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Nitish swords Modi

In a masterly interview to Arnab Goswami, the combative Amit Shah, while repeatedly saying he would wait for 8 November to tell if the Bihar election was a referendum on the prime minister, let the mask slip, when, in a rare moment, he claimed his party would win two-thirds of the seats.   

In the end, the voters of Bihar, of whose intelligence, unfortunately, many speculate and joke, gave not a simple majority, not a two-third majority but a three-fourth majority.  Except that it was not for the BJP.  It’s the kind of drubbing that would make any party introspect.

First up, the Prime Minister should stop addressing state elections. He first addressed the Delhi elections and after being drubbed called it a state election. I don’t think the nation voted him to turn up at each state and mouth personal invectives at opponents. By turning up there for long stretches of time he strategically made a mess of positioning him as the alternative to Kejriwal and later to Nitish. Let’s look at the other lessons.

Lesson 1:  This election has seen a deplorable fall in the quality of public discourse.  Leading from the front has been the prime minister, who in the company of a crowd and a mike, lets loose a volley of words that makes you squirm. You squirm because he is our prime minister and not an ordinary politician and you expect people, holding such exalted positions, to be statesmanlike.  No one expects a politician to be a saint, but everyone expects a politician to be a role model.  This election more than anything underscores this. You don’t go to a state and abuse the man who has been elected the CM for ten long years.   Like I said a little while back the Prime Minister is expected to govern the nation by performing and not by talking at election rallies.

Lesson 2: Sadly the BJP has a tendency to run down anyone and any institution, which disagree with them. Terming every dissenter anti-national, dismissing every disagreement as manufactured, claiming credit for schemes they once called unpatriotic, the party, which has the intellect and ability to envision, is unable to take people along.  ‘My way or the highway’ is the mantra. This election outcome is a rude wake-up call.  It’s time Modi wakes up on this, reaches out to the opposition and gets the string of reforms on track. That’s an underlying message of this result.

Lesson 3: If you want to change the electoral landscape, please announce your chief ministerial candidate, avoid parties and candidates with dubious credentials and engage with decorum. If you ask, “Has the Congress been different,” then like Shourie said, you are a ‘Congress, plus a cow.’   When people voice concern as in AwardWapsi, sit up and take notice instead of calling them ‘anti-national’, telling them ‘Go to Pakistan,’ and dismissing everything as ‘Manufactured dissent.’  And to dismiss the failure in Bihar as a failure in arithmetic and not in chemistry would amount to having the head firmly into the sand.

The honeymoon is over, the bhakts on social media and elsewhere notwithstanding.  The Prime Minister has both the ability and the willingness to deliver. True to his style of working that he patented and perfected in Gujarat,  he has turned this government into a one man army. From there to despotism is just three steps away.  The party needs to introspect and unlike the Congress should not pepper things over.                                        Modi has time on his side and he needs to decide whether he wants to be remembered as a man who changed India’s narrative positively, or as one who was busy tweeting and travelling. We have been once let down by Rajiv Gandhi, a second time by Manmohan Singh and to be let down a third time as well can be plain disappointing.

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