"That blessed mood
In which the burthen of the mystery
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into into the life of things"
(Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey,1798)
Strange fit of euphoria being over, lets get back to rational analysis.
How is the new dynamic in the Yogi-Modi-Shah-Ambani-Doval-BJP-RSS equations going to work out? What will it mean for the future of India and its relationship with the rest of the world?
It will depend on a few important factors, that could develop in various different ways. The only thing that is certain is that Modi has peaked, from now on it's going to be a downhill roll for him, though how fast or slow, is not clear yet and will depend on a lot of other how various coordinates unfold. Two of the most important factors are going to be the Corporate reaction to these developments and the way the International community takes them, especially the US.
First, the Corporate world including the Ambanis is unnerved by the sudden turn towards hard Hindutva taken by the BJP due to pressure from the hardliners, with Sangh approval. More than the anointment of Yogi Adityanath as the UP CM they are worried at his projection by some quarters as the next PM. The Ambanis however hard they try will never have it as good as they have in the fortuitous Gujarati Combination of Modi and Shah as PM and Party President, with their old Patron Pranab Mukherjee as President, which gave the combine a lot of leverage when it came to dealing with the otherwise difficult RSS.
Modi in his 15 years as CM of Gujarat had built up a lot of savior faire and quite a few strong ties while dealing with the corporate world. He was a strong and smart leader who could fool common people with his demagoguery and deliver just what the Corporates needed. The Gujarati Diaspora helped him and his cronies develop lucrative and strategic ties with NRIs and PIOs through his Vibrant Gujarat investment summits,and he helped rake in funds for the Party as well as the RSS through its Hindu Sewak Sangh branches from all over the world. Those who see Yogi as Modi's successor should realise that this sort of serendipitous combination is not going to get reconstructed for him. And Corporates would find it difficult to build a man-of-the-world-type of funding and quid pro quo equation with the saffron clad Ascetic. That in part explains their utter horror at the prospect of Yogi as PM . They may find it difficult even to recover the investments they have made in UP! The RSS on the other hand may love the idea of the Rajrishi, the Saint King, who will bring Ram Rajya and firmly establish their dream of a Hindu Rashtra. They may even be dreaming of an Akhand Bharat under him! Dreams are free. It is the process of making them come true that is expensive.
The two deputy CMs given to Adityanath along with the suave Cabinet Minister Siddharth Nath Singh (now here's a man media and the Corporates would have loved to see as CM of UP), grandson of the late PM Lal Bahadur Shastri, will however be taking orders from Delhi, while the Yogi will be the SUV to deliver the Ram Mandir, is what Modi-Shah-Ambani-Doval combine may be hoping for. But Yogi's rebel streak and strong base and his own Hindu Yuva Vahini network may not let Yogi be just a convenient use-and-throw tool. Yogi is an ambitious and ruthless man, and he is nobody's fool. So RSS might think of making him Deputy PM with a man like Piyush Goyal at the helm or vice versa, and divide up the Hindutva and Development agendas between them. But in any case Modi's successors are already knocking at his door, ironically because he has achieved all that was expected of him too early in his Prime Ministerial tenure for his own good.
Modi in power as PM has so far been unique in being able to hold the Hindutva and Development agendas together, and to hold the Party,the Government and the RSS in a balanced control despite tensions, but after him the work will have to be divided up and fatal frictions will emerge. In fact, that should be revised to say that Modi in his first flush of power at the centre could wield that authority, but a weakened Modi would not be able to do so. If and when the cracks deepen the House of Alt- Right Hindutva married to unchecked Crony Capitalism could collapse as rapidly as a House of Cards.
And that would be in great part because in their insecure hurry or indecent haste to turn India saffron from shore to shore, they have used all sorts of dirty tricks from poaching/purchasing of leaders from other parties mainly from the Congress to misuse of gubernatorial power through their pliable Governors to overturning a minority mandate through horse trading and other extra constitutional means, as in Uttarakhand and Arunachal last year and in Goa and Manipur recently, as well as in UP before the recent elections. Their ill- concealed attempts at hijacking the AIADMK with its recent victory mandate after the demise of ex Tamil Nadu CM and Party Chief of AIADMK, J Jayalalitha, are other examples of their unseemly greed for grabbing power by hook or by crook without building up a proper party cadre and honing leaders by from the grass roots. Their wholesale purchase of 400 TMC party workers and party chief in Tripura last week in the run up to the Tripura Assembly polls which are due later this year is the latest example of their greed, though Congress and TMC MLAs and workers have been their special targets in West Bengal , Manipur, Nagaland and the rest of the North East. Their much publicised acceptance of debauched and decrepit discards of the Congress such as the 91 year old Narayan Dutt Tiwari in UP and the 84 year old SM Krishna in Karnataka can only be termed as downright ridiculous, a cheap and childish form of mockery of a down and out Congress. In fact the joke doing the rounds of the TV commentators club is that while BJP thinks it is creating a Congress-Mukt Bharat, what the country is ending up with is a Congress-Yukt BJP!
This sort of unprincipled use of money and incumbency power to swell party membership by wholesale defections is fraught with obvious dangers. It is an insult to the old loyal and hardworking workers and leaders of the BJP especially those committed to the core ideology of RSS especially when the fickle newcomers are lured with promises of tickets and ministerial berths at the cost of older BJP members, sometimes even sitting MLAs and MPs. There is always the danger of the 'Ghar Wapsi' of members of other parties not really committed to the BJP ethos. In fact the trend began a couple of days ago in Delhi State, where a BJP ward councillor from Govindpuri under Kalkaji Assembly constituency, who had joined BJP after quitting the Congress a few years ago, on being denied a ticket for the MCD election by the BJP went back to the Congress and promptly got his ticket from them. This might be just a straw in the wind but if the Congress begins to show signs of recovery it could turn into an exodus. To pick a phrase from another context, easy come; easy go! Perhaps the BJP party high command realises this, for Shah has issued a statement today that the BJP is now closing its doors to members of other political parties. Wise of them. Enough is Enough.
As for a change in corporate perceptions after Yogi's ascension and a rising feeling that Modi has lost control over the Party, been shown his place by the RSS, and been upstaged perhaps permanently in the Hindutva stakes that gave him his innate strength, the subtle signs are already there for all who care to see. On Friday the 24th of March 2017, just 6 days after Yogi and the RSS sprang a surprise on Modi, and 5 days after Yogi was sworn in, SEBI slapped a Rs 950 crore fine on Reliance Petroleum for unfair trade practices and debarred them from trading on the Mumbai Stock exchange for a year for unfair hedging and publicly shamed RPL with an explicit judgement that had been hanging fire under political pressure till a Thakur Yogi from UP signalled a definite tectonic shift in the political power structure of the country and a Tyagi Bhumihar from UP came to head SEBI after the removal of the convenient U.K.Sinha who had been there forever before him, and lacked the spine to deliver the politically inconvenient judgement.
On the following Monday, 27 March 2017, a furious Samir Jain, Vice Chairman BCCL and his brother Vineet Jain, Managing Director of the Bennett Coleman Group personally and publically got Modi posters removed from a high profile event venue, after Modi and his Ministers and a team of their top bureaucrats backed out of the Global Summit organised by the Economic Times at the last minute, and gave out orders to block out all coverage of the Modi-Shah combine. They later thought the better of it, but the incident sent shock waves among Corporates and the media, all the more so because it appears that the top duo of the BJP was enraged by the intensive coverage being given to Yogi Adityanath after the UP coup. Shah also accused Jain of being soft on the SP because Akhilesh had allotted them 45 acres of land in NOIDA for Bennett University. Such pettiness is only displayed by insecure control freaks, which is what Modi and Shah really are behind their 56 inch chest and 56?inch abdominal girth respectively. Bullies make bad losers.
Those miffed by the long reign of the Ambani Monopoly and Manipulative Hegemony over the economy of India, and their numbers are legion, are suddenly sensing an opportunity after a long, long time. And the canny Ambanis have also begun to hedge their options. Lalu Prasad Yadav's call for opposition unity for defeating BJP in 2019 countrywide is suddenly given media coverage even on Reliance funded media platforms, which are dishing out recipes for rejuvenation of the Congress or formation of Mahagatthbandhans as if these had been discovered for the first time. And once Capital and the Media begin to distance themselves from a political leader or a party and the fund flow decreases, the effects are palpable and disastrous. A corrupt UPA suddenly seems far more attractive to the Corporates than an incorruptible Yogi!
From the Corporate point of view, if Modi were to be replaced by the BJP, Jaitley or Sushma Swaraj might have been viable alternatives at one time but with age and health issues against them they are past their sell by date, while in Congress, RJD, NCP, DMK , NC the old order changeth - or is about to do so, and a most of new leaders, including Gen-next from the old familiar gene pool from Rahul and Priyanka to Jyoti Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora, Randeep Surjewala, Supriya Sule, Stalin, Omar Abdullah, Akhilesh Yadav, Misa Bharti, Tejaswi and Tej Pratap Yadav and so on are waiting in the wings, more than ready to take over from the old guard.
Corporates have no option but to plan ahead. They will have to hedge their bets; some may even bet big on other horses. This will first break the BJP's monopoly or hegemony over Corporate funds, and then there could be an Exodus, a virtual stampede to get out of the suffocating saffron stranglehold.
Free market forces continue to operate in India in politics and the media as well as in stock exchanges and and bazaars despite some serious monopolies and distortions, and elections as well as government formation (read horse trading) are very much matters of how much money who spends where and for whom. In these recent elections some wonderfully candid, direct and innovative methods of party funding beyond the legal radar were on display - Corporates from Mumbai and Delhi were themselves sitting in posh hotels in State capitals with loads of cash at their disposal to handed over directly to whomsoever their client party wanted them to give it to, without the transaction ever having to be entered in the party funds or the expenditure of an individual candidate. What you could see there was a new kind of non-digital Paytm , where the party can say, "Look. Look, my hands are completely clean" and yet their work gets done. Show me the biggest money trail and I'll show you the election winner- it's become almost as simple as that. For workers and voters go where the money is, which is why parties in power are able to withstand anti-incumbency these days - they have their hands in the till, unless some other popular sentiment is strong enough to overpower even greed. So once the money begins to find new destinations, or get redirected to older ones, the BJP would be in trouble, and the exodus or the inflow is based on a game of perceptions. A fire-and-rimstone spewing cleric is not exactly the most reassuring interlocutor for a businessman looking for political pals.
With Indian capital having second thoughts, global capital cannot be far behind. Demonetisation has hurt business and put off investors. Populist rhetoric has begun to be believed both by poor people who vote for it and the Global Rich who are set against it. Prof Amartya Sen's lone opinion against BJP and Modi and the way they are running India's economy and government, in particular on the effects of demonetisation counts for much more among reputed international economists, experts and investors than that of a dozen Bhagwatis or Panagariyas. The unceremonious removal of the firm and efficient Raghuram Rajan as RBI Governor, who was seen the world over as an upright man and a competent professional who wanted action to be taken against large defaulters to clean up the banking system but was put out of the way because of their political clout, has shaken investor confidence within the country and abroad and brought down India's credit ratings. Protests rather than unalloyed adulation are likely to greet Modi on his next visit to Washington or London. The honeymoon is over.
News of India's growing internal tensions has travelled across the globe. Our tinderbox mix of ethnicities and the fragility of the delicate balance among them is hidden from no one. As Yogi blipped on the International Radar- a rare occurrence for a mere CM of an Indian State- and the New York Times came out with a disapproving editorial, the Indian MEA put out an unconvincing, sanctimonious and mealy mouthed critique of it, while NSA Doval rushed to the US for excus explaining the developments and giving them a stabilising spin, and managed to get Trump to put in a two minute call to Modi to congratulate him on the recent State Election results, which Reliance and Subhash Chandra owned media then tomtomed in undying ehoes to reassure its investors and deluded citizens that all was well with the Modi-Shah-Ambani-Doval-RSS universe. But you can only fool some of the people sometimes, not all the people at all times. Rigged Elections, bought legislators, fudged economic statistics, padded growth rates, raise a stink that spreads worldwide. The disapproval of Forbes and the Economist counts. Amnesty International whose India Head Aakar Patel who is also a regular columnist in major Indian newspapers, a Gujarati from Ahmedabad who is not hostile to Modi or the idea of Modi, has issued a statement demanding that Yogi Adityanath, as head of UP's government having sworn allegiance to the Constitution of India is dutybound to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all citizens of the state without fear or favour and should therefore publically and in writing retract his earlier anti-Muslim statements which incite violence against certain groups of people based on their religion.
And Western governments do have to respond to their businessmen's concerns, however much you may try to buy their approval by buying unaffordable tranches of arms from them.
As domestic tensions mount, Islamic countries are not blind or deaf to Muslim distress in India whose Muslim population is greater than the entire population of Pakistan. Nor is the powerful Judeao Christian Western World any longer unaware of the fear and persecution under which Christians are now being forced to live in this once secular country. The violent fringe Hindu outfit to which Dara Singh the killer of the missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons belonged is now mainstream and patronised actively by the ruling dispensation under Modi. Churches are being burnt and desecrated, nuns in convents being raped and killed, forced conversions or reconversion of Christians to Hinduism under the notorious "Ghar Wapsi" or "Return Home" program of the RSS and its myriad offshoots are common. The Grint has stolen Christmas and made it into Hard Work On Holidays day or some such thing, just so that people don't get lured by the irresistible un-Hindu attractions of Christmas Carols, Midnight Mass, Mince Pies, Baby Jesus in a Crib, Santa Claus, Christmas trees, Christmas presents and Plum Cake. It would all be hilariously ridiculous if it wasn't tragic, and if people did not have to get hurt or killed to satisfy the whims of a Cabal of Medeival-minded Brahmins in Nagpur who have decided that India must be run as per their miserably limited concept of what it is to be Indian, and no other.
The world has had over two years now in which to study Modi, the BJP and the RSS in power in New Delhi and this means not just the governments but the informed reading public across the globe has a pretty shrewd idea of just how tolerant they really are and just how insecure and jittery minorities are feeling here for the first time since India got freedom from colonial rule. Ahead of PM Modi's first official visit to the US the Senate's Foreign Relations committee held hearings on this subject since his record as a CM denied US visa for his poor human rights record with Minority Massacres under his watch as not exactly unknown to the US Congress. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom had complained of its members not being allowed to visit India to look into these matters. US Charities and Christian Bodies are upset that they are no longer allowed to provide funds to Christian Charitable organisations in India and are in fact being asked to divert those funds to Hindu even RSS backed NGOs . Vandalisation of churches and forcible reconversion of Christians to majority Hinduism euphemistically referred to as "Ghar Wapsi" in India also worries Christians the world over. The signal of militant Hindutva becoming dominant is not going to do the Modi government any good.
In fact the great pragmatic virtue of Modi for corporates and foreign governments has been that he is a strong leader who can carry the nation with him. Yogi taking centre stage has irreversibly dented that image and rats shall soon begin to desert Modi's sinking shift. This why this is the beginning of the end of Modi.
As for India's beleaguered Muslims, suffice it to say that if the grievances of one crore Muslims in Kashmir can give so much leeway to Pakistan that India's peace is forever disturbed, the impact of Yogi on 4 crore Muslims of UP and of Yogiaisation on 20 crore Muslims will have not only the entire Muslim World against us but also the entire liberal West UP in arms against the BJP RSS regime not to mention the UN.
It is interesting to note that no incident of Hindutva violence against Christians in India has been reported ever since Trump with his White Supremacist constituency of core voters came into power in the US although an Indian IT Engineer, S Kuchibothla was killed in a racist hate crime as was a Gujarati Patel storeowner and others injured in similar circumstances. PM Modi maintained a stoic silence about the spate of racist attacks even on Indian citizens in the US. He left it to his highly competent Foreign Minister to talk to the bereaved families and his emissary, the Foreign Secretary of India, to register India's concerns on the issue before the Trump administration. The Hindutva-walas know that trigger happy white vigilantes are ready to cherry pick on Indians and may even perpetrate a massacre if provoked by incidents against Christians in India. The RSS and its acolytes undersatnd that language of violence very well indeed, for it is their own stock in trade as well. And with America's agenda and preferred methodology of regime change and creation of civil war in host countries they wish to dominate strategically, these tensions will give the Americans the perfect excuse to meddle with our internal affairs and enforce regime change here as well, much more openly crudely and violently than they ever have before. If the US can help make Modi and the BJP, they can play a big role in destroying them as well. Bringing hardcore Hindutva upholders like Yogi to the forefront will trigger a backlash much faster from the rest of the world.
Let us not forget that just as the majority community in Kashmir or in Punjab or in Nagaland or Mizoram is the minority community in the rest of the country, the majority community in India is by no means the majority community in the rest of the world, and if cultural faultlines are to be evoked majoritarianism or law of the jungle will soon have India on its knees begging for mercy. Turning the peaceable Hindu religion into radical Hindutva as a mirror image of Jehadi Islam will soon turn India into an international battleground worse than Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq. None of our immediate geographic neighbours is now favourably inclined towards us and Russia too follows the polar opposite of BJPs extreme right wing ideology. Fear of such consequences will surely drive Corporates further and further away from the BJP once they realise the folly of having funded such a destructive machine. Can any sane person believe that serious attempts to "reunite" Akhand Bharat will not invite the harshest form of geopolitical and strategic retaliation. The Hindutva-walas are very clear about what they want to do with Pakistan . They do not seem to have even the faintest clue about what they will do about China, or Russia, once fissiparous tendencies within India begin to emerge as a backlash to repressive and regressive Hindutva. Somebody needs to sit down amid all this frenzy and think these things through as also to explain it to these intellectually bankrupt medievalists slowly and patiently preferably in words of single syllables, so that they can at least get some common sense knocked into their addled heads.
The more flagrantly the RSS BJP bares its ugly, majoritarian, regressive and reactionary fangs, the less it is able to engage with the economic realities of a changing world, so the faster it will be bringing on its Nemesis. The faster the mask is off the faster will consequences flow.
The hurry with which the RSS has decided to fully unfold and implement its extreme agenda seems to be its main point of difference with Modi and his Corporate pals, who would have liked to be able to hide behind duplicity a bit longer. The gradually rising temperature in the ambient India water would have made the frogs that are Indian citizens less consciously resistant to the gory end that RSS 's deadly agenda could lead us to. Yogi should sound the alarm bell for Corporates, and once they stop bankrolling the BJP which they must now realise is subordinate to RSS and its cohorts, and merely its handmaiden in a Nazism-like Cultural Agenda, the reversal of this destructive trend will automatically begin. Europe and the US not to speak of Canada and Australia will not stand for the persecution of Christians and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states for the persecution of Muslims in India. Within Indian citizenry too those who had conflated Vikas with Hindutva are feeling cheated and alarmed. Pushed to a corner over common food habits, social discrimination and vigilante violence, disenfranchised Dalits and Adivasis will be more easily able to make common cause with the Minorities to overthrow the cruelly and inhumanly oppressive yoke of narrow and violent Hindutva.
Thus the unveiling of Yogi as CM on the Indian political scene at such an early stage signifies the desperation of the Sangh which feels it may never have such a great opportunity ever again to finally implement its Hindutva agenda. This hurry is the sign of inner panic in the Sangh which is well aware that it may not have as savvy and unique a Prachaarak as Modi again in the near future, or such generous corporate funding. Nor can it expect as much international goodwill and latitude as it has inherited, once the mask is off. They are undermining institutions to serve their own narrow ends and may even be tempted with their brute majority in Parliament to amend the Indian constitution for the same purpose.
At least at that juncture the worm will turn, if not before. Or at least, so one hopes.
As Lalu Prasad Yadav keeps reminding us, the BJP-RSS combine is far from being undefeatable, if the opposition simply unites as it did in the Mahagatthbandan in Bihar. Its high time they got down to it. The Corporates and the Liberals, the Dalits and the Minorities will come running to them with both notes and votes against Competitive Hindutva, which is becoming more rabid and less rational by the day. Sooner rather than later, the fragments have to be reunited to assert and affirm the real soul of India, which is at present in the thrall of a nightmarish trauma.
The appointment of Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh is that Felix Culpa or Happy Sin which heralds the arrival of the Messiah and the salvation of Mankind. The very fact that it was precipitated so quickly deserves applause for it means that the beginning of the end of BJP RSS hegemony has started within just two and a half years of its being swept into power on the back of a brute majority in Parliament, so that we are spared the hypocrisy of prolonged pretence, and a faster denouement is on the cards, one way or another. Virulent Hindutva and brute majoritarianism has been lurking like a virus in the body politic of India for three quarters of a century but it has only now been able to manifest itself in all its fevered frenzy. No counselling no advice no palliative no treatment is going to work on it. It has to run its course and either kill the idea of India or make it emerge the stronger for its travails. Yogi's ascendancy is a sign that it is reaching its peak and a decline should soon follow. Modi is already a has been in this rapidly evolving scenario
Experts opined last fortnight that now nobody can defeat Modi except Modi himself. Along came Yogi and the chorus changed to "Nobody can defeat BJP except BJP itself". They forgot about the RSS. The RSS not the BJP is the body that cannot take yes for an answer, that cries Excelsior after Modi wins UP and upstages him with Yogi. They are their own worst enemies. The BJP-RSS combine is imploding in front of our eyes. This is not nuclear fission but nuclear fusion. Let's hope we can keep collateral damage to the minimum .
The end is nigh
And then silence, or a new beginning.
At least it has made lazy Indian liberals sit up and really think for once.
Nothing can be taken for granted, certainly not freedom, certainly not democracy .
Let us learn to value them
(End of Part IV)