Political turmoil in India today! ‘Brand Modi’ has lost some of its shine

 
Cover image: Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee's is holding a mega Opposition rally against the Modi governmentA strong and united opposition is the backbone of democracy.

 

Editorial – The  Telegraph, Kolkata

12 January 2019

 

Note: Editorial comments in the Telegraph Kolkata (12 January 2019), short and tart, cites facts for the changing image of Modi and Shah who have dominated Indian politics during the past five years.

 

The main thing is the prolonged silence of the usually very  eloquent duo. on the recently concluded various state elections in MP, Rajastan and Chattisgarh. That can perhaps only mean the tactics of a long-jumper who recedes much to leap far ahead of the onlookers’ expectations. The opposition parties are also doing the same. That is what politics is all about, to achieve greater applause and vote share.

 

If in the past the duo has been taking  credit for all election victories, now they want to give credit to the collaborative efforts of all party supporters. That is a very welcome change in a democracy. The opposing parties also doing the same on a state or regional levels. Only they  have not succeeded a Mahagatbandhan of all opposition parties on a national level as of now. Nor are they likely to achieve that kind of unity too easily due to internal bickering on which party or which tall individual should lead India (Prime Minister) after the general election.

 

Political pundits even those with no party affiliations, are at a loss to judge which side will grow in strength and how fast, since Modi has established himself as a charismatic leader par excellence in India. It is for the voting public to make their own assessments, after making sure to vote for the most upright candidates, irrespective of their party leanings.

 

According to the Telegraph “economy is not growing in an equitable manner, and no amount of tweaking of data has helped.” It highlights many more factors.

 

Lakhs of people have turned up for the United India historic mega rally in Kolkata on 19th January 2019

 

As on January 19th the rising star seems to be Mamata Banrjee. A rally of 50 lakh people headed by around 20 national leaders are expected to attend. More than 20 national leaders, including three present chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal, Chandrababu Naidu and H D Kumaraswamy will attend the meeting, TMC sources said. Most of them have already arrived in the city. In various states MPs and MLAs are being bought by the highest bidder. This makes it a fight between LEADERS  & DEALERS. We all have to wait and see but make sure to vote only for the tested and honest LEADERS only. james kottoor, CCV editor.

 

Please read below the Telegraph editorial views

 

Narendra Modi’s belated realisation of the importance of shared leadership may not be that innocent. There are whispers that the prime minister is preparing to insulate himself in case of an adverse electoral outcome(PTI)

 

One term, evidently, is a long time in politics. So much so that even ‘Brand Modi’ — that invincible political juggernaut — seems to have lost some of its shine. Unfortunately, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cannot dismiss this as fake news. The confession has come from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. While addressing the BJP’s final national convention before the general elections, an unusually conciliatory prime minister admitted that collective leadership, rather than the political magic wand that he is said to be blessed with, could spell the difference for his party in the battle ahead.

 

The mantle of collective leadership is particularly touching. His ascendancy in the BJP’s hierarchy — augmented by the outcome of a phenomenal mandate in 2014 — coincided with a significant shrinking of democratic space within the party. Veteran leaders, including L.K. Advani, whose contribution Mr Modi acknowledged at the event — a bit too late in the day perhaps? — had found themselves in redundant roles as key decisions rest in the hands of the prime minister and the party president.

 

However, Mr Modi’s belated realisation of the importance of shared leadership may not be that innocent. There are whispers that the prime minister is making preparations to insulate himself in case of an adverse electoral outcome. In the BJP helmed by Mr Modi, the collective leadership is summoned to take the blame for failure. The credit for success is for Mr Modi and his trusted lieutenant alone. Perhaps this unique arrangement makes the BJP the party with a difference.

 

The measure of success of a brand in public life is in the delivering of pledges. Sadly, Mr Modi’s performance has been far from magical in this respect. The economy — no amount of tweaking of data has helped — is not growing in an equitable manner. India’s social fabric has been brought under enormous strain under Mr Modi’s watch. Foreign policy — the state of India’s relations with its western neighbour is just one example — remains tied up in several knots. Mr Modi’s magic, his critics are thus convinced, is a lot of hot air. What is particularly ironic is that while populist leaders bank on their appeal to build larger-than-life images, the first signs of trouble force them to seek shelter behind the party that has been dwarfed by them. But do such turnabouts befit men of iron?

 

According to another editorial in the Telegraph State elections have left Amit Shah, the BJP national president, more shocked than Narendra Modi.

 

  Amit Shah – BJP National President .  Is it the end of the roller coaster?

The truth is sometimes strange enough to leave one at a loss for words. According to party insiders, the poll reverses in the three heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have shocked the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Amit Shah, even more than they have the prime minister, Narendra Modi.

 

After all, the BJP chief has not spoken or tweeted about the verdict that came out on Tuesday. Modi, on the other hand, sent out a congratulatory message to the chief minister of Telangana, Chandrasekhar Rao.

 

Shah, essentially a trusted back-room manager for Modi since his time in Gujarat, has been trying to emerge as a mass leader after having shifted base to Delhi as the party boss a few years ago. For every election, Shah goes out addressing rallies as a mascot, second only to Modi himself. This time, in the three states whose poll results have come as such a surprise, Shah had addressed many more public meetings than the prime minister. Party insiders say that Shah had told them that he will lead from the front and ensure that the BJP retains power in at least two of the three states. Hence the shock, given that he was certain that the party would be victorious in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

 

There has been some talk of Shah even being seen as the leader who will succeed Modi in 2024. The party chief has often boasted that the BJP will rule the country for the next 50 years. At a recent event, Shah was even asked about becoming the prime minister in six years’ time. He, however, chose to reply humbly. “There are many senior leaders in the BJP,” he said. Clearly, diplomacy remains the neo-Chanakya’s forte.

 

Big laugh

The press conference held by the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, after the BJP vociferously sought an apology from him for apparently maligning the country and the prime minister over the Rafale deal, was seen by the Grand Old Party as a critical intervention in the political discourse on the subject. The Congress stalwart, Ahmed Patel, reportedly asked the media persons present at the press conference to provide adequate coverage; he feared that there might be a deliberate suppression of the false claims made by the government on the report by the comptroller and auditor general of India having been examined by the public accounts committee.

 

Patel then turned to the Congress parliamentarian, Rajeev Shukla, and asked him to ensure proper coverage at least by the channel that he owned. In response, Shukla, whose channel is not known to be very different from other pro-BJP channels, quipped: “First promise you will give me a Lok Sabha ticket from Kanpur. I will run this news continuously for 24 hours.” Patel was taken aback, but he replied: “Why Kanpur, why not Varanasi? I am declaring right now that you will contest Varanasi against the prime minister in 2019.” Everyone, including Shukla, burst into laughter.

We welcome @ArvindKejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi, to the historic rally at Brigade Parade Grounds  

 

Speed up

As the Congress hogged television footage for four days from the time that it was voted back into reckoning in the Hindi heartland, Rahul Gandhi looked southwards to pick observers for the Congress Legislature Party meetings in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Two Malayali Congressmen, AK Antony and KC Venugopal, and one Kannadiga partyman, Mallikarjun Kharge, were his ‘sherpas’, leaving many people wondering how the first two, in particular, would comprehend what was being said given their rudimentary knowledge of Hindi.

 

However, for all the confusion that was projected on television, they got the job done fairly fast by Grand Old Party standards. Earlier, the Congress used to take its own sweet time to even call a CLP meeting. But after the fiasco in Goa, where the BJP moved in for the kill, the Congress seems to have picked up the ‘fastest finger first’ bug.

 

Party pads

There has never been any harm in letting one’s hair down a little, and now, after the electoral showing in the recently-concluded assembly polls, it is, perhaps, time to indulge in a bit of pleasure. To this effect, Lutyens’ Delhi is witnessing an interesting pattern: politicians borrowing the residences of their friends to host political dos. A big Christmas party, organized by the Congressman and former external affairs minister, Salman Khurshid, and his wife, Louise, is being held at 12, Teen Murti Lane — the residence of Kumari Selja. Incidentally, in the past, 12 Teen Murti Lane has also served as the residence of the former general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Harkishan Singh Surjeet, and the Congress veteran, Dharamvir Sinha.

Then, a former BJP parliamentarian and Jan Sangh leader, JK Jain, celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary at the home of the industrialist, Sanjay Dalmia. In this manner, many Delhi politicians are known to allow weddings to take place at their residences, free of cost.

 

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 Large scale preparations have been made to ensure that it is a complete success. Besides the huge podiums, 20 watch towers have been erected and 1,000 microphones and 30 LED screens put up so that the spectators can see and hear the speeches of the leaders clearly.  (Express photo/Partha Paul)

Mamata Banerjee said the rally is aimed at building a "stronger, progressive and united India". She tweeted this morning: Only few hours to go for the historic 'United India Rally' at Brigade Parade Grounds. I welcome all national leaders, supporters and lakhs of people to participate in today's rally to pledge to build a stronger, progressive and united India

 

Footnote

The BJP claims that the Supreme Court’s order on the Rafale controversy is a victory. However, the controversy seems to have weighed heavily on the party during the recent wedding of Mukesh Ambani’s daughter, Isha. According to an Opposition leader at the wedding, the BJP’s attendance was thin while a throng of ministers from the era of the United Progressive Alliance were present. The prime minister was especially conspicuous by his absence. Given that the nation’s who’s who were at the wedding, it is unlikely that India’s richest man did not invite India’s most powerful.

 

Isaac Gomes from Kolkata adds:

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata rally today LIVE Updates: “It will be a historic mega rally. It will be a platform of all political parties to drive the BJP out," the West Bengal CM had earlier said.

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata Rally today LIVE updates: The stage is set for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s “United India” rally in Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Grounds as several opposition leaders arrived for the “historic” event to prepare a roadmap for a coalition against the Narendra Modi-led BJP government. Taking to Twitter on Saturday morning, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo said, “Only few hours to go for the historic ‘United India Rally’ at Brigade Parade Grounds. I welcome all national leaders, supporters and lakhs of people to participate in today’s rally to pledge to build a stronger, progressive and united India.”

More than 20 national political leaders, including former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha and Arun Shourie; three present chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal, Chandrababu Naidu and H D Kumaraswamy; and former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Akhilesh Yadav and Gegong Apang are expected to attend the meeting. The Congress is expected to be represented by Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi. The importance of regional parties and their unity in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls is also expected to be highlighted. A thick security blanket has been thrown around the sprawling Brigade Parade ground to prevent any untoward incident.

(Source: The Indian Express, 19th January 2019)

 

As reported in the Telegraph Calcutta 19th January 2019, Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi sent the following message to Mamata Banerjee yesterday (Friday):

Across India there are powerful forces afoot. Forces that are fanned by the anger and disappointment of hundreds of millions of Indians who have seen through the false promises and lies peddled by the Modi Government. These forces are moved by the hope of a new tomorrow; a tomorrow filled with the idea of an India in which the voice of every man, woman and child will be heard and respected no matter what their religion, economic status or region.

The entire oppostion is united in our belief that true nationalism and development can only be defended on the tested pillars of democracy, social justice and secularism, ideas that the BJP and Mr Modi are intent on destroying.

We commend the great people of Bengal who have historically been at the forefront of defending our ideals.

I extend my support to Mamata Di on this show of unity and hope that we send a powerful message of a united India together.

 

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