Narendra Modi gave a rousing speech to frontline BJP cadres in Delhi recently. It should surely enthuse his followers and his fans. His response to ‘tea vendor’ is typical Modi, taking fight to the enemy camp and milking every mistake of opponents to the hilt. However, it is clear that BJP and Modi have deliberately avoided mentioning AAP by name or taking them seriously. Though, both the BJP leadership and cadre are aware of the AAP risk, the message to the cadre seems to be not to take AAP seriously. But, is it right approach?
One cannot wish away a groundswell of goodwill for AAP, even if temporary. Narendra Modi’s refusal to acknowledge AAP in his speech and focus only on Congress may not work well. Congress and to some extent, BJP made the same mistake in Delhi. While Congress has written its epitaph in Delhi
for good, BJP lost the state by thin margin which can be attributed to similar approach. This was not a loss of a city state but had huge symbolic significance, just as it used to be for BJP and Congress earlier in history.
AAP may not be relevant in major parts of India. But, with street smart marketing ably backed by media, it can damage BJP even if it takes away only 2% votes from it. In this do-or-die election for Modi as well as Rahul, this 2% can translate into a make or break situation. It could result in a loss of those marginal seats in urban areas that could affect BJPs bargaining power in having an NDA government. Or it could translate into a Deve Gowda or Inder Gujaral phenomenon.
Let me try to reframe the key issues of the forthcoming 2014 elections and try to explain my point more clearly.
It is a national election that requires clear vision about national issues, not municipal level issues. Bharat i.e. India is facing challenges both on domestic front and international front.
The Alternative before Indian voters are -
C. Congress supported Third Front, including AAP
- Congress has accepted defeat already and is propping up new born AAP directly in Delhi and outside Delhi indirectly through media support. It knows it cannot form government on its own or as a dominant partner. Notwithstanding Rahul’s grand standing, the overall atmosphere seen in their recent national conclave was an air of acceptance of this sober fact.
- Voter is left with choice of either BJP or BJP led NDA government decisively led by strong BJP presence;
- Or Third front probably led by Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP even with its miniscule presence in forthcoming Lok Sabha, supported from the outside by Congress.
- Or in the best case scenario for Congress - Congress and AAP alliance, though I doubt if Congress will have such numbers and whether other regional parties will support such a formation.
I don’t foresee possibility of a third front regional leader as PM supported by AAP, because AAP believes itself purest of pure.
One can enumerate key issues that confront us today -
2. Economic growth
4. Education & Health
5. Sharpening divide in society in matters of religion, caste, language etc.
6. Efforts to put Hindu society on the defensive and corner it with bills like Prevention of Communal Violence Bill
7. Critical problem of water looming large over our vast population
8. Power shortage, distribution and self sufficiency
9. Kashmir issue, giving justice to other regions of J&K, solving problems of Kashmir’s displaced persons
10. A decisive leader and a stable government
At International level we can summarize the issues as -
11. Secure borders, stopping incursions on borders
13. J&K problem fomented by Pakistan
14. Arming the defence forces promptly with right weapons
15. Taking rightful place in global polity
16. Use and share its ancient cultural and spiritual strength to lead the world
Let us not allow secular lobby to reduce this election to ‘communal vs secular’. Voter will need to compare possible solutions that BJP or Congress supported AAP and other formations may offer on key issues enumerated above. There are ofcourse more issues, but, one has to take macro issues for such a discussion.
A national election should focus on national issues. AAP is a new party stuck with local governance issues. It hasn’t got a clear perspective about national issues so far. They it has tried to handle issues of law recently shows its lack of depth. The Law Minister’s run-in with secretary and efforts to dictate judiciary, his clash with police, CMs blind support to his minister in face of his indictment by High Court indicate what can happen.
By taking on the mantel of ‘Only Honest’ people and talking disdainfully about others can lead them to narcissist pitfall of self-love and isolate them. Recall Ms. Rakhi who insisted on an FIR against a 10 year old whose ball damaged her car, and tamasha of their Law Minister. So far their approach is vigilante justice that hasn’t recognised the complex nature of corruption at all levels of society.
AAP so far has only followed UPA policies of distributing largesse government doles which has depleted resources and has not help growth of genuine employment. It has not spelt out any policy on how to increase industrialization and push economic growth. It has only talked of subsidies but no methodology about getting these subsidies financed. How long can you spend without getting revenue.
Many of the top leaders of UPA are ex-employees of World
Bank and IMF. They look towards US for directions and follow them. NGOs top leaders of UPA are financed by US and West based bodies like Ford Foundation and many others who have dubious record of promoting NGOs that can be used to foment trouble for government and state.
UPA has been playing blatant communal politics and taking support from casteist parties who are playing worst politics. The effort to introduce more reservations and add more castes in it, reservations only for Muslims (not even for all minorities), taking many religious groups out of Hindu fold thus weakening Hindu society, special schemes only for Muslims, not for all minorities, are typical messy ploys that are playing havoc with national integration. AAP is following similar policies, not at all different. Encouraging extreme elements; be its support for Batla encounter extremists, or meeting convicted Mullahs and Imaams.
Critical problem of water is looming large over our vast population. BJP led government had clearly evolved a policy of inter-linking of rivers. Gujarat
and MP were first to follow it and it showed wonderful results like regenerating Sabarmati river, its positive fallout like raising water table etc. Ideologues supporting AAP have opposed such moves. Most of the mentors and friends of AAP and Congress are against such development policies.
This weak government has not been able stop Chinese in their long term efforts to exploit Brahmaputra and dry up North East region of India. It has been facing harassment on the western side from China and Pakistan for harnessing its rivers and securing its water for coming times.
Power generation has gone stagnant. AAP has decided to further endanger this situation by giving subsidies to people that benefit rich more than the poor, without any solution to more power generation, better distribution and honest billing etc. Such solutions at national level will be a disaster.
AAP plays into hands of Pakistan by talking of plebiscite at the drop of the hat whether for Kashmir or Naxalistes without realizing that no country can afford to give up its territory with threat of violence of a few minority of citizens. It will create a ripple of repercussions that will lead to dismemberment of India. It is not the first time Shanti Bhushan has spoken for separatists. It is most dangerous lack of vision about India
as a nation.
A series of scams have resulted in stopping all purchase of arms and ammunition. Armed forces are sitting ducks if a big war breaks out. This scenario is cleverly hidden by the government and people are unaware of this danger, though the world
knows about it. Arming the defence forces promptly is urgently required. If honestly was the only criterion, a squeaky clean, Mr Antony, would have been a great defence minister.
In this state of affairs of drifting, paralytic government, India
needs a government that is stable and firm, not open to blackmail of small parties with no long term view of nation’s progress.
BJP needs to educate people on the grave risk that they run by giving a voting for AAP and perpetuating a sense of drift for the nation. We cannot afford any version of third front government that may run for a few months and then breakdown bringing back a party like Congress first through back door and then through front door; and destroy economy and political framework of India further. Ignoring this threat is not a pragmatic approach.