As they say, there are no murders in politics, only suicides.
Two major developments that surfaced in the Indian political arena, that too coming close to the Lok Sabha elections, aptly applies this adage. If a partner of the newly formed 28-party Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A.) has stirred a hornet’s nest with its remarks against Sanatan Dharma, then the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy, in a bid to settle scores with his bête noir, who is former long-serving chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu, by foisting a false corruption case.
Many political analysts, including me, strongly feel that the I.N.D.I.A. bloc, which is determined to send the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi packing in the next year’s Lok Sabha polls, appears lost the battle even before it began with its member party leaders continuing with their ‘hate speeches’ against Sanatanis. As it is, the pollsters are predicting no greater prospects, yet the possibility of the bloc winning 200 seats in the 542-seat strong Lok Sabha in 2024 elections also appears shattered, if the unfolding developments are any indication.
Similarly, even the young AP Chief Minister, who is aspiring to retain power with the same massive mandate, seems to have ‘scored a self-goal ahead of 2024 assembly and Lok Sabha polls, paving the way for a tilt in favour of the TDP-Jana Sena Party (JSP) alliance. What if the BJP with another 2-3 per cent vote share joined the Opposition alliance and further strengthened it with the ‘charisma’ of Modi? Shouldn’t this bother Jagan Reddy and his ‘think tank’?
Well, I might have written in this column that as Naidu suffers a deficit, the BJP may enter into a discreet understanding with the YSRCP, to gain some foothold in the state. Yes, I did mention quoting my sources of Jagan Reddy during his meeting with the Prime Minister and other BJP leaders, has indeed given an assurance of about a dozen assembly and half a dozen Lok Sabha seats, to keep Naidu and JSP’s Pawan Kalyan out of state politics. It is also true that the conspiracy was also hatched jointly to wipe the TDP out of state politics, as it has become insignificant today in another Telugu state of Telangana, where it has taken birth to fight then-mighty Congress’ Delhi diktats.
But the calculations of both YSRCP and BJP seem to have gone haywire with the arrest of the 78-year-old TDP chief. If one has to believe his son and former minister Nara Lokesh, who had come up with the documental evidence before a leading English News channel, to disprove the tall claims of the state Crime Branch, Crime Investigation Department sleuths of alleged funds misuse or arbitrary decision in releasing Rs 371 crore to the Seimens Software company from the state’s Skill Development Corporation in one go. The state investigating agency has failed to establish the money trail in the entire project execution process. Nor it could come up with concrete evidence of Naidu’s signatures on any file regarding the fund’s allocation.
Although, the TV anchor, who is also a celebrity in his own right, indeed asked the pointed question that where was the need for the Chief Minister directing his officials to make a single payment, though orally, Lokesh defended showing some documents wherein the concerned IAS officers heading the corporation, who visited Gujarat where the said company successfully conducting the same skill development programme, have in a written letter to the Finance Ministry, asked to release the funds.
What surprised me was the ignorance of the so-called seasoned journalist, countering Lokesh, that funds were released despite the objections raised by the then Finance Secretary over the release of the total amount. In any such cases, normally the Finance Ministry does say no and only it will clear the funds if the Chief Minister intervenes. Exactly, that indeed happened even in the case of payments to Seimens Software too.
But, that cannot be construed as a crime committed by the state head. If that yardstick is applied every state head may come under the scanner and be accused of ‘motives.’
Likewise, politicians always depend on their officers is a usual practice as they have to ultimately sign the documents and not the former. That’s why several of the former bureaucrats indeed expressed their fears over the Jagan Reddy government’s vindictive act against Naidu, though without naming, that if such irrational and unconstitutional practices are allowed to set in, then in the future, no democratically elected government can survive. And we did carry this as a front-page report in our Saturday edition regarding the genuine concern of the former bureaucrats.
Coming to the hate speech rendered by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin’s son and state Tourism Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin. It is snowballing into a volcano across the country and may show some impact on the polling pattern of faith Hindus, in the upcoming five-state and Lok Sabha elections early next year. By and large, the Hindu votes appear to have polarized to a greater extent ever since the BJP stormed into power along with its NDA allies in 2014. This was due to the appeasement politics pursued by the Congress at the Centre and states it ruled for close to five to six decades, since independence.
Interestingly, this appeasement politics for 16-19 per cent minority Muslim votes, too has become the primary agenda of several other regional parties like the Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh (now his son Akhilesh Yadav) or Bahujan Samajwadi Party of Kanshi Ram (now Mayawati) or Rastriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad Yadav (now his son Akhilesh Yadav), or Janata Dal (Secular) of former PM Deve Gowda (now his son HD Kumaraswamy) or Shiv Sena of Bal Thackeray (now his son Uddhav Thackeray), besides Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) of Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao, to name a few. All of them replicated the Congress model of attaining power through ‘divide and gain’ politics.
That resulted in the BJP, a branded rightist party accused of being the ‘custodian of majority Hindus’, has started benefitting by polarizing the majority Hindu votes, though not yet comprehensively, thanks to some pseudo-intellectuals as well as ‘Jaichand’ types among them. They could so far ensure the vote of divided Hindus, including all sections like Other Backward Classes (OBCs), BCs, Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes to multiply over the years, especially after the 2014 general elections. This is evident from the available statistics in the public domain, apart from pollsters establishing this factor time and again. And a survey indicating that their iconic figure Modi continues to be the most popular ‘Global Leader” with envious 76 percentages, comes as icing on the cake for the BJP and its allies.
Against that backdrop, the I.N.D.I.A. bloc partner’s relentless attacks on Sanatan Dharma and its bid to divide them by recalling the atrocities allegedly committed by the forward communities or with the narrative that OBCs are moderates may only prove disastrous for the bloc in the upcoming state and Lok Sabha polls.
On the contrary, the BJP and its allies riding high on providing a ‘corruption free’ government at the Centre and the party-ruled states, besides the successful conduct of an international event like G20 to win accolades from across the globe, the successful launch of Chandrayan 2 (notwithstanding the Opposition’s reluctance to give credit to Modi and his government) and the upcoming inauguration of the much-awaited Shri Ram temple at Ayodhya, should ensure to enhance not only majority Hindu votes, but also other disgruntled community members with moderate and national outlook, may help the NDA breach the 50 per cent vote share and create a history. Having said that, it appears the odds is not favouring either the I.N.D.IA. bloc in general elections or the YSRCP in AP, as their faux pas may cost them dearly. Of the two, Jagan Reddy appears to be the major loser with a possible electoral reversal in the 2024 assembly as well as Lok Sabha polls as the sympathy vote and his wrongdoings if favouring his own ‘faith’ people by promoting them to all key posts, not even sparing the most revered Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Chairman’s post, hurting the majority Hindus’ sentiments.