Monday, 4 July, 2022
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Yashwant Sinha has lit the fuse, the discontent against Modi will explode soon

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The point is, every regime, autocrat and system has its own ‘style’ of purging dissidents. But, quite often, the dissidents have ended up having the last laugh.

Finally, Yashwant Sinha has spoken. He has not described his position as that of a rebel, or claimed that he is starting a revolution of sorts. He is not sure how many BJP leaders or ministers or members of Parliament will respond to his appeal to come to the defence of democratic values.

Widely circulated, the former finance minister’s appeal was also a subject of fervent private discussions. Many BJP leaders conversed about it in hush-hush tones, making sure no one but the real confidants heard. The top caucus of the BJP (that is Modi, Shah, Jaitley, Venkaiah etc) did not take cognisance of the letter, and nor did the extra-constitutional centre of power, the RSS, respond.

When asked about Sinha, the official spokespersons of the party said he was frustrated and disgruntled about not getting a ministry. It would be best to ignore him and his remarks, he added. As has been done with Arun Shourie, Ram Jethmalani, Shatrughan Sinha and Kirti Azad, who have been voicing similar concerns as the former finance ministers for the past two years. The one-man-show of Narendra Modi goes on uninterrupted, not only in India, but on the global stage.

His ‘philharmonic orchestra’ includes some TV news channels, who play to his tunes in their entertainment shows. Modi and Shah walk around unabashed, as if the world around them does not exist, intellectually supported by unquestioning columnists. And thus, neither the party leadership, nor the media and the corporate sector took notice of the serious appeal made by an 80-year-old veteran of the Vajpayee government.

Will this smugness continue, or implode before the Lok Sabha election?

Going back in time

In political sociology, such differences or conflicts are discussed in an impersonal and even non-ideological fashion. They have surfaced in different countries as a result of different situations, whether the political structure is a capitalist democracy, social democracy or communist. Julius Caeser had his Brutus. Stalin had his Khrushchev.

When Richard Nixon faced an internal rebellion, he thought he could weather it over time. The media, even after the Watergate exposé in 1972, was not totally hostile to him at first. However, slowly, the rebellion began to gain ground. Nixon’s lies and skulduggery began to be revealed, even in pro-Republican media. Nixon panicked but did not relent, till the noose of imminent impeachment began to asphyxiate him. That’s when he resigned, to save himself from the ultimate humiliation of impeachment (All this recent history is brilliantly retold in the films, The PostAll the President’s Men, and Nixon).

In the UK, initially, neither the Conservative Party, nor the media, thought that the affair of Christine Keeler, a high-end call girl, with minister John Profumo would cause the fall of the Harold McMillan government. But forces within the party mobilised, and the prime minister had to resign. Why, even ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher did not imagine that she would be forced to step down mid-career in 1990, despite her stunning victory in the 1987 election.

The communist system handles such crises in a different way, but they do cause huge conflicts within. Who would have thought that top ideologue Liu Shao Chi (author of How To Be a Good Communist’), Mao’s most trusted comrade, would first disappear and then land in prison? Who could have imagined that Lin Piao (the creator of the Red Book, compared in the seventies to the ‘Ten Commandments’) would lose his status as successor to Mao and die in a mysterious air crash? As for the Stalin-era purges of dissidents, the less they are discussed, the better.

The point is, every regime, autocrat and system has its own ‘style’ of purging dissidents. But, quite often, the dissidents have ended up having the last laugh. Nixon’s detractors, Thatcher’s critics, Mao’s and Stalin’s rivals, and even Hitler’s challengers finally won.

Now, neither Hitler, nor Stalin or Mao, is seen in bright light in their respective countries. They are idols to nobody. Despite some revisionist history, neither Nixon, nor Thatcher (despite the melodramatic film about her), has admirers or followers. Their hagiographic columnists have fallen by the wayside.

The media cannot create permanent personas or eternal images. But our ‘anchor czars’ do not read history, and so they don’t know this.

Coming back to Yashwant Sinha, he would obviously not have taken the step he has without consulting L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Arun Shourie, Shatrughan Singa and many others. As the 2019 elections draw closer, slowly, the internal resistance will start building up, and the widespread bureaucratic frustrations will surface. The media, too, under the force of the public and TRPs, will slowly begin to change their tune. This is, of course, notwithstanding the few who will still be defending “Modi, the Messiah” 10 years from now.

Remember the rebellion of Jagjivan Ram, Nandini Satpathy and Hemavati Nandan Bahuguna soon after the elections were announced by Indira Gandhi on 18 January 1977? The trio formed a party called ‘Congress For Democracy’. Very few commentators recognise the fact that, but for this open revolt, the Janata Party would not have come to power. Neither Jaiprakash Narayan, nor George Fernandes or even the RSS, thought the Indira regime could be defeated. In fact, George wanted to boycott the election, and the RSS was looking for a patch-up with Sanjay Gandhi and Indira.

All thought she would win and come back to power, and it would thus be better to play it safe. But the Janata Party won handsomely, claiming to have brought a “second freedom” to the country.

Narendra Modi’s nemeses will come forward when the elections to the Lok Sabha are announced and the ticket distribution begins. There is a huge undercurrent of suppressed discontent. It requires a trigger. Yashwant Sinha has lit the fuse. It is a long wire before it ignites the fire.

Kumar Ketkar is a former editor and Congress member of Rajya Sabha.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. What is u r problem? Orildinance or must discuss in parliament or the crime or enforcement or its effectiveness?
    Can u say all our bills passed in parliament are effective? If no, according to u, democracy won n parliament ditched common?
    Now, turning to your favourites, have they not screwed up the nation for 30 years in Bengal n many years in Centre with many ordinance?
    Don’t be a hypocrite … else u lose u r relevance.

  2. Asking a Congress member to write about Modi Govt. And you expect us to consider this neutral journalism!
    Yuck, this looks like another funded journal.

  3. In the history of India there stands no example that justifies a failed Sinha as aptly as Sinha himself . A failed administrator, a failed minister(PM bajpaiji substituted him with Jaswant Singh as finance minister) , and a failed rebel too. Power hungry Sinha wanted ministry from Modiji but failed and he turned against from the very first day. Such persons are burden on society and must be eschewed.

  4. Nothing will happen. He is trying to become another J P but he will lost in the horizon alongwith others like the members of congress syndicate i. e. Nizlingappa and party. He should remember that BJP is a party where people are as nission and not for any greed and they through out greedy men be it Yaswant Sinha or any other shot gun whom the people are going to Say KHAMOSH.

  5. Go on dreaming Mr Ketkar. It doesn’t cost anything after all. But please keep it in mind that for a rebellion to succeed, there must be some ideological basis. The present parting of ways being based purely on personal ambition is still born.

  6. “Now, neither Hitler, nor Stalin or Mao, is seen in bright light in their respective countries. They are idols to nobody. ”

    Well, isn’t the RSS inspired by Hitler and Mussolini? Even Bal Thackeray spoke highly of Hitler.

    Indeed, even a recent Indian school textbook extolled the virtues of mass murderer Adolf Hitler. And whilst on a recent visit to India, the airport at Bombay prominently displayed “Mein Kampf”, Hitlers’s autobiography.

    No Sir, Hitler is alive and well in India. Middle class Indians have a morbid fascination for the man. And I have lost count of the number of middle-class Indians who assert that India needs a “benevolent dictator”, whatever the hell that means.

    And going by the support Modi and the RSS receive, one can safely conclude that authoritarianism is roundly endorsed by Indians.

    • Wrong – RSS was not inspired by Hitler and Mussolini – it was inspired by the general trend of socialist nationalism during the early 1920s in Europe that saw nationalism take hold after centuries of monarchy and feudal rule. The idea that a nation was a body of people and divine in its own right -rather than the estate of a chosen family or select group of people. Perhaps you would do the courtesy of educating yourself before peddling ignorant prejudice as fact.

      Furthermore – displaying Mein Kampf signifies nothing – it is a book by one of History’s greatest personalities – even if villainous. Censoring that which YOU and your ilk disapprove of is the epitome of “fascism” – however this would of the vomitious leftist variation.

      What India’s admire is strong leadership – not rule by committee of the Communist variety – where there is no responsibility on any individual to do their job – just excuses and bureaucracy and status quo ineptitude. Certitude of purpose and a clear chain of command has enabled this Prime Minister to do things no other Prime minister has had the stones to do in decades both internally and externally.

      Indian liberals pining for the broke and moribund English Parliamentary system of “collective responsibility” find comfort in impotent governance and feckless leadership because it emboldens their own grandiose idea of their self worth. A leader who does not “need” or “care” about the pretensions of a few self-advertised “intellectuals” is deemed “undemocratic” and a “danger” because these harpies have lost their python like vice on the halls of power.

  7. Older readers will recall how Babu Jagjivan Ram had lamented that the country was being run by one and a half persons.

    • Older readers will also recall how One and a half persons were running this country “undemocratically” by suspending the Constitution and imposing Emergency with the willing complicity of the lakhs of bootlickers of the Congress Party and the neutered SC.

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