The bugles are calling for war
Columns, Point of View

The bugles are calling for war

July 31, 2018

By T.J.S. George

The big question is finally being addressed: Who will be the Opposition’s Prime Minister candidate? It will be unrealistic, of course, to expect an answer at this stage. But the unexpected flexibility in the Congress’ position tells its own tale. Two days after taking a stand firmly in favour of Rahul Gandhi, it said the party would be accommodative, that it saw itself as a facilitator of alliances, that it was ready to accept “any non-RSS candidate” as Prime Minister.

In a more sensational policy shift, Mamata Banerjee said that she would organise an opposition rally in Kolkata in January to which she would invite the CPM, a sworn enemy against which she had a fought a bitter war and won. She called for an “inclusive opposition.” At the other end of the country, Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) rushed to compliment its long-time adversary, the National Conference (NC), when NC leader Farooq Abdullah called for talks with Pakistan over Kashmir. Chandrababu Naidu emphasised a critical factor when he said: “Strengthen the regional parties, whether it is the party of Mamata, Mayawati, Akhilesh or Kumaraswamy, then India will have a better future.” This is common sense endorsed by history. The Congress was strongest when it functioned more or less as a syndicate of regional leaders such as Kamaraj, S.K.Patil, Atulya Ghosh, S.Nijalingappa and C.B.Gupta.

Men of that calibre are hard to come by these days and regional leaders are finding it difficult to achieve national stature. Mayawati has spent massively to field candidates in many States many a time, scoring zero most of the time. Akhilesh Yadav similarly is unable to make any impact outside his home turf. Kumaraswamy has a party with an all-India sound, but is crippled by a father who is over-ambitious for an 85-year-old and a brother in the Cabinet whose authoritarianism is aggravated by his eccentricity; it was unbearable family politics that reduced the Karnataka Chief Minister to a pitiable weeping angel.

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Mamata Banerjee is the only person in Naidu’s list whose mass popularity at home has some echoes elsewhere as well. She certainly had a larger audience in mind than the one she faced in Kolkata last week when she said that “there is a crisis in India” because the ruling group had unleashed “Taliban Hindutva.” She referred to hundreds of people being killed in UP in fake encounters, and 13,000 farmers committing suicide. She asked people to unite under the slogan BJP hatao, desh bachao.

Chandrababu Naidu said, intriguingly, that his TDP would play a national role. Does it mean oneupmanship with other regional leaders or helping a chosen one? Earlier, Telangana’s Chandrasekhar Rao had said, a bit too blatantly, “I am ready to enter national politics…I will take the leadership at the national level, why not?” To mention just one reason: What credibility can he have when he is unable to work collaboratively even with the other Telugu State next door? The TDP member, who introduced the No Confidence Motion in Parliament, faced the loudest interruptions from the Telangana members.

Actually that debate unveiled talent that could be of use to both Telugu States and beyond. Jayadeva Gulla, eloquent in polished English, was a forceful speaker, deserving the one hour he managed against the allotted 13 minutes. Eloquent in his own native style was Kesineni Srinivas, who regaled the House with quotable quotes. Referring to the Prime Minister’s speech, he said: “Wandraful oratory speech, madam. Wandraful. I felt I was watching blockbuster Bollywood movie. The best actor in the world, madam. No doubt, madam.” Madam Speaker didn’t want such things said and cut him short. Telangana MPs were happy.

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Telugu is the only language, other than Hindi, that has more than one State in its name. That does not seem to be helping either the language or the States. Such inherent contradictions can stand in the way of opposition unity. How many leaders will have the maturity and the good sense to set aside personal ambitions for the common good? The shift to pragmatism announced by Trinamool and the Congress must set an example to others.

A warning implied in Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Parliament suggests that unity may be a matter of life-and-death for opposition parties. He said: “The Prime Minister and the BJP President cannot afford to lose power. Because the moment they lose power, the other processes will start against them.” Think that over. One thing is sure. It is not going to be a general election next year. It is going to be war.

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8 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “The bugles are calling for war”

  1. Different Opposition leaders are practising the art of throwing their hat into the ring without threatening other aspirants to the titular position of the “Modi versus Who” poser. A couple of days after Rahul Gandhi presided over his first Congress Working Committee meeting, in which most speakers did not hide their desire to see their president at the helm of the Opposition alliance, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati took two seemingly contradictory steps. As her first step, she sacked Jai Prakash Singh, elevated to the post of party national coordinator just two months ago when she asked her favourite younger brother Anand Kumar to step down as vice-president following criticism of fostering dynastic politics on the party. The BSP supremo also removed Veer Singh, who too was national coordinator, although his crime was lesser — not preventing his colleague from offensively commenting on Mr Gandhi’s features — that he resembles his “Italian mother” and not his “son of the soil” father.

    If this first stride was a signal to the Congress Party that she will not tolerate slander of its top leaders by her own party leaders and cadre, the second step that she sent was the conclusion of the multi-layered message. In a statement made to a solitary television news agency, but palmed off as a press briefing, Ms Mayawati made it clear that the BSP would not be accommodative in areas of its strength (and the Congress’ weakness) unless the Grand Old Party was magnanimous in states where the Congress was the dominant force ranged against the BJP. In simple terms, this meant that unless the Congress offered a “respectable number of seats” in the impending Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and additionally agreed in principle to accommodate the BSP later in states like Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand, where it has a small but significant presence in pockets, the Congress could not expect fair treatment in Uttar Pradesh, where the BSP and the Samajwadi Party are so far sticking with each other.

    On the day Ms Mayawati made the statement, Rahul Gandhi too interacted with women journalists, which was ostensibly “off the record” but put on the @MahilaCongress Twitter handle. Consequently, it was widely written about, although in some instances by direct attribution and in other cases by third person sourcing (“sources close to the Congress president”). At this interaction, Rahul Gandhi said that the Congress was willing to back anyone as Prime Minister provided the person was not supported by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. When specific names came up, he did not beat around the bush, candidly admitting that “Mamataji is ideologically closer to the Congress”, despite not ruling out Ms Mayawati as possible choice. His words were indicative of the realisation that “everything will depend who wins how many seats”. No point in allowing dreams to take flight unless one has the numbers! The Rahul Gandhi-Mayawati trapeze act at different locations and on separate occasions, and similar jugalbandhis by others — Mamata Banerjee-Rahul Gandhi and Congress-JD(S) previously — is indicative of the comprehension that all anti-BJP parties can maximise individual kitties only in conjunctions with the others and not by standing separately. Yet, almost every Opposition leader, and quite legitimately, is sending reminders to potential allies that while defeating the BJP is the primary objective, the party interest cannot be sacrificed. In the past few months, after the recent Lok Sabha byelections and the developments in Karnataka, no Opposition leader or party has been grossly irresponsible and thereby provide opportunities for the BJP. Civility has so far been the rule of the game and care has been exercised of not rubbing the egos of others the wrong way. The challenge is to remain responsible as the elections draw near and the parties enter the most challenging phase of seat-sharing negotiations.

    As the largest Opposition party with a national footprint, the Congress will naturally expect its position to be recognised. But it must also be pragmatic about its strength. The party must remain reasonable about its prospects in the Lok Sabha polls and also during the impending Assembly elections. The Congress must be aware that it is essential for the BJP to perform creditably in this round if it has reverse uncertainty currently gnawing the party leadership and cadre alike. The party is already facing awkwardness with its allies and the path will get thornier unless it demonstrates all-round optimism. Consequently, the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo will have to yield more to allies than in 2014. So far, the Congress has radiated positive signals about an alliance with the BSP in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, but its state leaders have shaken their heads negatively to Ms Mayawati’s claims in Rajasthan. This, however, stems from the over-confidence of state leaders who presume that anti-incumbency against the Vasundhara Raje government will become so high that the Congress will be able to match the BJP’s showing in 2013 — 163 out of 200 seats, with a vote share of 45.17 per cent. However, such exuberance does not recognise that in 2013, when the Congress won just 21 seats with a voteshare of 33.07 per cent, the BSP won three seats and was the runner-up in five seats.

    The Congress’ reluctance to accommodate the BSP stems from the fact that although in a majority of seats the BSP’s main rival was the BJP, in two of three seats that the BSP won, it defeated the Congress. Congress leaders in Rajasthan are seeing the BSP’s strength in terms of its historical presence, and that in Madhya Pradesh the party had a voteshare of more than six per cent. Like Ms Mayawati firmly messaged her cadre that petty name calling of the Congress — or the leaders of other parties, even the BJP — is unacceptable, it is for Rahul Gandhi to convey to the state units that they must not lose sight of the larger objective. Every Opposition leader must commit to taking one step backward at times in the hope of taking two forward at another time.

  2. Raghu says:

    These were the excerpts from one of the thought provoking article! Now it all adds up!
    – I don’t know if BJP will come back in power or not! I am not sure!
    Since Dalits are being convinced that Modi is against them,
    Jats are being convinced that Modi is against them,
    Marathas are being convinced that Modi is against them,
    Farmers are being convinced that Modi is against them and
    Muslims are being convinced that Modi was always against them!
    Massive propaganda of Hate spreading through print, electronic and social media!
    All this will surely have some effect.
    – Many out of 1.4 billion of us are not well informed; some informed are idealistic; some informed are selfish; some informed are 18 year old and *haven’t really experienced old governments; some informed are too busy to get into quarrel; some informed don’t want to get labelled as Bhakt!
    MODI MAY FALL! *But, it will not be Modi who will actually fall* India will then FALL*
    Final tally will decide the PM candidate! There will be a dirty fight within the coalition for the chair of PM and important portfolios! There will be hard negotiations and dirty bargains for railway, coal, telecom and infra ministries, *not to make it better but to reap benefits out of it!* All the good work done by People like Piyush Goel, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Manohar Parrikar, Nirmala Sitharaman under able leadership of Modi will get directional deflection or break!
    There will still be communal tensions, *(It is the upbringing of this society for last 70 years; everyone has been painted and labelled and it’s bound to happen!)*. But they will not be ‘news’ anymore!
    *Dalits and Muslims will still remain backward* and a vote bank (It’s for both the communities to introspect, *why they are backward even after 70 years in spite of being a vote bank!)*, farmers may be gifted with loan waiver to make them bankrupt in another five years! People like Mr. Ravish Kumar will do another episode with black screen to appear intellectual of intellectuals! Critics will keep criticizing governments. *There will not be discipline, there will not be targets, there will not be follow up!* Ministers of different parties will behave like independent kings and will not be answerable to any authority! *Corruption will increase to crazy levels!* Meanwhile China is getting stronger everyday, it will snatch the title of super power from US very soon! Hence massive geopolitical challenges ahead! There might be a war over water in near future! We need to earn more money, strengthen ourselves, that’s the way to avoide the war! Trade wars! Russia’s empty pockets and China’s deep pockets!
    *Who is good enough to handle this situation for the good of 1.4 billion people!?* The great Rahul Gandhi? Psycho Arvind Kejriwal (Whom, I have worshiped like a god for a good three years!)? Fool Kanhaiyya ?
    Dirty coalition will give ugly break to the present growth momentum. What will Dalit achieve out of this and what will Muslims get!? Will Maratha’s and jat’s get reservation!? Will farmers’ suicides be stopped? what is the reason farmers started committing suicide in first place? That day people will say, Modi was Good”. That will not repair the situation!
    Modi has been working on long term and concrete solutions for collective good! Everyone will be at benefit in long term, not realizing it and not keeping patience will take us further away from the dream ‘Antyoday’!
    Modi is a human and can not yield answer to chronic problems created over past 70 years in 4 years! Have practical expectation, understand the constraints and limitations of largest democracy and then pass the judgement on Modi! The job is not as easy as Kunal Kamra to make people laugh by saying “Hamere jawan seema pe lad rahein hain..” I have been following Defence Ministry since last 10 years very closely and this government has done phenomenal work, which normal public is not aware of! And *when cheap people like Kunal Kamra makes fun of the work done and send wrong message across, my blood boils….*
    All this will not lead to fall of Modi but fall of Republic of India! We will loose a leader who is strong, progressive, hard and smart working and doesn’t fear to take the right decision by worrying about vote banks! The same vicious cycle will continue which held us back from being great for so many years, inspite of having all the resources to become greatest of all!
    It’s the duty of every informed Dalit, Maratha, Jat and Muslim to inform people with the truth and explain the situation and consequences, else fall is sure!
    I am a Maratha by cast and I keep receiving msgs in family and community Whats App groups that Modi and his party is against our community and uninformed people fall for it! And I feel pity on the people who are doing this propaganda and people falling for it. As Voltaire said, *I would rather obey a fine lion, much stronger than myself, than 200 rats of my own species*
    Modi will be engraved in history as a glorified soldier who did everything he could do for good of his land! Alas! His own people couldn’t understand it!
    As Marcus Cicero said,
    “I have always been of the opinion, that *unpopularity, earned by doing what is right, is not unpopularity at all, but glory*”*
    We live in a quick fix society! Everyone is yelling where is the growth!? Where are the benefits of Demonetization, all the currency is back!? Where are the benefits of Swacch Bharat, my colony is still dirty!? Where are the benefits of Make In India, we still buy Chinese manufactured phone! Where are the 15 lakhs!?
    Poor souls! I hope they will come across the story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree someday!
    I followed UPA1 & UPA2 very closely, read and educated myself a lot about India and it’s problems and what kind of mess India is, I learned about limitations and constraints created over past 70 years and when I saw Modiji handling this mess so well in the backdrop of a prejudice, hatred & criticism, *my respect for him has grown in multiple folds*!
    Modi has done amazing hard and smart work on so many fronts and I am so grateful to him for what he has done and achieved in past 4 years! Of course there are few mistakes, but can anything in this world ever be perfectly flawless!? For example, I never understood the ‘COW’ issue, but do we know what kind of pressure must be there on him from within the party!
    In a family or any small or big organisation, there will always be some people who we know are wrong and culprit for some mess, but we can’t help but to tolerate them at the cost of the unity of the family or at the cost of some bigger advantage in the case of organisation!
    One thing for sure, even critics will praise Modi someday, but it will be of no use then
    I only hope that better sense prevails amongst Indian people & they Vote Modi back to power in 2019*

    • syed matheen says:

      Dear Raghu,

      Again copy and paste ??

      Have some ethics man, why you do marketing by posting same comment on all issues ? No people will listen your lecture and cast their vote.

      • Rahul says:

        When people can not talk about development, they revert back to old rhetoric of Scaremongering.
        The polarization that has happened in last 4 years will have long lasting effect in India.

  3. George Altarboy says:

    Waiting for T.J.S George to write on how Fathers & Priests in Kerala are raping nun’s and threatening them or forcing them to withdraw the complaints. I am waiting for him to write about how Christianity in India has lost its morality with incident after incident of child sex abuse, nun rapes and even murders.

    But I am sure that the hypocrite and bigot in him will not let that happen, at most he can harp on Modi, Hinduism, BJP.. flawed as they may all be, if he has nothing to talk about that these, he is just a bigoted rascal masquerading as a journalist, on a newspaper whose own track record of keeping quiet is astonishing.

  4. Though these are early days for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections the way the disparate Opposition is struggling to present a semblance of unity clearly points out an advantage to the ruling BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Discordant voices are being raised among the various opposition parties almost on a daily basis on seat adjustments and more importantly on their prospective candidate for India’s Prime Ministership.In a latest shocker of a development Telangana Chief Minister K.Chandrasekhar Rao who is tipped as one of the Prime Ministerial candidates along with Mamata, Mayavati and Devegowda for tge proposed federal front is understood to have met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at New Delhi offering his readiness for a post poll alliance with the BJP!

  5. Naveen says:

    Let us be honest! Is Rahul ready to be the PM? Even Manmohan Singh served as a puppet to the Italian master doing and saying everything that the Italian lady wanted to! Today so many people are talking about lynching and farmers! Some of my close friends are from Kashmir and their families killed and 4 million people were driven out or massacred and no media nor all these people screaming did not seem to have any voice! Why, it it because the victims were Hindus? The real reason for lynching is, police do not want to act against the thieves of some communinty or race because they may lose their jobs! So they play dumb and people who are frustrated take the law into their own hands! Nobody is defending it, but this us the reality!Also many farmer suicides, the person was neither a farmer nor it was a suicide! Government will pay compensation to the victim if it is called a suicide and many poor families are ok to call it whatever may be the cause of death if it can get some financial support It is a shame that they are poor even after 70 years of independebnceM. So, this lie has been published that all farmers deaths are suicide!
    Even terrorists like Afzal guru who was convicted after much trial gets sympathy from secularists, media and Congress then, we are living in parallel universe!
    As one of the previous comments said, Modi has too many enemies and we are going to see regular our PM! I know all modi haters will be happy! Now time only will tell if it is win for the common man!

  6. Madhu says:

    People in sleeper cells are spending sleepless nights comments g against Modi to put the hupty dumpty on the wall! Yes, Modi may fail as per Raghu’s comment, but that may be the restoration of peaceful days for the crooks , criminals and the corrupt! The scam era wil, continue! They may even jail modi and his mother on corruption charges!


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