Among other things, the term “Delhi Sultanate” conjures up images of unbridled power, limitless wealth and influence that extends to the remotest corners of India. The other, related images happen to be that of unbridled cruelty and limitless loot. And so when Narendra Modi spoke on several occasions about the vile nature of the Delhi Sultanate, these images come to mind. Except that today’s Delhi Sultanate, the Sultanate of the Gandhi Dynasty, like the Delhi Sultanate of the yore has ruled India for the most part since 1947 ostensibly in the name of democracy. The rest—unbridled power, limitless loot, choking freedoms, and impoverishing citizens—remain the same.
And now Narendra Modi has declared war on this Sultanate.
No other leader in the history of independent India—however strongly he/she was opposed to the Gandhi dynasty—except Narendra Modi has dared to take on the seemingly all-powerful Dynasty with such aplomb. And no other leader quite managed to pull off what Modi did on 3 March 2012 right in the city of this Dynasty’s power. This is no exaggeration. Consider the Congress party’s reactions to Modi’s speech. The foul abuse by Mani Shankar Aiyar apart, the rest of the Congress luminaries were found fumbling for words.
The writing is clear: the Congress party is alarmed and it is showing. And worse, they seem to have simply no idea how to tackle—much less rein in—Narendra Modi.
It’s actually funny that Mani Shankar Aiyar took offence to Modi equating the Congress with termites. The Congress party’s legacy is indeed the legacy of what termites leave behind when they’re done. India’s GDP has tanked thanks precisely to termite-like schemes like NREGA, Food Security, and Right to Education have exploded in the face of the people they were meant to help. Business houses are leaving, investment has declined, employment figures have dipped, inflation has hit the sky, Government files have stopped moving, bureaucrats are scared to work lest they be implicated in a dynasty-level scam and scams are on the scale of a percentage of the GDP. Narendra Modi didn’t merely call this out but correctly traced its root to the nation-wreckers who adorn the Sonia-conceived extra-Constitutional NAC. He became the first ever mainstream politician to point the arrow precisely where most problems of this nation emanate from. Lesser leaders have made some noises at specific bills floated by the NAC but have largely let it remain unquestioned.
The most outstanding aspect of Modi’s speech was its singular, emphatic demonstration to the entire country that a new leader has arrived. And is here to stay. Equally, this was a resounding slap in the face of those agenda-driven Modi critics who harp that India is not Gujarat. In less than an hour, Modi displayed the kind of leadership that India hasn’t seen in a long time. Never apologetic, never sitting on the fence, straightforward and candid, his speech dripped with the confidence of a leader who not only has the vision but the intent and wherewithal to translate that into reality. He set the terms of the discourse, took all his BJP counterparts along—Manohar Parikkar, Raman Singh, Shivraj Chauhan, et al—and most of all, demonstrated the he alone has the capability to galvanize the party cadre nationwide. This too, is one of the reasons the Congress party, used to setting the terms of the discourse with solid support from a slavish media was found groping in the dark for even a modicum of coherent response. How do you criticize a leader who openly praises his counterpart Chief Ministers, other party leaders, and grassroot workers when the opposite side has been used to decades-long servitude at the feet of one Dynasty?
Herein lies the genius of Narendra Modi in turning what’s perceived as the opponent’s biggest strength into its Achilles heel. He simply tore into what is touted as the Congress party’s biggest strength: the Family as the only glue that binds an otherwise squabbling group of incompetent and venal opportunists who can’t win a single seat on their own. And suddenly what once seemed like the strength of invincibility was reduced to its greatest weakness. In other words, he ripped off the curtain that shielded a crucial fact: that India, since Independence has existed to serve the Family. And the fact that all of Congress party’s election time sloganeering meant just this: a perpetuation of single Family rule.
Modi’s attack on the Congress is also notable for its clinical precision—of presenting cold facts and tracing the money-trail back to the roots of the Congress party. Modi drew the nation’s attention to a well-known fact: the longevity of the Congress party’s rule and the disastrous consequences it has had, and continues to have on India. In the hands of a lesser leader, this speech would have quickly degenerated into a rhetoric based on the tried and failed tripe of secularism and appeasement and vote banks.
And neither was it merely an anti-Congress speech. Modi showed hope and a pragmatic, workable solution going forward. He spoke of participatory governance—that taking one step forward, thinking about Bharat as a whole can we unleash a tremendous amount of energy that in turn can be channelized towards progress and prosperity. The alternative to this has what has brought us to this sorry state of affairs.
Perhaps the most significant, and indeed the key message of Narendra Modi’s speech is his entirely accurate characterization of freeing India from the clutches of the Congress party as a second Freedom Struggle. As I’ve written on numerous occasions, the parallels to the Congress party’s misrule since Independence with that of the British colonial rule are striking. Both regard India as their personal fiefdom. Both labour under the mistaken notion that it is their divine right to rule India for eternity. Both care nothing about the Indian people who they have milked and left impoverished for personal power and aggrandizement. Both clampdown on fundamental freedoms: police brutality is unleashed, websites, blogs, and twitter handles are blocked, and phones are tapped. All, undeniable characteristics of a tyranny. And so Narendra Modi’s call to uproot this tyrannical Government is not merely justified but the vital need of the hour.
Contrast this with the pitiable Chintan Shivir the Congress party held at Jaipur recently. The key takeaways: Rahul Gandhi’s sleeping and waking up habits, phony tearjerker tales of his family’s “sacrifice” for the nation, allocating 100 Crore Rupees for its social media campaign, and indeed the real reason of the Shivir—his elevation to the post of the Congress party’s Vice President. Any announcements of plans, development initiatives, and policies to take the country forward? You must be joking.
As every battle-hardened warrior knows, it pays to wait before launching an offensive. And the person who launches the offensive will most likely win both the battle and the war. That the Congress party is in tatters is further evidenced by two recent events: the first, Narendra Modi’s hugely successful talk at SRCC and now this even more successful BJP National Council speech. Both in Delhi. And on both occasions, the Congress couldn’t quite make out what they were dealing with. The reason: Narendra Modi is no longer the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He has become a National Phenomenon, an idea whose time has come.