Any Hindustani classical music rendition is structured on Alap (introduction), Jor (build-up) and Jhala (crescendo). The Narendra Modi and Amit Shah-led BJP’s lament about the emergence of a grand alliance against the autocratic and anti-people policies of the present NDA government started towards the beginning of 2018 when the writing on the wall for the fate of the 2019 general elections were emerging. In its Alap phase, it was melancholic with occasional utterances about how ‘unscrupulous’ elements were trying to sabotage the ‘Golden Age’ ushered by the magician Prime Minister. And yes, agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) were pressed into action against prominent political leaders of the Congress, All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) among others.
Then came the debacle of losing the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. We soon saw the rhythm of the anti-grand alliance rant pick up pace. In early January, 2019, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman moved a political resolution on the second day of the BJP two-day national council meeting. “A comical alliance, mahagathbandhan of desperate, contradictory and opportunistic political formations is being attempted to take on the Prime Minister, BJP and NDA,” the resolution said. I call this the Jor phase.
In this phase too, agencies like the CBI and ED were again pressed into action. But the effect was far from satisfactory. The CBI was itself facing a massive and unprecedented credibility crisis and people and parties stopped taking the agency seriously. This is what the Modi Sarkar has done to India. It has destroyed the credibility of every institution that the country has painstakingly built over the last 70 years. The Supreme Court, Central Vigilance Commission, CBI, ED, R&AW, armed forces, Election Commission of India, Reserve Bank of India: none have been spared.
But still, the mandarins, sitting in the swanky cabins of the snazzy BJP headquarters in New Delhi were somehow hopeful that political parties, many of them erstwhile rivals, and strong political leaders, with their respective ambitions, would not see eye to eye and the chance of a grand coalition will fall apart.
Then, of course, there were those visits by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao to Odisha and West Bengal to convince the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and AITC, ostensibly to maintain equidistance from the Congress and the BJP, but the real purpose was not lost to trained eyes.
Finally, came the shocker of the Brigade Parade Ground gathering in Kolkata on January 19 when leaders of more than 20 parties came together on a dais and addressed lakhs of people. In the presence of senior leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress, Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference (NC), Sharad Pawar of NCP and HD Devegowda of JD(S), and younger leaders like Akhilesh Yadav of SP, Jignesh Mevani, Hardik Patel and Tejaswi Yadav from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the event sounded the united Opposition's clarion call to defeat Modi. Omar Abdullah of NC, N. Chandrababu Naidu from TDP, HD Kumaraswamy from JD(S), Arvind Kejriwal from AAP, Satish Mishra from BSP, MK Stalin from DMK, former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang, Lalduhawma of ZNP, Hemant Soren of JMM, Sharad Yadav, RLD’s Ajit Singh and Jayant Chaudhury, and BJP old guards Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Shatrughan Sinha were also in attendance. There were one former Prime Minister, three present chief ministers, four former chief ministers and at least three former Union ministers on the stage.
Since then, the Jhala phase of the BJP swansong has started and it’s showing no signs of a let up. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said, “In Kolkata, they are shouting ‘Bachao, Bachao, Bachao’.” On Sunday, January 20, he called the mahagathbandhan an “unholy alliance” of various political parties for “personal survival”. People will see through the “incoherent alliance” of “rich dynasties,” Modi said. I miss those days when on Saturday he would announce 100 smart cities and on Sunday, the nation would come to know of the Bullet Train project. Kahan gaye woh sab din!
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi had said, “We should ensure that a strong candidate is placed against BJP at every seat. We have discussed about this as well. We also spoke about the use of physical ballot.”
Come Monday, January 21, Nitin Gadkari said, “The only driving force of the alliance was the fear of the BJP.” He is not totally wrong here but would have hit the bull’s eye, had he said, ‘The only driving force of the alliance was the fear of what damage the BJP and Modi may do to the country if it gets elected for another five years.’
The economy is in tatters. Banks have no money to lend and are crumbling under the burden of mounting NPA’s. There are no jobs. Exports are at an abysmal low. And India’s debt has risen by 50% under the Modi rule. A Reuters report last week said the government was planning to spend another ₹1,00,000 crore via vote-catching measures in the few months leading up to the elections.
The Russians had successfully used the scorched earth policy to deny both Napoleon and Hitler victory. But those were times of war with external enemies. Here is a leader scorching his own country to possibly make the next government’s task of getting the country back on tracks as hard as possible. Hitler had reduced Germany to rubble in pursuit of his dream of world domination. Here’s one guy trying to outgun Hitler without firing a shot.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Those who could not see eye to eye have come together and from the speech it was evident that their only agenda is to remove Narendra Modi.” Mr Prasad does not realise that they all see eye to eye in their resolve to remove the BJP from power so that normality can be restored.
In Saturday, January 19’s Kolkata rally, senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi had said, "We should ensure that a strong candidate is placed against BJP at every seat. We have discussed about this as well. We also spoke about the use of physical ballot.” “The herculean task of seat-sharing for the coming Lok Sabha elections has to be addressed to ensure direct fight against the BJP,” JD(S) patriarch HD Deve Gowda had echoed the sentiment.
This must have sent shivers down the spine of Amit Shah, frequently called Chanakya by his gang of dedicated fans. In case this happens, how many seats the BJP will win is anybody’s guess.
And there has been Union Minister Prakash Javadekar who has said the choice was between Narendra Modi or anarchy. Someone should tell him that stray cattle are devouring the fields of rural Uttar Pradesh right now and traffic at several intersections of UP’s cities have to snake and meander through a labyrinth of stationary cows and buffaloes. Policemen are gunning down innocents and there are upright policemen being killed in the name of gau raksha. Members of a particular party had staged demonstrations in solidarity with people accused of raping and killing a minor. There are ministers claiming Indians invented the internet 10,000 years ago. Now, anarchy can’t be worse than this.
Still, Mr Javadekar and his friends in the BJP will be in denial and so, the Jhala will continue till elections are held. The rhythm will only get more frenzied and the pitch shriller.