It doesn’t require the world to point out that Manmohan Singh is a puppet Prime Minister. Even Sonia Gandhi wasn’t the “real” prime minister. It was Pranab Mukherjee, the man who was virtually running the entire nation, while Sonia managed Manmohan and a large part of party politics. Mukherjee was not just Congress’ crisis man, but also the man running the government—he was heading almost a whopping 66 per cent of EGoM committees. Now that the man —who should have been prime minister long back—has been given his due, what happens to the government? There is a sudden realisation of where are the leaders in Congress.
The death of mass leaders in Congress started from the times of Indira Gandhi when inner party democracy—that at one point elected Lal Bahadur Shastri as the prime minister—gave way to dynastic politics. Indira, at least herself, became a mass leader; but by the time Rajiv became the prime minister purely on sympathy, the mass leaders started finishing off. The last of the mass leaders in the Congress under Sonia—Sharad Pawar—left Congress; and YSR, the one and only mass leader left, met an unfortunate end too. So now, what the Congress is left with, from Sonia to Manmohan to Chidambaram to Rahul, are all well-planned and planted leaders instead of leaders with a mass base. The real politician—though again without a semblance of a mass base —Pranab Mukherjee, through his sheer number of years, is now in the President’s chair.
Compare that to the BJP. From its father-figure L K Advani to its current leaders Narendra Modi, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh, B C Khanduri and B S Yeddyurappa, one after the other of them are not only the real mass leaders of this country but also with an honest record, most of them. So, contrary to speculation that BJP is leaderless, it is actually the only party with mass leaders spread nationally. What one also must not forget is that the last time Advani refused to pave the way for the next generation, creating all sorts of vote divisions. Further, playing silly Jinnah cards got them nowhere. The BJP needs to forget getting Muslim votes in bulk for the next 15 years at least, till they work hard and uplift the Muslim community and win their trust—which I believe the party is very capable of doing. So what is it that is still keeping them away from being outright favourites for 2014? The lack of clarity about who is the face of 2014 and not the lack of leaders or public dissatisfaction with the Congress. In fact, with Mukherjee gone, Congress is now weaker than ever before and one can easily expect our so-called PM, Manmohan Singh, to mess things up very soon—the fact is that he has not been in the thick of things ever. Also, the media has given undue credit to him for his early ’90s liberalisation policies. It was a global wave which India almost had to embrace by default.
Thus, the only thing right now between BJP being portrayed as an outright winner in 2014 and being in the fray, is the declaration of its face. Or should I say, declaration of Modi as its face? Gujarat under him has progressed like never before and even Muslims in Gujarat are better off than they are in other states. It is safe, it is clean and it is being led honestly. BJP has a committed 18-20 per cent voter base in India and it’s only Modi who can retain it intact—that’s his strong appeal. Add to that about 3-4 per cent swing votes specifically due to the massive Modi abuse that the Congress and CPI(M) etc will launch, forcing the public to feel more for him than oppose him, especially given their dissatisfaction with the Congress. There is a future prime minister clearly waiting in him. And it’s not just the global business community that adores him, but worldwide, as I interact with more and more intelligentsia, there is clear realisation inside me that they are all growingly waiting to see him at the top position—or should I say, the position left vacant by Pranabda?
Connect with the author at arindamchaudhuri.blogspot.com
Chaudhuri is a management guru and honorary director at IIPM think tank