Rahul could go, Modi may have a Vajpayee moment: Political predictions for 2015


January 1, 2015

Circa 2014 was Narendra Modi's non-stop party. He invited us all with promises, shibboleths, slogans, dreams, hopes; anything he could conjure.

January 1, 2015

Circa 2014 was Narendra Modi's non-stop party. He invited us all with promises, shibboleths, slogans, dreams, hopes; anything he could conjure.

For a long time, Rahul Gandhi hung around, even after being told that the music, the slogan, the chorus was all Modi's and there was no chance he could dance on the poll floor. Sometime in the middle he slipped away, quietly, unobtrusively.

Arvind Kejriwal gate crashed the show. He drew everybody's attention with his innovative themes and theatrics, picked up a fight with the host, got a bloody nose but, like a stubborn visitor, refused to leave.

This is 2015. The party got over past night. Now, everybody will have to start afresh; some (Modi) with a hangover, others (Kejriwal) with takeaways and an unfortunate few (Rahul) with the leftovers.

Will 2015 be the same as past year? Here are my predictions for the next year, with the caveat that these aren't based on feedback from Smriti Irani's astrologer.

Rahul will face his Chacha Kesari moment: Call it the theory of karma, law of retribution or just an old Congress habit. But all this comes together often in the Congress to lead to regicide, or, if you remember Sitaram Kesri, cheer haran.

In March 1998, after the party's debacle in Lok Sabha polls, when impatient leaders and cadre realized that Congress president Kesri wasn't competent enough to lead them back to power, he was literally stripped of his post in full view of the Congress darbar, in a mock replay of Draupadi's humiliation in front of Dhritrashtra.

Rahul doesn't wear a dhoti, but he should beware: His Kesari moment is near. In 2012, Congress believed Rahul will succeed. In 2013, its darbaris believed Modi will fail. For a long time they lived on hope. Now they know they can't hope to live. So, soon they will request Rahul to either make way for someone else, preferably Priyanka, or, if he doesn't listen, throw him out.

When will this happen? The earliest trigger will be the Delhi elections, where the Congress will be annihilated. Just before that, there could be a big round of defections, with lots of leaders leaving the party and joining either Modi or Kejriwal.

This, or further erosion in Sonia Gandhi's authority because of poor health, will start the countdown for Rahul's exit.

Kejriwal will face his Humayun moment: The Delhi darbar was Kejriwal's, but like the inexperienced Mughal ruler, he lost it. He barely escaped after the defeat on the banks of Ganga. (Humayun too had managed to save his life by floating on a raft after being defeated at Chausa, near Varanasi, by Sher Shah Suri).

Now, he wants his sultanate back. But a lot has changed since March, when he had to resign. The anger against the system, which turned Kejriwal into an instant messiah, has disappeared. It has now been replaced by hope in the system, represented by Modi.

A long fight awaits Kejriwal. Anecdotal evidence and surveys suggest he will not win Delhi back this year. This is when his real test will begin.

Kejriwal is impatient; sometimes he acts in haste, regrets in leisure. His party is low on resources; its disheartened cadres badly need a booster dose of victory. All this doesn't portend well for his future.

But, if he manages to survive in political wilderness, Kejriwal, like Humayun, has a bright future. Why? Because he will be the only eligible claimant to the space abdicated by the Congress. And when the tide turns against Modi's – in politics it always does, either today or tomorrow-Kejriwal will by default become his numero uno adversary in Delhi.

Modi will face his Vajpayee moment: India was supposed to be shining under the BJP. It ended up whining. And we are not talking about Pramod Mahajan and Atal Behari Vajpayee's favourite punchline from 2003.

Industrial production is falling, jobs are disappearing; achche din is still a slogan, swacch Bharat is still a joke. The industry is getting restless, supporters in the media are turning hostile; Hindutva agenda is turning into a nightmare and development is becoming a pipe-dream.

Modi will soon hear the advice he is familiar with: follow your Raj Dharma. He will be expected to speak up on issues where he is generally silent; to act on issues he generally talks about, and to explain in detail what he leaves behind as abstract ideas couched in alliterations and one-liners.

India will face its Babri moment: So you think the current epidemic of intolerance- where the heat of communalism, conversion, ghar wapsi, poster-burning, Godse myth-making is threatening to make everybody febrile- is new to India?

Remember the Babri campaign? LK Advani's 'Mandir Wahi Banayenge,' Uma Bharati's vitriol, Rithambhara's poison and the passion of kar sevaks. Once it threatened to consume India, but in a few years India's sanatan (eternal) dharma of peace and tolerance consumed it, turning Advani into a symbol of the triumph of India's core values over momentary madness.

We have been there, done that before. It is one of the usual spots in the circle of India's life; a recurrent blip, a nagging blot. But in the end, sanity, liberal values and peace prevail.

So it has been, so it will be.

Courtesy: PTI