The more things change the more they remain the same is a cynical but proven fact of life which found new meaning in the BJP’s humiliating defeat in the Delhi elections. Just to prove how infallible the aphorism is, let me quote the opening sentence of the scathing series I wrote in May 2009 immediately after the BJP lost the Lok Sabha elections. “Karan Thapar accurately summed up the election results in a telling one-liner – while both the Congress and the BJP faced a host of problems until 3 weeks ago, the Congress’ problems dissolved into nothingness while the BJP tripped over them. A truer thing was never said. What Karan Thapar did not say was that while all of the Congress’ problems were external to the party, the BJP’s problems were all from within. Behind Karan Thapar’s one line summary lurked a sordid tale of epic proportions.”
This was in May 2009. Advani’s stranglehold on the BJP was loosened in September 2013 and the Congress was swept away in May 2014. These were not small changes but the BJP’s wipe-out in Delhi conclusively proves the aphorism not the least because the Advani coterie sensing a change in the wind direction, moved lock, stock and barrel into the Modi camp. If internal machinations masquerading as grand strategy cost the BJP the elections in 2004 and 2009, internal machinations cost the BJP the Delhi assembly elections too in 2015. “India Shining” in English metamorphosed into the desi “Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas” signalling perpetuity of the Advani coterie.
The blame for the Delhi debacle rests squarely with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah
- With Narendra Modi because he turned his eyes away his task at home, succumbed to the lure of the American siren and was so engrossed in planning his wardrobe and choosing the tea to impress the siren that he failed to give Delhi elections the time and attention they deserved;
- The blame rests with Amit Shah because as President of the BJP he failed to find the winning formula for Delhi given the utter vacuousness and facelessness of the so-called leaders of Delhi BJP besides knowing full well that the entire non-BJP political spectrum was determined to gang up to consolidate all non-BJP votes in favour of the AAP.
- And the blame rests squarely and equally with both of them for allowing termites to crawl out of the woodwork and orbit freely around them as advisers, point persons and power managers. These termites insulated Modi and Shah from critics who had begun to sound the warning within three months of Modi Sarkar assuming charge at the centre.
- The residual blame rests with the RSS for failing to arrest the drift and to stop every termite from becoming a power centre.
From December 2013 to February 2015 tactical and tectonic shift
While BJP supporters were unanimous in their view that the BJP was right to refuse to form the government in Delhi in December 2013 even after emerging as the single largest party with 32 seats, I was of the view then, as I am of the view today that the BJP should have honoured the mandate of the people of Delhi and ought to have formed the government. The argument of BJP supporters then was – by allowing Arvind Kejriwal to form the government the BJP was crafting the path to Kejriwal’s self-destruction. It did not quite happen that way though. Arvind Kejriwal would have self-destructed only if he had been a self-made man. He was nurtured and let loose on the nation by American foreign policy instruments. When Kejriwal beat the retreat in 45 days, these forces sheathed the sword, re-worked their war strategy against Hindu nationalists (for the Generic Church Modi is the face of Hindu nationalism) and bided their time.
Had the BJP got the true measure of the man and the real nature of the threat he posed to the country, they would have formed the government in 2013. Had the BJP done so, there would have been no Arvind Kejriwal and no Delhi debacle. Neither Dr. Harsh Vardhan who was the BJP’s choice of Chief Minister in 2013 nor any other BJP leader had one convincing argument to justify why they abdicated their responsibility in 2013 – except for Dr. Harsh Vardhan’s one vapid statement oozing with self-righteousness but lacking in political wisdom – “BJP does not believe in horse trading”.
The Delhi Debacle is the BJP’s chickens coming home to roost or the BJP’s karmic trajectory, determined by their refusal to honour the voters’ mandate in 2013, reaching its logical destination. The BJP learnt nothing from Chanakya. If Arvind Kejriwal is every bit as dangerous as he has been shown to be, and if the BJP was a nationalist party, it should have annihilated Kejriwal and AAP in 2013; instead, the BJP chose to mouth inanities, sought cover behind some bogus political virtue and left Kejriwal free to fight another fight on another day. And this time America’s foreign policy drew blood.
Lesson number 1: Congress-mukt Bharat must be axiomatic of all anti-Hindu political forces; so when your enemy is down make sure he does not get up.
In December 2013, the BJP had 33 per cent of the vote share and 32 seats. In May 2014, the BJP swept Delhi so thoroughly that AAP and the Congress had none. So what changed between May 2014 and February 2015? The story is the same in Jammu and Kashmir. Despite the fact that the BJP polled a higher percentage of votes than the PDP, the BJP’s vote share in the J&K assembly elections was a whopping 10 per cent less than the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Laddakh voted a BJP MP to parliament in 2014 but the BJP drew a blank from Laddakh during the assembly elections and its vote percentage dropped in Jammu too, which is considered a BJP bastion. While the BJP positioned itself as being the antithesis of the Congress and its brand of politics during the Lok Sabha elections, it began to sing politics of minority-ism tunes in Delhi when Gadkari met slaughter-house owners and butchers at the India Islamic Cultural Centre and when the BJP fell silent on Article 370, Union Territory status for Laddakh and when Modi made the unfortunate and improper remark against the Indian army in Srinagar.
Lesson number 2: Hindu nationalists beware. The BJP is susceptible to the lure of secularism and politics of minority-ism.
The BJP lost and was wiped out of Delhi because and only because Delhi BJP, like Tamil Nadu BJP was bankrupt; it had no charismatic or clean leaders, it had no ideas and no agenda. If the Tamil Nadu BJP is only Dravidian ideology wearing the Modi mask, Delhi BJP is a conglomerate of self-interest, vested-interest, elite cricket club and wheelers and dealers hiding behind a Modi mask. Arvind Kejriwal and AAP went from door to door selling a pink elephant called “affordable politics” while the BJP sat at home watching Kejriwal on TV, munching on Modi Mantra, Barack Hangover and Shah Genius. In the end, the BJP scraped the bottom of the barrel and came up with three seats because Congress, communists, Christians and Muslims ganged up to out-genius Shah Genius. In December 2013 the BJP had 33 per cent of Delhi’s vote share and won 32 seats; in February 2015 the BJP continues to have 33 per cent of the vote share but has only three seats. Two dear souls who spent the better part of D Day morning trying to make me see some tortuously argued grand plot crafted by Shah Genius to enable a Kejriwal win, should explain this arithmetic to me. It was entirely within the purview of Shah Genius to get committed BJP voters to vote for Kejriwal if the plot of the drama was Kejriwal’s destruction embedded as time-bomb in the victory. That indeed would be Shah Genius at work; but the BJP vote share was intact. Kejriwal won because Sonia Genius instructed the Congress Muslim and Christian vote bank to consolidate and vote AAP. The Generic Church hand was revealed when Kejriwal participated in a Christian protest against church attacks in Delhi but rejected Imam Bukhari’s call to Muslims to vote for AAP.
We all know the Afghan Mujahideen, the Hurriyat and ISIS are all American creations. So Kejriwal’s election strategy refusing Muslim overtures but making common cause with Christians and in the end benefiting from both has America written all over it.
Modi Fan Club should also explain why Amit Shah woke up to the fact of Delhi BJP’s bankruptcy so late in the drama that he had to bring in a new hero to wake up the audience only when the drama was drawing to a close. It is still not clear if Kiran Bedi was Amit Shah’s choice or was a decision imposed upon him; but picking up AAP left-overs from Sonia Gandhi’s table was suicidal if Amit Shah made the choice or homicidal if it was someone else’s unfolding conspiracy. It was almost as if Sonia Gandhi was waiting for just this move – for the BJP to declare its Chief Ministerial candidate. As soon as Amit Shah projected Kiran Bedi as the BJP face of the Delhi elections, Sonia Gandhi drove Ajay Maken underground.
The Congress simply vanished from the scene effectively transforming a three-corned epic battle to a street corner face-off between two former Anna Hazare stooges – Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal. If there was no Congress in the Delhi elections, there was no Amit Shah either. Question is why did Amit Shah disappear after catapulting Kiran Bedi on centre-stage? From that moment on Arun Jaitley was seen to be managing the Delhi elections.
Lesson number 3: Jaitley was Defence Minister, Finance Minister and Minister for Corporate Affairs; now he is Finance Minister, Minister for Corporate affairs and Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Delhi election manager and strategist. Is the truth as innocent as absence of real talent in the BJP or is it something else?
Such is the blind faith of Modi Fan Club in Shah Genius that one theory doing the rounds is if Amit Shah could single-handedly micro-manage Elections 2014 to such perfection that the BJP swept its way to power with a clear and comfortable majority, if Amit Shah could topple the Congress from Maharashtra and Haryana, and if he can make the two Yadavs of Bihar and UP so insecure that they are talking about ganging up against Modi, could he not have chewed up puny Arvind Kejriwal in one bite? As the Delhi results show, Amit Shah could not because while Amit Shah may be a political genius he is not US State Department or CIA. Amit Shah could not stop the people of Delhi – Congress, communists, Christians and Muslims from ganging up against Narendra Modi and voting for AAP; thus while AAP secured 67 seats, the BJP got three.
In the absence of Delhi BJP going to the people with a charismatic leader, a well-defined Delhi-centric agenda or Hindu-centric vision, these elections became a referendum on Narendra Modi and Modi was tested on the crucible of the promises he made to the people in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections. Kiran Bedi was reduced to Convenient Excuse in the bathos. Delhi Elections also became a lab experiment in anti-Modi ganging up.
Delhi elections as referendum on Narendra Modi
The termites orbiting around Modi used Modi to show-case Gandhi as Modi’s official hero and by extension the hero of the “Hindu nationalist party”; and in typical Gandhian style even as Modi was sweeping the streets clean with his Swach Bharat broom and singing hallelujahs to Swami Vivekananda, the termites were doing real politics behind the scenes. So while Narendra Modi was playing Gandhi the social reformer and Vivekananda bhakta, the coterie was doing the real politics behind the scenes – who would be cabinet minister, who would be minister of state, the foreign policy route, economic agenda, what should Modi say and what should Modi do. And in perfect Gandhi style, in perfect American geo-political style, while Barack was charming Modi, the US State Department was string-pulling Arvind Kejriwal.
I have made my analysis of the BJP’s loss in the Delhi elections a referendum on Modi and Amit Shah. Let me begin by asking the following questions:
- Why was Arun Jaitley given charge of three key ministries when Modi formed the government? Why is Jaitley in charge of three ministries even now?
- Why did Modi not have two different ministers for Defence and Finance? Was this Modi’s decision or was this decision imposed upon Modi? Who is or are Modi’s political advisers?
- Why did Modi ignore the decade-long humiliation inflicted by America and its vassal states on Modi and by extension on Hindu nationalists and waltz into the American parlour?
- What did India get from America when Modi went to Washington and when Barack came to New Delhi? Who is or are Modi’s foreign policy advisers?
- Why is Arun Shourie not a part of Modi’s cabinet? Was Arun Shourie sidelined like Dr. Swamy or was he unwilling? If Shourie was unwilling he could still have been persuaded to join the cabinet in national interest. Did Modi or the coterie around him really try?
- Why was Subramaniam Swamy denied a seat during the Lok Sabha elections? And why was he not inducted into the cabinet via the Rajya Sabha route?
- Why favour Smriti Irani and Nirmala Sitharaman alone from among the young and vocal in the BJP while ignoring Meenakshi Lekhi and Anurag Thakur.
- Why choose AAP left-over Kiran Bedi instead of nurturing and grooming Anurag Thakur and Meenakshi Lekhi for the Chief Minister’s post?
- Why has the Modi government not proceeded against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case?
- When the Generic Church identified Poland as the weakest link in the Soviet Bloc to disintegrate the Soviet Union and elected a Polish Pope, why did not Modi induct a high-profile Kashmiri Pandit or a Laddakhi Buddhist into his cabinet? As I asked before, who is Modi’s political adviser?
Sabotaging the National Herald case as example of what ails the BJP
Narendra Modi fought the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on the twin planks of Corruption and Congress-mukt Bharat; and Dr. Subramanian Swamy in a masterstroke synthesised both objectives when he nailed Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case. On June 26, 2014, within a month of Modi government coming to power at the Centre, a trial court in Delhi issued an order summoning Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to court. Within three days of the summons, Dr. Swamy filed a complaint of money-laundering against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi with the Director of Enforcement Directorate. As was expected, Sonia Gandhi approached the Delhi Court for redress and the Delhi Court in July 2014 obligingly issued an interim order staying the trial court’s summons to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. It follows then that the interim order was issued pending furtherance of the case in the High Court. So why has there been no further movement in the Delhi Court in the case against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi? Is it because the law ministry has so far refused to urge the high court to list the case for hearing or is it because the government has refused to hand over incriminating material to prosecuting agencies? And why is there no movement in the office of the Enforcement Directorate on the money laundering case?
The BJP let Kejriwal off the hook in 2013 instead of barbecuing him without wasting time; the BJP seems similarly disinclined to pursuing Sonia Gandhi, her son and her son-in-law with single-point determination to make for a Sonia-mukt Bharat. How much of this tardiness can be attributed to the SC Advocates Club in Delhi which is blurring the lines between the Congress and the BJP?
BJP’s economic agenda
The BJP’s promise to fight and punish corruption stands exposed from the manner in which they have dealt with Dr. Subramaniam Swamy and from the fact they had to look elsewhere for their Chief Minister candidate instead of looking within at the Delhi BJP. Economists within the Hindu fold say there are no indications, not even the faintest signal that there is any new direction to the economy. While it is generally acknowledged that definitive results on the economic front can be expected only towards the end of two years, it is also admitted that they are unable to see any signs that the BJP is moving in that direction. I am not an economist but it seems to me the BJP is genetically inclined to looking outside for answers. It picked up Kiran Bedi and Shazia Ilmi to infuse new blood and new life into the Delhi elections.
But taking into account that Sab ka Saath, sab ka vikas was just more of India Shining, I cannot help but wonder if Make in India is not simply more of the FDI-FII driven national economy where countries coming to India like America is now coming into the Gem and Jewellery business will only push India deeper into the FDI-FII paradigm. Make in India can actually resist any paradigm shift which may deny America and other western nations neck deep in recession, a share in the expected to boom Indian economic pie and this was proved unmistakably when senior ministers scoffed at Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan’s suggestion that the government should fine tune Make in India to Make for India. There also seems to be tremendous resistance to look for Indian economists residing in India as advisers to the Prime Minister.
The coterie around Modi has taken over from Modi and Amit Shah both. From the direction in which Modi Sarkar is heading – towards an America-centric foreign policy and America driven economy, I am tempted to summarise thus – America is India’s External Affairs Minister, Narendra Modi is Foreign Secretary and the Foreign Secretary is PA to FS. And the coterie orbiting around Modi and Shah have taken over the roles of Prime Minister and Party President.
When Narendra Modi and Amit Shah won three consecutive assembly elections in Gujarat, when Amit Shah crafted BJP victory in the Lok Sabha elections followed by impressive breaking-the-mold wins in Maharashtra and Haryana, they did it without the help of the coterie and the elite Cricket and Advocates Clubs. Narendra Modi must turn his eyes back to look within the country for motive, for inspiration and for raison d’etre. Mr. Modi, your voters are here, in India. Amit Shah and Narendra Modi must pay heed to the intense anger, shame and humiliation that have been inflicted upon hundreds of thousands of BJP supporters when they lost Delhi with such cynicism and disregard for the Indian voter. Indian voters of the BJP must be privileged over Overseas Friends of the BJP. Modi Mantra and Shah Genius have both taken a beating and that truth cannot be denied or explained away with tortuous feel-good explanations.
Radha Rajan is a Chennai-based political analyst. She is also author and animal activist.