PM Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP National President JP Nadda
PM Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP National President JP Nadda Photo | PTI

It is gossip time in New Delhi about NDA’s future

Having governed the country for 10 years without consultation, compromise, confabulation or conciliation, Modi believes it is his absolute right to make independent decisions.

Washington DC or London, New Delhi or Paris, the oxygen of power is gossip in any capital city. Delhi is not just the capital of India; it’s also its gossip capital. The current chinwag doing the rounds is that the Modi government will fall soon although there is little evidence to prove that.

Conniving Cassandras predict that the BJP is losing many of its 12 MPs in West Bengal. Goss says three BJP MPs are in touch with TMC and a fourth is on the way. How they will evade the anti-defection law is a mystery known only to Didi. Similarly in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP was utterly humiliated, Delhi’s political blatherers have heard from a fly on the wall of 7 Race Course Road that Yogi sabotaged Modi because the PM wants Bulldozer Baba to shift to Delhi and lose his local base.

Another shambolic shu-shu: Modi is looking for a fall guy for his poor Varanasi performance: Yogi. All this speculation looks like eggs in a cuckoo’s nest because BJP needs to win the state again in three-and-a-half years; replacing Yogi with a lukewarm caste-based candidate will be plain stupid, as the new seat-selection experiment showed.

Wait, there’s more. That the ageing Nitish Kumar is unwell and loses time is no secret. A hilarious hearsay about the NDA meet a couple of weeks ago was Nitish reminded a bemused prime minister about sharing samosas, which perplexed the sedate Chandrababu Naidu who could have suspected samosa is code for Cabinet berth.

Pessimists indulging in NDA clishmaclaver say Nitish’s debilitation has the 12 JDU MPs worrying about their future and some of them could even switch loyalties to Tejashwi. Should the JDU disintegrate, its voter alliance could switch to the RJD more than the BJP because a part of its Muslim-Yadav vote bank has more affinity with the Lalu clan. Impressive logic perhaps, because Nitish has just two ministers in the Modi Cabinet; the same as Chandrabau Naidu’s TDP.

Both Narendra Modi and Naidu are no walkovers. The Telugu titleholder of 2024 is unlikely to compromise on important issues, which the imperious Modi will neither appreciate nor accept. Modi’s strong personality brooks no insubordination, which is exactly how he sees TDP ministers in his Cabinet: subordinates.

Having governed the country for 10 years without consultation, compromise, confabulation or conciliation, Modi believes it is his absolute right to take independent decisions: the Cabinet portfolios allotted to allies shows who is top dog. Labrish about Naidu’s uneasy relationship with Modi says the Andhra CM has made it clear that they are his ministers, not Modi’s.

Talk to TDP politicians, and they’ll tell you Naidu is bitter about the days he spent in jail since his bête noire Jagan fought the last elections as a BJP ally. Delhi tattlers say Naidu and the Congress have been in touch even before he threw in his lot with Modi. The Congress is watching for its Aha moment, according to back-fence talk.

The most fantastic tattle of all is that Modi and Amit Shah have conveyed to their allies that they are ready to sit in the Opposition. No prime minister or home minister has wielded such Olympian power in India ever. No Indian prime minister has straddled the world stage as visibly as Modi. Modi is facing the greatest test of his political life. To be Modi or not to be Modi is the question. No gossip-monger has the answer to that except Modi.

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The New Indian Express
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