This post is likely to be a little discursive: the snow has gone, the days are stretching longer and spring is on the way, so I’m feeling a little looser.
Do bear with me.
First of all, after addressing in my previous post all the doom and gloom (not mine) surrounding Modi’s and the BJP’s prospects in the upcoming 2019 general election, it is amusing to have to report on the the state election in Meghalaya last week (27 Feb) which led to the crushing of the Congress party and the installation of an NDA government—led by 40-year-old Conrad Sangma, chief of the National People’s Party (NPP)—in which the BJP has just two seats but effective strategic control.
The plain fact is that in mountainous and jungly northeast India, where the party of the plains is traditionally weak, the BJP is now the biggest player, even if that’s as part of local coalitions. The major takeaway is that Megalhaya is yet another state to have been snatched from Congress in a part of the nation that it always assumed was its to command. The frustration for Congress is that this was despite winning the most seats of any single party (21)—but that’s democracy, folks!
BJP party president Amit Shah is no fool, and part of his tactics for encroaching on Congress strongholds out of reach to BJP majorities has been to establish alliances and coalitions. It’s worked like a dream. The BJP is now governing either by itself or in coalition in four times as many states nationally as when Modi won the 2014 election.
In the northeast there are seven states. The BJP holds sway now in all but one of them. Congress still has Mizoram, but for how long? It just lost eight seats in Nagaland and saw its vote share drop to only 2% (from 25% in 2013), while the BJP basically traded places, going from 1.8% in 2013 to 14.4% last week.
When the incumbent government increases its share more than ten-fold mid term and the challenger (Congress) goes in exactly the opposite direction, what do you suppose the runes are predicting for the next general election?
As always these days, the safest course is to ignore whatever the mainstream media says or simply bet against their forecasts (this is my “Do the opposite of whatever The Economist and Financial Times decree” heuristic).
A La prochain: au fond, Trudeau manqué d’intelligence … So I don’t know whether it’s best to call Rahul Gandhi India’s Justin Trudeau, or Trudeau Canada’s Rahul Gandhi. In a way they deserve each other, although at least Trudeau has been elected to something—probably never again. In the wake of his disastrous costume-drama visit to India, in which he tried to out-namaste and generally out-Hindu every subcontinental alive, Trudeau is even more than usual an international laughing-stock.
Of particular note was the fact that the “guide” he brought with him from Ottowa was a real Sikh-separatist hit-man who attempted to re-invent himself for credulous Canucks, at least one of whom (no names …) believed the ex-assassin’s “I am Indian and therefore spiritual” schtick.
Nota bene that I’m not anti-Sikh at all, just anti-terrorist. In fact it’s likely that India only allowed the murderous Jaspal Atwal back into the country (and without arresting him!) because he’s now working for Indian intelligence to give the lowdown on whatever fresh idiocy The Boy Trudeau is up to. I bow to no man in my admiration for Modi’s NSA, Ajit Doval, and I would expect nothing less of him than to arrange something like this.
(Doval knows Sikh separatists well: disguised as a lowly dabbawala he smuggled himself inside the Golden Temple during the siege in 1984. He gained the confidence of Bhindranwale and managed to relay the strength and dispositions of the terrorist forces inside the complex to the Army outside the walls.)
Alors, when Trudeau set foot on Indian soil it was to the sound of crickets and tumbleweed: nobody from Modi’s administration turned up to meet him, and the government as a whole reacted to his presence as if they had discovered a dead rat in the watertank.
It’s not just any sane person’s healthy disgust with Trudeau that led to this response but more probably (and among other things) Canada’s shameless pro-China double-dealing. Most immediately this has annoyed the USA, but I think that the craven lobbying at the UN and elsewhere that Canada has been undertaking on behalf of lifetime leader Xi could actually be just as provocative to India. (For more information on this see Danny Lam’s excellent article here.) I don’t know if anybody else has pointed this out yet, but I think that would explain a lot of Modi’s antipathy vis-à-vis the Trudeau marionette.
In brief, Canada fell out with the new Trump administration (which Trudeau treated patronisingly and completely underestimated) over the Bombardier airplane company “dumping” suit brought by Boeing. Canada responded by cancelling a $5bn order for F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters. So there. Meanwhile Canada did all it could to undermine the US call for NATO countries to take more responsibility and actually spend some cash on their own defence, while Trudeau refused to pay anything towards the US-architected missile protection system (although still expecting to be protected by it, naturellement); and Trudeau also rudely refused to back the US in its confrontation with Kim Jung-un.
Most serious, though, was the underhand and sneaky way Canada tried to help China get around the NAFTA regulations by arranging to sell it debt-laden Bombardier:
Canada’s government was aware that Bombardier had been in talks with Chinese entities such as the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) to sell out lock, stock and barrel with “everything on the table” including highly sensitive know-how and technologies. Such a sale would have resulted in China gaining a Canadian foothold in an industry dominated by Boeing and Airbus, which are the largest export earners in North America and Europe, accounting for millions of high-paying jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
When the Chinese angle was exposed—The Canadian connection would have allowed the Chicoms to sell Chinese-manufactured civil aircraft as bona fide tariff-free NAFTA goods—Trump understandably hit the roof and will now probably terminate NAFTA altogether. Well done, Justin! Why the fanatical enthusiasm to help your Chinese friends? Well, follow the money: it’s only crooked Chinese cash that is propping up the Canadian economy, through property taxes paid on houses in the Great Canadian Housing Bubble for starters. The Boy Trudeau thinks his bread is buttered on the Chinese side, but he is about to be most rudely corrected.
And corrected not just by Trump, but by Modi as well. Because although Modi and the US President, living in different neighbourhoods, might find they have different tactics and attitudes towards dealing with the 900lb gorilla, China, in the end they are closer to each other than farther apart on agreeing that they have to do something. Canada and its doleful administration is helping neither; and so I think it will be the case that Trudeau will eventually play cupid to a marriage of Trumpian and Modian policy towards the new dictator-for-life in Beijing.
And lastly: Xi Jinping, whose “philosophy” has now been added to the Chicom’s official bible (just as Mao’s was with his best-selling little red book), is about to declare himself President-Forever, or some such dictator’s self-loving title.
At this point we must all repeat the mantra: never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. For there is nothing more fragilising to a country or an economy than handing it over to the perpetual care of a single person who cannot be dislodged. Never in human history has it been a successful strategy and for bleeding obvious reasons never will be.
Even the Brussels nitwits are starting to be worried by the prospect of an eternal Xi and China’s now blatant turning away from anything resembling democratic progress (phrases such as “I disagree,” “personality cult,” “Animal Farm”, “emigrate” and “Xi Zedong” have just been banned on China’s Weibo internet) as the Chicoms continue to ramp up their “peace-lofing” Belt-and-Road Initiative that is now supposed to extend even across Europe.
Not many in the world of politics can see the funny side of all this (“funny” being that the bad guys are going to lose big time if they carry on like this). But when he joked that, if Xi thought dictator-for-life was a good idea then, gee, maybe he should try it himself some time—Trump at least displayed a healthy sense of humour.
And the fact that Trump’s utterly humourless critics thought he was being serious was the funniest thing of all.