Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra ModiPhoto | PTI

All isn’t Lost for BJP. Use Redemption for Rehabilitation

Democracy has reduced the fourth estate which had become a fifth column, by throwing Godi media journalists aka God media journos into disbelief and depression.

“Satta ka khel chalega (the game of power will go on). Governments will come and go. Parties will be made and unmade. This country should survive, its democracy should survive,” Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Parliament in May 1996.

They just did. They stymied skeptics who foresaw Modi becoming India’s fuehrer, or imposing an Emergency if he lost. Democracy has reduced the fourth estate which had become a fifth column, by throwing Godi media journalists aka God media journos into disbelief and depression. A news anchor who had added an iconic suffix to her name wept in public.

Exit poll magnate Pradeep Gupta who had dissed Rahul Gandhi’s scoffings as an “insult to thousands of professionals” broke down on live TV. The ambitiously pathetic Prashant Kishor, having lost clients and flumping a padayatra, tried to crawl back into the Modi ecosystem by fawningly forecasting a saffron triumph. Apart from the entertainment and contempt these poseurs deserve, they do serve a purpose: make money for bettors.

The Satta Bazar, considered the oracle of poll victory, got it as wrong as Smithstonian curator John Watkins who predicted that C, X and Q will disappear from the English language soon. X for Exit is the pun of the moment, since bookies predicted 62-65 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh going to the BJP. Exit polls failed, perhaps, because of political motivations, dodgy data, shrunken sample size and questionnaires that anticipated the answer.

In UP, both punters flamed out because their on-the-ground lightning conductors went kaput. Insiders say that the High Command treated the wildly popular Yogi Adityanath without the respect he deserved, and replaced his loyal sitting MPs with its sycophants. The RSS, which BJP president JP Nadda dismissed as just an ideological front because the party can handle its own affairs, was furious; hence, grassroots work was tardy and many pracharaks neither voted nor mobilised voters.

The BJP washing machine blew a fuse: voters kicked most defectors into the dustbin. Modi’s image, too, came under siege, and his consecration of the Ram Temple wasn’t conducive to a BJP victory in Ayodhya, as if Lord Ram had muttered ‘tsk tsk’. Many Hindus disapproved of the PM’s denial of biological birth and divine origin claim; Modi’s victory margin in Varanasi dipped by more than half from nearly 4.8 lakh to about 1.5 lakh. By weaponising agencies, throwing Rahul Gandhi out of house and House, disqualifying vocal critics like Mahua Moitra and jailing political adversaries, the government began to resemble an occupier of political territory than a victor. Sarcasm, invective and absurd warnings made the invincible icon sound a tad unsure where he was going.

Still, not everything is lost. The time of humility for the BJP and its mascot Modi is here. Undoubtedly the credit for winning 240 seats, although not enough to form the government, goes to Modi. In 1885, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government was toppled, he defined his own, and the BJP’s vision in an immortal speech: “If breaking up political parities is the only way to form a coalition that stays in power, then I do not want to touch such a coalition with a barge pole.” Nehru, Vajpayee and Modi are the only three-time prime ministers of India so far.

A country is greater than its leaders. But their legacies, dark or luminous, endure and influence the future. Modi has a chance to be the Modi of 2014 again: disarming, witty, modern and patriotic. In this hour of reckoning, turning the past into the future may lead to BJP’s redemption and rehabilitation.

The New Indian Express