It is that time of the year again. Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Congress party, where the workers see him as the next Rajiv Gandhi and he sees himself as the next activist, has returned. Where has he returned from? Well from his yearly hibernation that happens around this time. As I had written earlier, there is a desperate need amongst sections of the media and the political class to find an opponent for Narendra Modi. The exasperation with Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party has led them and the intelligentsia towards making some interesting choices.
Consider this, one of the most populated states in India is seeing communal riots erupt in various places. There are complaints of the establishment looking one way because they don’t want to anger anyone from their voter base. There are several allegations of corruption on ministers and senior leaders of the party ruling the state. Yet, the chief minister of that state never seems to be questioned on that. Whenever questioned, she either denies it or comes up with a pop psycho theory of the central government on some ‘dictatorship drive’, labels people as ‘Maoists’ or outrages on the latest issue and cries that fascism is upon India where she is not allowed to speak. She, of course, says that on a platform uninterrupted, with her comments aired on various TV channels. ‘Where is the fascism many would ask’, but such basic questions are never raised by sections of the Mainstream Media who are hell bent on finding a new opponent to take on Narendra Modi.
I am of course talking about Mamata Banerjee, the CM of Bengal. In 2014, ostensibly three Chief Ministers resisted the ‘Modi wave’ and performed spectacularly in their states. Naveen Patnaik, J Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee made huge gains in the Lok Sabha. Of the three, Naveen and Jayalalithaa were always seen as CMs who may not take on Modi nationally and would work with the BJP. Only Mamata was seen as someone who would take on BJP considering her fierce campaign against them and minority appeasement, something that would backfire if she went with the BJP. This further solidified as her MPs actively perpetrated the ridiculous ‘Christians under threat’ theory which was rebuffed later. Mamata after her win in 2016 tried to form an ‘anti Modi alliance’ with agitationists like Arvind Kejriwal, opportunists like Nitish Kumar and convicted criminals like Lalu Prasad Yadav (a fact that barely finds mention when Lalu is interviewed by Delhi based journalists). This however backfired spectacularly as none of them could decide on a leader. This was further evidenced when Rahul Gandhi came on TV flanked by the leaders of these parties promising an ‘earthquake’, delivered a damp squib, with all parties in the prime time debate refusing to acknowledge if this front had a leader.
Mamata’s paranoia reached ridiculous heights when she tried to accuse the center of sending forces towards West Bengal. She did not find much support for this theory except from a few corners. Off late the demonetization decision seems to have affected her and Arvind Kejriwal the most considering their reactions. Given this and the fact that her ministers are being arrested for their alleged involvement in various chit fund scams; one wonders why these points have never been covered when the media talks about Mamata. Politically she’s going further left of the left, as a left led by Sitaram Yechury is trying too hard to become Congress B. Economically the state isn’t doing that well and socially it is a tinderbox. The riots in Malda, in Dhulagarh and various cases of Hindu families facing severe causalities have come to light. Yet the discussion over these barely seems to take place. The main reason is that Mamata is the only political leader with a semblance of a base that remains virulently anti BJP. Nitish Kumar, the poster boy of the left liberals not too long ago, has surprised them by his stance on demonetization and is out of the race. That leaves Mamata, whose ministers are being caught. When the only complaint that should’ve been was why the CBI went slow on these cases, the complaint seems to now be why is the CBI going too fast.
They say, a week is a long time in politics. And that is precisely what happened in a week, which has dislodged Mamata from the position she enjoyed with the left liberals and now they seem to have discovered another proverbial knight on a shining cycle (pun intended)- Akhilesh Yadav. After running a disastrous government in UP (marginally better than his father, but that is not saying much), Akhilesh Yadav has become the new poster boy of the usual suspects. After the theatrical show of the Samajwadi Party played out where everyone was suspending each other and assuming leadership the pundits in Delhi concluded that Akhilesh wanted to break free from his father.
Never mind that it took Akhilesh 4.5 years and a month before the elections to come to the conclusion that his father’s loyalists in SP might not be good administrators after all. His administration has led UP to brink as far as Law & order was concerned. The situation is so bad that people are getting nostalgic about previous regimes that were corrupt but at least kept the law and order under control. I found the same pundits on TV, who had expounded their wisdom upon us in 2012 that Akhilesh has changed SP after he said no to DP Yadav, expounding their wisdom again in 2017 saying that Akhilesh is once again changing SP. There are two conclusions that can be made from that the pundits saying are either delusional/stupid or willfully ignorant. Either way it paints a sorry picture that the people opposed to Mr. Modi are so blinded in their disgust that they ready to literally scrap the bottom of the barrel, propound conspiracy theories and support tainted leaders to try and eke out a victory somehow.
Whether demonetization is a success or failure remains to be seen. What one cannot deny is the immense popularity that Mr. Modi enjoys across the country. He remains very much the most popular leader in India and surveys and reports show that he enjoys trust with the people that none of the above do. This is not to suggest that all is well with the government and they are doing everything right. There have been a few missteps to which they could’ve and should have been put on the mat. But this can be done by leaders who stand for something, represent an idea or believe in something. This cannot be done by failed dynasts, CMs who refuse to be accountable and leaders who tried to disown their own terrible legacy that they have created and nurtured all this while. The Indian electorate is evolving and so is the political economy. In this evolution by products of the past, will end up remaining parodies of themselves or be confined to history books. The times They are Are A Changin’.