Tuesday, September 15, 2009

WILL MODI ACCOMPLISH HIS 'MISSION IMPOSSIBLE'?

The stature of a leader can often be accurately determined not by observing the effusive praise showered on him by his die-hard supporters but by carefully examining the vicious attacks launched against him by his die-harder detractors. By that measure, there can be no two opinions that Narendra Modi is the BJP's tallest leader by many miles, and has been so for some time now.

Pretences apart, no one knows this better than the Congress party. Even more importantly, that party also knows that it has no weapon to counter him, and that if he ever gets to that chair in Delhi, governance will take centre-stage in a manner that will most likely marginalise the Congress nationally in almost the same manner as it has in Gujarat.

Let us tackle the ghost of 2002 straightaway. Those riots in Gujarat were not the first in India, nor are they going to be the last. If one goes by statistics, many more Sikhs and Muslims have been killed in Congress-ruled states and in Delhi, and plenty of its Neros have played more than the fiddle, often deliberately. But, not a single one of them, Rajiv Gandhi included, has been subject to the kind of calumny that Modi has faced and will continue to face.

Let us get one more thing straight: this onslaught has little to do with 2002; it has everything to do with the fear that the Congress has no answer to Modi along any other dimension. He is scrupulously honest; he does not fake austerity - he lives it; he has shown that a clear-headed leader can deliver good governance even with the existing system; he has put Gujarat on an unprecedented path of explosive and inclusive economic growth; he has no family to promote and is manifestly devoted selflessly to his state and its people; he cannot be corrupted and does not tolerate those who can be.

The culture of governance that Modi has put in place in Gujarat is almost the exact opposite of the culture of unbridled corruption and sycophancy that the Congress party has spawned during its long years of reign at the Centre and the states. Things have reached a stage where corruption at the highest political and bureaucratic levels has become institutionalised as an entitlement. The whole nation knows that these guys are becoming rich by foul means alone. Such systems and laws have been put in place that it is almost impossible to catch anyone, and even if caught, little can be done. Terrorists and corrupt leaders cannot find a better environment where they can so fearlessly go about their business of destroying a nation from within.

In such a scenario, if leader emerges who is honest as well as intolerant of the nonsense that has been passing off as sense for decades, the people of this country will have before them, for the first time ever, the real alternative that they have been looking for but have been unable to find. The BJP's decline at the national level has, in no small measure, to do with its embracing of the corrupt and hollow value system that India associates with the Congress. That is why in states where its Chief Ministers are focused on governance and probity, the party remains strong.

The results of the recent Assembly by-polls bear this out. Within months of its morale-sapping defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has done surprisingly well, unlike the communists whose downhill ride has only accelerated after the Lok Sabha debacle. In MP, the BJP has wrested on seat from the Congress which has retained one. In Uttarakhand, it has wrested the lone seat from the Congress.

But it is in Gujarat that the results have dramatically defined once again what the Congress and its "Bhaare ke tattoos" (hired ponies) in the "intelligentsia", media and other powerful organs, who have benefitted disproportionately due to Congress rule, are mortally afraid of. Of the seven seats that went to the polls, six were held by the Congress. Now it has just two while the BJP's tally has gone from one to five. This result has come in despite Modi not campaigning in any constituency personally.

No matter what anyone might say, it is difficult to believe that magistrate Tamang accidentally released his report on the Ishrat Jahan killing just before the polls. It is also difficult to believe that the media coincidentally went into hyper-excited overdrive to claim Modi's head because of a fake encounter killing by Gujarat police. But what must shock every Indian's conscience is the fact that sections of the media and the Congress were willing to go to the extent of sleeping with the LeT only to discredit Modi. It needs to be mentioned that the LeT is a Pakistani terror outfit that is waging war against India with the full patronage of the Pakistani establishment, and has already killed thousands of innocent Indians. It also executed Mumbai 26/11. Sleeping with this enemy of India is only one small step short of giving it a "supari" for Modi.

Does this shock you? It must. But remember, this has happened in India's history even earlier. The British, for example, would have found the going very difficult had India's selfish and myopic kings not sided with them only to defeat other Indian kings. Now too, do you not similarly hear Indians who find Pakistan and Pakistanis more friendly and "Just Like Us" than they do their political opponents? Do you not hear them talk about giving disastrous concessions to Pakistan on Kashmir, possibly in the fond hope that it will prevent future loss of votes due to terrorism? Did they even react to the exposure by the SIT of Teesta Setalvad, their award-winning loud voice, for cooking up tales of macabre and wanton killings, and tutoring and threatening witnesses to fraudulently portray Modi and Hindus at large as cold-blooded rapists and murderers?

Personally, like everyone else, I do not know how guilty Narendra Modi is or Rajiv Gandhi was for the killings in Gujarat and Delhi respectively. Unlike some sponsored fellow Indians, I am not going to pass judgment on Modi like they have and tell the whole world that he is a mass murderer. They have a lot to lose personally if Modi comes to power in Delhi; I have nothing to gain or lose, except as an Indian citizen. Like them, I also know that Modi will most likely prove to be the best Prime Minister India has ever had, not for Hindus but all Indians. Like them, I also believe that Modi as PM will bring about a paradigm shift in the manner that this country is governed. Like them, I also know that it will be the death knell for many of them. That is why they have to do everything they can to destroy him before he gets to Delhi.

Since they cannot find any chink in his armour at all, they have to keep 2002 alive, no matter what, till he is brought down.

The next Lok Sabha elections, barring unforeseen developments, will be held in 2014. Four and a half years is a very long time. The misfired cacophony over Ishrat Jahan is a clear indicator that there is no limit that Modi's political opponents and their henchmen will not cross to ensure that he is not the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate in that election. The stakes are so high that there will, without an iota of doubt, be very serious attempts to physically eliminate him if nothing sticks in the manner that his opponents want.

Whether you like Narendra Modi or not, do not underestimate what he is up against. Will he be able to survive this remorseless, fanatic onslaught, as he has till now, and lead his party in the 2014 elections?

If there was ever a 'Mission Impossible' for Modi to accomplish, it is this.