So near yet so far: How the Congress may try to thwart Modi’s coronation on May 16
May 14, 2014
What will happen on May 16th, 2014?
I write this shortly after the exit polls for the 2014 elections have been published, and they have uniformly suggested that the NDA will come to power with somewhere between 240 and 300 seats on their own. If you believe that the exit polls and the elections have successfully captured the will of the people, this is good. But if you are a suspicious type, it is not difficult to imagine that another constitutional coup will be readied in the next couple of days till May 16th.
I have written about several constitutional coups successfully carried out by the Congress in the past http://www.rediff.com/news/column/column-rajeev-srinivasan-4-ways-the-congress-won-power-through-constitutional-coups/20140107.htm , and I see no reason to believe they have suddenly reformed themselves. They will hang on to power at all costs, and will be prepared to sacrifice the last Indian for it.
I would be astonished, indeed floored, if there were a smooth and simple transfer of power to the NDA. The Congress did demit office once, when Indira Gandhi lost in 1977 or so, but today’s Congressis are a different kettle of fish. They have more to hide, and also have more at stake, including their ill-gotten gains salted away, probably, in Macau these days as Switzerland has gotten a bit too hot.
In this context, several statements made by Congress bigwigs look sinister. A few days ago, P Chidambaram promised that on the 16th, there will be a big surprise. Now coming from one of the most astute of Congressmen, and one known not to exaggerate, this probably means that we are in for a “May Surprise” much like incumbent American presidents like to deliver “October Surprises” that help them.
Rahul Gandhi, the heir-apparent manqué, was more precise: he promised that 22,000 people would die if Narendra Modi were to be elected. Why exactly 22,000? He did not elaborate.
But Amaresh Misra, a leading Congressman, was quite vocal in a series of tweets on May 13th. He promised rivers of blood. In fact he was quite blood-curdling, here is a selection, verbatim. It doesn’t appear to be mere bravado; and since he is a confidant of Rahul, we need to take his threats seriously; in fact I am not sure why he has not been subject either to the Section 66A provisions that have been used to shut down people deemed dangerous on the Internet, or to the Election Commission’s strictures regarding the model code of conduct during elections.
To save democracy, all those supporting right wing forces on twitter will be killed. We will send CRPF to your houses. Drag you out/shoot!
A fascist leader who will kill minorities, change India’s secular character will be stopped by the Indian State by any means!
We will come out on the streets on 16th May to combat communal forces. We will kill all anti-national BJP supporters!
Whoever supports Modi is a Pakistani agent. He is liable to be killed with a bullet above his waist!
In Egypt, the army killed 2000 fundamentalists to preserve secularism. We will kill 2,00,000 Sanghis to save Indian democracy!
Indian people will not accept even one seat to BJP/NDA beyond 180, cause that means rigging by Modi. We will call in the army. We will kill!
Election Commission will be responsible for any violence on 16th May. EC needs to insure BJP/NDA does not get 1 seat beyond 180!
To put this in context, I wrote recently (in the unfortunately titled http://www.rediff.com/news/column/rajeev-srinivasan-the-time-will-come-when-america-can-dictate-to-india/20140303.htm ) about the Berkeley mafia focusing on ‘violent riots in India’. The general tone – and the decidedly dubious members of the group – suggested to me that far from ‘studying violent riots’ they may well be keen to incite a few. Reading between the lines, some of them, including US residents, have been spending a lot of time in the field in India, although it is not clear if they are trying to construct new and improved narratives for Gujarat 2002, or whether they are doing reconnaissance for new riots to be launched.
To add to this, to my personal chagrin as my alma mater, Stanford’s Law School has just produced a report entitled, ponderously, “When Justice Becomes the Victim: The Quest for Justice After the 2002 Violence in Gujarat” http://humanrightsclinic.law.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/When-Justice-Becomes-the-Victim-secure.pdf . I haven’t read it, but judging from the breathlessness with which it was sprung upon an unsuspecting public by lefties – I imagine it consists of more warmed-over nonsense that paints the 2002 Gujarat riots as, well, the greatest example of man’s inhumanity to man, since, let me guess, the fire-bombing of Tokyo in WW2 that killed 100,000 people?
What this suggests, in conjunction with the rabid anti-Modi rhetoric from the western military-industrial-media complex, especially the New York Times and The Economist, is that the imperial and religious-conversion types there have no intention of letting go of India, now that they have locked on to it as a prime target for domination, and have amassed (in Rajiv Malhotra’s terminology) an army of sepoys to ensure that their writ continues to run in India.
Therefore, there are several scenarios I fear may be played out in the near future:
- The 1996 scenario, with the NDA only getting 250 seats, and being forced to demit office after only 13 days
- The AAP scenario, with a puppet government sworn in and the Congress pulling the strings from behind
- The Kerala 1957 scenario, with the country being made ungovernable through manufactured violence
- The Z scenario, with Modi being liquidated and martial law being imposed
The 1996 scenario
Atal Behari Vajpayee only managed to get 252 seats, and with all the ‘secular’ parties unwilling to support him, was forced to resign after 13 days and call for fresh elections. This is the most benign scenario the Congress might follow: and it would be a relatively simple matter for them to manipulate the Electronic Voting Machines to get this outcome.
We have known for a long time (see indiaevm.org or my previous column http://news.rediff.com/column/2010/sep/01/the-real-issue-with-electronic-voting-machines.htm ) that EVMs are highly vulnerable. Given the opaque and easily-penetrated nature of election security, and given endemic corruption, it is highly probable that EVMs can be manipulated to come out with any result desired by the powers-that-be. Let us note that the Supreme Court-mandated VVPATs (EVMs with printed receipts ready for a recount if need be) are in only 20,000 out 18,00,000 booths, in effect making the court order superfluous. We still have the EVMs that did such yeoman duty in 2009.
I predict that they will confine the NDA to 250 seats, thus leaving Narendra Modi to the tender mercies of the Teen Kanya (J Jayalalitha, Mamata Banerjee, and Mayawati), whose support the NDA would require to hit the magic 272. All of them are tough customers, and it would be very difficult for the NDA to win them over (with Jayalalitha a slightly better prospect). Chances are that a fresh election will have to be called later this year.
The problem is that Narendra Modi’s literally superhuman efforts addressing hundreds of rallies (and they were more than a normal human being should be asked to deliver) are what brought about the Modi Wave or Tsunami. It would be literally impossible for him to replicate this feat, and thus a by-election would bring a much-diminished tally to the NDA, obliging them to once again solicit the various regional satraps and being forced to accept their agendas.
And how will the obvious disconnect between the exit polls and the election ‘results’ be explained away? Oh, the exit polls are always wrong, they will say, pulling out the numbers from 2009 for reference. In fact, the Economic Times has already done so, right on cue (“Before results, opinions”, May 12th). There is also the small matter, as pointed out by Monu Nalapat in 2009, that the EC web site had some results before counting started – that is, instead of the server taking data from the individual EVMs, the results were pre-programmed into the server!
And oh, just to make things more entertaining, they may actually pull off the trick of having Arvind Kejriwal defeat Modi in Varanasi. EVM magic at your service!
The AAP scenario
By now it is clear that the Aam Admi Party, despite all its hoopla, was merely a mask for the Congress, and a way for it to split anti-incumbency votes. The proper modus operandi was used to perfection in the Delhi polls recently. By sacrificing the unpopular Sheila Dixit (well, let’s not cry for her – she’s comfortably ensconced as Kerala Governor: nice sinecure) the Congress was able to blunt the BJP’s thrust to rule Delhi.
By projecting AAP as different from the Congress, and then quietly supporting them at an opportune time, the election was essentially stolen from the BJP: the AAP made big inroads into the educated urban cohort that is the most fed-up with the Congress. Naturally, western vested interests, in the form of various Agencies and Foundations, provided the lion’s share of the funding, and the media, with alacrity, anointed Arvind Kejriwal as a serious contender for the Prime Minister post. (In reality, the AAP may win 0-1 seat, at best 2-3.)
This scenario can work with that hoary chestnut, the Third Front government that will surely be trotted out should the NDA not get a clear majority. As in 2004, when the Communists ‘supported the UPA from outside’, it would not be difficult to arrange a ramshackle and unsteady coalition to form the government, with the Congress ‘supporting it from outside’.
Of course, this would lead to disaster, as investors, especially the FIIs who have run up the Sensex and the rupee, immediately leave in droves, as they would be aware that absolutely nothing would move forward on the economic front. Status quo ante, stagflation.
The Kerala 1957 scenario
The Communist government of EMS Nambudiripad, duly elected, was ousted in 1957 using a classic, reputedly standard spy agency tactic. By funding and supporting the most reactionary elements in Kerala (you can guess who they were), the three-letter Agency was able to manufacture a law-and-order situation.
The great democrat Jawaharlal Nehru, far from upholding the sanctity of the democratic process, promptly used Section 356 of the Constitution to impose President’s rule and kicked EMS out. Not that I hold any brief for the Communists, but this was a patently authoritarian act, and it set India on the slippery slope towards later, indiscriminate use of the Center’s powers to get rid of state governments it simply did not like.
Given the Berkeley mafia’s exertions, and the Stanford guys’ fulminations, not to mention seriously bone-chilling perorations in The Guardian, etc. by all sorts of people – and I have to mention that, to its credit, the Wall Street Journal has kept away from this travesty – it seems likely that the West (especially John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and other assorted Democrats) is intent on creating problems in India.
There have been many instances when popularly-elected leaders have been subverted – the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran, or that of Allende in Chile come to mind – after the creation of serious law and order situations. In case you think I am kidding, Exhibit A: last month’s Assam riot between Muslims and Bodos; last week’s Meerut riot between Muslims and Jains (yes, Jains!); and today’s Hyderabad riot between Muslims and Sikhs.
The threats from Rahul Gandhi and Amrish Misra point to the likelihood of such planned ‘uprisings’ taking place. Of course, the use of violence to disrupt and tie down an administration can happen even if a Modi government does come to power. Incidentally, this is very close to what is happening in Thailand right now, as low-level violence has paralyzed the nation, and a court has just asked Yingluck Shinawatra to step down.
The Z scenario
This is the most alarming, but by no means unthinkable, scenario. The film Z by Costa-Gavras, based on real-life incidents in Greece in the 1950s, shows how an enormously popular candidate for the presidency is assassinated by the military junta in power. When popular unrest bubbles up, the generals declare martial law and countermand the elections. This is quite possibly the greatest political film of all time, and it is my nightmare scenario.
Let us remember that as long ago as five or six years ago Karan Thapar, a journalist with strong ties to the Congress, talked about “the sudden removal of Narendra Modi”. It was obvious that he was thinking about an assassination, a physical liquiation. So this scenario has been thought about by at least some people.
I argued some time ago http://www.indiafacts.co.in/author/rajeev-srinivasan/#sthash.DtEgOnxf.dpbs that Modi had grown too popular to be assassinated – as the backlash would surely propel the BJP to office. However, now that the election is over, that point is moot, and it would not constrain anybody.
And exactly what will happen in such a scenario? Even though people have suggested there would be a civil war, I doubt it. The Army has remained apolitical and thus a marginal player. The average Indian is too docile to go out there and throw Molotov cocktails, and even if we had more hot-heads in the population, as in Iran or Ukraine or Egypt, or even in the US (remember the “Occupy Wall Street” etc. demonstrations?), it is hard to sustain an agitation over a long period, and the authorities can wear you down – you do have to go to work and earn a living, after all. Thus, an actual coup would become a fait accompli.
I have outlined above several scenarios that might unfold by Friday. I truly hope that I am wrong, and that there will be a smooth transition of power without the decimation of any of the institutions of the State. If otherwise, I hope that the least violent and the least damaging path will be taken, for the sake of this great nation.
2291 words, May 14, 2014
Errata: An earlier version said 1998 instead of 1996 for the short-lived Vajpayee government. Sorry.