Men of the Moment in Indian Politics
TNI Bureau: The events in Indian politics are unfolding like a murky drama. The incumbent government is mired in various scandals, the opposition has paralyzed the democratic process of the Parliament and the regional parties are singing their tunes in the void created by the inefficiencies of the two big national parties.
It is certainly not a good time for politics. Post Anna movement, the public anger is intense and the media is harsh on politicians. Even the foreign press is taking a shot and criticizing the gloomy Indian political scene. But as is a popular saying, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Critical times always see the emergence of great leaders. And this time, it is regional satraps who are stealing the spotlight.
If the India story has been stalled by the so-called policy paralysis of the government, there is another story which is being written in less-developed state of Bihar. The journey of Bihar from a land of lawlessness to a state with impressive economic, social and cultural progress has put Nitish Kumar in a league of extraordinary politicians of our times. Everyone is heaping praise on his governance model. No wonder his party’s stellar performance in the last Lok Sabha and state assembly elections have given him higher bargaining power in the NDA alliance. He did not allow BJP to bring its star campaigner, Narendra Modi to Bihar during the last assembly elections.
He and his party went against the BJP by supporting the UPA Presidential candidate this year. Still, the BJP leader and the deputy chief-minister, Sushil Modi, made a statement that Nitish is the prime minister material thereby indicating how much BJP loves Nitish. It is a fact that the given the rising stature and the clean image of Nitish Kumar, his association with BJP benefits the latter the most. On the other hand, media has been reporting the building proximity of Nitish with the Congress ever since he supported their presidential candidate. Many political pundits say that in 2014, Nitish Kumar might be the dark horse for the PM race.
The one thing which worries the BJP the most is Nitish’s dislike for Narendra Modi. Narendra Modi has been touted as the favorite PM candidate for the next Lok Sabha elections. The young India loves Modi, the social media admires him and the corporate India adores him. He has been the poster boy of the next wave of economic development which the state of Gujarat has witnessed in last couple of years. The media has already declared unofficially the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as a war between BJP’s Narendra Modi and the Congress’ Rahul Gandhi.
Many opinion polls conducted on the Internet and TVs clearly show Modi as one of the most favourites for the post of PM. The rise of Narendra Modi has been meteoric in its own sense. Today no one can deny his ever growing stature inside the BJP and outside the political arena. The only thorn which lies in his path is his alleged involvement in the Gujarat riots. Gujarat will go to polls later this year. If Modi wins again with a thumping majority, this would definitely strengthen his candidature for PM in 2014.
The story of Odisha has been interesting. The incumbent BJD which earlier was an ally of BJP has found a great leader in Naveen Patnaik. Like Nitish Kumar, he has maintained a low profile tirelessly working for his state. A recent opinion poll conducted by IPSOS and NDTV shows that he is immensely popular in the state and outside. His image is that of a clean, honest and effective political leader.
Congress and BJP both are unable to compete with BJD in Odisha and the latter has performed brilliantly in the state as well as Lok Sabha elections. During his tenure, the less-developed state of Odisha attracted highest foreign direct investment. The state has become a hot destination for sectors like power, steel and IT. It would be no surprise if he is sought after by both BJP and Congress during 2014 elections. He might play the role of a king-maker.
Mulayam Singh Yadav
From a wrestler to a power broker, the rise of Mulayam Singh Yadav has been extraordinary. After the fallout with Amar Singh – his confidante for a long period, he has grown more powerful. The recent assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh brought about his resurgence. Soon after his party swept away the elections, he leveraged that support to increase his relevance in national politics. His party’s win was more special since both BSP and Congress were trying very hard to capture power in UP. More importantly, Rahul Gandhi led the Congress’s campaign in the state and the father-son duo of Mulayam and Akhilesh successfully led their party in defeating Rahul Gandhi, Congress and Mayawati-led BSP.
Acting as an astute politician, he has maintained good relations with the incumbent government providing them the outside support. Rumors are that he is trying to float a third-front to leverage his political powers at the centre level. Many say he might have an eye at the PM’s chair. But whatever be the case, Mulayam Singh is a force Congress has recognized and ensured that cordial relations with him are maintained. If BJP is looking at JD (U), Congress is busy wooing SP. This tells a lot about the how romanticism between national parties and regional parties are shaping up the Indian democracy.
Amidst all these drama and din, there is a young scion working persistently his way up. Yes, we are talking about Rahul Gandhi! It is very likely that he is going to be the prime ministerial candidate from Congress in 2014. In last couple of years, he has avoided a ministerial berth or any role in the government only to devote his time at grass-root level and in strengthening the party.
He has well established himself a mass leader, is loved by party workers and admired by senior party members. His relentless efforts during the recent elections in UP could not yield success but has given him enough mileage as a leader which can connect to masses. He has been successful in establishing himself as a powerful political force in a very short span of time.
These men of the moment have capabilities and power to shape up the Indian democracy. The growth story of India is certainly not on the tracks. It would be interesting to see whether they can contribute something positive or the murky drama will continue.