THE WARS AHEAD

India Today - - SIGNATURE - KAVEREE BAMZAI

When the elec­toral bat­tle ends, other wars will be­gin. No mat­ter which side wins, cer­tain fun­da­men­tals of pol­i­tics are up for dis­cus­sion as never be­fore.

The war on cul­ture Di­nanath Ba­tra and his army of ide­o­log­i­cal war­riors have al­ready been em­bold­ened to take aim at ev­ery­thing that ques­tions his­tory as they know it. And they know it in a limited way. They have taken down Wendy Doniger’s The Hin­dus be­cause her imag­i­na­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Hin­duism doesn’t co­in­cide with their un­der­stand­ing of it as a re­li­gion rather than as a way of life. They are draft­ing a pe­ti­tion to at­tack Aleph on the pub­li­ca­tion of Doniger’s other book, On Hin­duism. Ba­tra, whose pe­ti­tion led to Pen­guin pulp­ing the work rather than risk­ing dam­age, is an old friend of Murli Manohar Joshi who, in his six-year reign as hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment min­is­ter, did his best to cor­rect what he thought was the Left-lean­ing slant in the teach­ing and prac­tice of his­tory in In­dia. Of course, the lib­er­als do them­selves no favours by link­ing wrong­do­ing to the “in­her­ent fas­cism of the right wing”.

The war on oli­garchy Till the Aam Aadmi Party ( AAP) was a move­ment, politi­cians were easy tar­gets. Now that they are politi­cians them­selves, al­beit with a pen­chant for sleep­ing on streets and go­ing on vig­i­lante raids, it’s time to aim at the oli­garchs. No­body likes a rich man, es­pe­cially one who lives in a very tall flat which tow­ers over Mum­bai’s sky­line. Link­ing his riches to un­due favours from the govern­ment is a smart move. It also man­ages to unite BJP and Congress in the eyes of the vot­ers. By ques­tion­ing the si­lence of BJP and Congress on cor­po­rate links, Arvind Ke­jri­wal is able to sug­gest that his is a dif­fer­ent kind of pol­i­tics. He is the David to cor­po­rate Go­liaths, and any­one who be­lieves that Go­liath will win may please read Mal­colm Glad­well on why gi­ants are en­gi­neered to fail. Ke­jri­wal’s tro­phy-scalp­ing in­stinct is very much on dis­play even in AAP’s first list of Lok Sabha can­di­dates. Choose the drag­ons, and if you can’t slay them, at least wound them

THE BIG­GEST AR­GU­MENT AGAINST THE UPA GOVERN­MENT HAS BEEN THE LACK OF LEAD­ER­SHIP IN UPA 2. THE RISE OF BOTH NAREN­DRA MODI AND ARVIND KE­JRI­WAL HAS SHOWN THAT IN­DI­ANS, ALARM­INGLY PER­HAPS, WANT A STRONG LEADER. THEY HAVE NO PA­TIENCE NOW FOR SHILLYSHAL­LY­ING AND DILLY-DAL­LY­ING.

enough to make them lose bal­ance.

The war on big govern­ment There is a cer­tain sense of gal­lows glee among UPA min­is­ters about their legacy. They be­lieve that whichever govern­ment comes to power will find it im­pos­si­ble to dis­man­tle the sub­sidy regime they have left be­hind. But as Arun Jait­ley said at a book re­lease the other day, should a BJP- led govern­ment come to power, it would en­sure there is as­set cre­ation in NREGA, for in­stance. Naren­dra Modi has al­ready spo­ken of tai­lor­ing big govern­ment schemes to spe­cific com­mu­ni­ties. Newer meth­ods will evolve.

The war on pri­vacy As In­di­ans leave a larger dig­i­tal foot­print, it will be eas­ier to as­sess who said what, to whom, and when. It will en­able the pub­lic to hold politi­cians ac­count­able. Politi­cians like Ke­jri­wal and Sushma Swaraj of­ten take on crit­ics on Twit­ter, Jait­ley ad­dresses a vir­tual press con­fer­ence a day on his blog, and read­ing mean­ing into L.K. Ad­vani’s blog has be­come a part­time spec­ta­tor sport in Delhi. It will make pri­vate lives more open to scru­tiny as we re­cently saw in the tragic death of Su­nanda Pushkar. It will also emerge as a fo­rum for in­stant feed­back. Modi didn’t need to call a press con­fer­ence to re­spond to P. Chi­dambaram’s jibe in the Vote on Ac­count speech. He just went on Twit­ter in­stead to is­sue a crack on hard­work­ing and hardly work­ing.

The war on weak lead­er­ship Rahul Gandhi be­lieves In­dia is not wait­ing for a man on a white horse to deliver it from its morass. But as his own ex­am­ple has shown, he has been at his best— and in­spired his party most—when he has acted de­ci­sively, as on the or­di­nance. The big­gest ar­gu­ment against the UPA Govern­ment has been the lack of lead­er­ship in UPA 2 and the kind­est thing be­ing said about Man­mo­han Singh now is that he ought to have re­signed at the end of his first term. The rise of both Modi and Ke­jri­wal has shown that In­di­ans, alarm­ingly per­haps, want a strong leader. They have no pa­tience now for shilly-shal­ly­ing and dilly-dal­ly­ing. That’s bad news for those who pre­fer pup­pet masters to be­ing masters of the uni­verse.

Il­lus­tra­tion by SAU­RABH SINGH

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