As the Bharatiya Janata Party argues and dissents and cannot come together to decide on the immediate coronation of their leader, Narendra Modi, as the prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections, he carries on regardless, addressing India from every possible manch. Recently, he thundered from the rostrum in Jaipur at an enormous crowd of people all eager to hear the voice and words of a possible national leader. Because there has virtually been no whisper, let alone a regular voice, from our prime minister for over nearly two decades, except when he supported the civil nuclear deal, the Indian public is eager to find some person it can claim and support. At this moment, there is only one pan-Indian face for a future prime minister and if there is none to counter him, he may well have a cakewalk.
If the trend in Modi’s favour — that may well start with a sense of curiosity — begins to escalate, he will swiftly move towards a point where even his detractors within the BJP will have no option but to follow the ‘leader’. This syndrome will apply to potential partners as well because the moment they see and smell the ‘lead’, greed, self-aggrandizement and self-preservation will push them into giving tacit support. Politics in the country seems to have lost a sense of ideology and commitment to rebuild India. Increasingly, politicians are seen to be feathering their own nests, disconnected from the realities and complexities of this sub-continent. Modi has grabbed the space that other members of his political class have abdicated.
Why is there no counter- point from the Congress or any other political dispensation? The world has changed, as have the aspirations of a young and impatient India. They need to see and hear, pause, listen to and absorb the ideas and promises of their leaders, both regional satraps and national aspirants. If one voice dominates the landscape, there will be no option but to hear that voice alone. Frustration and despair will push the envelope.
To be complacent and in denial, believing that policy initiatives over the last ten years alone will be the deciding factor regarding who will win, is much like being unable to play the game with its new and dynamic rules. With his exuberance and confident declamations, Modi has charted his frenetic course in India. The voices of the dissenters in his party are becoming fainter by the minute.
In this context, the meeting that Rahul Gandhi addressed in a district of rural Rajasthan drew two lakh people, a very large number, particularly since the venue was outside of city limits. People spilled over onto the slopes of the low-lying hills in the area to hear another voice. This small intervention proved that there is space for a counter-point in present-day Indian politics. A fast maturing democracy wants to listen to various positions to make up its mind. Needless to say, a polarized electronic media have a lens only for that which they have decided to project and present. But if Rahul Gandhi assumes a similar pace and reaches out to 500-plus constituencies of India, addressing rallies outside city limits, he will definitely become a counterpoint. That is what democracy is all about.
In some ways, it helps to have the press ranged against any opponent to Modi, only because then the maddening noise and hysterical chatter begin to bounce back. Screeching television in the intimacy of homes can become a scourge. That kind of noise pollution gives the opponent scope to deliver a counter-point, quietly and with commitment.If there is a point and a counter-point, a leader and the leader of the Opposition, India will emerge from the sands of despair.