Group President, Group Managing Director & Editor In Chief: Dr.Shelly Ahmed

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fear Of Performance – Regional Satraps Target On Modi

By M H Ahssan | INNLIVE

SPECIAL REPORT The kind of federal government structure existing in India makes for very good governance if it is adhered to in letter and spirit. Apart from a few stumbling blocks, mainly sharing of revenues and some matters of internal security, the fathers of the Indian constitution had clearly demarcated the issues to be handled by the Centre and the states independently and concurrently.

This system can be, and should be, followed to have good governance in the country. But the Congress was always suspicious of its own chief ministers who did good work in the states.
The Gandhi-Nehru family, in its paranoia, always found them as threats to the family’s supremacy within the party. Hence, in order to clip their wings, it encouraged dissidence against them in the name of inner party democracy. The result was weak states and weaker regional party leaders. This also meant that regional aspirations were given a go by and the Centre began to impose itself on the states through handpicked and pliable leaders.

While this gave rise to regional parties based on caste, creed and community, it also stamped out the Congress from a large number of states. These regional parties have now become big enough to play a role in government formation at the centre. While this is good for a thriving democracy, it also brings with itself pulls and pressures of different kinds that ensure that coalition governments do not last long. It also ensures that today’s ally becomes a bitter foe even if some of its demands are not met.

An impression has gained currency that national parties cannot look after the interests of the states. This view is erroneous and based solely on the shenanigans of the Congress in the past. Strong regional leaders of national parties, like Narendra Modi in Gujarat, Shivraj Singh Chauhan in Madhya Pradesh and Raman Singh in Chhatisgarh in recent memory, have worked hard to transform the respective states. It is possible for a regional leader of a national party to work for the state if all the directives do not come from the so-called party high command.

But the Congress misdemeanors in the past and the growth of regional parties have meant that the centre and the states are always at loggerheads. The regional satraps gain the people’s faith by pointing out the errors of omission and commission committed by the Congress in the past and pandering to divisive sentiments.

Now, with the BJP poised to gain in many of these current regional satraps’ backyards, they are running for cover. Unlike the Congress, the BJP has the backing of solid performance in the states mentioned above and a leader in Narendra Modi, who has been talking of Ek Bharat, Shreshta Bharat. The very words are anathema to these regional satraps. They want India to remain divided into castes, communities and regions. For, that is the only way they can continue operating their kind of politics.

This turf war has escalated in the last few weeks, as successive opinion polls have projected BJP gains. Further, as Narendra Modi has upped the ante with his whirlwind tours deep inside their backyards and with his Chai Pe Charcha and 3D addresses, they know who to go after if they want to retain their regional supremacy. Hence, they are going after Narendra Modi with no holds barred.

Mamata Banerjee has repeatedly questioned his role in the 2002 post Godhra riots to gain brownie points from the sizeable minority in West Bengal. She has also questioned his Gujarat Model and has categorically denied joining NDA after the polls. Jayalalitha has started lashing out at him ever since the BJP sealed an alliance with Vijayakanth and it was projected that it will win 3 seats in Tamil Nadu. Nitish Kumar had broken the alliance with the BJP over Modi and is the most strident. He has always compared and found his Bihar model to be superior to the Gujarat model. Naveen Pattanaik has also joined the chorus on finding BJP making inroads in his backyard.

Firstly, these satraps would do well to remember that the ways of the ballot box are mysterious. The public in its wisdom had booted out Chandrababu Naidu even after he did commendable work in Andhra Pradesh. Secondly, a strong centre and the ruling party’s presence, however minimal, in their states is good as it will give the party a grassroots picture of the problems. Thirdly, they have to shed the idea that only they are capable of looking after the interests of the state. The time is gone when they could keep the electorate divided along various lines and keep winning.

A new idiom has entered Indian politics and it is finding favour with a large number of youth. This is the idiom of self-respect (atma-samman). The youth of today do not want handouts. They want jobs. The welfare laced politics of the past will succeed only with the poorest of the poor. To those who have come up and want to scale further heights, this or that things at this or that subsidized price does not make sense. They want to earn to be able to buy the thing at market price. The regional satraps have to understand this – and fast – otherwise the small inroads the BJP is making in their backyards will turn into highways in future.
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