Tag Archives: Narendra Modi

Will humility be calling card of Rahul Gandhi?

Posted on by Track2Media
Track2Media Exclusive

Bottom Line: After having weathered unfair criticism, mockery, and personality assassination, Rahul Gandhi still seems to be determined to make humility in politics his calling card. Will it work in a hostile political environment?

Rahul Gandhi, AICC, Congress Party, Congress Vice President, Sonia Gandhi, Leader of opposition, Indian politics, Indian Government, Track2Media Research, Ravi Sinha Rahul Gandhi is yet again in the news following his back-to-back speeches in the US, said a friend. I just wondered when was Rahul Gandhi not in the news. Let us face it! Rahul Gandhi is and will always be in the news – for right reasons or wrong, for making a mistake or being labeled to have made one, for admitting that he is not perfect or to be blamed for not being a perfect politician.

Thanks to a generation of BJP politicians in general and BJP’s man-of-the-moment and best orator Narendra Modi in particular, Rahul Gandhi is always in discussion. Rahul knows it. Having weathered back-to-back personal tragedies of losing grandmother in early childhood and then losing father in early adulthood, the man knows that what it takes to be the first family of a political party in a country like India. For him, power is hence an illusion.

This is what has shaped his personality, something that gives ammunition to the critics to allege that Rahul is a reluctant politician. That may or may not be true but the humility of Rahul Gandhi today definitely makes him a mystery wrapped in an enigma. No one knows for sure whether he intends to be heir apparent to the legacy of Prime Ministers in family or he would just be the head of the party.

It is easy to dismiss Rahul as a man who despite of pedigree lacks the charisma. But then had this been the case who would have known it better than the BJP. And if the BJP knows it, instead of pretending to know it and mock around, they would not have invested so much (money, material, manpower and machinery online) to discredit Rahul as and when he opens his mouth.

It is indeed a peculiar case study of Indian politics that when Rahul opens his mouth (alleged by BJP to be kiddish, pappu as they say) the BJP has to field a battery of spokespersons, including top ministers and functionaries, to run from one TV news station to another to repeat that no one takes Rahul Gandhi seriously.

Having invested so much into the personality assassination of Rahul Gandhi, the BJP knows the advantages of managing the personality profile of Rahul Gandhi in the collective consciousness. Even the Prime Minister Modi himself has mocked Rahul so many times with distorted statements of what he actually said.

When Rahul says Pineapple, Modi mocks it as coconut just to mock Rahul Gandhi and cold storage for potatoes is referred as Rahul’s ignorance to call factory to produce potatoes. It is a different matter that Modi can never take on Rahul in a face-to-face debate, as the BJP knows about the educational background of Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. BJP is also conscious of the fact that being an excellent orator Modi is a heavyweight to Rahul as long it is monologue and not dialogue.

Rahul Gandhi has still never boasted that he is superior in terms academics or the intellectual depth. He has also never invested in mocking at Modi or any other opposition leader. No one has ever heard any abusive slang coming out of Rahul. He seems to believe in introspection and can go to the extent of criticizing his own government if he finds fault. Remember UPA II when he criticized ordinance to save the tainted lawmakers.

His public statement in admitting that Congress needed to learn the art of grass root campaign from Arvind Kejriwal’s party also reflects his humility to give the devil his due. But no! In today’s high voltage media orchestrated reality show called politics, these traits were termed as childish jibe of a man who does not understand politics.

Rahul has weathered all the criticism, fair and foul, but has never lost his cool or patience. He is also conscious of the fact that with a legacy of being ruling class, he has a heavy baggage of past mistakes committed by the party men, unlike Modi who does not have the weight of any such baggage at the national level. Modi is also more street smart than Rahul to manage his baggage of Gujarat in the public perception.

Rahul’s personality reflects all this and much more. He is hence a mystery wrapped in an enigma for the large section of Indians whose ideas & opinion are goaded by what is served to them through the information over-dose on TV News and social media.

Isn’t it a time to decode the myth and reality of Rahul Gandhi? Let’s first look at some of the myths created around him:

Rahul Gandhi is a reluctant politician and heir apparent who simple doesn’t know what he wants for himself

Rahul Gandhi is too kiddish to be labeled as Pappu

Whenever Rahul opens his mouth Congress loses public sympathy & votes; even facts are wrong with him

He often reads his speeches in the Parliament

He leaves country for vacations as and when there is some serious debate in or outside Parliament

In contrast to the above allegations, the coin of reality has another face as well. Some of the striking pointers:

Greedy to be in power & position has more often than not given the world dictator kind of rulers, India at present being no exception

Rahul might not be as good orator as Modi but has never misled the nation with distorted facts or statistics

Rahul Gandhi publicly admits that he is not perfect and makes mistake, unlike Narendra Modi who makes mistakes and repeats that like a stubborn despot

Rahul does not have journalists on his side to term every blunder as next masterstroke

Rahul doesn’t lose patience even when criticised; nor has he ever left a debate/interview just because he has been grilled

Rahul takes it with humility even when vested interests in media are unfair to question him for the failures of the Modi government 

There are enough instances to suggest that Rahul Gandhi is more democratic, has better idea of inclusive society, and has more humility than the man who has come out of humble background but nevertheless behaves like a ‘Royal Monarch’.

Why is the real Rahul Gandhi not taking the center stage then? The answer probably lies in his humility to not ruffle the feathers of a coterie of ‘vested interests’ around him. It is not in the nature of these old timers in politics to let Rahul come out of the closet and mix with the grass root workers. And it is also not in the nature of Rahul to throw out people around him that easily.

It would be interesting to see whether Rahul changes a bit and becomes less democratic within the Congress Party at the top to be more democratic at the bottom. That is something that will define the destiny of grand old Congress Party and the future of India. Till then Rahul Gandhi remains what he is – mystery to many, pappu to critics and a man that seems to be struggling within self to become what probably is not there in his temperament—assertive, authoritative and ruthless.

By: Ravi Sinha

India’s collective intelligence failure with holier-than-thou politics

Posted on by Track2Media

By: Ravi Sinha

Crowd, Protest, India Against Corruption, Arvind Kejriwal, Holier than thou politics, Lokpal, Narendra Modi, BJP, Congress, Track2Media ResearchRecently during the course of a discussion over the social media, a Supreme Court lawyer friend reminded me of my stiff resistance to the so-called Second Freedom Movement in the garb of Lokpal launched by Anna Hazare and hijacked by the political opportunist Arvind Kejriwal.

This Supreme Court Attorney wrote, “The biggest asset of neutrality Ravi ji lies in non-performing neutrality. Hope you remember your relentless fight against Kejriwal and his cam followers, wherein you have single handedly unleashed a vitriolic attack on those people who were intoxicated by the neo-romanticism of movement (if at all it was). And immediately you are proved right, when we find that the alleged crusaders are nowhere to be seen today. The search for morality, or the lack of it, is merely the pompous face of an inferiority complex.”

The fact of the matter is that behind the pompous faces asking for corruption free moralist society, it was quite visible that the collective intelligence failure of the nation was leading to a holier-than-thou politics. Anna Hazare’s sudden emergence on the centre stage of national politics arousing mass hysteria may have an element of surprise for post-JP generation. After all, they have not seen the mass movements and hence fail to understand the thin line that bifurcates between a national movement and mob hysteria.

But the serious students of conventional school of political science know how the lack of maturity in collective consciousness can easily arouse popular sentiments with someone taking a moral high ground. India and many other developing countries have been even more vulnerable than matured democracies. However, what makes this retired driver-turned-self styled crusader a case study in modern political science is the fact that his sudden upsurge did reflect a collective intelligence failure of the entire civil society, whom Anna has always claimed to represent.

A political campaign turns out to be a national movement only when strong wave of anti-establishment perception is supplemented by an alternative, better and, more importantly, viable political model in mind. Had Anna Hazare’s well orchestrated media event got that element to be called a revolution?

It is a different matter of debate altogether whether a mob of few thousand can be termed the entire civil society. The nation may got into a high voltage Facebook/Twitter discussion on whether Lokpal has been a panacea to the evils of corruption, or academicians started debate whether parliament or any other pressure group in the country will make the law; the core issue of corruption never remained in the spotlight in this cacophony.

It seems the entire nation for some time was driven by a “heard hypothesis” where people were not bothered as to their outburst was at what cost and for whose benefit. The cost-benefit analysis of this media stunt indicates some smart operators of this campaign were the only beneficiaries, though such theatrics has a short shelf life as time proved it.

When I first said collective intelligence failure, I was pretty conscious of the fact that I was inviting some more hate mails calling me anti-national and traitor, some more Facebook comments calling me names, and a journalist as then ruling party agent. However, the fact of the matter is that such knee jerk reactions only strengthened my conviction that nation at that critical juncture was reflecting a collective intelligence failure where Anna Hazare was just the symbol of that malaise.

Let’s face the facts. Corruption in a capitalist economy of a developing nation is an issue and will always be, Lokpal or no Lokpal. But whether it will become a national election issue is a questionable proposition in a society where we enjoy transactional corruption in day-to-day lives and cry foul over collusive corruption at the power and policy level.

The bigger issue to be probed is why such a mobocracy was not nipped in the bud. While a 73-year-old rigid man with a childish ‘my way or highway’ attitude seemed to have kept the entire democratic process and constitution on gun point, this lack of intelligence made one of the largest democracies in the world on a ransom call, and a matter of ridicule for the western powers who were always apprehensive of Indian GDP growing at their cost.

When a larger conspiracy against country’s democratic process was being planned in the name of ‘India Against Corruption’, with a moral high ground, of course, what was the intelligence machinery of the country doing? Why did not it get noticed that people behind this so-called noble cause had alternate channel of foreign funds in their NGOs?

Intelligence officials admit that they could not see this coming, though they had warned the Government of the larger conspiracy coming in post-Ramdev episode. However, this will go as an intelligence failure number one in the history of India’s crisis with political transition.

The second intelligence failure, and the most glaring one, had been by the then ruling establishment, both at the party level and the government level. In the absence of any real grass root leader in the think tank, the Congress Party and the UPA Government kept groping in the dark and took one step forward and two backwards. All their counter-offensive experiments, including hobnobbing with Ramdev, fall flat on their faces.

In this intelligence failure number two, a small time political blackmailing was given legitimacy by none other than the government itself. Why did the government allow a small group of holier-than-thou team to be part of India’s policy making? If engaging the civil society was the objective, there should have been a diverse set of civil society groups to have the real meeting of minds and aspirations. This could also have served the purpose of check & balance in the event of political blackmailing. But it was more of applicable intelligence failure on their part and hence they eventually suffered with a “foot in the mouth” syndrome.

The third glaring intelligence failure, something that once threatened to derail the future democratic process in India, had been by the opposition parties, mainly the BJP. In their quest to topple the UPA Government, backed by their masters in the RSS, their intelligence failed to see the larger picture ahead and hence created a Frankenstein monster in Arvind Kejriwal post Anna Hazare’s realisation that how he was just being used by his own protege. The BJP is today paying the price of it in Delhi and Kejriwal’s well-orchestrated media stunts are BJP’s insult to injury now.

All that the BJP could see at that point of time was a beneficial move in the short term, without realising the heavy price that the party and the nation had to bear in the long term. No democratically elected government, including that of BJP, can afford a rigid civilian old-man with a ‘my way or highway’ stand come in the way of policy making. But their intelligence failure drove them to attempt at creating their own Bhindranwale, that too in the national politics. Today, many BJP leaders privately admit that Kejriwal is too big an embarrassment to Modi Government and the party.

Fourth failure in intelligence was noticed in media which seemed to have forgotten its objectivity and acted as a party to mob inciting. Asking people to react by displaying the Facebook/Twitter ids of Team Anna, media got into a rat race to outscore over the rival channels. Well, the TRP game one can understand, but very much like public outburst such TRPs are easy to get but difficult to sustain. In exchange, media lost its credibility and had this theatrics succeeded in derailing the democracy, media might have been the worst to suffer.

Had your collective wisdom failed to see that this ‘my way or highway’ brand of blackmail politics, if having allowed to grow, could have led to your censorship as well? Why did not you find a single voice of dissent to Anna’s childish behaviour? It is a gang rape to the very ethics of journalism when a media trial takes place in television studio with carefully selected three panelists from Anna Hazare camp and only one against the move.

Will somebody please define whether a crowd of few thousands, making a mockery of law & order can be termed as unprecedented national movement? Did Mahatma Gandhi or Jai Prakash Narain had the luxury of media budget, Twitter/Facebook to incite the mob and gather crowd? Still, lakhs and lakhs of supporters had taken to streets. This is because they not only had a valid reason, but also an alternative, viable and better establishment to offer.

The fifth intelligence failure had been of the ‘Aam Admi’ who would have suffered the most. Howsoever fancy he might be finding the idea of a plebiscite democracy, the fact remains that it is his emotional outburst against corruption that had been channelized by the smart operators in this whole bloody game. Most of the crowd on the road had absolutely no idea what is the basic difference between Lokpal and Jan Lokpal. Everyone seems to have been nursing his own fantasy of a better society the Anna way.

Having said this, intellectuals who were on the other side of the debate and didn’t subscribe Anna Hazare’s method or the madness, are equally to be blamed for being a mute spectator.

Today, Anna has lost whatever moral high ground or credibility he might be having, and Kejriwal being reduced to a Delhi level politician whose only craft is Abusing & Accusing. But the whole episode has left many learning for a society eager for recognition, the lack of which often leads to public sentiments boiling down to mass hysteria.

In a nutshell, it has been the failure of India as a matured democracy. And it has never been about just one Bill. Had this political theatrics succeeded or the government been forced to grant the largesse, by tomorrow there would have been demand for many more such legislations by undemocratic means, by various other pressure groups in the country. And that could have been the beginning of the end of Indian democracy. Sadly, the collective intelligence seems to have not taken any lesson even now, and that threatens to spell doom for India.

Seven-point itch with Modi Government

Posted on by Track2Media

By: Ravi Sinha

Track2Media Exclusive

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, BJP, NDA Government, RSS, Saffron party in India, Communal Politics, Modi Government failures Signs of fatigue for an outgoing government are nothing new in India and we as a nation have time and again been witness to this. In recent past the government of Manmohan Singh has been a case in point. A look at the Indian democratic polity post the independence suggests that bigger the mandate, the more chances of collapse since the bigger mandate also amounts to even bigger expectations.

The Narendra Modi Government that came to power with a landslide victory, however, is a reverse case study as the fatigue is quite visible in less than two years. It definitely raises a question mark over the future sailing, if not survival, of a government that is led by a man whose self-obsession is well known to refer himself as a man with 56-inch chest.

Conflicting messages and confusing overtones are the signs of a weak government. It was supposed to be India’s strongest government ever. Why then is so much of contradictory signals coming out of the power corridors today? Has Modi Government lost its way out? Why has the very same media that till recently idolized him as messiah of development started questioning over non-performance? Or simply, the is man himself unable to accept his loss of invincibility?

There is no denying that the incumbent government is no more the same Modi Government after the face loss in Delhi and Bihar Assembly elections. The by-elections and municipal body elections in many parts of the country, including his own turf Gujarat has further eroded a myth around his invincible image.

What is wrong with Modi Government? Why are Indians recalling the same maligned Manmohan Singh as the much better Prime Minister who was cursed by the Indians till recently? Why is social media more sarcastic to Modi today than even Manmohan Singh who fell victim to a larger publicity blitz & design of opposition?

In order to understand the direction, or the lack of it, one has to get into the pain points of Modi Government. The first and foremost reason why Modi looks like a liability than asset, of late, is the intellectual bankruptcy of the government. Even one of the Party Vice Presidents, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe was recently caught on the wrong foot when he admitted that Congress Party has better talent pool and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is finding it tough to revamp the Union Cabinet with the kind of people around.

This intellectual bankruptcy is coming into the way of smooth functioning of both the government as well as the party. However, what aggravates the crisis of the government is “ignorance with arrogance”. This second weakness of Modi Government is as lethal as the first one, if not more. The government is too top heavy in its decision making with PM along with Finance Minister and a few non-government players, including Amit Shah standing larger than their shadow.

The party sources maintain there is an inherent fear among the ministers and no one thinks he is allowed to speak his mind even when asked to. The order and diktat flows from top to bottom.

This is not just state of affairs within the party but official sources maintain that the worst victim is the bureaucracy. There is a clear fear-factor that forces the officials to fall in line, even though the line drawn by the government is directionless. No wonder, many of them just come to office with their intelligence not driving them to take any independent decision.

For example, no one knows who recently forced the government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) to Photoshop Modi inspecting Chennai relief, only to embarrass the government when exposed.

More importantly, with less experience of office and more ego at its helm, this government has failed on the critical front of floor management of the House. It has also completely failed to engage with the opposition parties on critical issues that dampen the governance today. “My way or high way” might work for you as opposition party but once in the office the government has to communicate & connect with even those whom they might despise otherwise.

This ignorance with arrogance is not only affecting the functioning of the government but is also the root cause of third and probably most vital failure – the fiscal mismanagement that is blocking the real growth potential of the country. At a time when the international crude oil prices have hit the lowest level with $30 per gallon, there is no relief to the Indians, nor is it helping the Indian economy with repeated hike of excise duty.

It is noteworthy that the reasons of flipping Indian economy during the UPA II Government’s tenure-end was crude prices touching all time high at $147 dollar per gallon. Today, the government’s understanding that hike in excise duty is the way forward to manage current account deficit and put the economy on fast forward track can at best be described as poor economic sense.

There is a clear lack of understanding that the key to economic revival is to increase the demand in the economy, which can be done only through lowering the prices of petrol/diesel and corresponding decrease in the prices of all essential commodities, that could also strengthen the purchasing power.

Fourthly, since the government is increasingly getting directionless, they are resorting to the so-far tried and tested formula of overpromise that brought them to power. Most of the policy announcements of Modi Government look like an election speech. Even some of his pet projects, like Smart City, Housing4All and Swachh Bharat have proved to be non-starters for all the practical purposes. The RTI filed on these programmes and other critical reforms suggest there is no blue print yet ready even though the government has done all it could to make it seen as “already done” through media trial.

Fifth reason of Prime Minister Modi giving impression of governance fatigue is media, or its over-use. TV, Newspapers, Radio, Twitter and what not! Modi Government has gone so much into over-projection that under-performance is naturally being compared in the collective consciousness. When the governance turns into event management, then media might be a direct and indirect beneficiary; the public is definitely a loser. And the government is even bigger a loser as it loses credibility in collective consciousness where everything is being seen as advertising.

Sixth problem is that the over-use of media in this government is also pampering the fringe elements in the government to strive for their share of limelight. As a result, there are repeated communal overtones & intolerance that is plaguing the Indian society today. The BJP and its ideological mentor RSS has always advocated for most of the issues that the motormouth elements in the government are today championing. Yet, the damage that it has done to the credibility of the government is immense. Perils of being in the government!

The BJP could not have come this far banking only on the cadre-based votes that it traditionally has. The Brand Modi that the campaign managers so successfully created was meant to translate into aspiration and definitely not communal ambition. The youths and many first-time voters are today feeling cheated.

Seventh, but probably not the last, itch of the government is Selfie-driven foreign policy. The kind of seriousness that India’s foreign policy needs, especially at a time when challenges are many, it has been compromised for cheap publicity. In its self-obsession the Modi Government in general and the Prime Minister in particular seem to forget the fact that country needs serious investors to invest and not the Selfie-type business class that wants back-door policy incentives on the virtue of “Selfie with PM”.

Modi’s deliberate and often imposed friendship with world leaders is also not doing any good to the diplomatic image of India. The kind of seriousness that is needed for international diplomacy is definitely missing today. As far as Pakistan and terrorism is concerned, the failures are all too obvious. The image of the government is further dented because when in opposition the same Modi talked like a “one-man army with 56 inch chest” whenever there was any issue with this hostile neighbour. Today, for some inexplicable reasons he has taken a complete “U” turn.

In conclusion, more than three years to go and the mandate with massive majority is with the government. But what can be vouchsafed at this point of time is that never before in the history of India an incumbent government became so unpopular in the initial two years, though there are many instances of last two years being nightmare to the outgoing governments. If well begun is half done, then bad begun is probably never done.