What Gandhi has to understand is that there is a basic flaw in the distribution of wealth generated by the growing economy and unless he realises the importance of distributional economics,welfare economics alone cannot undo the damage in a significant way. Modi would of course shun the basic theme of distributive economics? The long term fear is that with his popularity outside the country and his pro-corporate and pro-Hindu policies inside, he will become India’s Gorbachev. This is what Rahul Gandhi perhaps thought and hoped when he admired Modi as another Gorbachev in making.
Modi Government and his party hoped to celebrate the first anniversary of their stupendous success in the last Lok Sabha elections with the same enthusiasm with which they rode the power. But thanks to one man, their hopes of rekindling the imagination of the people were belied. Brickbats outsmarted bouquets, and the Team Modi was busy defending against the onslaught led by the new Avatar of Congress, Rahul Gandhi who in last two months has given a glimpse of what his politics is going to be in the future. What initially began as a minor scuffle in Parliament with Gandhi attacking Modi Government on Farmers’ suicide issue so on turned into a full-fledged war with missiles fired in increasing numbers from both sides.
To be fair, it can be said that Modi’s first year proved to be neither as bright as his supporters wished nor as scary as his opponents feared. He came to power with a mix of corporate and communal agenda. But neither the corporates except a chosen few are excited nor the Hindutva Brigade is rejoicing. As much as they wished ‘Vikas’ of Modi style has boomeranged back with the ‘Suit Boot Sarkar’ title sticking to it, and the markets have become wary of the public backlash if Modi continued to advance the corporate agenda without keeping the people in good humour. Hindutva lobby has remained satisfied with day-to-day communal remarks by its representatives in the ruling party. These statements have generated fears of widespread tensions on communal lines but fortunately have not converted into large-scale riots so far. Modi has taken a conscious decision to speak sweet while letting his lieutenants spout venom. He thinks that with this strategy he can keep his own position clear in the increasingly communally charged atmosphere. He feels this will have double advantage. He can show to the world that he is a changed man, and is nowhere near the image which he developed after Gujarat riots. The communal inferno will keep his Corporate and Privatisation agenda progressing without attracting much opposition. People will talk communalism, and the Second Round of Privatisation (First Round was completed by Narsimha Rao) will be completed by the time he is ready for the next elections.
Modi Team hoped that Congress will take the field on the issue of communalism, and they know very well that such a fight suits their plans. What Rahul Gandhi is doing instead is to attack Modi on its economic agenda. He seems to have been well advised that the biggest antidote to communal agenda is the fight on the economic agenda for the Peoples’ rights. And so far, it is clear that he has won the first round of confrontation. He has made the people doubt the intentions of Modi who is now fighting hard to demolish his Suit-Boot image. While Modi’s popularity has gone down, even if not as substantially as Congress wants the country to believe, Gandhi has emerged as the most authentic Opposition voice. He is busy garnering support of the farmers and labourers and has also an eye on the lower middle class. Without speaking a word on the internal party politics since his return from the much publicised vacations, he has silenced all his critics within the party. The senior Congress leaders are busy planning their entry to the Rahul fold.
With his successful tour of Bangladesh, Modi has now visited at least one Muslim country. Throughout the last year, he was busy telling the world that he not only dreams of becoming an international statesman but also a Hindu statesman. While he makes headlines with some Muslim-appeasing remarks and meetings with Muslim leaders, he wants to build a soft Hindutvawaadi image for himself. He does not forget to present the copies of Gita to his hosts and is now busy organising International Yoga Day. While Muslims should not have any objections on his love for his religion, they certainly have the right to ask him questions about the plight of Muslims in their country. They need to ask him why his meeting with a few Muslim leaders(most of whom have been close to RSS=Israel lobby in the country) should not be seen as (appeasement of Muslims) when his party made such an issue of Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with Shahi Imam. Moreover, he needs to explain why his concept of equality does not mean equality for Muslims in all fields. Rahul Gandhi too will have to do much more to convince Muslims that his ‘secularism’ does not merely revolve around campaign against RSS and BJP but also practical affirmative actions for the empowerment of Muslims. We have reached a situation where instead of asking the question why Muslims should be given certain rights on the ground of their religion, question needs to be asked why they are being denied rights on the ground of religion.
It however remains clear that the main war between Gandhi and Modi will be on the turf of economics. If Gandhi really wants to emerge as the leader of the masses, he will have to admit that Congress too in last few decades has mainly worked on corporate agenda, and a few welfare schemes under UPA2 would not be enough to reduce the economic disparity, which has already reached ominous proportions. Modi of course is not interested even in Welfare Economics. What Gandhi has to understand is that there is a basic flaw in the distribution of wealth generated by the growing economy and unless he realises the importance of distributional economics, welfare economics alone cannot undo the damage in a significant way. Modi would of course shun the basic theme of distributive economics.
If Modi has done well any front, it is on the front of foreign relations. It would be unfair not to admire his efforts in developing good relations with other countries. The agreement with Bangladesh on the border issue is perhaps the most notable achievement.The short term fear however is that he will lose much of the popular support on the issue if he tries to make his Israel visit historical in a sense which the anti-Muslim lobbies in the country would love to see. The long term fear is that with his popularity outside the country and his pro-corporate and pro-Hindu policies inside, he will become India’s Gorbachev. This is what Rahul Gandhi perhaps thought and hoped when he admired Modi as another Gorbachev in making.
Dr. Javed Jamil