Shifts in the quicksands of loyalties and the forging of new ideological consociations are determined by the electoral pendulum. As various political outfits seek new partners and promoters, members of the Permanent Ruling Party of India (PRPI) are no lofty exceptions. It is not just a few chameleons of the political class which are changing their colours. Opportunism is much more visible among those who have acquired the art of jumping from one ship to another to avoid turbulence in business and social life. Depending on the nature of oscillations, foes become friends and villains are seen as emerging heroes. Old social encounters are retrieved from the archives of alliances to show and prove their ideological compatibility in sepia to the Caesars of tomorrow. Even friendly losers are liabilities and have to be dropped like hot potatoes.
Not long ago, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was the darling of the classes. So were Omar Abdullah and Akhilesh Singh Yadav. A couple of years before, even A Raja and Kanimozhi were coveted guests at chatterati soirees in Delhi and Chennai. Now they have disappeared from the mailing list of those who only host rising stars.
As various opinion polls reflect a clear swing in favour of Narendra Modi, his once-sworn enemies are desperately looking for platforms to bellow their allegiance to him. Participating in bellicose TV debates, writing columns and speaking at business forums in his favour are the most effective ways to join Modi-for-PM campaign. Earlier, he was the dreaded Decurion of divisiveness who had choreographed a pogrom in his state in 2002. For over a decade, they hounded Modi and sponsored and even supported every move to fix him legally, politically and socially.
From corporate caliphs to opinion operators, members of his new cortege see him as the only politician who can save India from disaster. Undoubtedly, Modi has a clean image. He has also performed well in Gujarat. But these aren’t new achievements. He was one of India’s best chief ministers for the past 10 years. Those who are now buzzing in the spindrift of the Modi juggernaut used to be uncomfortable with Modi’s class and character. For them Moditva was the face of a murderous ideology and Modi, a man without a mission. From New Delhi to New York, the rich and mighty were hell bent on banishing Modi and his brand of politics forever. They made him an international pariah who had to be avoided at all costs. For pseudo-secularists, NaMo was the most malignant threat to communal harmony. Now all of them, including the Obamas and the Camerons of the world, suddenly don’t find anything wrong with him. India has 30-odd chief ministers and some of them have done as well as Modi. Even Congress chief ministers like Bhupinder Singh Hooda have beaten Gujarat on many development indicators. BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan has an even better marksheet. But for both the BJP and Congress, NaMo is the only alternative claimant for the national throne. And that makes the power-hungry class of middlemen, image consultants and media mandarins who promote Modi and dump the rest. To be seen in Modi’s company or even in the periphery of his circle is a sure way to earn profits and retain social acceptability. Now even the secular and liberal brigade take schizophrenic pride in associating with Narendra Swayam Sewak Sangh (NSS) while hating RSS. The PRPI has converted its luxurious drawing rooms into war rooms to plan the launch of Modi as the new national brand. For them, 43-year-old Rahul Gandhi is history, and 63-year-old NaMo is the herald of a bright future.
For the past few weeks, Modi has become a god who can do no wrong. Earlier, his harmless barbs would invite pernicious barks from all over the country and even from abroad. Now, even the global rating agencies whose survival depends on a friendly government in India predict an easy victory for the BJP’s candidate. Those who would refuse to attend any social gathering where Modi was expected now stand in the queue to sponsor his events and even his M-merchandise. Over 100 top industrialists, socialites, media personalities and Bollywood icons are conceiving events in which NaMo would be the chief guest. Modi is now becoming an icon in demand for inaugurating seminars and debates, laying foundation stones for new buildings and even becoming the stellar visitor at weddings.
What is baffling a few top Congress leaders is the new tendency on part of their traditional promoters to avoid their phone calls, even from Union ministers. While some ministers continue to have good relationships with industrialists, they are unable to make them support the party the way it was done in the past. Even the UPA regime’s beneficiaries are now taking pot shots at the senior Congress leadership and even the Prime Minister—the same cabal which would earlier organise national and international conclaves to promote the Gandhis and the once-powerful reformist Manmohan Singh and his team.
Interestingly, the PRPI doesn’t owe its allegiance to any doctrine of principles. It only flirts with individuals in various political parties depending upon their utility and class. They behave like modern slaves always looking for a new ruler in front of whom they could bow and scrape for crumbs. They are the beneficiaries and products of India’s economic reform and crony capitalism. Since they have flourished not necessarily thanks to hard work and ability, but due to continuous state protection in the form of a favourable fiscal and administrative regime, they are always at the telescope peering out for those who would not only protect their new wealth but also help in fattening it. As their number has multiplied during the past two decades, they are in a position to influence the political charter and agenda. For them, conviction has always been a matter of convenience. Election 2014 will decide the fate of not only NaMo and RaGa but also of the avaricious floaters who seek success in the whimsical currents of politics.
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