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    South Asia
     Dec 20, '13

Congress hatchet job on Modi fails
By Bipin Shah

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.

Indian voters are asking when are they going to realize freedom from the corruption and the poverty that has affected since independence was granted in 1947 from the British.

The Congress Party, which marched into narrow victory at the last general election, is mired in corruption scandals. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a head of state appears powerless to act without party chief Sonia Gandhi’s consent, and her immature and

inexperienced son Rahul seems not even ready to win the trust of the Indian voters.

Corrupt media tycoons have forgotten their enshrined responsibilities and have become mouthpieces for politicians. Journalists who write for their well-connected bosses are being paid off one way or another, disseminating misinformation to the public on behest of the politicians.

The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) have repeatedly used national investigative agencies to taint opposition Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Narendra Modi - and found nothing.

After their failure to implicate Modi through the judicial system, they have now switched their tactics to summoning media tycoons to pick up the gauntlet and drown Modi with baseless accusations. The tough-minded Modi has stood firm and will continue doing things for which he is known for in Gujarat.

Indian voters have had enough and cannot take it anymore. The ill-conceived hatchet job has probably backfired with Indian voters. The United Progressive Alliance -Congress alliance has created a "Hindu Hero" for the Bharatiya Janata Party that never existed. Elsewhere, Muslim groups funded by oversees monies and Congress connive to join the "Stop Modi" movement with unsubstantiated charges.

The 2002 Godhra riot in Gujarat was not a solitary phenomenon in the subcontinent's history. The ruling party driven media always conveniently omits the root cause of the riot, which was started by Godhra Muslims. Overseas-funded Islamists torched a train full of Hindu pilgrims, with possible involvement of the some Muslim Congressman.

External threats
It is a known fact that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan's spy agencies are using the Hawala system of money transfer that has aided and abetted anti-national elements of India, perhaps with Chinese blessings. This would not have been noticed by the general public, if 9/11 and Mumbai massacre had not occurred and Americans had not caught up with the Inter-Services Intelligence for protecting the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

In spite of these external threats across the border, the Congress Party has chosen to focus his police and investigative power on politician who has the same mission in mind - eliminating the external threat posed by terrorists across the border. The Indian voters find this behavior of the ruling Congress very disturbing and it appears more and more as indirectly providing aid and comfort to enemies. Their own failure to bring justice to those responsible for the Mumbai massacre is a colossal failure of their leadership.

The "Godhra Campaign" against Modi has become a political tool for Congress and its allies as a vehicle to maintain their own power base and deny the BJP a reasonable chance. The communal label that has been affixed to him since the Godhra riot has no expiration date as long as Congress has anything to do with it. He represents a sharp contrast to India as a whole and other state run by his competitor Nitish Kumar. Modi has a proven track record of double digit growth, increasing prosperity for Gujaratis and lowering unemployment among Muslim and the Hindu youth.

The ruling UPA coalition has initiated a series of inquiries using national agencies to uncover just about anything that could to dislodge Modi. The incidental benefit is to exploit the Muslim as a vote bank, but it has only raised Modi's status.

Communal violence that has tainted the subcontinent's history was planned by Congress' loyalists and stalwarts in several instances. There is enough blame to go around in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

Rajiv Gandhi, who was the former prime minister and the husband of Sonia Gandhi, did not do anything when mob took the revenge on defenseless Sikhs for assassination of his mother, Indira Gandhi. This 1994 massacre of Sikhs took the lives of over 8,000 innocent Sikhs who had nothing to do with the lone Sikh assassin body guard that she had picked herself as a proof of her love for Sikh community.

The media aligned with Congress offered all kind of excuses for this ugly event. Only after a Supreme Court's directive and efforts launched by the human-rights commission have some congress members been brought to justice.

Those who are serving prison sentences include some faces familiar to the Gandhi family. The double standard of justice when it comes to the Congress Party is nothing new and the Indian media never bothers to expose those culpable with the same intensity that they have chosen to apply in Modi's case.

It appears now that Indian voters see Modi bashing as overdone, baseless and pointless. The majority of Indian voters will conclude that the dysfunctional mouthpieces of Congress and its alliance partners are reaching a zenith that portends their own decline.

It appears that there is spring in the air. The defeat of Congress in the November's provincial polls serves as a good indicator of change for India's stalled economic future. The unapologetic star of Gujarat still may rise to remove the darkness of injustice. However, Indians cannot lower their guards down until the old guard who thrived in corruption are permanently excised from the national life and brought to justice.

However, an additional explanation is needed for the ascendancy of Modi. Through his own efforts and deeds, he had emerged as a progressive, non-corrupt leader over the old guards and became a rising star of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). Every single obstruction placed before him by the opposition has miraculously strengthened his position as if it is God's will and that made Time magazine to consider him as a "Person of the year". Seasoned Muslim politicians have sensed the change of wind and accordingly jumped onto Modi's band wagon.

The smaller regional parties who wish to survive the Modi wave should take a cue from these people. If the recent reports of parties' realignment are true then there is a large scale defection in work to BJP's direction, thereby assuring an eventual ascendancy of Modi to the premiership that will put India to the correct course of economic and social reforms.

If Modi becomes prime minister, the battle waged by Islamists in America to prevent him visiting there will hardly matter - as visa application will no longer be a requirement for a head of state and a White House dinner invitation is automatic.

Ultimately all nations follow their own national interest. There is a lesson to be learned; if hardcore militants are either captured or killed in Gujarat or in Afghanistan by Barack Obama's drones or Gujarat Police - it has the same beneficial effects of saving innocent lives in the US, India, Israel and other countries facing the common threat. Some collateral damage and mistakes are anticipated. India, just like Israel, lives in a difficult neighborhood.

Another aspect of Modi's rise is there are no other creditable leaders who could get India moving again and make the decisions that are necessary to emerge as a major regional power. In order to gain its rightful status in the world, economic strength is an absolute necessity and Congress has failed miserably in this in their second term.

Some Congress apologists have described Modi as anti-incumbency, a term borrowed from the American political vocabulary. This is far from the truth. The massive shift in age and education level of voters is one important factor and performance of Modi as a head of Gujarat state is another.

The Congress Party will fail not because of Modi's performance at state level but due to its own hesitancy and lack of clarity and coalition members whose common goal was to hold power for personal gain without taking the responsibility of good governance or implementing economic or security policy that fulfills their own promises to voters.

On several key issues, the bills in parliament have been stalled by lack of support from allies and the implementations of key projects have been halted. The rupee has declined and inflation has persisted. Foreign direct investment has dried up and economic growth is nearly halved at national level.

Until the all the stages of the 2014 election are completed, there is no way to know for sure if Modi will have commanding majority to alter the direction of the country. One part of the problem is a defective constitution that allows unlimited number political parties to be formed and contest at national level.

These parties are often bought out by majority party by monies and other incentives sometimes at treasury's expense. Parliament is a rule-making institution and responsible for formulating policies that will advance the country's economic, military and social policies while reducing poverty.

What India is practicing is dysfunctional democracy rather than organized democracy. This has slowed down everything when the nation has to be very competitive internationally. The rethinking of the constitution is not a bad idea and a good start. After 60 years of independence, it deserves another look at how it fits modern India and India's place in the world.

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online's regular contributors.

Bipin Shah is a US- based freelance historian and writer. His primary areas of interest are the ancient history of India, geopolitics and national security. He can be reached at beeper1520@hotmail.com

(Copyright 2013 Bipin Shah)

A 'Modi'-fication' of Indian politics (Nov 27, '13)



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