Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Alliance With Congress: The Fall of King Kejriwal


No one quite took Delhi by storm, not even Narendra Modi, like he did. For a people silently suffering what they perceived to be a humongously corrupt and terror-friendly government led by Sonia Gandhi, for a people who had become disillusioned with politicians as a class, he rode in on a pristine white horse, with a halo so luminous that it mesmerised even the most cynical on both sides of the ideological divide.

Such was the blind belief in him that even when he broke his own promise and became a politician, everyone trusted him when he said that he did so only because politics could only be cleansed, and the system changed, from within. The aura did not diminish one bit even when he took support of Congress to become Delhi’s Chief Minister, or when, in a tearing hurry to become PM, he not only put up over 400 candidates for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, but himself rushed to Varanasi to contest against Narendra Modi, the BJP’s PM candidate.

Varanasi, fortunately for India, did not buy his lie that while Modi was roaming around in planes and helicopters, he, an aam admi, had come to that city in a train “with only Rs 500 in my pocket,” and would stay there permanently even if he lost. In the event, when campaigning ended, he took the first flight back to Delhi, and has since never set foot in Varanasi.

Defeated in Kashi, he begged forgiveness of Delhiites and swore that he would never betray them again. Not only did they pardon and embrace him, they even gave him a victory like no one had ever got, sending 67 AAP MLAs to an Assembly that has a strength of 70.

Since that dazzling 2015 victory, the story of his precipitous fall from the pedestal he had put himself on, and his un-peeling as an allegedly blindly ambitious con man who is totally devoid of any values and principles, is long and revolting, to say the least. And we haven’t yet seen the bottom.

Arvind Kejriwal has done everything that he had accused the politicians he had entered politics to fight against of doing, and some more. From moving into a 5-acre bungalow, to taking state security, to trying to become CM of Punjab by courting Khalistanis, to cheering the “Bharat Tere Tukde” gang, to accusing other politicians of being corrupt only to apologise later, to abusing and blaming Modi for the mess that he has made in Delhi, there is nothing that he has not done with a vengeance that defies sanity.

The net result is that four years after Delhi voters gave him a stunning, unprecedented victory, he has so totally lost their support that he has again done something that many thought was unthinkable: begging Congress to ally with him in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

As always, even his beggary is devoid of humility, not a tinge.  War against corruption and Congress forgotten, he now claims that he has become a warrior against Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, and demands that the Congress party should play second fiddle to him in his latest “holy” fight with a common enemy. To pressurise the leadership of Congress into submitting to him, he has even gone to the extent of alleging that the party is not allying with him because it is secretly in bed with BJP.

At the same time, even though he knows he has almost completely lost public support, he is not willing to let the Congress ride on his back, on Delhi’s seven seats, in the 2019 edition of his holy war. Initially he tried to fool that party into agreeing to contest only one seat, but later improved the offer to two. The latest is that he is so desperate that he is willing to settle for a 4/3 formula in Delhi, no alliance in Punjab and one only seat in alliance in Haryana.

For Congress, the dilemma is almost like the one that confronted Mayawati and Akhilesh in UP, and Mamata in West Bengal. In order to defeat Modi in 2019, should it let a shrinking-dying AAP ride on its back into Parliament and beyond, at its expense? Should it listen to loyal ‘neutral’ journalists who want this alliance even more desperately than Kejriwal does?

The impact of what Congress does now will be felt in the Delhi Assembly elections which are due after less than a year. That is why Kejriwal is asking for more seats than Congress; he will demand an even bigger share of the pie from it at that time, on the strength of his 2015 score in Assembly elections and 2019 performance in Lok Sabha elections.

In short, Kejriwal, having completely lost the plot and the mandate in four short years, and desperate to cling on to power in Delhi, knows that he has no choice but to cannibalise Congress and reduce it to being a peripheral player in Delhi for years, if not decades. And he believes he can use Sonia and Rahul’s alleged hatred for Narendra Modi, and their burning desire to see him lose, to con them into falling into his trap.

Behind this devious plan lies Kejriwal’s fear that if he contests alone and gets fewer votes than Congress, he could well be forced into becoming a junior partner of that party in the Assembly elections next year. The predator will become prey.

Rahul knows that without an alliance with Kejriwal, he will not win any seat in Delhi. He also abhors the thought of Modi becoming PM again. In alliance, Rahul can win a maximum of three seats, though, given the soaring popularity of Modi and the trademark duplicity of Kejriwal, there is a real possibility that he might not win any, which will make his bargaining position with Kejriwal even worse during Assembly elections. Also, two-three seats of Delhi are not going to change the national picture for Congress. In addition, the possibility of two-odd AAP MPs moving to the BJP after elections, should the numbers so dictate, cannot be ruled out. No one is fighting a moral battle here.

Kejriwal has driven himself into a corner and is left with no choice but to beg Congress for an alliance, but Rahul has one to make. Does he want the immediate fruit of a couple of seats, or is he looking beyond 2019? Is he ready to risk becoming a fringe player in Delhi like he is in neighbouring UP,  or is he eager to reclaim the space Kejriwal snatched brutally from him in 2014.



Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Is There Really No Wave In This Election?

BJP rally (Arun Sharma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Political pundits have given their judgment: This is not a wave election. 2014 was a one-off, and not only will the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) struggle to cross the 200 mark this time, but even Sonia Gandhi might pull it off on the back of regional leaders who, they believe, will dutifully line up, like Rajas of yore, to offer their loyalty and support to her.

They have a point. No wave is visible. The BJP has just lost three Hindi-heartland states to the Congress, and Mayawati and Akhilesh have stitched up a formidable alliance which, more than anything else, will ensure that votes of 80-seater UP’s 17 per cent Muslims are not split and wasted.

It is also no secret that the BJP’s performance in the by-elections to Lok Sabha since 2014 has been dismal, to say the least, with the party failing to win any new seat and losing as many as nine out of 15 seats it held, including the one won five times in a row by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The pundits are, therefore, justified in dismissing the results of various opinion polls which show, in sum, NDA almost touching the half-way mark, BJP comfortably crossing the 200 hurdle, and Congress failing to wrest 100 by some margin.

Nothing in 2014 pointed to an absolute majority for the BJP. Nothing is pointing to an encore this year. In 2014, the impact of the chemistry of Modi, the ‘challenger’, was unknown; in 2019, analysts and psephologists agree that the chemistry of Modi, the prime minister, will not be enough to beat the arithmetic of the caste-religion combinations that have been formed to defeat him and the BJP.

Before the BJP lost three states towards the end of 2018, the Opposition, Congress and its thinkers, Arun Shourie among them, were convinced that 2019 would be lost if BJP was allowed to make it a battle between Modi and the rest. Thus was born the hare-brained strategy of turning the election into 543 independent elections — one per constituency — that would wish Modi away, though no one quite knew how that could be achieved on terra firma.

Victories of the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Rajasthan led to the hasty abandonment of that strategy, as Rahul Gandhi’s advisers were convinced that the only way to beat Modi was by turning the election into a Presidential contest between a triumphant Prince and an under-pressure Prime Minister.

That is how, some argued, LK Advani was trounced in 2009 by Dr Manmohan Singh. With the Congress being weaker than it ever was, they reckoned that all that the party needed was to touch its modest tally of 2004, and the rest would fall into place just as it did then. Hence the cacophony of its ecosystem urging all political parties to come together, effectively under Rahul’s leadership, to take on and defeat Modi, head-on.

Regional leaders, however, had different ideas this time. They saw no logic —where they were strong — in letting Congress increase its overall tally at their expense, with the votes of their vote banks, and then lord over them after the elections. On the contrary, in the death throes of the Congress, they spotted a heaven-sent opportunity to bolster their own chances to head/dictate terms to a rag-tag non-BJP government they believed would run the country if BJP lost.

Not crunching numbers here, but suffice it to say that with the Congress left out in the cold in UP and West Bengal — 122 seats — and facing almost unbeatable alliances stitched up by BJP in Bihar and Maharashtra — 88 seats —it will be a miracle if the party gets into three figures. In 2004, when Congress won 145, it had 31 seats in these four states and a whopping 29 in Andhra. This time it is staring at a loss of 50 seats in these five states alone. Add the Modi factor in other states, and it would appear that the party’s overall tally will be between 30 to 60 seats only.

Thus, having made the election Presidential solely on the basis of recent Assembly election results, has the Congress party made its biggest blunder by playing straight into Modi’s hands, or have Rahul and his election strategists spotted something not readily visible, and played a masterstroke?

Coming to the BJP, conventional wisdom also suggests that in the absence of a wave, the combination of anti-incumbency and anti-BJP alliances should be enough to pull the party below the 200 mark, and if that happens, and if Congress can’t cobble up the numbers, a face acceptable to Rahul and his ecosystem will become the PM of a chastened and weakened NDA.

But is there, really, no wave?

The two main parts of a wave are the trough and the crest. Before 2014, both Congress and BJP were in a trough, and both had given up on winning. LK Advani, in fact, admitted as much in his blog in 2013, that the best case scenario would be a coalition which could not be formed without BJP’s support. No one foresaw the crest that Modi created, or its amplitude. After 30 long years, a party won an absolute majority, and it was the BJP’s first such win.

In a wave, a trough follows a crest. So, before we say there is no wave this time, we must first find the trough. Did it follow the wave of 2014? If yes, when did it occur? Did Modi’s popularity ever so plummet in the five years that he has been PM?

After five years in power, Modi’s popularity graph shows, in sum, an upward trend. As per Lokniti CSDS, Modi was preferred as PM by 34% of the respondents in May 2014, while in 2019 the figure has gone up by 9% to 43%. Other pre-poll surveys also show a similar trend. Does this not imply that the crest of the 2014 wave is the trough of 2019, and BJP can only go up from here?

A large number of young Indians are still in awe of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Some, in fact, liken him to Superman—he can do anything. Modi’s rallies continue to attract huge, rapturous crowds across the country. The enthusiasm has not dimmed at all. If anything, Rahul Gandhi has inadvertently added to Modi’s mystique with the low-level personal attack that the latter has brilliantly turned on its head, to convince all except inveterate Modi-haters that India needs this ‘Chowkidar’ even more than it did in 2014.

Pakistan’s generals, influenced perhaps by the belief of some of their Indian counterparts that the surgical strikes of 2016 would make it difficult for Modi to go for another cross-LOC strike, have also done their bit. People are convinced that only Modi could have ordered air strikes on Pakistan proper, a first after 1971. Balakot has reinforced his image as a fearless, disruptive doer who places India’s interest above everything else.

Congress’ tame surrender to Pakistan after 26/11 has come back to haunt it; at the same time, in the battle of perceptions, it has made Modi look much bigger than he was before he ordered the audacious attack. Superman, may we say?

There is no peer — no one even near — nor  any trough, and Modi’s popularity, peaking at the perfect time, is at an all-time high. Therefore, a Mahagathbandhan notwithstanding, it is appears to this writer that the crest of 2014 is moving directly to an even higher crest in 2019.

Pundits will see its amplitude on 23 May 2019.

A slightly different version of the article was published in Swarajya  https://swarajyamag.com/blogs/is-this-really-a-waveless-election

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

WAR MEMORIAL: AN IDEA FOR PM MODI


 "Should not there be a war memorial? I feel some good things have been left for me to do."  This was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sentiment—four months before he rode to power in a wave election of hope--at a function to mark the golden jubilee of Lata Mangeshkar’s immortal number, ‘Aye mere watan ke logo.’

For sixty seven years, India has not been able to find space in heart and land to honour its soldiers who laid down their lives for their motherland after Independence.  All that our uncaring politicians and military-hating bureaucrats have allowed—for Free India’s Unknown Soldier—is a small platform, with a rifle and helmet on top of it,  in the bowels of the towering War Memorial built by the British for Indians who gave their today for the tomorrow of their colonial masters.

For years, successive Army Chiefs have implored successive governments, but the powers that lord over Independent India have refused to give approval for even a pathetically small—demeaning actually, architectural prowess of Charles Correa notwithstanding--landscape-type memorial around the canopy located almost at the foot of British War Memorial. This comparatively small canopy, it must be mentioned, was meant for a statue of the British Emperor. 

The grateful British had their priorities absolutely right, even when it came to native soldiers.  

To our leaders, on the other hand,  soldiers matter less than even ordinary government employees; they belong to a remote, no-vote-power India, and do no favour to anyone by doing their paid-for-duty of dying for their country. The only ones who deserve vast memorials and naming of every second stone and scheme after them are political leaders. 

Adding insult to injury, we have Chief Ministers like Sheila Dikshit who oppose even a small war memorial in the vicinity of the massive British War Memorial on the unbelievable ground that it is the only popular hangout place for people, and that an Indian war memorial would affect its ambience.  If they could have their way—such is the feeling among angry men in uniform and patriotic citizens—our leaders would wish the military away.

Fortunately, Prime Minister  Narendra Modi—an inspirational leader rooted and connected to the India beyond Lutyens'  Delhi--realises that the nation has done grave injustice to its martyred soldiers. That is why he has expressed a desire to build a National War Memorial in Delhi: the nation has an obligation to show its gratitude to them and give them the dignity they earned with their blood.

No one can accuse Narendra Modi of being diffident or of thinking small.  So it goes without saying that he would expect such a national memorial to be more imposing—not to forget motivating--than the one the British built in Delhi. 

That leads us to the logical question: where should such an inspiring War Memorial complex be located?

Central to Edwin Lutyens’ design of the capital of British India was the magnificent All India War Memorial, right in line with the imposing Viceroy’s Lodge, now Rashtrapati Bhawan. This memorial was a tribute paid by the colonizing power to approximately 84,000 Indian soldiers who had fought for the Empire and laid down their lives during Word War I and the Afghan Wars. The Regimental Number and name of each soldier who died is inscribed on each brick of this imposing monument, which tells a tale of the battles fought in France, Flanders, Mesopotamia, Iran, East Africa, Gallipoli and the North West Frontier during the Third Afghan War.

This grand All India War Memorial--wrongly called India Gate--was constructed before the Second World War. Had the British not left almost immediately afterwards, they would undoubtedly have constructed an even more imposing memorial for the Indian soldiers who died fighting for them during that Great War. A cursory study of the layout of the area between the Rashtrapati Bhawan and the end of the Rajpath leads to the conclusion that there is only one place where the British would have sited a memorial grander than “India Gate”. Yes, that is the place where the National Stadium, an arena for playing hockey, stands today.

A sports stadium at one end of the Rajpath-- Supreme Court and Delhi High Court on either side--looking at the Rashtrapati Bhawan at the other end? Is not there something conceptually completely wrong here? Is it not destroying the unity of the whole, majestic layout and architecture, something which  Lutyens would have found revolting, something which manifestly remains beyond the grasp of our leaders?

Sixty seven years after IndependenceDelhi, a city littered with architectural masterpieces from previous eras, can only boast of two worthy additions: the Bahai Lotus Temple and the Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple. Notice that both these marvellous structures have been built by religious bodies from donations made by ordinary people. The government which had appropriated the task of developing the city in the sixties, has contributed only ugly government buildings, match box type DDA flats and hundreds of unauthorized colonies which have all made the skyline forgettable. Pride and imagination have been conspicuous by their absence in the politicians and bureaucrats who have planned as well as watched this assault of unthinking mediocrity, if not worse, on the capital of India.

Now that the Prime Minister has taken it upon himself to get an honourable War Memorial built, this writer is of the humble view that there cannot be a better location--ideal even for the globally telecast wreath laying by the PM on 26 January--for it than where the National stadium stands today, at one end of Delhi’s power corridor. Also, its architecture should not only be in harmony with what the British left behind, but should add an Indian dimension well above that level of excellence, so that it stands out as an iconic symbol of a proud, resurgent India ready to take its place at the table of the great nations of the world.

Hockey can be played anywhere else,  but our martyrs will best be remembered visibly and most befittingly in that long corridor where the British built a magnificent monument for soldiers who died for them. Will the sentimentalism that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who got that hockey stadium constructed--where it should never have been--prevail? Or will, if he likes the idea, our status quo-challenging and visionary PM have his way? 

Friday, March 28, 2014

ADVANI: NOT DONE YET


No general tells his troops—that too in the hearing of the enemy—before going into battle that they are fighting to lose. That is exactly what Lal Krishna Advani, widely credited with having taken BJP from 2 seats in 1984 to 182 in 1999, did in 2012, 20 long months before the general elections, further demoralising despondent supporters of the party. It gave them—and the country—no comfort that even after another defeat against an exhausted and ill-equipped adversary, their timorous, twice-defeated, unwilling-to-retire general was finding joy in getting a side-seat at the high table of power.

In his blog post of 05 August 2012, this is what Advani thought would happen after the Lok Sabha elections of 2014: “a Third Front government can be ruled out...a non-Congress, non-BJP Prime Minister heading a government supported by one of these two principal parties is, however, feasible.”

This is not all. Advani manifestly had no plan or desire to tap—much less magnify--the growing disillusionment with the Congress, and turn into a positive vote for the BJP. Worse, despite concrete evidence to the contrary, as we shall presently see, a passive, ill-advised Advani was content with the findings of opinion surveys which, in his imagination,“clearly reveal that the principal beneficiary of the Congress Party’s fast eroding reputation continues to be the BJP !”

Incidentally, surveys were showing even then that Advani’s “Do nothing, get apple” mantra for electoral success was not working for the BJP. A key finding of the ABP-Neilson survey held in May 2012 was that while the vote share for the Congress had dipped by 8%, the BJP was gaining only 1%, while regional parties were taking away 7%. Surveys of India Today and NDTV a couple of months later threw up a similarly dismal picture for the BJP, despite the Congress slide. In the top six states of UP, Bihar, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, the BJP was seen faring as badly as ever, with a gain of just five seats over 2009. Thanks to the Anna movement, by November 2012 things had got even worse for a comatose BJP. As per a Hansa poll, a majority, 32%, saw culprit Congress, not BJP, as the party best suited to pull the country out of the economic slump.

Did Advani not know then as to why the BJP was unable to become the “principle beneficiary” of the decline in support for the Congress? The answer was there for all to see: top leaders of Congress, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh, were still more popular—or less unpopular--than BJP’s controlling trinity of LK Advani, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj. Did Advani not notice that one man, Narendra Modi, then not even on the national stage, had already beaten them all to emerge as the the most favoured choice for Prime Minister, and was growing more popular by the day? Could Advani not deduce from the survey findings he selectively quoted, that had Modi not been on the scene, and had there not been a popular expectation that he would eventually lead the party, the BJP would not only not have got the little benefit it had from the drop in Congress’ popularity, but would most likely have suffered a similar decline?

Advani  missed nothing then, and is missing nothing now. But when a man is possessed by the devil of an incurable personal ambition, he will, if he can, burn the very rope he is climbing on.

A few days back, the ageing, still-not-retired general suddenly told his troops—now raring to go under the command of an outstanding general who has breathed life back into them--that the 2014 victory is going to be their finest ever: the BJP will win the highest-ever number of seats in the Lok Sabha. If anyone thought that this was an unstated endorsement of Narendra Modi’s brilliant leadership, or an acknowledgment of his searing popularity that, as per every opinion poll, far exceeds that of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Advani cleared it by adding, slyly, that people “now want to bring back the Vajpayee government-like regime.”

What did you know? Contrary to what every survey is screaming, people are actually rooting for Loh Purush Advani, not for Narendra Modi. It is memories of the Vajpayee-Advani government,—and expectations of Advani’s return--not Modi’s model of governance and his visionary, honest, decisive, no-nonsense leadership, that has turned BJP’s fortunes around dramatically across large parts of the country—particularly in the key, 120-seat states of UP and Bihar--in the last few months!

If you still had any doubts left about Advani’s intentions, head for his latest blog—written after yet another drama over his Lok Sabha seat—where he makes yet another pitch for himself as the next PM, by recounting achievements of the Vajpayee-led government. He omits to mention, quite naturally, that that government lasted only one term, was roundly rejected by voters who sent it packing with 30% fewer seats, and that the 2004 defeat was topped by a rout in 2009 under his able leadership.

How can you project yourself as the best choice as PM, at 86 years, without trashing the one who you believe is taking away your undeserved prize, again? Advani does it in two ways in his blog: he hits out Narendra Modi the person, by talking about the absence of a trace of ego or arrogance in Vajpayee, and he trashes Modi’s massive, virtually single-handed contribution to BJP’s impending victory, by attributing it solely to, yes, Sonia and Manmohan: “we should be grateful to the U.P.A. duo for working systematically and steadfastly to ensure that in 2014, once again a BJP led government comes into power!” Narendra Modi, the BJP owes you nothing. The spark of hope that you have ignited in the hearts of crores of despairing Indians is illusory; the lakhs of enthusiastic Indians who come to listen to you and respond to you rally after rally are not going to vote for you; the doubling of BJP’s 2009 vote share, after you became BJP's PM candidate, is proof that people want me back, not you.

That Advani is continuing to fire barrage after barrage at the BJP’s new commander from the comfort of his retirement home even after the poll bugle has been sounded and a fierce battle has begun, is proof that he cares neither for the party that has given him so much, nor for the country. Unfortunately, he is not alone. The coterie that guided him and the BJP to a rout in 2009—no it wasn’t the EVMs—is still at it along with him. See this.

In a recent interview, BJP President Rajnath Singh—he was President in 2009 too—was asked by Arnab Goswami, in the context of the Modi wave, whether the party comes first or the individual. If only Rajnath Singh had asked Arnab Goswami whether Times Now comes first or Arnab. That he did not suggests that there could be a twist in the tale still. The battle has yet to be won. And the real enemy is within.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

MODI: TURNING BLEATERS INTO BEATERS


“India has decided to uproot Congress,” thundered Narendra Modi at the recently concluded National Council Meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party. And when he added -- to rapturous applause of BJP workers who had jampacked Talkatora Stadium to listen to him -- that “sweat and hardwork of BJP Karyakartas will ensure that this happens,” he re-ignited the flame that had forgotten itself and breathed life back into BJP’s drooping Lotus.

In that incandescent moment, Narendra Modi turned bleaters into beaters. In that power moment, many of the millions of Indians glued to the TV were transformed from despondent doubters to enthusiastic believers. In that electric moment, BJP’s baton finally went into the hand it had been gasping for.

Lal Krishna Advani, a veteran of 85 summers, epitomises almost everything that went right and then wrong with the BJP. While he can rightly claim credit for turning a once two-MP party into a party of beaters, he equally is responsible for turning it into a flock of bleaters, particularly after the BJP lost power in 2004.

What has been the constant wail of Advani and his key advisors/acolytes? The one thing that has troubled them – continues to – most is “political untouchability”, ostensibly due to BJP’s communal agenda, as defined by the party’s irreconcilable political foes, led by the Congress party which preaches secularism but practices nothing but naked communalism.

Advani, as he himself admitted during his valedictory address at the council meeting, suffers from a deep-rooted inferiority complex, one manifestation of which is his self-perceived lack of eloquence compared to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and even Sushma Swaraj. Add to it the fact that none of those he picked to give direction to the party after its defeat have either a popular base anywhere or a record of governance to speak about, and you know why BJP looks like a warship stranded in the high seas, sails torn, engines seized, oars broken, rudder gone, GPS knocked out.

When you constantly bemoan political untouchability and, to get rid of it, crave quick-fix political and not popular acceptance, you not only lose direction and purpose, but also the vigour necessary to beat your political opponents where you are meant to: at the hustings. Your readiness to bed anyone -- no matter what the compromise – as strategy to snatch power, conveys to the voter and worker alike that this leaderless, rudderless, self-serving party is no different from the one it seeks to unseat, why take a risk?

When you speak to your party workers and leaders, you are expected to connect to them, convince them that victory is going to be theirs, and motivate them with a few big ideas and slogans that catch, if not fire, their imagination.

But if you heard Advani speak on March 03, 2013, minus shots of the audience, you would never have known who his target group was. There was nothing to differentiate the speech from an op-ed in a newspaper or a blog post for an entirely different, remote audience. There was not one word in there to enthuse the cadre he was addressing.

You don’t tell your workers, as Advani did, that the only hope for the party is in seeking more and more alliance partners – NDA Plus. This is tantamout to an admission by the leader that he has no idea or plan -- perhaps even desire -- to deepen and increase the footprint of the party and make it win on its own. No better way to promise defeat and demoralise everyone. Copy-pasting old templates that have little relevance in the present is a sure way of ensuring that your party has no future.

You can also not enthuse your party workers by telling them to rubbish the Congress – in whose bed some top party leaders are widely perceived to be in -- while maintaining strict Omerta about the principal threat, the Sonia Gandhi family. On top of that if you tell them to praise the performance of BJP's state governments, but go to the people and ask for votes for an unnamed PM, or for a leader who has contributed nothing to that fine record and has no base of his own, you can be sure no one is going to do so with any conviction, if at all.

And if the only innovative idea you have is a xerox of the one that the Congress party has been flogging to death, one whose ever widening range and scope is disturbingly divisive and worse, then you should not be surprised if you are roundly rejected by voters again.

Fortunately, this time Advani's word was not the last. He knew it too, even as he spoke, without conviction, without applause.

No one went to Talkatora Stadium to listen to the same speeches, the same ideas, the same leaders who cannot win more than their own seat and have not figured out in years how to win one more for the party. They went there to listen to the man they believed had the torch to light their way to the destination they had lost hope of ever reaching.

Narendra Modi was acutely aware of and alive to their -- and the nation's -- pent up frustrations and high expectations. He realised that they needed to be made to believe that victory was going to be theirs. He knew he had to show them the bull's eye, and also how to shoot at it.

Yet, no one was prepared for the vehemence with which he went for the holy jugular of the 'Termite' party - the Nehru-Gandhi Family. The impact was immediate. It was as if a door had been opened to the forbidden fortress, without taking which victory is not possible. No more potting around this side of the moat, hoping that the fortress will fall on its own; no more letting the defenders within fearlessly fire all weapons and keep you helplessly pinned down.

To convince them that the fortress was ready to be stormed, Modi also identified a few weak spots in its walls as well as weapons in his and BJP's impressive, proven armoury: mission vs commission; aspiration vs despondency; participatory governance vs rule by 5-star NAC activists; great CMs vs ordinary puppets; surajya vs destructive dynastic rajya.

Not once did Modi tell his workers -- and voters listening with rapt attention -- that they were not good enough to beat Congress, that he had more faith than them in workers and leaders of other political parties whose support he was desperate for, that the BJP was in no position to form a government that would not be as hobbled as the Congress-led government is due to difficult, unprincipled allies.

If you tell your troops all this before you launch them into battle, they won't fight for you. If you tell voters fed up of weak, corrupt coalition governments that you can offer no better, they won't vote for you. This is something that BJP had, mysteriously, forgotten.

Lions don't bleat. Narendra Modi has always fought and will fight to win. For India -- he was never the regional satrap that he was made out to be. This is the spirit he suffused Talkatora Stadium and many Indian hearts with, when he called upon the people of India to treat defeating the family enterprise called Congress a national duty, and outlined his and his party's mission and vision for India. This is the spirit that the BJP sorely lacked. This is the spirit he wants to fill all 125 crore Indians with. This is the spirit that India needs.
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