The blog takes a stand for peace. It comprises my epublications on strategic affairs and peace studies issues in South Asia. Views expressed are personal. My three books Think South Asia; Subcontinental Musings and South Asia: In it Togehter, with my published commentaries can be downloaded free from the links provided and hard copies from http://cinnamonteal.in/authors/firdaus-ahmed/. @firdyahmed. Firdaus Ahmed is the pen name of Ali Ahmed.
campaign for prime-ministership has had an inauspicious start. But his mentor’s
walkout in huff, early desertion by a key ally and the public relations
disaster amidst a natural disaster will not faze him. His stewardship of the
BJP’s campaign ahead can be expected to be energetic, innovative and less than
mindful of norms, ethics and the law. As legal pincers close in on him in the
Ishrat Jahan and the Gulberg Society cases, he will likely pull out the stops.
Abandoning restraint, his campaign will get into stride with its cunning and
subterfuge abandoned in favour of barefaced communalism.
arithmetic however is built by the common voter who has repeatedly proven wiser
than politicians believe him to be. Modi’s campaign will therefore not have
enough propulsion to get him to 7 Race Course Road. But then, NaMo is not in
the race for being a leader of the opposition and waiting a term for the rulers
to discredit themselves. This is his moment. His manner of seizing of it could
frame the ‘worst case scenario’.
Par for the
course will be the usual means that gladden a Hindutvavadi’s heart. Among these
will figure a replay of the Sohrabuddin episode in which jihadis will be
projected as gunning for his life. A few ‘encounters’ will embellish his case
that his opposition is in league with minority extremists to finish off his
challenge. These will be depicted as a fifth column, linking them with the
proverbial ‘external hand’, set to come to fore with the coincident departure
of the US from AfPak. A convenient rise in unexplained bomb blasts across the
country will help push the minority onto the ropes. Strategic commentary,
forever in search of a ‘strong man’ to expel the ‘soft state’ image of India,
will latch on to this ‘externally abetted internal enemy’, to use a Chanakyan
phrase. Security in peril, India will be asked to vote for the one answer:
of the young princeling, the ruling party’s contender, will be underlined to
suggest subversion of the rise of an authentic India. The closing in of the law
on Mr. Modi will be depicted as misuse of the judiciary by the ruling Congress
to keep him from power and an instance of minority appeasement. While dirty
tricks will harden Modi’s power base among traditionally right wing voters,
these may deepen scepticism among others. Yet, in the event, the election may
prove a close call. It is here that the ‘worst case’ scenario kicks in.
This could be a
‘soft coup’ in the tradition of George Bush’s pipping of Al Gore at the post in
Florida. Or it could be more blatant. Extremist political formations could take
over the streets; while Modi acolytes, including one on bail for triple murder
and restrained from entering Gujarat, energise a putsch. The narrative will be
that the rightful winner is being deprived by a conspiracy of anti-Hindu and by
extension anti-India forces; forcing them to act to save democracy and India.
of rightist ideology in security forces is well known. The Gujarat police’s
showing in the 2002 carnage is an example of levels of subversion of
constitutional and professional norms. This was in the early days of Mr. Modi
at the helm. By 2004 the Gujarat police was masterminding ‘encounters’ designed
to build Modi’s image as Lauh Purush II with which he could eventually make his
bid for Delhi. Its link to the questionable spate of blasts in metropolitan
cities in the run up to last elections is evident from the supposedly
fortuitous manner of recovery of bombs in Surat. The record of Maharashtra’s
ATS and Delhi’s Special Cell suggests the Gujarat police not an exception.
Karnataka, AP and Rajasthan police have not acquitted themselves with any
credit in investigating ‘terror’ cases. Exceptions in khaki are instead the
likes of late Hemant Karkare.
propaganda, that such blasts are instances of, has an intelligence imprint.
This is only now coming out into the open with the CBI dragnet closing in on
the IB head in Gujarat. It is inconceivable that the then IB chief in Delhi,
now ensconced in a right wing think tank in the national capital, did not know
of the game-plan in Gujarat. It is clear that the objective was to implicate
the minority with terror seemingly originating in Pakistan. The narrative was
that terror was no longer confined to J&K but had spread its tentacles to
the heartland. This helped with India attempting to corner Pakistan
diplomatically, since post 9/11 Pakistan was supping with the US. The internal
political dividend was intended to see continuation of NDA to power in 2004 and
a return in 2008, which in the event were belied.
paramilitary, exposed to operations against Kashmiri militants and to Maoists,
are primed for lending muscle. Bureaucrats, privileging self-preservation, can
be expected to go into a ‘wait and watch’ mode. Strategic commentators, largely
of conservative-realist persuasion, will allow themselves to be manipulated
into providing the narrative cover that ends justify the means. Hindutva
champions and closet communalists embedded in the media will pitch in to help
India recover from the shock.
That a scenario
of a right wing take over is not far-fetched is evident from the inevitable
contention between the ruling party and opposition over the nominations list to
head India’s security forces and intelligence services. The very fact that the
professionalism or competence of the candidates is not enough suggests that
their political inclinations matter. The ruling party pitches for agency heads
that can contain the ideological penetration of the opposition in their forces.
The opposition would favour those who are willing to compromise on the
apolitical feature of their force. That security forces universally are
conservative in orientation makes the Congress more alert to dangers and ready
to act to prevent them through the selection process. The recent bust ups over
the Army, IB and CBI chiefs, all of whom would be having tenures that will see
them through the elections, indicates a wariness making for plausibility of the
controversy last year over the succession chain of the army it is clear that
the key player in the scenario playing out or otherwise could well be the army
chief. When the government ruled against giving the former chief an extension
till his claimed age of retirement, it was partially with an eye that the
current chief would likely thwart any political misadventure. The question is:
Will the Indian Army, known for keeping clear of politics, step up? Such
intrusion into politics is hardly useful over the long term, even if it is
necessary to pre-empt a worse possibility. Given this, prevention is better
The cure would
be in the government revealing the extent of right wing conspiracy over the
past decade to malign the minority: a function of the success of the project of
bombings and staged ‘encounters’. The current case in point, Ishrat Jahan’s, is
merely the tip of the iceberg. It is also being progressed by the CBI with an
eye on keeping Mr. Modi off balance. However, be that as it may, while further
revelations may embarrass India, it would work right wing contamination out of
the system once and for all and ensure that the conservative nationalists play
by the rules in future: the first step being in dumping their current vanguard.