A much-needed defeat
By : Bikram Vohra
The trouble with the Grand Alliance is that when the hurly-burly is done and the garlands binned, it is as strong as its weakest link, and really not that grand.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is an entity in itself and has not lost ground. It is the single largest party nationally and secured no less ground than in 2014. The Janata Dal (United), on the other hand, is a bunch of sticks tied together sans common ideology and was separately nowhere near the numbers of the BJP.
That’s how it flowed at the start and everyone thought he was home. Then the tide went out on the BJP and it is dropping to bronze position. It dropped from 2014 and the initial euphoria simply vanished. We can now project two scenarios in the fallout. In the first, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to realize that all his ducks are not in a row and this communal coloring will fade away… thankfully. It simply has to. Religion does not work as a campaign issue. And Indians don’t like to be made afraid.
There was just too much of that cloud polluting the national atmosphere. India will have a prime minister who is human again and not invincible. That will be good for the country at large and Modi will be compelled to get rid of the deadwood, the noisy wood and drop the loony fringe that has been given far too much rope. He will also have to listen to the voices of relative sanity that have been muted courtesy the adulation showered on Modi.
And he can now lead from the front without being the unquestioned icon. The difference has to be that he is not the BJP leader but the prime minister of India and her 1.2 billion people. That mindset has to undergo an overhaul. Five days from now he will be in the United Kingdom basking in the warm glow of hero worship. That display will now not sit well with the country. Forget all the NRI stuff and come home! Those pop star concerts resonate only when the home front is peaceful.
It is in that way, a healthy defeat. The attention given to beef politics, communalism, Hindutva and the personal assaults by goon squads should reduce dramatically. Think of it this way. If the BJP had won, the future could have been arrogantly bleak and this kick in the butt was needed.
Now, we can have a real Modi and a marriage between the people and the government, not an assault on our secularism. Also, he will no longer keep silent when his frontline makes stupid remarks. On the contrary, the gurus, yogis, charlatans, religious kooks and motormouths like V.K. Singh and Mahesh Sharma will skulk away in the dark and should stay there.
So, while Modi and company might actually put their house in order, the alliance has to test its mettle and its tensile strength might well depend on the Congress holding just enough seats to act as a self-indulgent spoilt child — conduct it has displayed frequently after being booted out of power.
Are we going to see the sticks fall apart and Lalu Prasad Yadav flex muscle and turn the result into a farce as the disparate elements jockey for power?
Certainly, Nitish Kumar is the “undisputed” leader for now, but he is in bed with Lalu and the cat at the feet is a Gandhi-led Congress, which has found its way back into having a say. This trinity in the aftermath does not inspire confidence and tawdry scenes of politicking and infighting are pretty much on the cards.
One cannot see Lalu being silent and letting the power bus go past without wresting the wheel. Equally, the Congress is hardly likely to take a backseat amid its shrilly-triumphant interpretation of its dozen seats. In the coming weeks, this ball of wool may well unravel and Modi will exploit that to great advantage.
Why do I feel that Modi will have the last laugh? In this defeat, there is the seed of a victory for the country.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in the Column section are their own and do not reflect RiyadhVision’s point-of-view.