Knock-Knock, No One There


One heard the argument first in the preparation to U.P. elections after demonetization. It sounded something like this: “The BJP has to lose. They’ve ruined the economy. People have been standing in lines. They will vote them out.  Thousands of jobs have been lost. There will be payback — you just wait and see. ”

What people wrapped in their own bubbles refused to see was in the pictures they themselves were sharing every day — people were standing in lines.

Instead of rioting or breaking down bank and party offices, people dutifully stood in lines month after month, hoping… begging to be handed out their own money.

No opposition politician or intellectual drove by in his car, either of the left, center or right, throwing out wads of cash from his car window. No one came to fight with bank staff to make sure every one got their due and cash wasn’t siphoned off to VIPs. No Rahul Gandhi or Kejriwal barged into the Prime Minister’s or went on a hunger strike to ask Why?

But many believed the great democratic process would have its revenge and the BJP would be thrown out of power in U.P.  But it wasn’t, was it? It even came to power in Goa and Manipur.

Political pundits who had to eat their words came up with  schadenfreude — or the pleasure comparatively poor people might have got, in seeing comparatively rich people suffer.  Gautam Benegal in the august tradition of all lazy liberals gave his yatha praja, tatha raja verdict. Senior journalists who should have known better, swallowed his lazy translation of Alexis de Tocqueville quote: “people get the government we deserve,” as an original and profound thought.

And then Delhi MCD happened. Some explanations will appear, no doubt. Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India already has one, of sorts.  Yadav may well call for opposition unity. Benegal might well find more fellow travelers.

The BJP will still win the 2019 electoral results. Here’s why.

1. They have the men, they have the might, they have the money too

More, they have the mood on their side. And sheer brilliance.

Performance, facts, data — these have ceased to matter. Those who think the Sangh is stupid and call this “the Jumla Sarkar,” have got the most important communication principle wrong.

I’m told Stanford has repackaged it as moral psychology. But when people of my generation were educating ourselves, in Aristotlean times, “Jumla” used to be called Rhetoric.

The Sangh is a master of rhetoric.

It knows how to create the exact rhetoric, at different levels of information consumers.

That’s why it seems to contradict itself. But it really isn’t. It’s merely a communication strategy. They always have the message right on point for whoever they want to connect with. Sometimes this message spills over to other consumers and creates confusion.

The MNC consumers get the swadeshi message, and the “integral humanism” consumers get the “rape dead Muslim women,” message.

But the Sangh is aware of the spillover and has a management strategy in place. It uses key spokesmen, at key points, to manage the costs. Sambit Patra and Shaina NC for daily briefings. Kanchan Gupta or more involved conversations. Makarand Paranjpe for academia, Swarajyamag for intellectuals.

The riff-raff are too many to count. Zee News , whose strategy is evolving brilliantly on a daily basis; Rajat Sharma, ; newspapers they’re buying or bullying by the dozens in all languages; Shiv Sena and it’s communication factory and so on. .

Yet, when the costs become too high — as with Smriti Irani — the Sangh doesn’t hesitate to ruthlessly cut the cord.

They are playing the long con. It is not stupidity. It is brilliance.

2. The Opposition has none of it

No opposition party has the men, the might, the money, the mood or even a tenth of the brilliance the Sangh has.

At the time of our greatest peril, there is a tendency to be most nostalgic. But nostalgia can sometimes be a friend. Sometimes, it can be an enemy of the future.

This time, Nostalgia is the enemy. 

Nehru is dead. So is Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. They are the past. The Congress party itself was born in the throes of the Freedom Struggle. It is over a 100 years old.

This struggle needs a newer, more youthful leadership. People with fire in their belly, hungry and angry. People who refuse to compromise.

The Congress isn’t that party anymore. It hasn’t been that party for a few decades. There is not a single Congress worker who will march unless he’s paid to. There is no compromise that the Congress won’t make. There is no party that a Congressman will not defect to.

The Congress is the party that made BJP possible; that makes BJP possible every single election. I have friends who are die-hard Congress fans. But if ever there was a time for bitter truths, this is it. Surely, some things matter more than loyalty to a party?

The Congress is dead in the water. Let’s write its obituary and get on with it.

3. The non-Congress Opposition. Well, what about them?

AAP? It lost Delhi Municipal. Kejriwal threatened a “movement” if he lost. And made his first major compromise with a ‘graceful defeat.’ It will be first of many major compromises he will make.

Second Rule of Fight Club — Don’t make threats you don’t follow up on.

Then there’s the little matter of AAP’s non existence in most of India.

Local opposition parties? Either they’re lining up to tie-up with the BJP; or they’re all fighting with each other. U.P. and Bengal are eminent examples. Delhi is too, by the way. Read the non-EVM reason that Yogendra Yadav gave for Kejriwal’s loss.

If you’re looking for a viable, existing, political opposition to the BJP in 2019; Knock Knock — there’s no one there.

4. EVMs – How many parties does it take to vote for the BJP?

Doesn’t matter, they all lead to the BJP button anyway. Yep. There are EVM jokes now. It’s a thing.

I love technology, always have, always will. I normally believe that the solution to the ills of technology is more technology. But on this, I am that loony – the one who believes that some things that are best analog or brick and mortar.

MONEY and VOTES are two of those things, I firmly believe, should stay physical. There is evidence and more that EVMs are giving out false votes. Yet, we are always given an explanation we believe, because we want to. 

We buy silly arguments like “only some are”; But they came “from U.P. and didn’t get enough time to rest (purge, puke?)”; But “they were not provided by the EC!”

The worst yesterday: “Tamper-able doesn’t mean they were tampered with!!!”

The meme forgets to mention that they were apparently designed so that one cannot prove they were tampered with. (n alleged security feature so stupid, it beggars belief.

But we are ready to buy any argument that doesn’t force us to make hard choices.


So what are the hard choices?

The first hard choice is to let go of the imagination of hope.

To let go, is not to despair, but to stop pretending.

Reality begins where pretensions stop.

And it is only when we face reality, that we can begin to imagine action at all.

The Sangh is here to stay. It is not going away in 2019. Its followers will be raiding our homes, our shops, our kids, wives and daughters. It is killing people on the roads, in broad daylight. No party or leader has stopped them. No one will stop them in the future.

No one’s coming to help us. It is going to get worse, not better.

Now what are you prepared to do to save yourselves?



Image Credits The Daily English Show

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