The nationalists do not have to be defensive
by Sandhya Jain on 24 Sep 2013 13 Comments

To the delight of his hosts, Narendra Modi’s presence at the veterans rally at Rewari, Haryana, on September 15, though previously scheduled, metamorphosed into his debut as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections. It coincided with the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s successful test-firing of the Agni V missile, which the firebrand leader said symbolized a ray of light amidst nationwide gloom.


The first sitting Chief Minister to be anointed as prime ministerial candidate by any party in independent India, Mr Modi wisely used this platform to inform the nation about his background, unfulfilled dreams, and aspirations. It was known that his father ran a modest tea stall at a minor railway station, where the sons helped out; he revealed that their background was rural and he studied in the village school. Describing with élan how poverty frustrated a desire to study at Sainik school in Jamnagar district (attended, ironically, by his Haryana counterpart Bhupinder Hooda), he skillfully nixed the demeaning factoids put out by some admirers about his caste and class origins. He is, incidentally, a post-graduate in political science.


Contrary to media projections of the fourth-term Chief Minister as an outsider (even usurper) in New Delhi, Narendra Modi has been entrenched in BJP’s central hierarchy after rising through the ranks by helping it win the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation polls in 1986. He helped organise the Somnath-to-Ayodhya rath yatra in September 1990, though media highlighted the flamboyant Pramod Mahajan. However, he played the principal role in the Ekta Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir in 1991 and made a major contribution to BJP’s 1995 victory in Gujarat.


When Shankarsinh Vaghela defected in 1996, Mr Modi saw to it that Vaghela’s supporters were denied tickets during the 1998 elections in Gujarat, and ensured the victory of the loyalists led by Keshubhai Patel. He might have remained a general secretary in Delhi had not the Bhuj earthquake of 2001 forced Keshubhai’s exit; he went to Gandhinagar as a ‘caretaker’ while the leadership decided between the then front-ranking State leaders. He managed the relief and was biding his time when the Godhra train carnage took everyone by surprise; the rest is history.


The Gujarat strongman is a seasoned politician with a rare ability to keep his cards close to his chest and plan winning moves in advance of his adversaries. In the Gujarat elections of 2012, he decimated Keshubhai’s breakaway party and won spectacularly, before visiting the vanquished stalwart to seeking his ‘blessings’. He similarly ignored LK Advani’s tantrums, knowing that the old man had no cards to play, no grassroots following to ensure his own victory in any constituency, and had, above all, lost traction with the RSS.


So, just as Mr Advani’s absence could not check Mr Modi’s elevation as campaign committee chief at Goa in June, his seething rage could not thwart the latter’s anointment as prime ministerial candidate on September 13. His coming around subsequently suggests that he wishes to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Gandhinagar once again and expects Narendra Modi to ensure his victory. It remains to be seen what the Gujarat electorate thinks about such tenacity.


At Rewari, Mr Modi played the Hindutva card with finesse; the nationalist card with fanfare. Touching Hinduism’s reformist face, he said the Arya Samaj had a deep impact in Haryana and that he received much respect when working there because he hailed from the land of its founder, Swami Dayanand Saraswati. He linked himself to the Sanatana dharma by recalling that it was on the battlefield of Kurukshetra (Haryana) that Sri Krishna, prince of Dwarka (Gujarat), delivered the eternal message of the Bhagvad Gita. A small anti-Congress jibe followed - dissident leader Morarji Desai was jailed in Haryana during the Emergency.


The nationalist card received thundering applause from the audience of ex-servicemen. He recalled how as a schoolboy in class six or seven, he left home without telling his parents to serve refreshments to jawans returning from the front at Mehsana station in 1962; he lauded their sacrifices in Kargil, their services during the Bhuj earthquake and Uttarakhand floods.


Seizing the moment to attack the UPA regime, Mr Modi recalled that amidst the Uttarakhand relief work for which officers and jawans sacrificed their lives in a bid to save as many persons as possible, Pakistani soldiers butchered five jawans in the Poonch sector in August. Yet the Defence Minister, unmindful of the anguish caused to the bereaved families, informed Parliament that ‘terrorists wearing the uniforms of the Pakistani Army’ had committed the atrocity.


The collateral damage from this skilful oratory has been a vicious and sustained attack on former Army Chief Gen VK Singh, for being present on the dais and attracting the huge nationwide constituency of ex-servicemen towards the BJP. It is a crying shame that the Union Government is the source of the slander. One allegation is that VK Singh misused secret Army funds to topple the Omar Abdullah Government in Jammu and Kashmir, though there is no corroborating evidence in the form of actual destabilization of the regime during the impugned period.


As Kashmir has been mentioned, it is pertinent to mention that Congress president and National Advisory Council chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and former NAC member Harsh Mander, are both associated with foreign bodies committed to the secession of Jammu and Kashmir from India.


Sonia Gandhi is co-president of the Forum of Democratic Leaders in the Asia-Pacific (FDL-AP) which supports the secession and independence of Kashmir. The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation she heads has accepted funds from Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, a foundation which funds the FDL-AP.


Mander is a member of the Working Group of the Justice Foundation Kashmir Centre UK, of which Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai is Director; it has received funds from Pakistan’s ISI. Fai is an American citizen of Kashmiri origin who was arrested by the FBI in July 2011 for secretly receiving USD 3.5 million from the ISI to fund illegal lobbying on the Kashmir issue. He hosted seminars to promote Islamabad’s viewpoint on Kashmir internationally; prominent guests include Dilip Padgaonkar, the Indian government appointed interlocutor on Kashmir.


British media calls the Foundation a front for Pakistani spies. American prosecutors said in court that Fai ran some Kashmir Centers on behalf of the Pakistani government, including the ISI.


Surely it is others who have some explaining to do. General Singh should switch from defending himself to asking questions.

The Pioneer, 24 September 2013

User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top