Friday, May 31, 2019

Minions Could Have Sportingly Leaked Portfolios In A Carnival of Democracy

Minions Could Have Sportingly Leaked Portfolios In A Carnival of Democracy
                                                                                          Saeed Naqvi

The great TV anchors, God’s gift to Indian journalism, who have been Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s shrill town criers these past five years, looked sheepish covering the spectacular swearing in ceremony at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. These media stars from the loyalist school of journalism kept state secrets so deep in their hearts that they revealed not one portfolio, not even the time when the portfolios would be announced. There is an Arab saying: he knows not and knows not that he knows is a fool to be avoided.

It would ofcourse be a matter of concern to the profession that after five years of supplication, short of Shashtang, the anchors and their cohorts did not have a hint on government formation. There is a simple lesson for the anchors: a supine media does not invite the state’s respect. Why would the state take into confidence those who are at its pleasure?

It was brave of the pundits whom the anchors had assembled to keep up the pretense of being in the loop. Some of the pundits who looked particularly distraught for having made no contribution to the discussions, leapt with excitement when a lady in a dark sari strode towards the lectern. “Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti” one exclaimed. “The Sadhvi of the haramzada fame” added his neighbour helpfully. In the midst of solemnity, this struck a discordant note. The anchor could have explained that the Sadhvi while trying to rhyme Ram Zada with Haram Zada, had quite inadvertently ended up describing Muslims as “bastards”.

The manner in which the cabinet cards were held close to the chest reveals two things: the government’s singular lack of rapport with the media. The lack of transparency in government formation would have been understandable if the Prime Minister had to juggle and balance multiple coalition partners. He has a brute majority and the allies who are part of the NDA are in no position to dictate terms. Actually, it is his absolute dispensability in the present establishment that is the source of Nitish Kumar’s infuriation. It was this pique that caused him to demand more than one seat in the cabinet. We shall see more of his craft in days to come.

Too clever by half, he had got into the game with a singular plan: for the BJP to need him in a split verdict. He would then have made a statement about the lack of a clear verdict. That would have freed him to play the field to further his soaring ambitions. How does he now get out of the situation of being in the NDA’s safe keeping?

Sitting tight on the cabinet list quite innocuously, what signal is Modi sending to his cabinet, party, media, indeed the country? That he runs a tight ship? But we know that.

In the ultimate analysis the message is loud and clear: Information is power and this power, like all the others, is held by Modi and Modi alone. Remember his pitch during the campaign: wherever you press the flower button, “the vote will come to Modi” (pointing his finger at himself).

Information as power for a leader or a party is one thing. But when the power to shape the minds of the Indian ruling elites on International affairs is placed exclusively in the hands of external agencies and news sources, surely the Prime Minister’s idea of nationalism is in danger of being bruised. The sellout, which happened during Congress rule, can surely be discontinued now. Pardon the digression.

The multiplicity of the media and its rapid expansion to accommodate the post liberalization advertising, altered the state-media equation. This happened in the 90s. But relations between the media and the state were so vitiated much earlier by Indira Gandhi’s Emergency that these relations could never be truly composed. A section of the media compromised with the regime imagining the emergency would last. But much the larger section fought Indira Gandhi tooth and nail. Journalists in the latter category, altered the basic terms of endearment. In a classical framework, the independent media was expected to have an “adversarial” attitude towards the government. But the fierce antipathy generated during the emergency caused a simple replacement of the term “adversarial” by “oppositional”.

The feisty publisher of the Indian Express, Ramnath Goenka who had staked his newspaper Empire fighting Indira Gandhi, sought to make peace with her when she returned to power in 1980. Alarmed at this turn, Romesh Thapar and other champions of civil liberties pleaded with RNG. “You and Arun Shourie have been a two-man opposition to Mrs. Gandhi.” They implored him to keep up the struggle. RNG’s response was pithy: a newspaper cannot function like an opposition party.

Indian journalism, accustomed to a Congress culture since 1947, had to cope with something radically different since 2014. Atal Behari Vajpayee was an interregnum of an unexpected order. He was the best Prime Minister the Congress never had.

The fawning media is, ofcourse, a function of crony capitalism. The media is a secondary investment by business houses which they place at the disposal of the state in order to buy favours for their principal businesses. The alternative media, manned by journalists of caliber, are on subsistence living, their durability subject to fluctuations. All concerned must have a conversation. Are the channels and the Information and Broadcasting Minister open to a dialogue?

To be on talking terms, the sides have to fall back on the classical dictum. “In a democracy, people elect a government of any hue. The role of the independent media is to support the people’s choice on an issue by issue basis.” The stance is not oppositional but adversarial. For example, the media would reserve the right to tear into the administration whenever vigilantes lynch alleged beef sellers or young couple who cross lines of caste and community. And, applaud where applause is due.

#          #          #          #

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Muslims And Election: They Also Serve Who Only Stand And Wait

Muslims And Election: They Also Serve Who Only Stand And Wait
                                                                                      Saeed Naqvi

India’s 187 million Muslims deserve a round of applause for the diligent docility with which they have allowed themselves to be the “other” against which the divisions within Hindu society have been composed into an ever increasing expanse of saffron. In geological time there will also be harmony in this expanse.

By stealth, the Congress created the platform from which the BJP is now finishing the game with a flourish. We must not forget, it was Rajiv Gandhi who broke locks of the Ram Temple, promised Ram Rajya from Ayodhya on the eve of 1989 elections and allowed the brick laying ceremony for the Ram Temple in total violation of a court verdict and so on.

The seed of what we are witnessing today was sowed at the very outset, in 1947. My school friend, the late Vinod Mehta, as honest an editor as ever entered the once hallowed profession, put his finger on the nub of the matter. “We have had 800 years of Muslim rule, 200 years of British rule and we have given the Muslims a brand new country, Pakistan.” He paused. “What would you say if the Hindu sometimes feels short changed?”

Having known Vinod as a buddy for 60 years, I knew exactly where Vinod was coming from. The full import of that conversation would take up a book. Let me come to the point on which we came to an agreement in the sense that we lowered our voices. If the Congress was so fiercely opposed to the two-nation theory which stated that Hindus and Muslims constituted two nations, how did it suddenly accept the creation of a Muslim Pakistan? Clearly a vast majority of Hindus would feel cheated because if Pakistan was kosher, so too should Hindustan have been?

An honest Hindu state would have been better than a dishonest secular one which brought Muslims down to the lowest possible rungs of the socio economic ladder reflected in the Sachar Committee report of 2005. It is argued that a Hindu India would have been an illiberal theocracy. Is Modi supervising a model secular state? Britain is an Anglican Monarchy which guarantees equal opportunity to all its citizens, irrespective of colour and creed. Sadiq Khan is the Mayor of London and Sajid Javid, as Home Secretary, is technically in line to become the Prime Minister.

Instead of gliding seamlessly from British Raj to Hindu Raj (Hindustan), Jawaharlal Nehru insisted on secularism to which his colleagues were opposed. Purushottam Das Tandon, Babu Rajendra Prasad, Vallabhbhai Patel never shared Nehru’s vision. Indeed, even Mahatma Gandhi differed with Nehru. “I support Khilafat because that is Mohammad Ali’s religion.” he said “And he will hold back the Muslim from killing the cow which is my religion.” Gandhi was a Hindu to the core but he also preached a secularism that was sustainable in a deeply religious land. His eccentricities, his tolerance of caste, one would have grappled with, but his would have been a benign Hinduism. That admirers of his murderers are now in Parliament is mind boggling.

The boost to this variety of Hinduism was provided by Prime Minister V.P. Singh when he, for political reasons, implemented the Mandal Commission report, “reserving” government jobs for the “Other Backward Castes” (OBCs). The rigid caste system, exposed to democracy and egalitarianism, was wobbly enough. Mandal Commission, invited a Hindutva response in the form of a national movement to build the Ram Temple on the spot where Rama was born. On this spot stood the Babari Masjid – a situation custom made for lethal communalism.

The first beneficiary of this politics was BJP’s Atal Behari Vajpayee. As Prime Minister, he moderated the national mood by accelerating relations with Pakistan, reaching out to Kashmir and being on talking terms with Muslims. He lost in 2004, opening the way to Manmohan Singh’s ten years as Prime Minister.

Modi appeared on the scene when the post 9/11 world was in the grip of wild Islamophobia. Modi saw advantage in sailing with this current. His hard line communalism fitted neatly with the global mood. He followed a hard line with Pakistan and Kashmir, a high tolerance level for Muslims being lynched by mobs for allegedly selling and eating beef and marrying non Muslims. Brutalities against dalits increased because they turned to caste leaders opposed to the BJP. Also, their increasing self-esteem angered castes above them on the scale.

Despite this state of law and order, dismal economic performance, rural distress, record unemployment and countless other failures, how did Modi come back to power with a thumping majority?

In the communal politics of the 90s, a searing slogan was “Garv se kaho hum Hindu hain” or “let us proclaim with pride that we are Hindu”. In his very first speech in Parliament in May 2014, Modi put his finger on the cause for this inferiority complex. He took upon his shoulders the task of lifting the Hindu “from 1,200 years of ghulami”, which means “serfdom” or “subjugation”. The score of 1,200 years of Muslim and British rule had to be settled to reclaim self-esteem. A national mood of resentment, valour leading to pride, had to be sustained.

The media was monopolized for this purpose. This is where crony capitalism comes in. A personality cult reserved only for Saints or Gods was to be promoted. That is the key. The Hindu mind elevates what in other societies would be known as “respect” to the level of “reverence” which leads to deification. Imagine a visage beamed repeatedly on every channel, of a leader whose relentless incantation is the following: “your every vote will go into Modi’s account”. This he says by pointing his finger at himself. People sit around their TV sets as around an altar or a God, mesmerized.

The Congress, in its arrogance, played a supporting role by sparing Modi and targeting allies like SP-BSP in UP, Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and AAP in Delhi exactly the ones in the thick of battle. Family and friends have set Rahul Gandhi on a wild goose chase. He is only 48; by the time he is 68, Prime Ministership will be his for the asking, he is being told. Good luck.

#          #          #          #

Friday, May 17, 2019

Jimmy Carter Chastises Trump: “US Most Warlike Nation In History”

Jimmy Carter Chastises Trump: “US Most Warlike Nation In History”
                                                                                          Saeed Naqvi

You may not have noticed it, but America’s war with Iran started some days ago, and may not be going too well for the world’s mightiest power. This is not a war that President Trump, as Commander in Chief, is enthusiastic about. The eager beavers, the trigger happy foursome lurching towards war are what Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif describes as Trump’s “B” team – Bibi Netanyahu, John Bolton, bin Salman and bin Zayed.

The Chief of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards thumps the table and declares in Iran’s Majlis, “Ofcourse oil tankers of all the countries will pass through the straits of Hormuz if Iranian tankers pass, but if Iranian tankers cannot pass then no tankers will sail through the water way.” Clearly, David is daring Goliath. There has been no response from the would-be belligerents. Two of the Arab “Bs” have fingers on their lips. There is a simple disincentive for Trump, always keeping a hawk eye on US economic interest, not to go for the final war with Iran. With the Iranian threat removed, who in the region will buy US arms?

If all of this turns into a major conflagration, the message to the world will be loud and clear: the US has been dragged into a conflict which Israel and Israel alone really wanted.

In fact there are military strategists who fear that Israel too may at this moment be in a chastened mood. It may be nursing wounds recently inflicted by the missile barrage from Hamas on the first day of Ramadan. Ofcourse, Israelis retaliated fiercely but why did this exchange not develop into a major pummeling of Gaza? It appears the Gazans, with help from Hezbullah and Iran, have assembled ingenious devices which can penetrate what was advertised as an invincible missile defence system. The, system, Iron Dome, has been manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and Israel aerospace Industries.

For Israeli Military Elite, the Iron Dome’s vulnerability is as unnerving as the destruction of the “world’s most invincible Merkava tank” by Hezbullah in an earlier engagement inspiring the New York Times to a memorable headline: “Israel is powerful, Yes. But not so invincible.”

Iron Dome’s alleged vulnerability must inspire caution. It may well be seen as a restraining factor, one that would cause the belligerents to hold back their horses. And horses have been pulled back by the Arab B team. After all, two Saudi tankers were hit off the coast of Fujairah. And what was the B team’s response? Silence. If this were not sufficient provocation, the embattled Houthis in Yemen shocked the Saudis by hitting and disabling their oil facility in Saudi Arabia not by a missile but a drone which dodged the radar and struck key Saudi oil installations. Saudi’s have taken revenge by bombing the Yemeni capital, the ancient city of Sanaa. Diplomatic grapevine is abuzz that Riyadh has communicated to their US interlocutors that the latest bombing was part of their ongoing war with Yemen. Iran was not in the bargain.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo turned up in Brussels expecting to be kissed on both his cheeks by European leaders for having set up a showdown with Tehran. He had probably forgotten that just last week he had ditched Angela Merkel after having set up a meeting in Berlin, his first with the German leadership. Germans don’t like being stood up. Negative German vibrations must have reached Brussels. But this was not the only reason for the cold reception Pompeo received. Ofcourse, there were no takers for tightening the screws on Iran. There was on the other hand, great concern that President Hassan Rouhani had, on the anniversary of Trump backing away from their commitment to the nuclear deal, indicated that Iran would begin to dismantle the agreement too if Europeans did not hold their nerve in the face of US bullying.

It hurts the US most when their cousins across the Atlantic begin to chastise them. UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt echoed the mood in Brussels. “We are very worried about the risks of a conflict by accident”. The international community is on edge because it has a sense of history. The First World War was accidentally triggered when Archduke Ferdinand was shot dead in Sarajevo by a Serbian militant.

Conversation veers around to anxieties on these lines after US intelligence spotted missiles on small boats placed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The difficulty in reading the Iranians at this point is twofold: is this escalation by Iran or a defensive move on its part. Even more worrying is a huge question mark on the reliability of the Deep State: what intelligence does it have and what is its agenda?

Time was when CIA had a reputation for well processed intelligence data, but the record all along has been mixed. How many times has the CIA misled the administration? Did not the US intelligence say with great authority during the Korean War that China will not cross the Yalu River? It did. Neither the Soviets no the Chinese will help Vietnam. They did. Assad will go. Has he? Maduro will go. Has he gone?......the list is inexhaustible.

Trump should feel a little humbled by President Jimmy Carter’s description of the US “as the most warlike nation in the history of the world”, Carter revealed in the course of a talk in his Church in Plains, Georgia, a recent exchange with Trump. President Trump expressed his anxiety to Carter about “China’s growing economy”. He was anxious: “China is getting ahead of us.” Carter replied “since 1979 China has been at war with nobody, and we have stayed at war.” In Carter’s words there may be something for New Delhi to ponder too. Also, a sensible power would balance its relations with others and not give any nation the right to veto relations with Iran which all Prime Minister including the BJP’s Atal Behari Vajpayee have consistently considered India’s natural ally.

#          #          #          #

Friday, May 10, 2019

A New Vogue: Authoritarian Leader Don’t Easily Accept Defeat

A New Vogue: Authoritarian Leader Don’t Easily Accept Defeat
                                                                                        Saeed Naqvi

If numbers go against him, will Narendra Modi accept defeat? Sounds like an absurd question but it worried me after I read the sub headline on the Op-ed page of the New York Times of May 8:
“Yes, there’s very good reason to worry President Trump won’t concede if he’s narrowly defeated in 2020.” Dignified by the NYT, such speculation begins to ring alarm bells.

The reason why Trump is being singled out for such speculation is because his political instincts resemble that of some others – Turkey’s strongman Tayyip Erdogan for instance. In an interview, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed her fears quite explicitly: “If President Trump is defeated in 2020 by a narrow enough margin, he will refuse to accept the legitimacy of the election.” What is the basis for Pelosi’s alarming prediction? Well, the example of Erdogan, his unwillingness to believe he can be defeated.

Unable to accept the fact that the electoral verdicts of two key Mayoral elections have gone against his candidates, Erdogan is throwing a fit. The result is that the country’s national election board has been pressurized by his cohorts to announce fresh elections in Istanbul.

Time was when leaders were sensitive to world opinion, particularly that of the US. In Trump’s America it is now a virtue to develop a hide as thick as a rhinoceros. As it is Americans were impervious to what others thought of them. That was American exceptionalism. A thick skin in the White House is an add-on.

The result is the US can play the world order as it pleases. It has the right to declare Erdogan a pariah and yet endorse a truly fraudulent election of Felix Tshisekedi in the Congo. Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, who claims to cure aids by prayer, refuses to accept defeat. And the world ignores it.

Why, did not Indira Gandhi pack the Supreme Court so that she could beat the system and stay on as Prime Minister? We all know who stole the 2000 election in Florida. The point is that there is an increasing tolerance level for electoral democracy losing its sheen.

Of the names listed above, the leader who most resembles Narendra Modi is Erdogan. The politics of both is determined by their core religious beliefs. It is astonishing what little notice was taken of Modi’s first speech in Parliament in May 2014. His responsibility, he said, was to free the Hindu mind of 1,200 years of “ghulami”, which, in imperfect translation, means “serfdom”. Put it down to Congress good sense, or hypocrisy, that the Muslim rule in India was never considered “foreign”. Muslim rulers made India their home, unlike the British who ruled from London.

Let us remember, Modi’s RSS training distances him by belief from the basic tenets of electoral democracy. Notions of social justice, upward mobility, liberal democracy are anathema to votaries of a rigid caste structure. As the great sociologist M. N. Srinivas noted: “What is Hinduism without caste?” Given this absolute reality, a votary of Hindutva which is what Modi is, can only use the democratic system for as long it is useful. There have been others in history.

In Muslim practice Taqaiyya is a tactic of self-preservation. In other words a group can project an image which need not tally with its core beliefs. Modi is no democrat but is firmly on the democratic bandwagon, by way of taqaiyya. Once he has exhausted the limits of this system and has all the institutions of the state in his control, he can unfurl his ultimate agenda – begin to remove the constitutional prohibition on declaring a Hindu Rashtra. The goal is as clear as it is impossible to achieve in a country of bewildering variety where every currency note has its denomination indicated in 17 languages, many of them with classical literatures predating Christ.

Erdogan’s taqaiyya followed a distinct script. Brutalities inflicted on Bosnian Muslims, ignored by Europe, had a direct impact on the Turkish elections of 1995. Bosnia was, after all, once a province of the Ottoman Empire. The Islamist Refah party under Necmettin Erbakan, guru to Erdogan, was a mismatch with Ataturk’s uncompromising, secular constitution. Erbakan was removed, his party disbanded. That is when Abdullah Gul and Erdogan founded the secular, AKP or Justice and Development party. This was their taqaiyya.

Basically, Erdogan is Muslim Brotherhood in his deep heart’s core. Brothers would be a torrent in Egypt and Turkey but have been held in check by a US and Israel backed army in Egypt and Ataturk’s secular constitution and a western elite (albeit declining) in Ankara and Istanbul. In both the countries Brothers cannot be held back in perpetuity. Which means that Erdogan’s goal may be distant but doable after a frightful roller coaster ride. Turkey will not remain the Turkey we know. His anti-democratic urge will cause Europe to jam the turnstile. Unless Erdogan is replaced by a moderate.

Modi’s Hindu Rashtra aspiration is not only undoable but, in pursuit of the goal, dangerously divisive. Hindutva growing into full blown oak in the Hindi belt will make this belt look very different to, say, the South. To the already frightful caste and communal polarization we will have introduced a dangerous North-South faultline.

As I said at the outset an anti-democratic wave is building up across the globe threatening even the norms of electoral democracy. The outcome of 2019 falling prey to megalomania in this category will throw the nation into tumult. The cause of that questionable quantity called Hindutva will not advance a jot.

Years ago I had described the Sari, Sangeet and Sanskrit as the triple S matrix which is emblematic of the civilizational strength that binds us all in a larger civilizational Hinduism, totally different from the narrow, sectarian mischief which Amit Shah describes as “transformational”.

#          #          #          #

Friday, May 3, 2019

Congress And BJP: How Different Are Their Attitudes Towards Muslims

Congress And BJP: How Different Are Their Attitudes Towards Muslims
                                                                                     Saeed Naqvi

If Indira Gandhi had won the 1977 general elections, it would have been a popular endorsement of her Emergency regime.

Why would Narendra Modi’s return after the elections be seen differently from Indira Gandhi’s after the Emergency? There is a list of failures – the economy, rural distress, record unemployment, the nightmare of demonetization, GST, throttling of institutions etcetera.

It must be put down to the effective polarization by Modi that an even more formidable list of misdemeanors is less talked about – lynching by vigilante mobs for trumped up charges of cow slaughter, public lynching of Dalits, harassment of Muslims and Dalits on charges of love jehad, hundreds of Muslims in jail without trial.

These nasty ingredients like “revenge” and hate” were not part of the impulse which led to the Emergency. In fact Indira Gandhi was being buffeted by East-West ideological currents, externally and internally. Remember the 70s were going badly for the West. Against that global backdrop Indira Gandhi had split the Congress then clasped the Soviet hand tightly for the liberation of Bangladesh.

CPI leader Sripad Amit Dange, Mohan Kumaramanglam, a Communist inclined Union Minister, Left leaning P.N. Haksar as her Principal Secretary were her advisers. The global right and its Indian sympathizers clustered around Jayaprakash Narayan’s Bihar movement in 1974. Senior RSS leader, Nanaji Deshmukh was the master strategist for this movement.

What Indira Gandhi called the Jute press was stacked against her. Concerted pressure was beginning to unnerve her when the Allahabad High Court Judgement, unseating her from Parliament caused her to impose the Emergency.

However, Indira Gandhi appeared to have been chastened into Hinduism once she returned to power in 1980. A touch of Hindu majoritarianism dictated her offensive on Sikh extremism. This was very much on her mind when she fought the 1982 Jammu election on a patently communal platform. Operation Blue Star was launched in this mood, which eventually led to her assassination. Followed by the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984.

When Rajiv Gandhi won the 1984 election with 414 seats in a house of 543, the party extracted two conclusions from the outcome. First, it was a sympathy wave because of Mrs. Gandhi’s murder. Second, it was also Hindu consolidation against minority communalism. I learnt this first hand in 1985 from V.N. Gadgil, secretary in the Congress Working Committee and a good friend. “The feeling among Hindus is growing that Muslims are appeased.” How appeased the Muslims were became clear in the Sachar Committee report of 2005 on the dismal socio economic condition of Indian Muslims. The Congress leadership nevertheless began to strategize on the basis that Hindu sentiment had to be respected. Opening of the temple locks, permitting the brick laying ceremony for the Ram temple, promising Ram Rajya if Congress won the 1989 elections and so on were dictated by this thinking. So, Rahul’s temple hopping has antecedents.

The BJP, smarting under the fact that it had been reduced to two seats in 1984, began to worry more when it saw the Congress stealing its “Hindu” platform. By way of damage control, the party elected L.K. Advani its President in 1986. For the 1989 elections, Prime Minister V.P. Singh implemented the Mandal Commission report reserving government jobs for Other Backward castes (OBCs). This aggravated the intra Hindu caste conflict. The Hindu caste pyramid was in a state of high agitation when Advani undertook the journey on a Hindu chariot to Ayodhya to highlight the urgency of Rama’s temple being built. This was to neutralize the effects of Mandal. Ram Janmbhoomi-Babari Masjid evolved as Hindu-Muslim conflict no doubt, but its purpose was more complex.

Hindu consolidation, with Muslims as the Other, would, over a period of time, mobilize Hindus on the lower rungs of the caste hierarchy against the Muslim “other”. Instead of weakening the Hindu structure by falling prey to caste politics, the lower castes were being accorded a place of honour as Hindu foot soldiers, a powerful infantry of the Hindutva brigade. Communalism, in other words, was to be a strategy to stabilize the caste pyramid.

Vigorous social engineering towards this end was launched by an energetic RSS functionary K.N. Govindacharya in the 90s. At the leadership level, Narendra Modi, Kalyan Singh, President Ram Nath Kovind, Bangaru Laxman, Uma Bharti, are all a function of the party’s sensitivity to the lower castes in its midst. Much more impressive was the way it went flat out on its “reclamation” and “ghar wapsi” programmes. This is what Congress has set itself up against sans any social engineering. They both have a Muslim policy, equally harmful to the community but one’s approach is quite distinct from the other. The BJP is on a no holds barred anti-Muslim mobilization spree. The Congress, scared to lose Hindu votes, keeps Muslims out of the frame. “Willing to wound and yet afraid to strike”.

Thinking on its feet mostly, the Congress imagines it is reinventing itself as an upper caste party which once had under its canopy Muslims and Dalits too. Dalits, ofcourse, now have their own caste parties. Muslims have been shuttling between caste parties or those candidates who are likely to defeat the BJP. Only when they are wriggling against the wall, totally cornered, will they willy nilly vote for the Congress.

It is instructive for the Congress to realize that Indira Gandhi’s Emergency was an aberration in a settled world order. It embarrassed Mrs. Gandhi herself, which is why she called for elections. Modi’s excesses are in a world order upto its waist in fascism.

Will he fit into this order? Unlikely, because he has to grapple with India’s infinite variety. Geert Wilders can dream a future in fascism for tiny Netherlands. But Modi has to dream unrealistically of imposing a uniformity on a multi lingual, multi-regional, multi religious sub-continent, not yet a classical nation state.

That is why the dream of the Indian middle class that India is about to become a two-party system, both party’s representing upper castes will remain just that – a dream. India will survive and thrive in its strong federal framework.

#          #          #          #