Modi

Modi and calculus behind “no” on Jerusalem

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

There’s been a disquiet in India’s public space over Modi government’s rejection of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital in a United Nations General Assembly resolution recently.

This disquiet has grown to anger after Palestinian envoy in Islamabad was seen in the company of Mumbai attack mastermind and global terrorist Hafiz Saeed in Rawalpindi though a strong protest by India since then has led to envoy’s recall to home by the Palestinian Authority.

The erudite supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi are questioning why he would stand with the Palestinian cause and vote against US, and Israel,  having worked so hard to get both of them eating out of his hand lately.

Modi had become the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel in July 2017 and the latter’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to visit India in the first fortnight of the new year.

Israel’s support in the realm of technology, agriculture, security and defense has ramped up significantly in recent times and Trump misses no opportunity to gush over India and its leader.

The rabid supporters of BJP are aghast why their government would stand by “ungrateful” Muslims while it’s erudite patrons are questioning why New Delhi didn’t abstain from voting as 35 others had done.

Adding to the chill is US ambassador to UN Nikki Haley’s crude words “…this vote will make a difference…on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN.” Trump threatened to cut down funds to those who opposed him and Netanyahu called the UN a “a house of lies.”

The truth is, India did everything right on all three counts which should matter for the country: beneficial, practical and moral.

About 19 per cent of India’s total world trade is accounted for in the Middle East (as compared to nearly 1 per cent with Israel) which ought to halt in track the juggernaut of criticism. Such scales of benefit could only be denied by fools, if not blind.

The practical takeaways, if anything, are bigger. US has fallen flat on its face in West Asia and its strategy to sow discord and anarchy through Iraq invasion and conduits for the growth of Islamic State (IS) has been successfully reversed by Russia, in alliance with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. So much so that even a traditional US supporter Turkey is on the opposite side of the fence.

The vacuum of US in the Middle East would soon be filled up by Russia in alliance with China which is using its typical trade and infrastructure growth route to look for strategic stranglehold in the region. India would be foolish to be seen standing in opposition to the new Big Boys in the region. India can’t overlook the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) too which would encircle it in an iron clasp more so since China is parking itself on ports of Sri Lanka. Letting go of West Asia at this stage would be a suicide, no less.

By rejecting the Trump’s move on Jerusalem, India is also letting the world know of its independence lest it be seen as a US lackey. It would earn India respect and a sense among its friends that it’s a principled ally. Further, India can’t allow itself to be bound by Trump’s often hasty and boorish decisions.

Absentation would’ve been a paper umbrella—only giving the notion of protection against a downpour. It would still have earned a scorn from the free world, without quite endearing it to US or Israel. Worse, it could’ve emboldened them to see if they could kick around India in future.

India’s decision to stand on its moral compass would draw a host of lesser nations in its orbit. Forget criticism, Modi government’s move deserves a standing ovation.

To brush up history for the uninitiated, Israel has been controlling the eastern Jerusalem since the 1967 six-day war. It’s being sought by the Palestinians as the capital for its future state.

Congress is over in our lifetime

The other day, having a conversation with a senior Congress leader, I smelled the smoke of a pyre that has burnt itself out. Skin, veins, eyes, organs, blood all reduced to ashes; dying embers long dead. Yet here was this man, almost a ghost, preening on his party’s excellent future.

The recent assembly elections had just been out. Congress had met the fate which once was Pompeii’s—buried under the fire, pumice, debris and rocks of Mt. Vesuvius’ eruption. Wiped out of history’s consciousness. One day, Congress like Pompeii could be rediscovered—for the time being it’s irrelevant in India’s scheme of things.

This idiot couldn’t comprehend the significance. That Congress was still around in 11 states in the 2014 election debacle; that it’s tally now is left only to seven—only one state of consequence in Karnataka. Bihar lost since 1990; UP since 1989; MP since 2003; booted out of Tamil Nadu since 1967; the same as in West Bengal; a spent force in Andhra Pradesh and the newbie Telengana. Gujarat? You said it. Maharashtra, Karantaka, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan is a disaster hidden from this joker’s view.

It didn’t register with him that Congress’ alliance is bad news for unsuspecting regional satraps these days. Ask Left who has been left singed in West Bengal; or DMK in Tamil Nadu which is in the midst of self-flagellation. It also escaped him that BJP rules in 16 of 29 states and has approval of 45% of population—contrast to Congress’ 6-7% share.

Yet this imbecile chose to fly in the face of logic. He pointed out Congress return from the disaster of Emergency-hit 1977; on how it came back to bite its critics from the hopelessness of 1989 and 1996.  Under the leadership of Rahul Baba, Congress could only look up.

The fact is Rahul Gandhi has brought Congress closer to extinction. He still believes in such sycophants ignoring the verdict of nation’s electorates. It’s lost on him that Rahul Gandhi’s presence in Bihar in 2010 was worth no better than three seats; that similar was the case in Uttar Pradesh in 2012. Frankly, Congress can’t be guaranteed a double-digit Lok Sabha seats in 2019. This is extinction, a Pompeii-fate nothing less.

I see a certainty in this prediction. Outside the ambit of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, there have been stalwarts from time to time who redeemed the struggling party. Sardar Vallabhai Patel unifed India; Lal Bahadur Shastri blazed the Green Revolution and PV Narasimha Rao introduced a liberalized vision to a largely socialist India.  But these were exceptions. The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty never allowed a credible second line of command to grow within the party. Starting with Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru—in the manner John Mathai and C. Rajagopalachari were cast aside—to Indira Gandhi to Sonia Gandhi, credible voices were never allowed to grow. Manmohan Singh…P. Chidambaram even didn’t fight the elections. AK Antony was disgraced; Pranab Mukherjee moved to Rashtrapati Bhawan. The next round of leaders are Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid who already have lost face in elections.  

The arrogance of dynasty, like a Banyan tree, stunts the growth of everyone under its’ shadow. There’s hardly a credible leader left with the party. Those with any respect or vision long left the premises to take roots in their regions. And lo and behold, it’s Congress which is seeking them out far and wide in India.

Sonia wanted authority without responsibility; so is the case with Rahul Gandhi. They aren’t too keen to get their hands dirty and prefer to surround themselves with dim-wits like the one I ran into the other day.

With 20 state elections due in next four years, Congress’ use-by-date is over. BJP has reclaimed Chhatisgarh and Madhya Pradesh; grabbed Rajasthan and Goa and has a first-time government in Maharashtra and Haryana.  The “Congress-Mukt Bharat”  is for real.