Modi’s sheer determination to win Karnataka may have actually seeded the Congress with some of the fight he has so clearly displayed these last few years.
The untiring Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been burning the barricades for four years. His pronouncements evoke both shock and awe, depending on which side you may be. Love him or hate him, you can ignore him only at your own cost.
So as India enters the last lap of his government’s tenure, ‘Modi Monitor’ by Jyoti Malhotra will track and monitor how PM Modi changes the national mood, and changes himself in the process. The journey begins here at ThePrint.in, every Friday morning.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was missing in action when B.S. Yeddyurappa took oath as Karnataka chief minister for the third time Thursday (he was CM for seven days in 2007, and for three years, 62 days from 2008-2011), probably as a precautionary measure until he can prove his majority.
However, at a meeting called to celebrate the highly contested victory at the BJP headquarters on 15 May, an emotionally charged PM promised he would never back off from working for the state.
He said, “Akhirkar parishram rang lata hai, doston. Woh paseenay ki mehak hoti hai, woh mehak bhi kamal ko khilati hai doston… (In the end, hard work bears fruit, friends. The smell of sweat is the perfume of victory, and this perfume is what helps the lotus bloom.)”
The PM lauded party president Amit Shah’s “dedication and perseverance” in the first few moments of his speech, and it was clear that the blood, sweat and tears over the last few weeks and months in Karnataka had bonded the two men like never before. Any other BJP leader dreaming of occupying the chair because he has friends in high RSS places will have to wait a while.
At least for the time being, the PM has succeeded in reducing the grand old Congress party to the “PPP Congress”, or the “Punjab, Puducherry, Parivar Congress”. If Yeddyurappa survives the floor test, Modi’s dream of a “Congress-mukt Bharat” would be one step closer.
But Modi’s sheer determination to win Karnataka may have actually seeded the Congress with some of the fight he has so clearly displayed these last few years. Whether or not Kumbhakarna has fully awoken, the fact is that with claims staked to form the government in Bihar and Goa and the Congress’ refusal to let go of Karnataka just yet, the country finally looks like it has an opposition – to steal a memorable Twitter phrase.
If the Congress can learn from the PM that politics is hardly a kitty party, that sleeping with the enemy before an election is far more effective than it is afterwards – after all, in life, as in politics, timing is everything – then Modi would have done his good deed of the day.
The victory speech at the BJP headquarters, with all the senior BJP leaders on stage — Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj etc — is also a shining example of how the PM first admits to his inadequacies, then overcomes them through the mutual love between him and the people.
It’s a foolproof method.
“As a party worker, as chief minister of Gujarat, and especially for the 2014 elections, I travelled across large parts of the country. But in some states I always felt a burden because I could not understand the language there.
“Bhasha ka abhav…the absence of language always made me feel, ‘How can I make the people understand what I’m saying?’ But the people of Karnataka have given me so much love, they never let this absence come in the way of their love…People from the villages, sitting in 45-46°C heat, said, ‘Doesn’t matter what language, just speak…’
“Janata janardhan bhagwan ka roop hota hai (the public is a form of God). When they give their blessings, a new energy is created,” the PM said.
Contrast this with Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s comment that the “attack against the judiciary and the press these days” resembled the situation in “Pakistan and some African countries”.
The victory in Karnataka is “asamaanya”, without parallel, the PM said. The opposition always derogatorily labelled the BJP a “Hindi-bhashi party”, a party of Hindi-speakers. But are Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Assam Hindi-speaking states, he asked.
But in the flush of victory, Modi also seems unable to control his own language.
“Ek jhoot phailanewale log aisa jhoot phailate hain,” he said of the Congress, “that people are unable to think otherwise. The people of Karnataka have punished these people”.
From Karnataka, the PM will travel to Jammu & Kashmir Saturday, to lay the foundation stone for the Zojila tunnel in Kargil and attend the convocation of the Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences & Technology in Jammu.
But this is really an occasion for him to broadcast the message that he, like former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2013, is willing to give peace a chance in the conflicted state by holding fire during the auspicious period of Ramzan.
On social media, the PM’s Ramzan message had been quick off the mark, as soon as the day dawned Thursday. It remained the top tweet a full morning later Friday.
Ramzan greetings to everyone. We recall the pious thoughts of Paighambar Mohammad Sahab, who highlighted the importance of harmony, kindness and charity. These are also the virtues the Holy Month of Ramzan stands for. https://t.co/BHnO8AVFL2
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 17, 2018
In Kashmir, it is clear the Ramzan ceasefire is a step in parallel with the Pakistan army’s statements that it will also hold its fire during this period because “there are Kashmiri Muslims on the other side”.
All eyes are on the SAARC summit later this year, scheduled to be held in Pakistan. Perhaps, India and Pakistan are cooking up a trust-and-verify schedule, of which the tenth anniversary of the Mumbai attacks in November will occupy a significant aspect.
Meanwhile, there is the Karnataka trust vote to be won.