Monday, May 12, 2014

Verdict 2014 ...... Power & Politics/ The Sunday Standard/May 11, 2014

Verdict 2014 Will Lead to Another Battle, of Blame Game and Claims for Success

India’s corporate potentates who went AWOL from the country to avoid donation-hungry politicians are crowding departure lounges. They are the ones who cheered Change 2014, itching to see the transition from a paralysed power system to a dynamic and decisive government. They had already announced the results and spent big bucks on the future government. Political campaigners are back in their nests in opinioned cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata to engage in number crunching till the wee hours of May 16. Corporate czars would confabulate with leaders of the party they sponsored and supported to write the script for post-election speeches. Even the agencies which crafted ad campaigns and made millions are busy fashioning one-liners for their clients. As usual, three to four sets of speeches are being written, but only one would be used, depending on the poll outcome. Narendra Modi was not only the omnipresently visible hologram, he also had the maximum supporters from all walks of life working for his success. While senior BJP leaders were banished from his well-choreographed presidential style campaign, his promoters have hired wordsmiths to put together not only his victory speeches but also excuses in case he fails to muster a simple majority. His slogans like ‘Ab Ki Baar, Modi Sarkar’ and ‘Achche din aane wale hain’ (Good times are coming soon) were coined by foreign-educated media professionals. Senior party leaders, including some master strategists, have been eclipsed to prevent them from sharing the credit. Team Modi has been working on three different scenarios and is ready with explanations for each.
• In case BJP wins over 250 seats with over 30 per cent of the votes polled: Modi supporters would slip into a frenzy, the kind which India would have never seen. They would inundate the nation with Modi’s pictures, claiming Modi is India and India is Modi, saying he has upended all caste, community and religious barriers—it’s a vote for Modi, of Modi and by Modi; a positive verdict for a strong and prosperous India. Modi has purged the aura of the Gandhi Parivar, making them irrelevant. It is a mandate for the person who Fevicols India. Finally, Modi would claim that the people have pinned the charge that he was responsible for the 2002 riots. For 12 years, he has been facing various investigation agencies and legal scrutiny for the carnage. He has been a victim of international isolation and was denied a US visa. The West will now bring out the bubbly to celebrate the popular endorsement of the Modi model of governance and politics, which has brought the first-ever saffron government with a majority at the Centre. Modi will be given the full credit for creating an alternative pan-Indian national party.
• If BJP stops at 200 seats: Amit Shah would blame vote bank politics. Non-BJP parties would be accused of striking opportunistic alliances to keep Modi out of power at any cost. Delhi Durbar’s most virulent attack would be on the lack of a strong party organisation at the district level. His parachute regiments would castigate BJP state-level leaders for not giving their best. Since RSS had taken over booth management in all the constituencies BJP contested, Modiites will blame it for not taking others into confidence.
• If BJP is restricted to 180 seats: All hell would break loose in the BJP, with Modi supporters blaming it for under-exploiting his charisma. They would claim that Modi and Modi alone made BJP the single largest party in Parliament. They would hold the minorities responsible for voting with a vengeance against him. However, the party leadership will squarely blame Modi and his team. Advani and admirers would be the first to jump into the melee and say, “Didn’t we tell you Modi would become a polarising poll issue?” They would blame him for selecting wrong candidates, ignoring senior leaders for campaigning and encouraging defectors. He would also be blamed for choosing rootless caste-based parties as allies. As Modi and his megaphones withdraw into the background, it would be left to party president Rajnath Singh to defend BJP’s poor performance. He would perhaps say, “The people have voted against UPA. It is Modi’s popularity and development agenda that gave us so many seats. We are not happy with the final outcome. But overall, it’s a positive vote.” Modi bhakts would blame the Election Commission for its failure to ensure free and fair elections in certain parts of India.
While BJP would still have a cause to smile half-heartedly, Congress would find it difficult to structure a credible response to its dismal show. It is reconciled to one of the following scenarios:
* It gets less than 100 seats: Party leaders would blame Modi for polarising India, but never any member of the Gandhi Parivar. They will tweet that the Manmohan Singh government is totally responsible for the rout. In 1996, when the party lost power, the government was pilloried for not being able to take its reform policies to the people like Coca-Cola is sold in small towns. This time, most senior ministers would take the fall. Digvijaya Singh would claim that the results are a victory for communal forces supported by corporates. The spiel would be “the voters have faith that only the Gandhis can save the country from dictatorship. Congress has been defeated by dosh and not for its bad performance.
* If Congress gets between 110-120 seats: The war cry “Rahul has saved the party from total disaster and stopped Modi from acquiring a majority”, is ready. Sanjay Jha would go on TV saying, “The Indian people still believe in the Congress and Gandhi Parivar. We may be down but not out.” The ostrich council would assert “people have given us the mandate to contain crony capitalism and prevent the next government from dividing the country”. Septuagenarians would point out that the party has always bounced back after temporary setbacks. The Third Front and other non-BJP parties would face the flak from Jairam Ramesh for not joining the fight against communalism in Dalit and tribal villages. Congress would attack regional parties for letting anti-BJP votes become divided, protecting the interest of their leaders.
Worse would be the plight of the Left parties, which would get faces redder than their flags. Since AIADMK, TMC and BSP are likely to perform well, they would blame Congress for Modi’s victory. Campaign 2014 was one of the most expensive and abusive electoral battles ever seen. But the verdict will ignite a competitive and ridiculous kerfuffle among parties staking claims for success and passing the buck on failures.; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

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