Rahul Gandhi’s campaign to sew back the torn fabric of the country is in danger of coming unstuck with two senior leaders of the alliance suddenly breaking ranks and turning up in functions that celebrate BJP icons and causes.At the same time both continue to plead that they still belonged to the alliance and are not budging an inch from its stand.Of course the BJP is in raptures over this development and would like the rift to widen further.Meanwhile Sharad Pawar has met and lunched with the bete noire of the Congress-led alliance Gautam Adani.
One is not sure what they are playing at and for.The current story is that they are both miffed at losing in the race of actual nomination as potential Prime Ministerial candidates.Though Rahul Gandhi has categorically kept away from the race,many constituents of the alliance seem to want him chosen.It is possible that both these veterans are indirectly signaling to the Alliance the cost of ignoring their claims and putting pressure on it to reckon with that.
Whatever their intentions the damage that the duo has inflicted on the alliance has been considerable.While the common people of the country are unlikely to be familiar with their names except in one or more states.But the educated middle-class and the large TV audience do consider them leaders of weight.
Journalists have gone to town spreading the alarm the incidents have provoked through channels and opinion columns.Rahul Gandhi is apparently showing his unconcern busying himself playing a railway porter and an ordinary passenger in a general bogey for photo-ops.One wishes however that he seriously consulted ordinary passengers the hassles they face in still the most common long-distance mode of travel in the country, or enquired from the porters of New Delhi rail stations about their problems.For the latter are surprisingly well-informed and conscious about the political situation in the country.
Reverting to the subject under discussion BJP’s highly venerated icons do not seem to come off well under searching scrutiny.Their merit is, as expected, more a matter of crowd adulation than of fair and reasoned assessment of the wise.Consider the works of the famed Deen Dayal Upadhyay, which are being translated and published in 24 regional languages.His concept of ‘integral humanism’ megaphoned as the zenith of wisdom combining Hindu spiritual power and Western technology,is but a rehash of an intellectual fantasy dating back at least a hundred years current among the Indian elite under colonial rule and including luminaries like Bankim Chandra,Tagore and Radhakrishnan.Deen Dayal’s contribution has been a quiet; smooth abandonment of the Muslim part in the Indian heritage.Tagore alone had misgivings about the uneasy mixture in the volatile compound, which was synthesized by capitalism in India.
There is nothing to be gained by India from Deen Dayal’s fabled wisdom except providing ideological justification for BJP’s insatiable quest for technological and political power.Both Pawar and Nitish Kumar have sufficient common sense to see through the tall claims.As for the palaver with Adani it is not new,as Pawar had openly demurred with Rahul Gandhi’s frontal attack on Adani as misguided.This is a more serious issue which would put Pawar at opposite poles to most members of the alliance.Pawar is well aware of thar.Yet they are both playing along because they are desperate to retain bargaining power with the INDIA alliance.
One hopes quiet diplomacy is at work,with negotiators ascertaining the real grievances of the veteran leaders and conveying to them the best the alliance can do to mollify them.If they persist they might have to be cold shouldered as the damage they are inflicting is serious and that could encourage more divisions and splits.It should also be considered that both these once powerful regional leaders have suddenly lost much of their leverage and weight in the melee of regional politics,and both are trying hard to regain their influence through
their role in national politics.
Hiren Gohain is a political commentator