A Kannada proverb goes thus:
It takes a year for the potter but a fraction of a second for the stick.
For the last 60 odd years, the Congress party both at the Centre and in various states has done just that: clobbered the nation to pieces one successive term after the other until it has dragged India down to the abyss it currently finds itself in. Each time somebody has tried to pull it out of the abyss even by an inch, the Congress party has ensured that that person himself/herself is pushed and buried forever, deep in that abyss. The burial, roughly is the story of NDA circa 1999-2004. NDA lost not because, as the media myth-makers would want you to believe, of the “India Shining” slogan but simply because of a commonsense reason: you cannot repair damage inflicted for 52 years in a span of six years. In a prophetic piece authored when he was a Minister in the NDA government, Arun Shourie narrates how and why.
In that piece, Arun Shourie takes pride about and places faith in the 26-27 year olds who changed the way the “world perceives India.” Those 26-27 year olds are now a decade older, and in that decade they’ve seen both their opportunities and wealth dwindling thanks to two successive Congress governments, which promised the moon to the aam aadmi but ended up impoverishing not just the aam aadmi but the entire nation on an unprecedented scale. As unfortunate as it is, it was bound to happen because the Congress party’s socialist sloganeering still had a large number of takers and the idea of free enterprise wasn’t still widespread enough.
However, when the NDA lost in 2004, the script of the success of free enterprise had just been written in Gujarat by Narendra Modi. Today, the success story has all the makings of a legend and has been narrated far too many times to repeat it here. Until roughly 2010-2011, the Gujarat success story was blanked out by the Congress-friendly media but when it became too big to be ignored, it went into damage control mode and began using statistics to lie.
Gujarat under Narendra Modi’s uninterrupted, decade-long governance did what I alluded to in the beginning: it repaired the ill-effects of about five decades of Congress misrule in one decade. It set such high standards for governance, transparency, performance, delivery, growth, and stability that it has become a model against which performance of other states are measured. The fact that a BJP ally, Nitish Kumar’s Bihar, is measured against Gujarat by media and analysts hostile to Modi is a testament to the extent he holds sway over even his detractors—and has earned him legions of die-hard followers and supporters across the nation and among the diaspora.
And has made him an extremely formidable threat to the Congress party, which is clueless about shaping a coherent response let alone a counter attack. Which is also why no less than three serving Union Ministers have shamelessly abandoned their duties and descended upon Gujarat to undertake party work for elections that are at least five months away.
Taking on Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the first time ahead of Gujarat Assembly elections, the Centre’s Group of Union Ministers (GoM) on Media on Wednesday countered the developmental claims being propagated by the BJP strongman.
In the press conference held in Ahmedabad yesterday, the pompously-titled GoM (sic), which was till yesterday, full of bravado, cut a pathetic figure. The Chidambaram-Ambika-Salman triumvirate’s tall claims of exposing “false claims of Gujarat’s development and growth” quickly fell and the rest of the show saw the triumvirate fumble, sidestep, and evade questions from the press.
Union Home Minister Chidambaram dodged every question about Gujarat’s economy, gave a diversionary answer about a question on Sanjiv Bhatt and bureaucrats’ alleged mistreatment, blamed crude oil prices for the mess his government has made of the economy, and in a hilarious twist, ended up actually admitting the Gujarat growth story. Salman Khurshid’s fate was worse because he had no real answer for the vile sub-quota-minority scheme he devised. Ambika Soni made some half-hearted noise about malnutrition. The only “law and order problem” that a helpful journalist came up with was a question on how women’s mangalsutras were regularly snatched by robbers in the city. Helpfully, none of the journalists asked about the law and order situation in the Rape Capital of India. Not a word about the Delhi police who report to the Home Ministry, and who are on record stating that the women deserve to be raped.
This then was the sum and substance of the Thundering Triumvirate’s “puncturing of the Modi story.” This performance despite having handpicked journalists who asked leading questions. The most telling evidence of complete failure is the fact that Ambika Soni at one point asked journalists to ask the questions they were supposed to ask (video link)!
However, far more significant than these self-inflicted gaffes is the fact that there’s a reason that silence speaks the loudest. In this case, throughout the press conference, none in the Triumvirate even once, even by error uttered a single word attacking Narendra Modi. The reason is straightforward: the Congress party hasn’t forgotten how badly its supreme leader was singed in the 2007 polls thanks to her “maut ka saudagar” slogan. It hasn’t also forgotten the kind of treatment Rahul Gandhi received in Darbhanga in faraway Bihar for making an anti-Gujarat statement.
The truth is that the Congress party from its supreme leader till the tiniest footsoldier has no clue let alone a poll strategy to win Gujarat. Old formulas like character assassination, sowing caste and communal divisons, buying votes and similar vile schemes have failed to work. Gujaratis have long ago closed their ears to the riots story. And the Congress party cannot promise clean governance because it has no experience in the field. Thus its attacks on Modi have come to depend only upon fanning the fury of the perceived malcontents within the BJP. Five years ago, the Congress party was armed with at least the Riots Arsenal. Today, it’s completely bankrupt. And it’s self-destructing at the Centre.