Einstein Loses to Modi Raj in Rajya Sabha
Albert Einstein once quipped: “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” But the BJP, being a singular-experiment party with a mammoth majority, perhaps thinks the great scientist was talking through his hat. Since Narendra Modi became prime minister and the sole and undisputed leader of the world’s largest party, doing disruptive experiments in the political lab is its forte. With BJP, science and politics can mix; oodles of adventurist mergers and experiments have created chemistry between incompatibles, while some have been busts. Yet the Lotus League hasn’t given up on testing new winning formulas at any cost. The spirit of experiments guides its selection of new Rajya Sabha candidates. Last week, it plumped for Ananta Rai’ Maharaj’ as its Rajya Sabha candidate from West Bengal. He would be the first saffron alderman from Mamata Raj who isn’t plugged into the core constituency of the Sangh Parivar. Professing to be the Maharaja of Cooch Bihar in North Bengal, he claims to have a support base of over two million Rajbanshis who can influence the poll outcome in three Lok Sabha, and over 25 Assembly constituencies. BJP’s Bengali barnacles are pseudo academics, RSS Swayam Sewaks, semi intellectuals and socialites who were rejected in favour of someone without saffron ideology trappings. The raja wants another Partition of Bengal and the creation of a new state. He is an equal opportunity hobnobber with TMC and BJP. But he was picked for Parliament, not by local party leaders but by Union Minister of State for Home Nisith Pramanik, who also hails from Cooch Behar and is known more for muscle power than administrative acumen. Now, why does it seem like the prints of Chanakya are all over this clever gambit? Political marriages and divorces are machinations of convenience. Maharaj’s selection signals that BJP is on the prowl to co-opt outsiders to inflate its tally in the Upper House and use them as the local lure in the 2024 general elections. Its habit of splitting regional parties is aimed at adding numbers to its current count of fewer than 100 MPs in the Rajya Sabha. By chopping up the NCP and Shiv Sena, the BJP could fatten up its RS numbers by at least half a dozen more, and they would support any legislation the government wheels in. The BJP plus its allies are a little short of a majority but sail through with the support of interested parties like the ADMK, YSR Congress and BJD. But it needs around 160 out of 245 votes to ram through a Constitutional amendment. The UPA currently has only 70-odd MPs. A 100 other parliamentarians from over a dozen smaller parties are good matches for the BJP’s wedding planners. Modi doesn’t need a leg up to get the Uniform Civil Code Bill passed since nearly all parties support it. But if unchallenged control over the states is his game plan, he will need Constitutional amendments, which require a two-thirds majority in the House. Since there are at least three Parliament sessions before the 2024 elections, Mission Modi is to have 170 king’s men sitting in the Rajya Sabha. Maybe our innovative premier’s fusion formulas could prove Einstein wrong, at least politically.
Extend and Rule on Court Ruling
The ruling party has mastered the art of converting adversity into opportunity. Recently, Modi maulers cheered that the Supreme Court delivered a serious blow to BJP’s credibility when it struck down a third extension to Sanjay Kumar Mishra, the trigger-happy Director of the dreaded ED. The justices asked him to pack up by July 31, four months before his term expires. Mishra has served for a record 56 months. During his tenure, the maximum number of cases were registered against politicians, top business persons and celebrities who were mercilessly raided. He stands accused of political partisanship in selecting his targets. The government even amended the law to give him a third extension against SC’s advice. Expectedly, the Congress and the Opposition celebrated Mishra’s ignominious exit; but the ruling party had the last laugh. Home Minister Amit Shah blew a raspberry at his adversaries, saying that though an individual has gone, the government has the judicial sanction to give an extension to anyone it chooses. That person will continue to chase the corrupt and let the law take its course. The apex court had upheld the government’s right to extend the tenure of CBI and ED chiefs by following procedure. Now the sarkar is free to keep any officer of its liking, like the ED Director, in the chair, as green-lighted by a committee comprising the Chief Vigilance Commissioner and the Secretaries who bend a knee to the political establishment. A powerful section of the government is now looking at leveraging the Supreme Court verdict to retain other obsequious officers holding sensitive posts with extra-tenure postings. Currently, the chiefs of other security agencies get two years on the job and selective extensions. Then it can retain the chiefs of IB, RAW, NSA, et al., whose writ runs across India and can cause trouble in unfriendly states. It may not be a surprise if Modi grants the heads of agencies a full five-year term to coincide with his. Naturally, they will be the eyes and ears of the national CEO.
No Births With Perks for Greedy Guessers
Modi’s legerdemain always has the trump card. A Cabinet reshuffle is forever on the cards, but the list never makes it to Rashtrapati Bhavan. For the past few weeks, many hopeful honchos in the ruling party had kept their tailors on standby to stitch a new outfit for a swearing-in that never came. Some others looked at the Prime Minister’s impassive face at Cabinet meetings trying to read his mind. Selective meetings of ministers and netas with the PM and party president J P Nadda were seen as an indication of a Cabinet expansion. But Modi is Modi, and predicting his move is entering the tiger’s den. A mischievous rumour found currency that the last reshuffle-cum-expansion before 2024 will witness a complete purge of people who rose during the Atal-Advani era. They were Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and Narendra Singh Tomar. The remaining ministers are Modi creations in saffron statecraft. Rajnath had contributed to the making of Modi as PM. Gadkari’s way is the national highway; he is also firmly logged into the RSS motherboard. Another section of scuttlebutt samurais floated the possibility of rehabilitating previously dropped mantris. They forget Modi believes in stability in the government’s stability. Charity isn’t his parity principle since he doesn’t have the time for second chances. Not even governors have that privilege. But hope lives eternally in the political heart; wannabe hierophants expecting berths with perks until Air Force One took off for Paris, and UPI at Eiffel, were stranded, fuming on the tarmac.