- Apr 21, 2021
- Dhaval S
The state elections of Bengal have reached a midway point, and the initial projections by a slew of opinion polls indicating a comfortable TMC victory with Mamata Banerjee as CM have given way to either a hung assembly or outright BJP victory. This has led to a meltdown of Mamata's election campaign. As a sitting CM, Mamata unprecedentedly asked for votes based on religion and tried to intimidate the security forces by asking for their 'gherao,' prompting EC to step in and ban Mamata from any campaign for 24 hours. To an observer, Mamata Banerjee's campaign strategy appears to be schizophrenic. Why would Mamata's key campaign manager publicly admit that TMC's own internal surveys indicated a loss for TMC? Is there a strategy that is delusional, disorganized, listless, or there is no strategy at all? Mamata's best plan during Singur was to garner sympathy using broken leg argument. That would have worked during the Communist era. But when BJP workers in Bengal themselves are beaten black and blue if not outrightly murdered, the plan looking for sympathy using the broken leg argument proved futile. Her original strategy was Muslim appeasement to garner the votes backed by women voters' bulwark while dividing the rest. Muslim appeasement led to some Hindu vote consolidation, but this consolidation got an impetus when Modi visited the Jeshoreshwari and Orkandi temples in Bangladesh. The rabid reaction from the Islamists consolidated the Hindu vote across the board. The so-called mainstream but essentially Lutyens media and assorted pseudo-left-liberals danced around the reasons for violent protests in Bangladesh by calling Modi a polarizing figure. However, the point is, if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can swear in an oath with two Bibles, cannot an Indian PM visit a Hindu temple? Even in his personal capacity? If not that, what are the Islamists protesting? That a Hindu cannot pray in her own Hindu temple! From the above point onwards, the so-called secular premise of TMC totally fell apart. The so-called secular cabal that supports any opposite pole to BJP has been assured in the silent consolidation of the minority votes and never thought that a counter-consolidation can also occur from the grassroots. So assured were they in their delusions that the so-called secular cabal termed this counter consolidation as 'Communal.' Let's take a look at the famous Clubhouse meeting. The meeting was attended by some of the leading news anchors and journalists. One leading independent journalist was more interested in the private breaks for bathrooms of Mamata Banerjee rather than to gain deeper insights from TMC's primary election strategist, Prashant Kishore. They did not realize that the Clubhouse meeting was public. In fact, it is alleged that one of the journalists had actually put the Clubhouse meeting on Twitter, inviting everyone. All of them immediately exited when tweets about their conversations were live-streamed and they realized that what they considered a private meeting was, in fact, a public meeting. One of the prime-time anchors was wishing for an anti-incumbency wave against PM Modi in State Assembly elections! Another was trying to control the damage for TMC later by insisting in her tweets that TMC is indeed winning and that TMC's own internal surveys showing that they are losing is being misinterpreted! The borderline comedy performance by the Lutyens media on a serious topic is already documented here. However, one wonders what happened to journalistic objectivity and integrity? Here is what is happening. The Lutyens elites have no access into the Modi government. Before the Modi government, they would just wine and dine all the way to a PM on his aircraft Air India One. News anchors will be invited by the Indian Navy admiral for an exclusive interview. They were able to get the juiciest information out and incept narratives into the administration (Radia tapes). They were the power brokers with power flowing through their wheeling and dealing. For this kind of wheeling and dealing, one does not need skills. Just a non-scrupulous non-empathy cruel mind that is self-centered to pursue selfish goals for power and money without a conscience is sufficient. Now to even understand what is going on in Bengal, these same elites are reduced to sit at the table where scraps of information from Prashant Kishore are thrown. This is what is happening, it appears that Prashant Kishore is the only one on the side of the so-called seculars who can explain to them why they are losing election after election. He is the person who at least tries to bring meaning to the madness with which the political parties in opposition to BJP are losing both the elections and the narrative. Mamata has no interest in developing Bengal. There is no vision to make Bengal the economic powerhouse and a fulcrum to the Indian economic lever that it was once. Mamata is in power for Power's sake. Her best idea is to provide free food, clothes, assorted freebies, and some government jobs for the teeming masses. The government will run buses, fisheries, granaries, trains, ships, horse carts etc and some scraps will go to the common people and they will be thankful to her and vote her back again. This is also the Kejriwal AAP model. This strategy would have worked a decade earlier. Now the teeming Indian masses do not want that. People want safety, security and opportunities. Indians are already dreaming big. Why not have hundreds of smart cities? Why not have the tallest bridges? Why not have great roads and thus opportunities for the current and the next generation to find gainful employment and better their socio-economic status? But Mamata and her ilk are stuck in the medieval era. Feudalism is what they know best. In Bengal, for instance, they kicked out the old feudalists (Communists in Bengal) and have in turn become the new feudalists arbitrating each and everything and creating a mai-baap sarkar. Indians do not want the feudalist mai-baap scraps. Indians have tasted success. This is the barely adult generation who take on the formidable Aussies to their own ‘Gabbatoir’ on their own turf. This is the generation that goes to Pakistan, shoots down their F-16, demands chai, and waltz back as if that is a child's play. This is the generation that has seen through the chicanery of nepo kids of bollywood and failed their movies. See the failure of the movie Saadak and the success of Uri. And this generation currently sees no leader baring Modi who can tie their aspirations together. This generation wants PariBorton. A curious interview of Karan Thapar and Sanjay Baru promoting his new book came about in the meantime. In the interview, it appeared that Sanjay Baru was lamenting the decline of elites who talk and think English and are associated with St. Stephen or Doon college. There seemed to be a visible disappointment in Baru when he pointed out that there are no alumni from St. Stephen or Doon college in the current cabinet, and neither alumni from any college of the metro! To an astute observer, it appeared that the Lutyens elite are regretting the class barriers being broken and the rise of people who think in vernacular. The network does not shield them from the competition. Yes, the elite networks help. But now they have to contend with hungry and eager Arnabs and Roushans who think in vernacular and are in no way linked to the elites. What goes for journalism goes for all other fields including politics. And this prospect naturally scares the current elite wedded to Nehruvian secularism. Here is why Prashant Kishores are needed. For example, when AAP won with a massive landslide for the first time in Delhi elections, ordinary folks pointed out that Congress engineered a vote shift to keep BJP out of power. It was a tactically brilliant but strategically stupid decision on behalf of Congress. Point is, with data the results were explained. Prashant Kishore does the same for various parties (Samajwadi, TMC etc). That is, he brings comprehension to their current or prospective defeat at the hustings and hopefully plan a proper response. This leads to curious dichotomies like Rahul Gandhi donning a janaeu, declaring himself a Brahmin, and abandoning Amethi to stand up for office from Kerala's minority-dominated seat! Hence the schizophrenic reactions from parties and their supporters in Lutyens elite in opposition to Modi. There is no other sinister game other than the fact that they are running around like headless chickens and in the process may end up causing some real damage to the polity of the nation. We are seeing a transformation of the voting public aspirations and goals. References: India News Jan Ki Baat, https://www.inkhabar.com/national/india-news-jan-ki-baat-opinion-poll-bengal-tmc-bjp-mahajot-vote-percent-in-west-bengal-assembly-election-result-2021-708145 India TV Peoples Pulse, https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/west-bengal-opinion-poll-bjp-tmc-seats-prediction-people-pulse-c-voter-cnx-survey-latest-news-693268 Swarajyamag, Bengal: Today's Events Show Why EC Would Be Justified In Banning Mamata Banerjee From Campaigning Any More LiveMint, https://www.livemint.com/elections/assembly-elections/ec-bans-mamata-banerjee-from-campaigning-in-any-manner-for-24-hrs-11618236588024.html https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-56586210 https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/train-temples-attacked-in-bangladesh-clashes-over-pm-modis-visit-2401163 https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/why-did-bangladesh-witness-anti-modi-protests-45426 https://swarajyamag.com/politics/bright-wing-prashant-kishor-speaks-on-west-bengal-elections-on-clubhouse https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/ndtv-exclusive-interview-with-naval-chief-admiral-rk-dhowan-full-transcript-1273797 Biswarup Ganguly, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0, Bamboo Bridge across Stream Ichamati - Purba Para - Baduria - North 24 Parganas 2015-04-11 7260.JPG Image provided by the author.
Former US president Obama once said that the India-US relationship could be a "defining partnership of the 21st century". President Biden reiterated this viewpoint recently. I immensely believe in these statements. India and USA are two democracies which should be natural partners. Together they can counter an assertive China. Their militaries can collar PLA by the scruff of its neck. The democratic world can counter authoritarian China, only if USA and India are on the same page. The Indo- USA ‘Strategic Partnership’, overcame historic hesitancies. It is an arranged marriage coming of age. Steering the right course was already putting caution in Chinese sails. However, all of a sudden there is an ocean gust. Lines seem to be crossing. Recent actions by USA are putting this equation on the horns of unwanted dilemmas. It appears the relationship is becoming a ‘Strategic Marriage’ of an ‘Arranged Partnership’. For reasons best known to it, USA has ruffled Indian feathers. Its recent FONOPS in India’s EEZ near the Lakshadweep Islands was publicly toned in the same way as operations in South China Sea are broadcast. Uncharacteristic between partners. There is renewed talk about imposing CAATSA related sanctions on India for its S-400 system deal with Russia. An over-publicised US Intel report says that Indo-Pak and Sino-Indian conflicts are in the offing in the next five years. Well, it’s not exactly in the same class as Newtons discovery of the falling apple. Are these scare tactics? Politicians, officials and interested groups from the USA keep mewing about human rights in India- J&K, riots, farm laws et al. Such inexplicable interference and stances are unbecoming of a strategic partner. US sanctions on India stopped working from MTCR days. Now, there is a ban on export of raw material from USA for making vaccines. It threatens to hit vaccine production in India. It prompted Adar Poonawala of SII to tweet a direct request to President Biden. All these actions posit a basic question. If USA has so many issues with India - is the partnership strategic? Hey! We are supposed to be on the same side. Our common adversary is China. Forgotten that? India has gone out of its way to shed inhibitions and offload baggage, to get into a partnership with USA. This has been developed and nurtured over two decades. Very significantly, based on this foundational partnership, the QUAD has been formalised. Current US actions, go against the very grain of the ‘Spirit of QUAD’ pronounced by its leaders. The QUAD summit emphasised on ‘Vaccines’ to position itself as the saviour of the free world. Implicit in this was that Indian and US capabilities would power QUAD to a post pandemic world bereft of the Chinese virus. The US ban shoots the QUAD in the head. People will wonder, can QUAD be relied on? Chinese will rub their hands in glee and nod heads, as if to say – ‘We told you so. The Quad is ineffective’. ‘Packistanis’ will say that USA is an unreliable partner. US behaviour is strange and inexplicable. There is a strong case for USA’s lawmakers to re-evaluate its actions. I will be blunt. The Indo-US partnership must be on equal footing. Gone are the days when USA could dictate issues to India. Reality should be kept in view. Let me first tackle the Indian issues and then I'll get to the USA. India is a rising power. It is not dependent on USA for everything. No brainer. Remember. India dismembered Pakistan and created Bangladesh in 1971, despite USA wholeheartedly putting its weight behind Pakistan. To forge a strategic partnership with USA, India has put its historic friendship with Russia on the block. However, let bygones be bygones. It is hereby acknowledged that USA has assisted India in dealing with Chinese challenges recently. Notwithstanding this, please realise, India can handle China on its own. That is our history. India might suffer a bit more, if it goes alone. However, India will not be cowed down. It will not go down. Come what may, India will solve its Chinese problems. It will also not brook outside interference. Ask the ‘Packistanis’. They know it very well. They have been spanked often. The Chinese are learning about it. USA knows the Indian Military is battle hardened and tough as nails. After 1962, it is the only military to stop China in its tracks repeatedly. We also know that India is full of chaos. Abound with contradictions. Always underperforming. But. Always defying odds. Always rising. Prepared to take losses but be able to counter punch. Not prepared to compromise on core issues. Not dependant on anyone beyond a point. India, China and USA are the only three nations which have the capability of being isolated and self-sufficient. Examine their histories and it pops out. India’s non alignment stems from these characteristics. India seeks a strategic partnership with USA, based on democratic principles of equality and mutual respect. Two great democracies need to work with each other not nit-pick. USA should look within its own house. The country is divided and going through internal discord. The number of mass shootings in the recent past give a fair indication of the social instability within USA. India stands by USA in enabling it to tide over such issues. However, USA should stop preaching. Let us look at US strategy. Despite having the strongest and most experienced military in the world it has faced setbacks repeatedly. Examine Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. All these bear one trait- declaring victory despite failure. History will not be kind to USA in its judgement. It is not the military which will be judged weak but its leadership. Remember the non-existent WMD threat used to rachet up a disastrous Gulf War Two? For seven decades, ‘Packistan’ has been its frontline ally cum enemy. It is an open secret. Yet USA slept with its enemy for 70 years. Any strategic idiot would have told you - Sort out ‘Packistan’ and Afghanistan is automatically sorted out. USA has lost so many lives in Afghanistan over two decades (unnecessarily) – without once addressing ‘Packistani’ perfidy for endangering its home land security. The same ‘Packistan’ has dumped USA to jump into the Chinese bed. USA did not tackle ‘Packistan’ when it had the military, economic and diplomatic strength. Today and hereafter it cannot handle ‘Packistan’ without India. If the Indo-US strategic partnership goes on the rocks, it frees ‘Packistan’. ‘Packistan’ will then not hesitate to mount an attack on USA. That attack will come at China’s behest through ‘Packistani’ home grown Jihadis masquerading as Afghan Taliban/Al- Qaeda/IS . That is a clear and present danger which USA should recognise. It is more plausible then the fake WMD theory. Take my word for it. Someone said that ‘Packistan’ is the most dangerous place on earth… Mad Dog Mattis?... Hmm…sensible General! It is also a matter of reflection that, USA chose to look away, when China was building and militarising artificial islands in South China Sea to advance its Nine Dash Line claims. If China had been stopped then, we would not have the problem we have on our hands today. With the Paracels are firmly in its hands, China has now set sights on usurping the Spratlys. All USA seems to be doing is to send its Carrier Task Forces to take close up photographs of Chinese activity. Very clearly, there are severe limits to American power projection and execution. From another dimension, there is no doubt that China has grown into a monster today due to the combined generosity and greed of a blindsided USA. Why is USA’s hand being bitten by those which it fed? Think. India is not in that class. That is because India does not have to be fed. USA must understand that difference. China’s rise was aided by USA. India’s rise has been despite USA, China, Russia and its own Governments. This rise is of the people – more solid and sustainable despite the challenges. If USA has to regain its pre-eminence, it has to do three things. Stretch China to its break point, emasculate ‘Packistan’ and side line Russia. USA and its NATO cum Asian alliances and partnerships cannot help USA achieve this goal. It is beyond them. USA and its allies need India for that. Without India - welcome to unhindered rejuvenation of the Chinese dream and a ‘Packistan’ which is carrying out reconnaissance of the next ‘Twin Towers’. Also, this entire exercise will not be possible without France (a non-NATO power), which often treads its own furrow. For this broader coalition/ arrangement/partnership beyond QUAD (call it what you may), India is pivotal. China knows that and was wooing India till it burnt its bridges inexplicably. From another angle, India’s rise might get delayed but is unstoppable. Many of my self-depreciating Indians might not believe in it. I repeat. India’s restitution to great power status is unstoppable virus or no virus, Hindutva or not, aligned or not. Might not be in my lifetime. May be in the next or after that. That is predestined and preordained. You cannot stop 1.4 billion people from rising. Why am I bringing all these issues up? China has grown too strong for any one nation to handle it. With its maverick catspaws in ‘Packistan’ and North Korea, China has acquired unmitigated lethality. If there has to be a strategic balance and equilibrium in global affairs, there is no choice but cooperation between USA and India. This defining partnership of the 21st Century has to fire on all cylinders if democracies and their shared values must prevail. If the Indo-US base is strong, it will strengthen the QUAD. In turn the QUAD plus will evolve. India and USA alone can put China on the horns of a dilemma. They are a military overmatch to China by a mile. Further if ever, the world needs an alternative to China, it is India. So, let us get back to the start point. Recent events indicate that a part of USA has its old-time problems with India. This is the same section which loves ‘Packistan’ and wants to continue with business as usual with China. It also consists of many Americans of Indian origin who act more Indian than India and more American than America. This dangerous pontificating variety has to be caged. Overall, USA has to look within to resolve its internal issues. Even in India, there is a substantial population which still does not trust USA. India has to get over its own inhibitions. In my personal opinion, both countries must go that one extra step to untangle lines and make this relationship a success. Unless these two democracies work in tandem and bring their mutual strengths on table together, we will look at a ‘Chinese Rules Based Global Order’. That is the bottom line. However, from my perspective – we must have fall back options and India must be prepared to go alone also. That's been our history. Let us endeavour to be truly atmanirbhar. If it comes to a situation where we have to handle Pakistan and China on our own, we must be prepared to do that. As Rabindranath Tagore said “Ekla Chalo Re”. I hope it does not come to that. Other articles by the author can be accessed @- https://www.gunnersshot.com/ Image provided by the author.