NDA govt with Modi as PM unsustainable: Dr Parakala Prabhakar

The political analyst who correctly predicted the BJP will not secure a majority tells Karan Thapar why Modi isn't the best bet to head a coalition govt

Political economist and commentator Dr Parakala Prabhakar (photo: @parakala/X)
Political economist and commentator Dr Parakala Prabhakar (photo: @parakala/X)

NH Political Bureau

He has doubts about the sustainability of an NDA government with Narendra Modi as the prime minister, Dr Parakala Prabhakar said in an interview with Karan Thapar for the Wire. In his view, such a government would be unstable.

The NDA or the BJP, he felt, would not like to sacrifice the government for the sake of one person. They may look for an alternative leader to head the coalition—someone who is more open to talks, negotiations and consensus building—Prabhakar believes. Modi has shown no evidence of being such a person, as his approach was always "either his way or the highway" per Prabhakar.

Prabhakar is personally waiting to see whether the NDA government secures a vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha, he added. It will be a miracle if an NDA government with Modi at the helm lasts till the vote of confidence or survives it, he said.

Pointing out that even with the support of the 28 MPs of the TDP and JD(U), the NDA government will still be a minority government, Prabhakar felt that the NDA should look for a leader who can negotiate better with other parties, maybe pull some parties from the INDIA bloc or secure the support of some of the smaller non-aligned parties to consolidate and stabilise the government.

These are some of the other takeaways from the interview:

1. If the NDA government with Narendra Modi is to survive, Modi will have to re-invent himself — which is improbable. The ‘old Modi’ who is a 'lion' and can alone take on the whole 'united Opposition' cannot shed that image and emerge as a ‘new Modi’, Prabhakar believes. "One cannot imagine him as a sheep in wolf’s clothing because Mr Modi has always imagined himself as a wolf in wolf’s clothing," he quipped.

2. Both Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party and Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) are leaders in their own right. Both are shrewd and experienced. "They are not professors of entire political science", noted Prabhakar, but seasoned tacticians who know when to wield power, when to halt and when to retreat.

Given their currently crucial role, the demands made by the allies will be both unending and sometimes unreasonable. Modi may find it difficult to accommodate them. And they can simply wear Modi down.

3. Both Naidu and Nitish Kumar will seek assurance of 'special category' status for their own states and demand special financial assistance.

They will also put forward their wish list for cabinet berths and specific portfolios, Prabhakar thinks. They may even demand that certain MPs be included in the ministry and others dropped.

The caste census, the Agniveer scheme, reservation for Muslims and the Uniform Civil Code may be a few of the other thorny issues on which they may wish Modi to retreat.

4. The government will be operating on borrowed time. Asked how long the unstable NDA government with Modi could last, Dr Prabhakar quipped that it would be like watching the movement of shares on the Bombay Stock Exchange—every hour and every day.

5. Neither the TDP nor the JD(U) can afford to allow the anti-Muslim rhetoric that Modi and other BJP leaders are used to peddling. And will they be satisfied with mere assurances of better behaviour and action? Prabhakar wondered...

6. The ‘Modi era’ will be a forgettable period, mostly recalled with a good laugh. Dr Prabhakar recalling how quickly Atal Bihari Vajpayee was forgotten, and suggested Modi too will largely remembered by people as fodder for a joke.

As far as he could recall, Prabhakar said, Narendra Modi had not earned the gratitude of any group of political parties nor earned any individual loyalty or friendship.

With his self-aggrandising and hierarchical style of politics, he now might find it difficult to find much sympathy or empathy for his plight, Dr Prabhakar concluded.

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