'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
This blog is a source for intellectual exploration. It includes a list of alternative resources and a source of free books. The placement of an article does not imply that I agree with it, merely that I found it thought-provoking. There are also poems and book reviews. Texts written by me are labelled. Readers are free to re-post anything they like.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
R.K.MISRA - Governing India: Between flame and fire
The front is on fire and the back is burning. Quite
literally. Up in front, the country’s current Parliament session has
gone up in smoke-logjam over GST, Land Bill and all. Down under, in the Prime
Minister’s backyard, Gujara, a Patel ignited prairie fire - akin to
the Gujjar reservation stir in Rajasthan-rages unhindered, threatening to
engulf the government of his protégé, Anandiben Patel.
If in Delhi, the PMO’s erroneous political assessment has
united a disparate opposition and forced the BJP onto the road after a dud
monsoon session, in Gujarat, brimming streets overflowing with agitated humans
threaten to rip apart the caste constituency assiduously cultivated by the BJP
to trounce the Congress over decades. The fallout may prove more detrimental to
Narendra Modi than the Delhi election results.
What goes round invariably comes round. Many a Parliament
session floundered as the BJP led NDA opposition played the bully and
ballplayer rolled in one, during Manmohan Singh rule. It was the Gujarat
chief minister Narendra Modi’s no-holds barred opposition that thwarted the
Congress led UPA’s efforts to build unanimity on the GST Bill. The Land Bill on
which the Prime Minister staked his all, is well on its way to the
bin, the GST hangs a limbo, the Rafale fighter plane deal with
France, down from 126 to 36, still faces turbulence while the Naga deal
is a PMO hyped, bare-boned framework which has both home and defence
ministries going transparency!
While Prime Minister Modi is yelling bloody murder after
being administered a taste of his own medicine in Delhi, albeit at
national cost, there are storm clouds gathering in his citadel of Gujarat
which has the potential to scar his successor’s government beyond retrieval and
singe the Prime Minister in the bargain as well.
The demand for OBC quota by the Patidars (Patels)
considered the most affluent and influential community in the state
was initially the brainchild of a section within the ruling party in
Gujarat aimed, at best, at weakening the hold of chief minister
Anandiben Patel who enjoys the backing of Modi. With the elections to local
self government bodies-all the key municipal corporations as well as the
panchayats and town municipalities-due later this year, the intention was to
trigger some reverses which would put the Chief Minister on the back
foot. The idea had the backing of some of the sidelined patidar leaders
as well as her detractors within her own set up. The movement, however
has boomeranged and spiraled precariously out of control.
With 14 per cent population and 21 per cent voter
representation, this by far the most affluent and influential community, has
eight minister including the Chief Minister and 42 out of the total 182
legislators in the state. It dominates all walks of Gujarati life be it trade,
commerce and industry or professional, social and community ownership.
Interestingly, the movement has grown roots at a time
when the state government and the Gujarat BJP are both headed by a
Patel-Anandiben and R.C.Fardu respectively. The present movement is headed by a
youth in his early twenties, Hardik Patel who is the convenor of the Patidar Anamat
Andolan Samiti (PAAS) which is leading the stir. No one had heard his name
when the stir began and now just the mention strikes a reverential
awe amongst community members. All these happened in a matter of less than
three months. Earlier most BJP big-wigs within the government were
indifferent and chose to ignore it while the chief minister’s detractors
chuckled with glee as the movement spread like a bushfire. Their mirth was
short-lived as the community youth, all fire and brimstones, have taken
complete charge of the movement, marginalising them totally.
In fact, the rapidly spreading stir reminds one of
Modi’s election campaign type blitzkrieg, for sheer management,
marshalling of both resources and the social media as well as
planning. Whatever may have been the fate of the BJP’s missed calls memberships
registration campaign is best known to them but the ‘give a missed call and
register ’drive of PAAS has been a resounding success. On the other
hand, official attempts to involve the cops to stem the stir have been
fobbed off with warnings of swift and bloody reprisals and similar has
been the reaction to involvement of ruling party politicians from the
community in any effort at sabotage.”You and your homes will be taken
apart by a sea of humanity, they were told.
The fact is that the Anandiben Patel government is totally
at sea dealing with the stir. Attempts at involving ministers as via
media has drawn derision while the efforts to draw in community religious or
philanthrophic personalities have also failed as have attempts to
sow discord and engineer a split in their ranks. National BJP chief Amit Shah
had to burn midnight oil when the Chief Minister with other key leaders
in tow rushed down to Delhi in a bid to find a solution which, however
continues to elude them.
A seven member cabinet sub-committee has been formed in a
desperate bid to deal with the reservation stir and though the leaders are
inclined to talk, they have made it clear that they are in no mood to climb
For all the importance to the solution search, there have
been gaffes galore. Union minister of state for agriculture Mohan Kundaria who
visited the state in the first week of this month only queered the pitch when
he claimed that the Congress was fuelling the movement. Within hours PAAS
released photographs of their leaders in the company of the BJP top
brass in the state.” We have much more in store, don’t force our hand with such
cheap tricks”, they hit back. The mood of the movement leaders buoyed by a sea
of support from the community is determinedly aggressive. For the
moment all eyes are set on a rally which is to be held at Ahmedabad on August
25 as a show of Patidar strength. The movement leaders have already made it
clear that if their demands are not conceded, they will provide an ‘intent
demonstrator’ in the ensuing civic polls.
Interestingly, it is the non-resident Patidars living
abroad, UK, USA, Canada and the likes who are emerging as the biggest
supporters of the movement. According to Hardik, there are 525 pro-reservation
WtsApp groups, 130 facebook pages and over 15 lakh members on the google
registration forum created to reach out to Patidars worldwide and keep
Whatever the outcome of the stir, it has ominous
portents for both Modi and his party. It will irretrievably damage the
caste mosaic put together to form the Hindutva vote-bank. The BJP had
sewn together disunited upper castes, Other Backward Castes (OBC), scheduled
caste(SC) and scheduled tribes(ST) along with the Patels to carve out it’s
hindutva vote bank. The OBCs who outnumber the Patels are strongly
opposed to OBC status for them and so are the SC and STs. In the post-agitation
period, the BJP faces the danger of alienation of these castes. These castes
have also gone into a huddle and the fear of the outbreak of a caste war
in the coming days hangs heavy.
It would auger well to turn the pages of Gujarat’s
history. In March 1985 Madhavsinh Solanki was re-elected with a majority record
that still remains unbeaten. He bagged 149 of the total 182 seats in the Vidhan
Sabha and yet his government lasted only a few months. An anti-reservation stir
backed by the Patels triggered a chain of events that led to the fall of
his government in July 1985, just four months later. History has an uncanny way
of repeating itself, if you don’t learn your lessons well.