Monday, December 16, 2013

Like Caesar, Be Aware and Beware of.... Power & Politics/The Sunday Standard/December 15, 2013

Like Caesar, Be Aware and Beware of Your New Friends More Than Sworn Foes

Dear Narendra bhai,
We go back 40 tumultuous years. In those eventful decades, the Sun Tzuian maxim that has often come to my mind is that you should keep your enemies closer to you than your friends, of which you have a few, but are outnumbered by the former. Ten years of ruling Gujarat with a clear vision and mission, you have acquired a large congeries of enemies but a larger number of new admirers and friends. Those who once led the hate campaign against you after the 2002 riots and refused to share stage with you are now jostling to climb the Jacob’s ladder of Modi-for-PM. From media to money lords, all are clamouring to give you credit for something which even you would hesitate to own up to. Last week, these fair weather friends were annunciating their new-found confidence in you. Soon after Assembly election results were announced, these self-anointed megaphones grabbed every opportunity to declare the results as an endorsement of your ability to lead the country.

By giving you credit for their record performances, your faux-friendly foes aim to isolate you among your peer group

As you are well aware, there has been hardly any talk regarding your stellar performance as Gujarat CM. Despite the obloquy the riots brought you, and your subsequent social and global isolation, you led the state from the front and restored peoples’ confidence and even that of the corporate sector with your administrative acumen. You won elections twice after 2003. Now, the moneyed class, which lost fortunes at the stock exchange through the UPA’s infirm governance, are looking at Brand Modi as the fastest way to recoup losses and not as the man who created the Modi Model of statecraft.
But 2013 is not 2003. Now you are BJP’s official candidate for PM. It is for the first time that a state leader has been able to successfully topple an established Central leadership on the basis of performance and credibility. This has caused massive heartburn to those aspiring to be PM, thanks to their close ties to elitist opinion-makers dominating the national discourse from their lofty citadels. They have never been comfortable with your uncompromising style or persona. Until now, the idea of Modi and Moditva has been anathema to them. For the past few years, most of them have been mocking both your politics of exclusivity and assertive model of functioning. They wouldn’t want a person like you who is not influenced or dictated by others at the helm of India which finds itself in the stormy seas of policy indecision and political upheaval. You believe in firm action and decisive speech. But the new class of sycophantic Machiavellis are making you suspect in the eyes of other successful BJP CMs like Vasundhara Raje, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh who have also registered spectacular victories. Be forewarned that by giving you credit for their record performances, your faux-friendly foes aim to isolate you among your peer group. They have encircled you to push their own agendas. They are out to make you the envy of your compeers. In this burlesque of the absurd, they would even give you credit for excessive rainfall in parts of India. Their mindless monologues would hail you as the rescuer of the American and Indian economies as they did during a short 24-hour surge in the Indian stock market last Monday.
Instead of taking your Gujarat story to every nook and corner, these members of the Permanent Ruling Party of India are looking to manufacture inane instances of success to promote you. By diverting the debate of the BJP’s unprecedented electoral success and Congress’s complete rout to the power of your charisma, they have damaged you more than the Congress ever could. Your adversaries were quick to point out the BJP’s failure to secure an absolute majority in Delhi. The news channel, India News, ran graphics co-relating your visits to various parts of the capital with the verdicts in constituencies where your rallies were held. Of the 48 segments you had targeted, your party won only in 19. This dismal show had nothing to do with your abilities. The faction-ridden BJP wasn’t able to put up its best candidates and failed to exploit the 15 years of anti-incumbency sentiment in its favour. The young voters and even the BJP’s middle class followers were angry with the party and chose to elect Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party in its stead.
It would have been laughable if it wasn’t so despicable, the attempt of the pro-Modi opportunists to glorify your skills in reviving the speculator-driven stock markets. While newspapers were full of stories on the Modi effect on the Assembly results, business TV channels went into overdrive. Conveniently ignoring the impact of global economic recovery, they started the day by giving you credit for the 2 per cent recovery in Sensex. Representatives of FIIs and Dalal Street firms were singing in fortissimo to project you as the messiah of markets and not good governance. I’m sure you don’t sneeze when the markets catch a cold. Unlike many UPA ministers and even the PM who consider the stock market as one of the barometers of policy success, you tom-tom the economic recovery of your state as the symbol of your successful governance. But the market-makers were determined to make you the Sensei of Sensex. Both BSE and Nifty closed at 20,996 and 6259 on December 6, just two days before the votes were counted. Nikkei and Hang Seng closed at 15,665 and 24,038 the same day. When the markets opened on Monday, the day after the counting was over, the stocks showed a worldwide surge and not just in India. But for the first time Indian tycoons and opinion-makers abjured giving credit to global trends and invoked the Modi factor as the succour of stocks. On Friday, however, the markets closed lower than a week ago; the Sensex ended up at 20,715 and Nifty at 6,168. Does it mean that Brand Modi is just a bubble? You must see through the sinister designs of these temporary cheerleaders. Your work speaks for you. Your conduct is both your asset and liability. For the next few months while your detractors lie low, your promoters will create scary expectations from you. Like Caesar, beware of your friends more than your sworn foes.; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

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