Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ajoy Bose: The fall of Mayawati: Brahmins leave the BSP building / Arati Jerath: Modi has mastered disruptive innovation to sweep the carpet from under opponents / Ajaz Ashraf: Should Muslims keep away from electoral politics?

The devastating rout of the BSP finally brings the curtain down on the amazing saga of Behenji. Her meteoric rise since the early 1990s has been followed by successive setbacks each worse than the other over the past eight years. Even Mayawati cannot survive this series of relentless body blows.
Her hysteria was evident when she declared that the EVMs had been rigged and that an unknown mysterious journalist ‘wearing a cap and a beard’ had warned her so at a previous press conference. Mayawati now faces the mortification of losing her own Rajya Sabha seat after her term expires next year. The meagre number of BSP legislators is not enough to send her back to Parliament. It can be argued that the BSP was helpless like other political parties against the Modi tsunami in UP in 2014 and once again now. But there is reason to believe there is one elemental dynamic influencing the rise, decline and fall of Mayawati: the support and loss of it from Brahmins.

It is a telling paradox that the first big success of a Dalit party in mainstream Indian politics was propelled by Brahmins in UP who decided to prop up a political outfit with an overtly anti-Brahminical ideology. They were determined to curb the rising clout of Mulayam Singh Yadav who had, with the help of the BSP, defeated the BJP in 1993 in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition. In the summer of 1995, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Murli Manohar Joshi, both Brahmins, engineered a coup that led to the installation of Mayawati as CM of a minority BSP government in UP supported by both the BJP and the Congress. The then Congress Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, also a Brahmin, publicly celebrated it as “a miracle of democracy”… read more:

Arati Jerath: Modi has mastered disruptive innovation to sweep the carpet from under opponents
If the Lok Sabha election three years ago heralded the emergence of a phenomenon called Narendra Modi, the 2017 state polls have pole vaulted him into an unassailable position as the country’s predominant political leader. Like it or not he is, and will remain till 2019 and probably beyond, the pivot around which national and state politics revolve, much like Indira Gandhi in her time.

It is no mean feat that more than halfway into his term Modi successfully recreated the 2014 wave to storm UP as comprehensively as he did three years ago. The ripples reached two other states, neighbouring Uttarakhand which gave BJP a decisive majority, and faraway Manipur which has seen a saffron surge for the first time. With this Modi has washed away the opprobrium of the twin defeats he suffered in 2015 when he was bested by rookie Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi state poll and the grand alliance of Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad and Rahul Gandhi in the Bihar assembly election.

It would be gross underestimation of Modi’s political skills to attribute the UP sweep simply to communal polarisation through his invocation of the kabristan versus shamshan ghat paradigm. Modi has never hesitated to flaunt his Hindu hriday samrat credentials. But as he proved first in Gujarat and now on the national stage, he has also mastered the art of disruptive innovation as a political tool to capture the imagination of a rapidly changing polity. Disruptive innovation is a phenomenon analysed by American scholar Clayton Christensen to explain the creation of new markets and value networks by disrupting existing ones.

While his opponents and analysts of the liberal variety remain trapped in old political models that have little currency with today’s voters, Modi revels in disturbing the status quo to enlarge his support base and attract new supporters. He is the “outsider” in the charmed Lutyens’ Delhi circle, the chaiwala who dares to challenge the privileged set born with a silver spoon in its mouth.

Demonetisation was his most daring gambit yet, dropped on an unsuspecting public as a surgical strike against black money and corruption. It was widely criticised by renowned economists here and abroad as bad policy. But Modi made it work for him politically, using his wizardry with words to cast himself as a Robin Hood-like figure who took from the “wicked” rich to help the poor. Voters in UP clearly bought this narrative even as they complained about the disruption in their lives because for those stuck near the bottom of the ladder, any change is better than status quo… read more:

Ajaz Ashraf: The fear of Hindu Rashtra: Should Muslims keep away from electoral politics? 
Four months before the Uttar Pradesh election results sent Muslims in India reeling in shock, former Rajya Sabha MP Mohammed Adeeb delivered a speech in Lucknow, which, in hindsight, might be called prescient. “If Muslims don’t wish to have the status of slaves, if they don’t want India to become a Hindu rashtra, they will have to keep away from electoral politics for a while and, instead, concentrate on education,” Adeeb told an audience comprising mostly members of the Aligarh Muslim University’s Old Boys Association.

It isn’t that Adeeb wanted Muslims to keep away from voting. His aim was to have Muslim intellectuals rethink the idea of contesting elections, of disabusing them of the notion that it is they who decide which party comes to power in Uttar Pradesh. Adeeb’s suggestion, that is contrary to popular wisdom, had his audience gasping. This prompted him to explain his suggestion in greater detail. “We Muslims chose in 1947 not to live in the Muslim rashtra of Pakistan,” he said. “It is now the turn of Hindus to decide whether they want India to become a Hindu rashtra or remain secular. Muslims should understand that their very presence in the electoral fray leads to a communal polarisation. Why?”

Not one to mince words, Adeeb answered his question himself. “A segment of Hindus hates the very sight of Muslims,” he said. “Their icon is Narendra Modi. But 75% of Hindus are secular. Let them fight out over the kind of India they want. Muslim candidates have become a red rag to even secular Hindus who rally behind the Bharatiya Janata Party, turning every election into a Hindu-Muslim one.” Later in the day, Adeeb met Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was in Lucknow. To Adeeb, Azad asked, “Why did you deliver such a speech?” It was now Azad’s turn to get a mouthful from Adeeb. He recalled asking Azad: “What kind of secularism is that which relies on 20% of Muslim votes? The Bahujan Samaj Party gets a percentage of it, as do the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.” At this, Azad invited Adeeb, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, to join the Congress. Adeeb rebuffed the offer saying, “First get the secular Hindus together before asking me to join.”

Spectre of a Hindu rashtra: A day after the Uttar Pradesh election results sent a shockwave through the Muslim community, Adeeb was brimming with anger. He said, “Syed Ahmed Bukhari [the so-called Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid] came to me with a question: ‘Why aren’t political parties courting me for Muslim votes?’ I advised him to remain quiet, to not interfere in politics.” Nevertheless, Bukhari went on to announce that Muslims should vote the Bahujan Samaj Party... 
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