It was a spectacular setting almost made to order—the sprawling forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan with the imposing edifice providing the backdrop as the day drew to a close—when the newly elected Prime Minister of India was sworn in. The ceremony itself was brief—although entire cabinet taking oath took some time—but the significance of the ‘historic’ moment was not lost on anyone. This was not just another government being ushered in, or even a generational change of guard—an age was coming to an end. As the sun set painting the sky in myriad shades of scarlet (and saffron), many felt they were indeed witnessing a unique ‘son-set’. As Narendra Modi, the one-time tea vendor, was being anointed as the new ruler of India with fanfare, the man who for years had been identified as the ‘Crown Prince’ and the heir apparent was sitting in the backbenches as a mere spectator.
Some who had shouted themselves hoarse that a man who didn’t believe in the ‘Idea of India’ didn’t deserve to be and could never become the Prime Minister of this country were left sulking in silence, still unable to cope with the change in their fortunes. But why waste breath on those who should best be allowed to RIP? The real question is what lies ahead.
After every sunset, there is a sunrise. And as the old saying goes, everyone worships the rising sun. Thank God that the new man in the hotseat has enough self-confidence not to require a ring of cheer leaders indulging in hoopla. He lost no time in announcing his team of ministers or allocating portfolios. Stern instructions have been issued to eschew nepotism in appointments of personal staff, and not surprisingly, a few feathers have been ruffled. Adopting the ordinance route to install his own principal secretary hasn’t gone down well with Congressmen who themselves didn’t think twice before riding roughshod over ‘constitutional propriety’. We are being warned that this is just the beginning. Mere mention of a debate on Article 370 has triggered an epileptic fit-like reaction among the helpless pigeons, and talk of taking steps to legislate Uniform Civil Code is being seen as another ‘great betrayal’. Both of these formed a part of the BJP manifesto and the mandate received by the victors surely didn’t exclude these from the agenda of the new government.
As the shock wears out, we have no doubt that the losers will whine louder—issuing squeaky threats that they will not let the ‘communal forces’ succeed. The liberals will unite to finally defeat the fascists. Alas, there are few who have time and patience for a bunch of jokers who can’t any longer make anyone laugh. In any case, they are busy depleting the numbers in their ranks expelling or suspending anyone who dares to pronounce the ‘J’ word.
It is true that the BJP doesn’t enjoy a majority in the Rajya Sabha, but this should not distress Modi too much. He is, unlike the UPA before the election, in no hurry to pass a piece of crucial legislation. He has already caught his blundering opponents on the wrong foot more than once. He deflected attention from his domestic moves by inviting SAARC leaders to his ‘inauguration’ and giving personal diplomacy a flying start. The coming session of Parliament—of necessity brief—will keep the Congress busy trying to solve the Leader of the Opposition riddle.
Forget the problem in the Lok Sabha, apparently there are no takers for the job among the worthies in the Rajya Sabha.
Jayalalithaa has sent signals that she is prepared to offer ‘issue-based’ support to Modi government and similar wisdom is most likely to dawn on other non-BJP chief ministers sooner rather than later.
Mulayam has ensured by his constant paternal interference that poor Akhilesh hoists himself by his own petard repeatedly. The SP government in UP stumbles from one ignominious disgrace to another and it’s just a matter of time before it plunges into the precipice. The electric shock treatment it’s administering to the voters who betrayed it, is guaranteed to blow its fuse finally. It’s highly unlikely that Mayawati can at the moment fill the vacuum thus created. Modi and the BJP are well placed to play the cat and mouse waiting game in all the states where elections are due.
The sideshow mounted by AAP is winding down tediously and the only point of interest is whether it can damage Congress even further and make it extinct in the Capital when elections are held. Mark our words, there isn’t going to be a dull moment in coming months without the plot thickening.