the fully loaded magazine
This refers to the lead article, Palm D’OR’ (December 24). The recent results of assembly elections have made it clear that PM Narendra Modi’s leadership is already a busted flush. The victory of Congress in the Hindi heartland has definitely knocked the wind out of the BJP’s sails. On the other hand, the main reason why the Congress managed to upset the political applecart of the BJP was the inspiring role played by Rahul Gandhi who led from the front and took on the Modi government on various issues staring the country in the face. In his rallies, he spoke convincingly about the need for change while holding the BJP responsible for reneging on its promises. It struck a chord with the people who have now seen through Modi’s hollow rhetoric. It was clear that the BJP, which has always dismissed Rahul as a political greenhorn, paid the price for its misplaced complacency.
Modi and Amit Shah, in order to draw fire away from its multiple failures on the governance front, have preferred to go off half-cocked with conspiracy theories just to discredit the opposition parties. No wonder, such ploys blew up in the party’s face. An energised and upbeat Congress is not good news for an enervated BJP which must get its act together for the general elections next year. It cannot bank upon Modi’s charisma and his gift of the gab any more as his novelty is wearing off rapidly.
Aditya Mukherjee, New Delhi
In an otherwise fine and professional election overview of Madhya Pradesh, I felt that some important aspects were not included that made the contest extraordinally nail-biting (Benefit Of Doubts, Dec 24). I was in Bhopal for three weeks before the elections when I noticed that the Savarna public was palpably angry about the SC/ST ordinance passed by the Modi government overturning a Supreme Court verdict. Here Modiji lost an ‘Atal’ moment of his life, which he must have used to show statesmanship like Vajpayeeji. The Reservation Policy is overdue to have a relook and whosoever does that will make history in the future. Secondly, the loan waiver speech by Rahul Gandhi was the clincher which has been underplayed in this article. In a way, the nice analysis supported by data of the Lokniti-CSDS survey proves beyond doubt that anti-incumbency was the important factor in MP and Chhattisgarh as people were fed up of the BJP with voter fatigue in the face of the same faces and policies all these years. This point has been amply explained. The NOTA factor influenced results of at least 15 constituencies up to the last, which refreshed my memories of the three weeks I spent in Bhopal.
H.C. Pandey,New Delhi
The assembly elections verdict clearly shows that the Hindutva card of Modi, Shah and party is outdated now. The BJP president has been worthless at his post. He needs to be sent off, somewhere far from the Centre. The BJP needs new blood, new thoughts and new economic plans. The Ram Mandir issue is also dead and needs to be forever buried, allowing the locals of Ayodhya to search for an amicable resolution. It is warning bell for Modi, the BJP and the friends of the BJP and the RSS in India and abroad. The usual tactics won’t work.
Zen S. Bhatia; On E-Mail
It’s not hard to gauge the change in direction of political winds. Obviously the election results in the so-called Hindi heartland represent a shot in the arm for the Congress and a setback for the BJP. Evidently, the impoverished masses, including the distressed farmers and the unemployed youth, have turned their back on the BJP for which they voted overwhelmingly in 2014 and demonstrated their strength to redraw the political landscape when pushed to the limit.
It should be sobering for BJP to realise mere promises cannot keep a party on top for long support base for long. It is encouraging that the election results have now opened up the possibility of fighting the 2019 general election on issues relevant to people’s lives relegating ‘divisive issues’ to the background.
G. David Milton, Maruthancode
The critical assessment made in your cover story has made it worth going through and preserving. Farmers had viewed Modi as the messiah who would save them from the scourging curse of poverty, paving their way towards a better life. Before becoming prime minister, Modi himself had led them to believe in him through lofty and flamboyant speeches. But the farmers have continued to suffer in miserable conditions despite highly publicised welfare schemes, which yielded only a few pockets of development owing to a highly politicised bureaucracy known for its selfish and lackadaisical style of delivery system. Therefore, nothing changed at the ground level, and hard realities remained so, trampling expectations. This, inevitably, has resulted in the sowing of seeds of insurmountable anger and anguish among the rural masses, which in all likelihood will erupt—giving a lethal blow to the electoral prospects of the ruling party. It is imperative for the government, therefore, to galvanise its booth-level workers, making them instrumental in the remaining period of its tenure, in order to ensure the end use of its welfare schemes and restore confidence among the masses.
Jaideep Mittra, Varanasi
A politician would have thought many times and consulted many economists before taking such a drastic step as demonetisation, but Modi—more messiah than statesman—acted on his own. His move did great harm to the economy, while hardly any of the elusive black money was obtained. Big businesses were able to survive, but small businesses were so badly hurt by the twin shocks of notebandi and Jaitley’s baby, GST, that they were forced to close down. If Modi had stepped off his messiah pulpit and looked at the ground realities with a politician’s eye, he would have realised that things were not going all that well for the BJP. His dream of Congress-mukt India stands shattered, and the Congress comeback has nearly become a reality after the BJP’s loss in the Hindi belt states. If Congress president Rahul Gandhi has now emerged as the only viable political leader to stand up to Modi, it is thanks to the BJP misreading ground realities in the Hindutva heartland. The BJP is staring at a similar defeat in the face in UP, where the waning of Modi magic is evident. PM Modi has been able to deliver only rhetoric, and has failed in his messiah’s mission of delivering any real goodies.
Lal Singh Amritsar
These are times for urgent fixes, Modiji should finally call in Yogiji for an emergency havan.
Anil S., Pune
This is about Outlook’s cover story on the decidedly rightward turn political rhetoric has taken, months before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls (Hindu, Hinduer, Hinduest, Dec 10). Gandhiji said he is a Hindu, but at the same time also said religion is a private matter for him. Nehru was a rational agnostic who laid the foundations of secular India. Nearly six decades after his death, matters have drifted beyond imagination. Nehru’s great-grandson, who began his career with no signs of public display of religion, today makes clear references to religion. From stating that he is a ‘janeudhari’ Shiv Bhakt to visiting temples by the dozen and making the Mansarovar pilgrimage, he is making a strenuous point! With him as Congress president, Congress in MP planned a Ram van gaman padyatra and promises a gaushala in each panchayat. As a result, critics label Congress politics as soft Hindutva, and it is disturbing at a level. But does that mean, along with this, the Congress is abandoning the path of secularism enshrined in our Constitution? Petrified BJP spokespersons certainly are questioning all of Rahul’s moves, as if their monopoly in such matters is under threat!
Ram Puniyani, On E-Mail
Reading the Pakistan Diary (Dec 24), it’s interesting to see how Pakistan PM Imran Khan served us our own pudding back. It was Vajpayee who, in 1999, first mooted the idea of opening the Kartarpur corridor for pilgrims, and it was cold-shouldered by Pakistan. India and Pakistan have an intriguing relationship—each side takes the initiative to seduce the other, but backs off when it comes to a truly meaningful step towards permanently good ties.
Sangeeta Kampani, New Delhi
Even as the governor’s decision to dissolve the J&K assembly was taken with a pinch of salt by all political parties in the state, the latest decision by Satya Pal Malik to accept a recommendation by the State Advisory Council to treat the J&K Bank as a PSU has roused great anger and suspicion (Banking on Tight Control, Dec 24). As a banner of revolt was raised by principal parties in the state as well as the bank’s employees, governor Malik has put the matter on hold. He would do well not to meddle in policy matters till a new, elected government takes charge of the state.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad