in Punjab. The BJP, Left parties, Congress on the brink of expiry, will speak in one voice rubbishing Arvind Kejriwal for different reasons.

The Congress and the Left nurse a desire to revive, but don’t know where. The BJP sees in the AAP a real threat, not a fake one, it has so far cunningly kept in focus, namely the Congress.

Remember the AAP’s 67 seats out of 70 in 2015? Successive lieutenant-governors shackled him, lest he run away with the show. The media was arrayed against him. He was “soft saffron”, they said, a professional agitator. What the media didn’t play up was where he could be pinned down: Mr Kejriwal turned callously away from the 2020 Delhi riots.

Elsewhere in health, education, water, electricity, his team have been doers. The effort was palpable.

Now that the “doers” have arrived in Punjab, the Delhi establishment will throw every spanner in the works. To begin with, abruptly, Delhi’s municipal elections were cancelled for no rhyme or reason. Why? Mr Kejriwal may just trounce the BJP, the first face-to-face combat after Delhi was first conquered in 2015. The media, as it’s geared today, will be part of an anti-AAP campaign, egged on by the BJP and Congress.

Read more...