October 2013

It was a day of justice when Lalu Yadav was, finally, jailed for his involvement in the multi-billion Rs. Fodder Scam of Bihar by a Ranchi court. The once undisputed king of Bihar politics and a central figure in the national politics is behind bars now.

But if we go by the post-sentencing analyses and if the words come out to be true, it sounds the ‘justice’ delivered was the villain and the convicted was the victim. It is worrying for Indian democracy. Let’s see what some of the headlines said:

Sympathy will help RJD regain power – The Pioneer

Arrest injects blood in RJD – The Telegraph

Jailed for five years in fodder scam, Lalu still a factor in Bihar

Lalu Prasad Yadav will bounce back: RJD leaders

Lalu’s traditional vote bank unlikely to erode

Fearing political loss, parties refuse comment on Lalu Prasad’s verdict

Lalu sent to jail: Chhapra seethes, Gopalganj sees conspiracy

Jailed Lalu Prasad’s aura still works for RJD

To write off Lalu as a politician would be a little premature

Ever since his debacles in elections, assembly and parliamentary, Lalu’s political obituary has been a matter of routine discussion. Okay, no one was writing him off in certain terms but certainly, no one was expecting a miraculous turnaround. And now we are talking of a turnaround, in windfall terms!

Bihar had become the worst place in India to live during the 15 years of Lalu-Rabri regime. Corruption, nepotism and Yadavs ruled Bihar with iron grip. This Fodder Scam is just one representative of what the Lalu-Rabri regime made of Bihar.

In spite of the strong caste and religious equations, if he was routed (in fact decimated by the poll ‘numbers’) in elections, it could easily be understood that the electorate, including his loyal votebank, recognized the corruption and the governance failure of his regime.

But now, if that votebank, many of which voted against Lalu on corruption and governance issues, go back to Lalu again just because they sympathise with him for he has been jailed, it would indeed be ridiculous and pathetic for the democratic health of Bihar and of country.

An analysis in The Telegraph says: What appears to have galvanised the RJD cadre is the “recognition” of an undercurrent of sympathy for Lalu — particularly among Yadav and Muslim voters — after the court sent him to jail. Contrary to the ruling JD(U) strategists’ calculation that the RJD flock would be up for grabs once their boss goes behind bars, Lalu’s party is increasingly getting united.

If it indeed happens, if the sentencing helps Lalu to reclaim the lost political ground, it would be yet another sad chapter in the history of India, already reeling under the political subversion by its ‘ruling’ masters.

17 years of court proceedings, many cover-ups, and the post-sentencing buzzword says Lalu may bounce back politically with this decision! Shouldn’t that be shocking?
What does it tell of the Indian populace? The rot is deep. Politicians work to deepen this rot.

Sympathy for being in jail! Sympathy for being convicted in a corruption case, even if more Fodder Scam cases are pending against him in courts at various stages!

Politicians exploit this irresponsible, impulsive behaviour of Indian voters. They do so because we act as their ‘more than willing’ partners when they do so.

*“Why India is in imminent danger of disintegration?’ is a regular column on my blogging platforms to take a periodic look (say a weekly or a fortnightly or a monthly round-up of events depending on the factors in play) on political developments that are dangerous to the democratic health of the country and contribute to the process of social disintegration of the nation..”

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


It has already begun. The Reuters interview should be seen as the formal announcement – timed and worded the Narendra Modi way!

It is just a matter of time when Narendra Modi is declared the NDA’s prime-ministerial nominee. Anyway, he is already calling the shots. He has started writing the script of BJP’s and NDA’s strategy to approach the upcoming assembly and parliamentary elections.

As expected, it is going to be the reflection of the Narendra Modi style of politics and is going to be based on the experiences gained in Gujarat. And it has to be seen in the light of the growing realization among the majority of the BJP leaders that a wider deviation from the core Hindutva ideology has harmed the party, especially in absence of someone like Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

This would certainly push the party and the coalition strategists to push for a ‘mix’ of religion and politics that could serve the twin purposes of – not looking too deviant on the core Hindutva ideology as well as not sounding communal while wooing the voters on the religious line.

And Narendra Modi has been doing it exceedingly well in Gujarat, especially after 2007 when he won the state the second time.

And so, the cardinal elements of the script are expected to be:

A greater emphasis on the Hindutva branding: As already indicated in the Reuters interview where Modi reiterated himself to be a Hindu nationalist first.

An increasing mix of the hardline ideology as the time progresses: More in sync with the RSS thought process – to stir the voter’s thinking pattern with the notions of Hindu identity and the Hindu pride!

Religion and politics to gel even more deeply: Yes, the BJP may not make the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya an election issue but it is only because the party knows its support groups like the VHP or its ideological mentor RSS would do this bit.

But the party would keep talking about it in varying degrees as Amit Shah spoke about the temple during his Ayodhya visit recently. Expect Modi to polarize and exploit the religious sentiments of Hindus to unite them across the divided Hindu votebanks on similar lines.

‘Gujarati Pride’ to prop up the ‘Indian Pride’: ‘Gujarati Asmita or Gujarati Pride’ has created a huge pro-Modi middle class votebank across the different caste lines in Gujarat. It pulls the affluent class and the Diaspora as well. Modi would love to rake up the imagination of Indians for their position in the globalized world, a not so encouraging picture at all. He would talk and eulogize the Gujarat development putting it in context of the BJP’s performance in the party-run states. The development plank would run parallel to the religious plank.

Expect more of the comparisons like with China and other neighbours as Modi elaborated on in his Pune speech on July 14. The meekness of the Manmohan Singh’s government in dealing with China, Pakistan and other neighbours as well as acting coy in dealing with the global powers like the US can be exploited very well. And there are plenty of such issues.

Besides these are the routine pot-boiler elements like the UPA corruption or the price rise or the falling Rupee.

Elections in a country like India are not fought on statistical manipulations like what the Congress tried to do by putting a point-by-point rebuttal targeting the Narendra Modi’s Pune speech a day after.

In a country that has not had the history of distinguishing between ‘status quo’ and ‘progress’ as the election plank, elections are fought by creating stronger elements of perception putting the adversary in the negative light. Yes, having a pro-development image is an added advantage. And Narendra Modi as the most popular political leader in the country with the twin advantages of being ‘pro-religious’ and ‘pro-development’ looks far more capable than any other leader in any political outfit to deliver it.

So be ready for the fireworks. Narendra Modi knows a small spark lit by him creates a huge fireball taking every political opponent within its reach. And he seems to be enjoying it. That is what he is looking for.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


“Modi has a poor impression about the Indian people, to be a Hindu nationalist is an oxymoron. Religion can’t have nation. It is a very narrow and unsustainable idea to use a religion and treat it as a companion of nationalism” – External Affairs Minister Salmnan Khurshid, Indian National Congress

“It is a very sad, humiliating and very disturbing statement. He is saying Muslims are worse than even puppies? He should immediately apologise to the people of this nation” – SP General Secretary Kamal Farooqui

“Thousands were killed in the riots and in the backdrop, the analogy used by Narendra Modi needs to be strongly condemned. There is no place for such a comparison in civilised India. It is reflective of his perverse mindset. It is totally against the idea of India….We are unable to understand as to what is the intention of raising such things before the elections,” – Ajay Maken, Indian National Congress

“No one can change the character of any person. This is just the beginning of unveiling of his character, more will come out in future. Nitish always said Modi is fascist, Modi always treated minority with contempt” – Sabir Ali, JD (U)

“I think Narendra Modi is mentally unstable, his psychoanalysis test should be done” – Shivanand Tiwari, JD (U)

“It is utterly shameful that he is justifying the genocide and using inappropriate examples and analogies to trivialise the enormity of it” – Brinda Karat, CPI(M)

“Shouldn’t we all be Nationalist Indians rather than Hindu Nationalist or Muslim Nationalist or Sikh Nationalist or Christian Nationalist?” – Digvijay Singh, Indian National Congress

“There is nothing called Hindu or Muslim nationalist, there is only Indian nationalist.” – Rehman Khan, Minority Affairs Minister, Indian National Congress

The supercharged reactions from the ‘other’ political masters, targeted at ‘the one’ among them – that was exactly what Narendra Modi, the four-time and in-office chief minister of Gujarat and Bhartiya Janta Party’s (BJP) 2014 election campaign committee head and the de-facto prime-ministerial nominee of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), would have in mind when he decided to endorse his Hindu nationalist identity yet again, after a gap of some time – unlike what he had been trying in the recent past.

The Narendra Modi politics of his recent history was focused on adding elements to his persona and so to his identity that could improve his outreach across the ‘categories’ of the voters in a politics that survives on votebank manipulations.

One of the most telling examples of this was trying to deliver a message to the Muslim community that he was not anti-Muslim. There were Muslim invitees in his events like in his Sadbhavna rallies in Gujarat. He spoke on his projection as an anti-Muslim politician in interviews trying to clear his bad name in the community’s perception.

But that wasn’t going to change things for Modi. It wasn’t that Modi was not realizing it. And so, he never disowned his Hindu hardliner image. Instead, he has spoken about it with great emphasis. It was just that he left talking about it for some time. May be he was driven by an experimental urge to try at least to see if he could make some in-roads in the Muslim community, a significantly larger votebank in many parliamentary constituencies. Also, a warring ally (when it was the case) in JD (U) might well have been a factor as the JD (U)’s secular (read pseudo-secular) concerns and Nitish Kumar’s prime-ministerial ambitions were not ready to accomodate a communal Narendra Modi as the NDA’s prime-ministerial nominee.

With JD (U) gone and with Modi elevated in the NDA, such experiments lost their political or (personal) utility. It was well on the line that ‘the BJP or the NDA could not win the back the prime-ministerial office until it went back to the ‘Hindutva’ line’ (and not agenda, that may or may not be – ‘line’ and ‘agenda’ are to be seen as two separate concepts in the political craft of vote-pulling).

And so, this was it. First was the Amit Shah’s visit to Ayodhya. Though Shah didn’t say the BJP was going to revive its demand of constructing a temple there, the political opponents reacted on that line. Modi reiterating his ‘Hindu nationalist’ (Hindu hardliner) image is the next in line.

Like he said he likes criticism, he knew he would get plenty of that. Modi’s amazing ability to exploit the statements of his opponents targeting him hits the bull’s eye when it finds the support of his polarizing personality.

And here, at stake are the Hindu votes, Hindus who form the 80 per cent of the country’s population and so the majority of the votes.

Modi doesn’t speak about the 2002 Gujarat riots but he realizes its significance for him that makes him the most polarizing political figure in the country. It is true he is an efficient pro-development administrator and has efficiently managed to develop Gujarat after the infamy of the 2002 riots, irrespective of what the different manipulations of the statistics say. But his absolute run in Gujarat also owes much to his polarizing personality that makes him acceptable across the lines of the divided Hindu votebanks.

And taking it out of Gujarat has a political logic for Modi. What he has been able to do in Gujarat in terms of polarizing the Hindu votes would well be on the drawing board of the BJP strategists (led by Narendra Modi). Something hardline like Hindutva or religion is the only factor that can unite the scattered Hindu votebank to a particular political outfit or political personality.

And even if the BJP is not anymore a polarizing political party of that scale, Narendra Modi certainly is.

So when an Ajay Maken or a Kamal Farooqui burst in ‘political anger’ and when the political pundits hammer the computer keyboards and try to ooze fire over Modi’s remarks and when the political opponents, the TV pundits and the media analyze something from a Narendra Modi statement like this ‘puppy analogy’ (though, on going through the interview, it sounds just like a simple, spontaneous analogy in course of the conversation and Modi might not have even thought of it), each one plays exactly on the lines in the game that Narendra Modi is looking set to push further and farther.

Political opponents need to realize that targeting Modi more and more on communal lines only strengthens the brand Narendra Modi. This is something Modi is going to seek more and more in the days to come.

And going by the developments, it looks he has more than enough of the fodder available for him on the platter.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –