Is Rahul really a Modi asset as Mamata believes?

Is Rahul really a Modi asset as Mamata believes?

The sharpest observation after the five state elections has come from Mamata Banerjee. “Rahul Gandhi is a Narendra Modi asset.”

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul had mounted a bitter attack on Mamata during the campaign in West Bengal. Against this background, would she ever shake hands with the Congress? asked NDTV’s Barkha Dutt. Mamata came down sharply with the above one liner.

The implication of what Mamata said is that Rahul, and the Congress by extension, are a requirement of Modi. They, and they alone, must be the counterpoint for the musical score the BJP is composing.

In fact this composition has been underway well before the May 2014 general election which brought Modi to power. The entire Indian establishment, CII, FICCI, the electronic media, press – everybody was chatting up Rahul to stand in opposition to Modi. He was cajoled, paraded on the stage. Anchors implored him to debate Modi on live TV. As it is, Modi’s 2014 victory was because of the universal disgust with Sonia, Rahul and Manmohan Singh which was harvested by the world’s most expensive election campaign. BJP think tanks now divined that Modi will continue to look good so long as Rahul is projected as the alternative. And Mamata has quickly noticed it.

So, Rahul must remain in play to benefit Modi. Instead of admitting that Rahul is something of a non starter, his coterie keeps making excuses: his take off had been delayed because Rahul wanted to raise the party from scratch. He is teeming with ideas, say Motilal Vohra, Janardan Dwivedi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma. Only, Ahmad Patel sees authority resident elsewhere: “let’s ask Madame.” No one is willing to concede that Rahul simply doesn’t fizz.

After P.V. Narasimha Rao brought the Congress tally down to 140 seats in 1996, Sitaram Kesri as Congress President raised it by one to 141, but the next year Sonia plummeted: 114 seats. Electorally, the mother and son combination has done the party no good.

So many of the party’s wounds are self inflicted. Take the tamasha in Assam. If Sonia Gandhi can dig her heals in for her son, who can blame 81-year-old Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi dream dreams for his son, Gaurav Gogoi? Why can’t he be the next Chief Minister. Himanta Biswa Sarma was to Gogoi what Amit Shah is to Modi. He was miffed at Gogoi’s brazen nepotism, of course. But Rahul has had a role in driving Sarma away. Sarma describes a meeting with Rahul. “He is arrogant and likes to behave like a master with his servants.” It is universally acknowledged, an angry Sarma has brought down the Congress citadel in Assam.

True, the BJP now is in power in two frontline states – Jammu and Kashmir and Assam. But circumstances impose a certain moderation in both situations. It cannot permit communal excesses and live comfortably with Mehbooba Mufti in Srinagar. Nor can it put on war paint against Bangladeshis in Assam at the same time as it is having exceptionally good relations with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka.

An atmosphere of moderation induces other steps. The BJP fields nine Muslim candidates of whom one has survived the fray. What if he becomes a minister? Badruddin Ajmal of the AIUDF would be a worried man on that count?

And now the imminence of Congress collapse is causing interesting political shifts elsewhere. In Kerala, Muslims have veered away from the Congress and Muslim League. They have voted in large numbers for the Left Front. This is welcome.

There are other lessons in these elections. The Indian ruling class has long deluded itself that the country had a durable two-party system. In a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country where every currency note has to indicate denominations in at least 17 languages, to aim for such a system will, in the long run, prove illusory. A durable system of coalitions will surely evolve.

The five state elections have, after all, produced five results. A contest is on between two ideas of India – a federal India and a unitary one. Establishments, of which the media is a part, are generally more comfortable with two national party systems, in bad odour though they be globally. They have since the 90s, bred crony capitalism and corruption. Electoral changes sweeping the world are on that count.

That is why Mamata’s is an astute observation. By describing Rahul as a Modi asset, she is debunking the illusory two-party system at the Centre. Yes, two-party systems will be the order in the states. Come 2019, leaders like her, from the regions, will shape the power structure in New Delhi. The days of two-party compact, above the regional satraps, may be coming to an end. Parties with national pretensions must quickly find lasting partners in the states, not one night stands like the Left and the Congress had in West Bengal.


  1. Now that kaangress is down to one major state – karnaataka , the media and kaangress supporters are coming up with conspiracy theories to feel good about themselves. For a second imagine what would have been media’s reaction if congress had won and BJP had lost???? Also note how beef club is very silent on the forum!! LOL Must be licking their wounds …

  2. After every election the cow party likes to bullshit about it’s election victories. The cow party likes to pile the dung high. Here is a sober analysis from MK Bhadrakumar.

    However, the fine print contradicts the narrative. Reproduced below are certain pertinent observations culled out from social network sites (which are any day providing far more insightful views on Indian politics than our plaint corporate media):

    Out of the aggregate 812 seats contested in the recent elections, the Congress won 114 and the BJP 65. Yet it is being claimed that the BJP won a great victory and the Congress was “routed”.

    In terms of popular vote, the Congress got almost thrice as much as the BJP.

    BJP won 60 MLAs in Assam with a population of 31 million. But it could win only 8 MLA seats in the other states (minus Assam), which have a combined population of about 250 million.

    Then, there are the fine prints:

    In Tamil Nadu, BJP candidates lost their deposits in 230 out of 232 seats (because they couldn’t secure even one-sixth of the votes polled in the constituency).

    The BJP’s vote share in these assembly elections, in comparison with the 2014 poll, actually declined. In Assam, it dropped from 36.5 in the 2014 poll to 30.1 in the state election; in West Bengal it dropped from 16.8 percent to 10.3 percent; in Tamil Nadu from 5.56 percent to 2.7 percent. Kerala, the smallest of the 4 states, is the solitary exception where the BJP candidates actually increased their party’s vote share from 10.33 percent in 2014 to 10.7 in the state election.

    Then, there are the still finer points as regards the fortunes of the Congress Party, which put a question mark on the BJP thesis that Indians are getting rid of Congress Party:

    Contrary to the BJP’s abysmal record of decline in vote share, Congress Party actually increased its vote share in the state elections in comparison with its performance in 2014. The figures are: Assam (increase from 29.6 to 31 percent); West Bengal (increase from 9.58 to 11.9 percent); Tamil Nadu (increase from 4.3 to 6.5 percent.)

  3. Not surprisingly, a Beef Club member has posted what he thinks is an ‘analysis’ from so called ‘journalist’. It’s embarrassing to see how these guys have no idea of reality. For example, see how this ‘hotte uri’ club tries to trivialize BJP’s victory in Assam by comparing it to combined population outside Assam!!! What kind of ‘sajjige-bajil’ analysis is this? Also, comparing total number of seats won by BJP to total number of seats won by Congress shows another juvenile attempt by this group. This is BJP’s victory because it ended up significantly increasing their ‘seats’ and grabbing power in one state while Congress party has moved in opposite direction. This is how you measure success or failure of a political party. Then again, how do you explain these simple things to Beef Club members who are raised on a steady diet of ignorance?

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