We will have to go back in the past before we can suggest how to respond to the war strategy of the Axis. In part one, we clearly saw what it is up to. It has already executed its strategy in the past few months rather brazenly and blithely. In fact its strategy has nothing new in it. It was a time tested one that brought Congress back to power in 2004.
2004 vs. 2019: Why did Vajpayee lose after having won three successive parliamentary elections?
Let us start with analysing how did BJP under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee win three successive Parliamentary elections in 1996, 1998, & 1999.
BJP won 161 seats in 1996, yet its strategically projected most liberal face could not win over enough support from the secularist dispensations and had to resign after 13 days of his rule. Before that, he delivered a speech in which, defying expectations, he declared to the world that secularism survives in Bharat because of its Hindu majority. That had considerable impact on the nation.
In 1998, he was back in power with 182 seats but was out of it within 13 months but before that he had exploded the atom bomb, withered the American sanctions, and won a war in Kargil.
In 1999, yet again he came back with 182 seats. He pursued his development agenda, practiced ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas’ to the hilt, allowed his self-serving and devious allies to flourish, tom-tommed ‘India Shining’, neutralised the Ram Janmbhoomi Movement, marginalised VHP, ABVP, BMS, BKS, etc., destroyed their credibility, and totally demoralised the party cadre and Hindus. By the time George Fernandes realised RJB was needed to win the electoral battle, it was too late and BJP was trounced in 2004.
All those growth figures, graphs, and statistics, tom-tommed confidently by the Vajpayee govt., didn’t impress the electorate and a senile Vajpayee was thrown out of power in an election that saw a low turnout of demoralized and dispirited Hindus/nationalists. I had seen a similar scenario in 1979-80 when Janata Party was dumped by the electorate in spite of the fact that it had very impressive data in support of its governance and performance.
Narendra Modi and Amit Shah should make a note of the similarities between 1980, 2004 and 2019.
2014 Mandate: How Narendra Modi and Amit Shah misread it
A united Hindu body politic delivered the unprecedented 2014 mandate and there was a definite reason behind it. The appeasement politics of UPA disgusted Hindus/nationalists at grass roots and made them feel as if they were second-rated ‘jizya paying’ citizens. They suffered daily harassment because of the alarming rise and spread of Islamism. They looked at Modi as someone who will keep radical jihadis and Muslim goons under check. Even the enlightened and liberal Hindus could see how much Muslims and Christians hated and feared Modi and hoped his advent will help contain the malcontent among them.
For Hindus, Narendra Modi was a symbol of hope and unity and an end to the politics of appeasement. However, Narendra Modi saw himself as a ‘vikaas purush’, a true democrat, and a federalist. People didn’t care though. In his election rallies he would talk of ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas’ and the youth would drown his lacklustre speeches in the self-inspired resounding uproar of Modi chants. People didn’t even listen to his pontificating. It was so clearly evident in his big pre-election rallies in Hyderabad and New Delhi. His script didn’t match with the mood of his audience.
When Narendra Modi overdid his ‘donon haanth laddu’ rhetoric in West Bengal and Orissa in the initial stages of campaigning, unsure of winning a majority & hoping to rope in Naveen Patnaik and Mamata to cobble a working coalition post elections, the people in latter rallies forced him to change his tune and take a tough stand against Patnaik and Mamata and her appeasement politics.
Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have obviously misread the 2014 mandate. It was evident from the fact that soon after 2014, BJP lost badly in Delhi in spite of having had a kind of PR coup by inviting Obama to the 26th January 2015 parade.
In Bihar, in spite of having doled out huge development largesse to the state, Narendra Modi lost because Hindu unity was fractured thanks to his ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas’ theme song and total neglect of Hindu/nationalist agenda on ground. By the time he realised his error of judgement and hastily returned to the Hindutva theme in the middle of the election campaign, it was too late and a vacuous move that carried no conviction.
The other problem with this only-development-matters mindset is that it presupposes that money plays a key role in electoral battles as in life. It does not. It’s the mood of the people that matters.
All those full-page and totally useless BJP ads in newspapers, a standard Amit Shah strategy, at most can buy some positive op-eds. They cannot buy the enthusiasm of the cadre and people, which is generated when people hear from their leaders what they want to hear and see him doing what they want to be done.
Look at the electoral successes of BJP. They either came because of anti-incumbency of the Congress regimes or because of the polarisation of Hindu votes and division of the assured secular vote bank of Muslims. BJP nearly lost Gujarat, a state in which Congress didn’t even have a credible local leadership, all within three years of Modi’s departure from his state where he had scored a clean sweep in 2014 Parliamentary poll. ‘Sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas’ obviously didn’t work.
What worked in favour of Congress was its strategy to exploit ancient fault-lines within the Hindu body politic, while Muslims backed it to the hilt. Here again, Modi reverted to Hindutva plank in the middle of the campaign, abandoning ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas’ sloganeering. Urban Hindu voters, who knew what BJP’s loss in Gujarat would eventually lead to, salvaged him somehow while ancient caste divisions came to the fore in rural Gujarat.
So, how do you deal with the Axis and its shenanigans?
When the devious electoral strategy of your opponents is so well enunciated, devising a plan to thwart and foil it should not be so difficult if you are alert and have the capacity to develop a counter-strategy in time and do something blindingly stunning. When the Patel agitation was brewing in Gujarat, BJP could have done something really stunning to nip the mischief in the bud. They didn’t and look what happened there.
It should be a move that makes the whole nation, excepting of course the #BreakingIndia forces, stand solidly behind BJP. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah must do what is least expected of them and do it not merely for optics but with total conviction and rock-solid resolve and with all the might of their governments and party. They may have to bid good bye to their present avuncular mind-set before that and develop the killer instincts of a Kshatriya to reclaim the trust the people of our nation had reposed in them in the form of the 2014 mandate to act decisively and firmly.
It must be a move bolder than the demonetisation, and the nuclear explosion at Pokharan. What can it be?
What do people want NaMo to do?
They want him to pursue his development agenda yet deal with Islamists and other Breaking India forces and those who are encouraging and nurturing them with a firm hand.
They want BJP and him to be aware of the Axis shenanigans to break Hindu unity and do everything that’s possible to unite Hindus under whatever pretext it can be done.
If it calls for freeing Hindu temples and schools from government control and putting them at par with minority run institutions with all attendant benefits thereof, Narendra Modi should do it through an ordinance or by enacting laws.
He must address all pending Hindu concerns with great alacrity and courage of conviction including the construction of Ram Janmbhoomi Temple in Ayodhya.
They want him to deal with the compromised judiciary and a corrupt and inept bureaucracy with a firm hand too.
They want to see a decisive leader and not a namby-pamby pacifist and an appeaser who prefers to stay away from controversial decisions and turns apologetic about his Hindu/cultural nationalist legacy under left-liberal onslaught in the media.
They want him to act tough in Jammu & Kashmir. They want him to settle Kashmiri Hindus back in the valley using all the might of the state.
They want him to stop the loud blaring of the mullahs’ call through loudspeakers early in the morning.
They want him to represent their views and not to project and pontificate his own and not to pour cold water on their expectations and jubilant mood.
All right, so if Narendra Modi does all this, will the masses be enthused enough to back him with a 3/4th majority to restore the true spirit of the Bharatiya constitution?
I don’t think so. Even building a temple at Ram Janmabhoomi won’t give him that kind of majority. In fact, the demolition of the Babri structure initially worked to the disadvantage of BJP. After the BJP governments were dismissed by Narasimha Rao post Babri demolition and new elections were held, BJP lost all those states.
So, what must be the blindingly stunning move of NaMo that will ensure total polarisation of Hindus/nationalists behind him and thus strike at the very root of the war strategy of the Axis?
He just has to call a joint session of Parliament and scrap Article 370 and every other provision that gives special status to Jammu & Kashmir, trifurcate the state, and go after the Islamists in the valley in war mode while settling displaced Kashmiri Pandits in special enclaves, and build huge settlements of retired army soldiers and officers in the valley and treat J&K like any other Bharatiya state in geo-politcal terms.
The whole nation, barring the Breaking India brigade, will solidly stand with him and will give him a 3/4th majority to restore the true spirit of the Bharatiya Constitution and do the needful and cleanse the judiciary and bureaucracy of crooked elements and finish the long-pending nationalist agenda of partition of reclaiming whole of Jammu & Kashmir, including Gilgit Baltistan.
This is not a call a weakling can take. That’s why I said in the first part of this write up, “It’s not a war for the pacifists, the weak hearted, the principled and the vanprasthis.”
-Rajesh Kumar Singh
(This article first appeared here.)
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