Gathering saffron storm and a confused Congress Congress needs a leader with a killer instinct to tackle the challenge

thrown up by Modi Aijaz Zaka Syed Is it really happening? Or is this merely a disturbing dream that would end when one wakes up? One would have thought that years of eager anticipation and hubbub promising the imminent arrival of the ‘messiah’ would have prepared one for the eventuality. We reassured ourselves that the BJP may be a party of hotheads but it cannot be so batty as to choose someone, who is seen as the architect of a pogrom that claimed thousands of lives, for leadership of the nation. After all, the Supreme Court famously compared him to the Roman emperor renowned for his fondness for the fiddle and other artistic distractions. There are still cases pending against him in courts and far too much evidence in public domain to ignore. One of his ministers is serving life sentence for her role in the 2002 carnage while another--home minister, no less--is charged with extortion, murder and staged killings by police following orders from the top. Yet the BJP has no qualms in picking up Narendra Modi for the highest job in the land. Having mulled over the proposition for months, the BJP boss Rajnath Singh reasoned, the party finally decided to go with the sentiment of “cadres and millions of Indians.” In saying so though, Singh fails to give the credit where it is due—to the few wise men in Nagpur.

middle class India that celebrates death-deservedly of course—for four rapists in the infamous Delhi case but shrugs off the killing of Ishrat Jahan and rapes and murders in the Vibrant Gujarat. Neither is outraged by the idea of Modi leading the nation of the Mahatma and Buddha. which is indebted to the man who grants them acres of land and attendant freebies with a wave of his hand. there are solitary voices like those of Amartya Sen and Amitav Ghosh. who are appalled by the idea of a tainted man leading the great democracy. non-resident Indians think anyway! As far as the Parivar and the middle classes are concerned. . the credit goes to the whip wielded by the RSS. Interestingly.If the party leadership and other pretenders to the throne including Sushma Swaraj and Advani. Of course. But who cares what a couple of liberal. few in what Amit Baruah calls the Television India appear troubled by the troubling past of their hero. In fact. it’s not despite his past but BECAUSE of it that this section of the gallery loves him. Ideal to discipline the nation with an iron fist and put an end to all the corruption. the shadowy ideological parent of the BJP. Ditto the aspirational. Modi’s Karachi-born mentor who along with Vajpayee founded the BJP. eventually fell in line. It’s understandable considering Television India is in the pocket of the Corporate India. he is the man for the job. VHP and other rabble rousers. spinelessness and secular nonsense of the Congress. in the excited debate in the run up to Modi’s anointment and ever since. His past matters little.

the development lore built around the Gujarat leader is simply adulation for the 2002 killings and teachings Muslims a lesson. No wonder he wears his anti-Muslim credentials on his sleeve. the cat seems to have got the Congress wallahs’ silvery tongue. Because you are the ones who are facing the onslaught. calibrated moves towards Delhi are only matched by the reluctance and escapism of Rahul Gandhi to take on the challenge. the party dared the BJP to declare its choice for the PM’s job darkly hinting at the siege within the opposition party and hoping minorities and other ‘backward’ communities would once again come scurrying into its welcoming arms. But now that the BJP has unveiled its not-so-secret weapon. the battery of Congress spokespersons between themselves couldn’t manage a single line in coherent response. For him the road to power is through prejudice. So Modi is here and it looks like he is here to stay. On the day the BJP went to town with Modi.To quote Baruah again. . Is this the party that fought the greatest empire on earth to win freedom for India? The gusto and grandstanding of the BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant. silly! The listlessness and demoralization in the Congress ranks is worse than seen in Europe on the eve of Hitler’s offensive. “Why should we react to it?. All this while. The question is-what the Congress is going to do about it? It remains as clueless and rudderless as ever.” Kapil Sibal asked the waiting reporters. offering ready sound bites to waiting media and his unabashed hunger for power and careful.

. Today. it looks ridiculous and downright dangerous. he can’t dream of a third term. The problems India faces on the economic front today aren’t unique and specific to it. the country is looking for a leadership that is visible. who is? The question wouldn’t have arisen. if the party hadn’t been so hung up on the dynasty. And Rahul’s unwillingness to fight and take on the challenge doesn’t help. No wonder Modi acts as if he’s already crowned. bashful bride may have looked appealing at one time. something that the meek and self-effacing Manmohan Singh has failed to offer. What the nation certainly needs in this critical hour is a leadership that inspires confidence. Under the circumstances. effective and engaged.The apparent aversion for power of Sonia Gandhi’s heir apparent and his acting coy like a young. the incumbent is in his ‘80s and after the disaster of the past few years. corruption and endless bad news on the economic front. In any case. And what is with this nonsense about him not being interested in and above the PM’s job for God’s sake? What does it mean? If he isn’t the party’s candidate for the top job. how does the Congress propose to take on the challenge of a belligerent BJP led by someone who could go to any length for power? The Parivar is projecting Modi and relentlessly pushing his carefully cultivated image of a tough administrator who can deliver at a time when people are sick and tired of runaway inflation. in the face of the daunting challenges the Congress-and the nation—confronts though. Above all. All emerging economies are battling the same issues.

So if Rahul isn’t up to the job. melting pot of a nation.syed@hotmail. he should step aside and make way for someone who is. like the BJP. someone who can explain why the voters should give the party another chance despite the series of scams and lackluster performance. the reasonable and sensible majority of Indians cannot look beyond the BJP leader’s . not only the party would need an able and assertive leader and all the resources and fire power at its disposal. Email: aijaz.  Aijaz Zaka Syed is a commentator on the Middle East and South Asian affairs. The upcoming election is set to redefine the Idea of India. For all his bluff and bluster and the moneybags and spin meisters at his disposal. They cannot ignore what he stands for and what his leadership would mean for this diverse. it would need the support of a grand political-civil society coalition to tackle the gathering storm.The Congress. A reluctant and confused general cannot lead in the field. needs a face and a leader with a killer instinct and hunger to win. India certainly needs change but not the kind that Modi promises. however capable and willing his troops. For in the battle ahead.

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