The new strategy to be worked out should focus not on the past misdeeds of NaMo, but on the future misdeeds that are likely to be committed by these elements if their methods succeed.
---From my article of June 4,2012, titled “ A Wake-up Call” at http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?281135
The dates for the elections to the Gujarat State Assembly in December have been announced. Even before the announcement, Shri Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister, had started his election campaign on the ground in the State as well as in cyber space with the help of some NRIs based in the US.
2. The elements supporting NaMo, including some NRIs, have drawn up a strategy for ensuring a sizable victory of NaMo in the Gujarat elections and subsequently using the victory as a stepping stone for forcing NaMo as the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP and the NDA coalition headed by the BJP. The influence of the NRI elements on the strategy of this “NaMo for Prime Minister” drive would be evident from the fact that while the BJP and its coalition partners have been critical of some of the economic reforms recently introduced by Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh, these NRI elements, which are strongly in favour of these reforms, have been playing down any criticism of it. Their pro-corporate and pro-US business interest agenda will be evident from their double-talk on the question of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail.
3.As part of their “NaMo for PM” drive, these elements have been trying to transform the election campaign in Gujarat from a purely provincial campaign for the re-election of NaMo on the basis of his record into the beginning of a pan-Indian campaign for paving the way for the ascendency of NaMo as the Prime Minister when the next elections to the Lok Sabha are held.
4. They have been taken aback by the recent statements of Shri Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, on the need for a secular leader to be the head of any future NDA Government and of Shri L.K.Advani on the importance of secularism as a principle. These elements are trying to work out a strategy to counter these developments.
5.In their attempts to give NaMo a larger than provincial image without creating suspicions in the minds of the supporters of Shri Advani and Shri Nitish Kumar, they have been cleverly trying to transform the Gujarat campaign into a political contest of image and will between NaMo and Mrs.Sonia Gandhi. The absurdly exaggerated allegations regarding the expenditure incurred by Mrs.Sonia Gandhi on her foreign travels since 2004 made by NaMo on the basis of a report disseminated by a news agency of unclear background are part of the strategy worked out by these elements to force Mrs.Sonia Gandhi to enter the battle arena as the principal opponent of NaMo.
6. The Congress has done well not to fall into this trap and not to unwittingly transform a purely provincial campaign into a prelude for a national contest. The Gujarat poll should remain what it is----a purely provincial poll based on the record of NaMo and on the future programmes of the Gujarat units of the Congress and the BJP. If NaMo wins the polls and continues as CM for a third term, so be it. He and his supporters should not be allowed to use the provincial poll results as sanctifying his aspirations for becoming the Prime Minister of India.
7.The Gujarat unit of the Congress and its leaders should be in the forefront of the election campaign to counter NaMo. Mrs.Sonia Gandhi and other central leaders should restrict their role to giving the required moral and political support to the Gujarat leaders and occasionally campaigning in carefully selected areas to weaken the pan-Indian pretensions of NaMo.
8.While the Congress leadership has taken the right decision not to raise past issues relating to the period before 2007, it should focus on the post-2007 record of the NaMo Government, the continuing lack of trust of the religious minorities in NaMo as a leader and the dubious role of NRI elements in backing NaMo’s drive for continued power.
9.While the Congress has every right to ignore the politically motivated allegations of NaMo regarding Mrs.Sonia Gandhi’s foreign travels, it should reply promptly to the petition from an RTI activist for information on this subject. This activist has no political background or agenda and delaying a reply to him is already proving counter-productive. The Congress should simultaneously focus the spotlight on a petition reportedly filed in July 2007 by another RTI activist Ms Trupti Shah asking for details of expenditure incurred by NaMo in connection with some of his travels during the Women Empowerment Sammelans. A reference to her petition allegedly ignored by the NaMo Government has been made by “The Hindu” of October 3,2012, ( 4-10-12)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com Twitter @SORBONNE75)