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Inept, mediocre, and jaded BJP leaders and Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi is not just a popular BJP mascot. He has some vision and ideas about governing India. He is better informed and has hands-on understanding of the key issues that come in the way of our society’s holistic growth and wellbeing. Unlike some of the armchair BJP politicians who sit in Delhi and continue to contribute to the declining stock of the party, he has done some good work with very little support from the inept and mediocre central leadership of his party that includes Advani, Swaraj, and even Raj Nath Singh. These so-called leaders have merely been riding on the shoulders of grass-root BJP and RSS workers. They are not even driven by their core ideology any more.

Let me clarify here; Advani did not create the Ram Janmbhoomi movement. He rode to power on the wave created by it, so did Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In fact Vajpayee was completely sidelined during the movement. He had never had the penchant and guts to be a street fighter and when the movement was at its peak, he was sitting in Delhi, twiddling his thumbs and ruing his irrelevance and was busy in crony politicking among Delhi’s upper crust, and fixers and power brokers of every variety.

The bulwark of the movement was formed by the VHP, the RSS, the Akhil Bharatiy Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the Bharatiy Mazdoor Sangh(BMS), the Bharatiy Kisaan Sangh (BKS) and the other Sangh Parivar organizations that were at the pinnacle of their growth. They had made forays into uncharted territories like Odisha, West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and even the North-East, creating a strong organizational base, no thanks to Vajpayee or Advani or Rajnath Singh or Sushma Swaraj. In reality, these leaders were propped up on the centre-stage by these organizations.

Vajpayee had done nothing for the Ram Janmbhoomi Movement even then he was made the PM. His long-held ambition was fulfilled. He was always a man of rhetoric and very little action. He followed the mediocre Nehruvian/Congress model of governance and comfy Delhi-centric politics, and created an acquiescent ‘durbar’ around him. He had nurtured himself over the years as a hard-core Delhi politician.

History is witness; whenever Vajpayee led the old Bharatiy Jan Sangh or the BJP, the party lost very badly. Once, post the demise of Deendayal Upadhyay, he was projected as the probable Chief Minister of UP in the 1969 assembly elections; his party’s tally was halved from its 1967 tally. He could not even win his seat from Gwalior in the 1984 Parliamentary elections when the Sangh Parivar was expecting him to win big for the party since he was perceived to be a politician next only to Indira Gandhi on the popularity charts. Not surprisingly, he also led the NDA government to defeat after six years of its rule.

Vajpayee assiduously spent most of his energy in defending his middle-of-the-road amiable image, establishing his secular credentials, and in narcissistic self-aggrandizement. He also, foolishly or deliberately, weakened the organizations and importatnt political ideologues and activists on whose shoulders he had ridden to power. Instead of developing and nurturing the local leadership of his party in states like Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Karnataka, he ran the state units down and marginalized them to placate regional satraps like Biju Patnaik, Mamta Banerjee, Mayavati, Nitish Kumar, and Jayalalita. He caused the exit of Kalyan Singh, a leader who suited the caste based electoral arithmetic of Uttar Pradesh.

During the 6 years of Vajpayee rule, the BMS, the ABVP, the VHP, and the BKS lost their preeminent positions; the spirit of the Ram Janmbhoomi movement was dead; and the BJP became a party led by Delhi-based media-savvy leaders, far removed from grass-root realities, and sustained by a few moneybags and kept in the limelight by the media. Vajpayee and the coterie around him had complete control over the government and the party. They neither cared for the core ideology of the party nor for the common people and their grass-roots workers any more. Vajpayee, as well as Advani, encouraged sycophancy, political elitism, ideological mediocrity, and armchair politicking. They did nothing to strengthen the BJP organization. It was not just the NDA that became smaller, but the BJP’s influence also shrank in important Indian states like Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu.

The hardworking cadre was left high and dry and out in the cold. They felt used and abused. Disheartened, and with their spirits dampened, they lost interest in their party and leaders. Vajpayee did not even have the sense and generosity to hand over the reins to another leader in time. He went into an election while his dementia had started setting in. In the meantime, the anti-Hindutva forces had united. The 6-year BJP rule came to an end and left Advani distraught. He has not recovered from the shock till date. He unsuccessfully tried to do another Vajpayee and praised Jinnah to establish his secular credentials and got further discredited as a hypocrite. His performance as the Home Minister was not all that praiseworthy either.

Advani is neither here nor there as a politician today. Nobody wants to hear his disgusting self-aggrandizing and lengthy speeches that betray his total disconnect from ground realities. His parliamentary performance is pathetic. He should hear the recording of his speeches. He will hate himself for that. However, he does not want to retire. He should have been playing the role of discovering truly talented people and mentoring them. He still has a coterie of rank mediocre leaders around him. They are using him to serve their hidden ambitions. Interestingly, none of them can win a parliamentary election on their own, not even Advani. They have to be fielded from safe seats by the party to be brought into the Parliament.

Now, they want to pin down Modi who has become the new hope of the BJP cadre who feel enthused about him because he does not go out of his way to prove his secularism by wearing skullcaps like what Vajpayee and even Advani did.  He openly calls himself a ‘Hinduvadi’. He has clarity of thought. He understands governance and also dirty politicking. He is proud of his antecedents and never hides it. He does not come across as a hypocrite. He has a vision and also seems to know the ways to implement it. He talks about path-breaking ideas to counter corruption, improve governance, and make the bureaucracy responsive to people’s needs. He reiterates the old BJP idea of appeasement of none, and justice to all.

The Congress, the secularists, the Supreme Court, the Gujarat High Court, the CBI, and the media hem him in, yet he carries on, and now seems unstoppable, not so much by design, as we are made to believe by the media, but by sheer personal grit, gumption, talent, and a strong drive to do what he feels should be done. When he says he believes in doing something, and not becoming someone, it sounds true. He has a record to prove his point.

People are eager to listen to Modi and learn of his ideas. He does not disappoint them. He inspires the BJP cadre and the youth. He is quite evidently a cut above the rest of the choices people have today. None of the other prime ministerial aspirants in the BJP or any other political dispensation can match his charisma and appeal that cuts across the caste barrier. And it is not beacause of his mastery over rhetorical speech-making like Vajpayee. He has come up with his grassroots hard work and while braving the biggest odds any politician in the world would have ever faced. The media run him down, day in and out, inventing spurious facts and negative stories conjured out of thin air. He cannot speak well in English but he knows what he has to say or do. The TV media is forced to cover his speeches live to increase their ratings. They cannot do without his news. He does not create news. He is the news. Interestingly, each and every action of his is watched closely and analyzed minutely by his supporters as well as opponents.

He has become a factor that none dare to ignore in Indian politics. The status-quoists, the casteists, the secularists, the Islamists, the Padres and the corrupt political establishment are shit scared of him. They will do their best to stop him. Can they? I have a feeling they cannot. The tide will turn into a wave in time if Modi does not score self-goals. and if some of the BJP leaders continue with their politicking, and try to sideline him, they will have to face such a backlash of people and their cadre that they won’t find a place to hide.

And those who clamor and carp about his being a polarizing factor fear the political unity of Hindus as if it’s a bad thing. It’s the best that can happen to our nation. It’s the only safeguard against the various ills we suffer from - bigotry, obscurantism, brazen communalism, lethargy, indifference, apathy, divisiveness, parochialism, corruption, moral degradation, social discrimination, wastefulness, incompetence, mediocrity, sloppiness, vote-bank politics, etc.

The rabid secularists who constantly growl and bark and are ever ready with their sharpened bloodthirsty fangs to catch Modi by his jugular, should hear him talk to the Dawoodi Bohra community, praising them for spreading education among their women and exhorting and appealing to them to help him fight the problem of malnutrition in Gujarat villages. The resounding applause and approval he received from them should be good enough to silence vote bank politicians like Nitish Kumar.

I have found him wanting in one area. He should have taken the anti-Gujarat Supreme Court judges head on. He should have exposed them and various others who have been hatching conspiracies and jailing innocent Gujarati VHP and BJP activists. However, he needs the support of his central leadership for that. It never comes since they are busy cutting deals with Sonia and prefer walking a safe non-committal and non-controversial path following the Vajpayee example of doing nothing yet being in the right place at the right time. The VHP leaders also keep inexplicably mum about it instead of raising huge storms over the verdicts of Gujarat courts. I don’t know why.

I have a free friendly advice for Modi as well. He should not put too much trust in the corrupt business elite of India including the TATAS, the BIRLAS, the AMBANIS, and the others like them. They don’t necessarily care for people and always have a corrupting influence on the political class. Modi should be wary of them and must never put blind faith in them. He should also be wary of political fixers and lobbying forums like FICCI. They hatch conspiracies against lay people, the core constituency of a democratically elected leader. In fact he should be wary of the elite of all kinds. They are quick to coopt or tag on to the coat tails of a leader like him and cause his/her eventual downfall. He must not fall into their trap. He should use them, without letting them use him to serve their greed and corrupt lifestyle.

He must not forget his roots and should be ultra-sensitive to the distress of the hard-working have-nots and the deprived, following the principle of ‘Ekatm Manavvad’. That’s the goal, holistic development of India and the compassion and concern for the last man, woman, and child should be the guiding light. Promoting islands of prosperity, and growth is corruption and a leader of his/her people does not exult and gets enamored by the decadent razzmatazz of a few.

He constantly refers to Swami Vivekanand in his speeches. The western elite tried to coopt and use him after his success at Chicago. He could still steer clear of the trap. Swami Ji had cut short his second tour of the West having realized what was happening. Finally the few who stayed with him were those who shared his pain and concerns, the likes of Sister Nivedita. He cared, cried, and died thinking of his country and his people alone. He didn’t have time to think about himself or his health. A sanaysi carries bigger burdens. Our country needs a politician who is a ‘sanyasi’ to the core. He seeks nothing for himself. Modi recited the well known 'shloka' at the Haridwar gathering of Sadhus and referred to the great King Rantideo whose story inspires him. The shloka says, "Na twaham kamaye rajyam na swargam na-punarbhavam; Kaamaye dukha-taptanaam praninam artnaashanam." (I don't desire kingdom or the heaven or salvation, I only desire to destroy the suffering of all beings.) This must be the guiding spirit of the leader of our great nation.

A great leader works tirelessly for the well being of those who are prone to be dealt a bad hand by the high and mighty and the well connected and endowed. He is the voice of the voiceless, and an untiring warrior of justice. He puts his intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual might behind the weak and disadvantaged to help them rise out of penury, and social neglect. He creates an environment where they bloom to their divine potential and participate with confidence in the triumphal march of social growth, economic prosperity, and spiritual well being of the world.  

Rajesh Kumar Singh