Absolutely Karnatakered

Last week’s State elections are a litmus paper to the controversies and voting patterns of the upcoming GE

When PM Modi was here in London last month it looked to me that he was implicitly enacting the opening scenes of his general election campaign.

Nothing but portents of doom had been emerging in the Indian media – both from its gleeful opponents and mournful supporters – about the BJP’s prospects in 2019. What I saw as very many promising datapoints, not least the ground-level successes of most of Modi’s policies, were largely ignored or traduced by the Indian MSM. The unprecedented dominance of the BJP in the far north-east of the country passed uncommented on.

OK, I thought, Modi hasn’t begun to campaign yet. Wait until he does and we’ll begin to get a clearer picture through this gloomy miasma. We’ll see if the opinions and analyses of the secretly-delighted naysayers have any substance to them.

As Minhaz Merchant tweeted: “The Ayatollahs of (fake) secularism are back & everyone seems to be ganging up against Modi: the Church, Muslims, Dalits, activists, NGOs, the opposition, culture vultures, foreign media. Everyone except … voters.”

We have just had the Karnataka state election, and during the fortnight prior to voting, Modi did indeed go on a campaigning storm through the area, which must be seen as at least a rehearsal for his manner of presentation in next year’s big contest.

Now, the BJP is not traditionally big in the south

It has Andra Pradesh, but Karnataka, Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu , Puducherry are all foreign to BJP dominance. The BJP is the party of the north, west and the Gangetic plain. Its founders were merchants exiled from Pakistan after partition, who had first formed the long-lamented Swatantra party (the nearest thing to classical Liberalism India ever had).

Its heartlands are Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madya Pradesh. But the BJP is now dominant – ruling alone or in coalition – also in the North and generally across India, except for the south and the Communist-Maoist strongholds in the east.

Congress clings on in a few places, including Punjab, where it is rewarded for its friendliness with fundamentalist Islamics.

According to the media prognoses, with as usual the honourable exception of India’s finest psephologist, the BJP was about to get knackered in Karnataka.

What actually happened turned everything around – even as it appears that Congress will manage to wrest the Chief Ministership by making a shaky alliance.

Some numbers: In 2013 the BJP was indeed hammered. Out of 224 seats Congress won 121, comfortably more than 50% of the vote. The Janata Dal (Secular) – an anti-Congress option – gained 40 seats, exactly the same number as the BJP. A few other parties shared the crumbs.

Last week Congress won 78, 43 fewer seats, while the BJP increased its total to 104, up by 64, or if you prefer, more than a 150% increase in vote. Thus we observe how Modi is truly hated in areas where the BJP previously did little business!

The JD(S) lost a couple of seats and slipped to 38.

The Aam Aadmi Party (Congress B-team) didn’t win a single seat.

Although the BJP didn’t achieve an overall majority of 112– short by eight seats – they were by far the largest party, and the Supreme court declared in support of his assertion on that basis that BS Yeddyurappa, the BJP candidate for Chief Minister, should form the new administration.

The only other party that could ally with Congress to oust the BJP would be the JD(S). That would not be received well by Janata Dal supporters because they had just voted against the ruling Congress Party, not the locally out-of-power BJP, but would end up with a Congress majority administration (even with HD Kumaraswamy as chief minister) just the same, courtesy of their treacherous JD(S) pols.

And yet, dear reader, it looks as if that’s just what is going to happen. Delicious – and I’ll tell you why.

What happened was that Congress petitioned the Supreme Court, which had given Yeddyurappa two weeks to form a majority coalition and establish a BJP-led administration. Congress petitioned the Supreme Court and somehow got the period reduced to only two days, which was an impossibly short time to cement any alliances.

Congress also basically kidnapped the new JD(S) MPs and is even now keeping them in purdah in hotel rooms while a deal with the Congress Party is stitched up. They don’t want any new MLAs taking fright and fleeing across the street to the BJP – a realistic fear.

Also, there is the matter of personal safety: on no account are the JD(S) MPs to venture onto public streets, to be possibly lynched by their angry voters! “You should also ask Rahul Gandhi why he has kept MLAs in hotels. They are still there,” joked BJP President Amit Shah.

Shah called the Congress manoeuvres a “betrayal” of the people’s mandate and questioned whether it would last. A fair point: Congress and the JD(S) have spectacularly fallen out before, and the Janata vote in Karnataka was clearly against Rahul Gandhi’s family party.

The question is what this might mean for the general election. The BJP almost always triumphs nowadays when there is a three-cornered fight, because the opposition will split, dividing the vote, almost always guaranteeing an NDA (National Democratic Alliance) victory.

Where opposition parties unite in a UPA (United Progressive Alliance) block, the BJP is vulnerable.

A senior BJP politician I talked to agreed in principal, but made the point that Modi and the BJP are both far more popular after four years in power and having achieved so much – which the voters approve and reward even if the media and the establishment refuses to acknowledge them.

He added that the popularity of Modi across India, even in the far north-east, and among minorities, is due to concrete progress and the withering of Congress propaganda in disinfecting sunlight.

Up from 40 seats to 104 in Karnataka is testament to this, especially in a traditionally non-BJP-voting southern state – but one in which Modi had indeed spent that whirlwind two weeks electioneering prior to the vote.

If the BJP vote improves on average by just one-third as well as it did in Karnataka – up by half on 2013, say – then it will not matter how united the UPA parties are: Modi will simply bulldoze them.

An election cometh!

The election’s not due for over a year yet, but it’s best to get your despair in early

It’s always been my contention that Modi became prime minister despite the BJP rather than because of it. His appeal as a singular personality lay in the combination of his auspicious achievements in Gujarat as chief minister and his position as a social and political outsider. Remember the dynamics of charisma: you win charisma by gaining successes; you don’t gain success by having charisma. Modi was elected on his record.

It helped that Modi was a great orator and had fresh ideas and was a moderniser and was the very first social media genius among politicians—Donald Trump was the second Twitter leader, Modi was the first.

Continue reading “An election cometh!”

Modi more popular than ever

What on earth can be going on?

Modi’s been “doing a Trump”.

After winning the state election in Gujarat a fortnight ago—and after a simultaneous victory in the formerly solid-Congress territory of Himachel Pradesh (As BJP wins Gujarat, Himachal, it is Modi vs Modi in 2019”), there can be only one interpretation: Modi and the BJP are doomed.

It is hilarious. These unceasing BJP victories mean the Indian mainstream media is forced to interpret damning defeats for the Congress Party as “a great opportunity” for the boy Rahul. And this despite the latest figures  that demonstrate Modi’s governance is heartily approved of by the Indian population—which must therefore increasingly be seen as “a bunch of deplorables” by the sophisticates in Delhi to keep their hallucination intact.

Continue reading “Modi more popular than ever”

Western “liberals” still not getting Modi’s demonetization move.

If you didn’t laugh at their cognitive dissonance … you’d laugh anyway

Cognitive dissonance is the gap between reality and what you would prefer reality to be. That gap gets filled with error and blindness when you can’t face up to what’s actually happening in the world. It’s thinking wishfully, with an edge of psychotic unreason. The Trump hysteria among Clinton Democrats and others in the USA (what Scott Adams calls “Trump Derangement Syndrome”) derives from an unwillingness to accept that their candidate was poisonously unpopular, lost the election, and that this is really for real.

The Leftish Naked Capitalism website, usually excellent on many matters, has been simply appalling in its coverage of India under Modi, and this I also put down to cognitive dissonance. It uncritically prints articles by notorious Congress Party frontmen inaccurate in details and wholly ideological in content.

Continue reading “Western “liberals” still not getting Modi’s demonetization move.”

Antifragile India

What are we to make of the extraordinary progress and results that Modi is achieving? It could be the ‘antifragile’ phenomenon in action.

Of the five recent Indian state assembly elections – in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur – the BJP either won outright or formed a ruling coalition in four of them. Only in Punjab did the party strike out, and this was easily foreseen. I think it is time to begin to speak of Modi making India – and himself – ‘antifragile’.

The most stupefying electoral result was from Uttar Pradesh. At the conclusion of my last post I cautiously guessed at a 60-70% chance of Modi (and I purposely say ‘Modi’ rather than ‘BJP’) winning in UP. It transpired that an unprecedented landslide in Modi’s favour gave the BJP 312 seats (excluding alliances) out of a 403-seat Vidhan Sabha. This is almost unbelievable, especially when the doom-laden predictions of electoral oblivion – heavily predicated on the ‘disastrous’ demonetisation of late 2016 – are taken into account.

Continue reading “Antifragile India”

We don’t need no stinking dynasties!

The Democrats and the US media gave Trump the Modi treatment – with the same results

My friend Winston the electrician called round last week, a couple of days after Donald Trump’s election victory. I unlocked and swung open the gate and he was pointing at me.

‘You’re the man, Andy, you’re the man! You said Trump would win!’ he said.

I’d briefly forgotten the conversation we’d had the previous Monday, on the eve of the US presidential election, when I’d heretically argued that in spite of all the pro-Clinton hysteria on the TV and wireless, I thought that Trump had a very good chance of stealing victory from under the noses of the Democrat-supporting media. Almost all journalists and commentators were so frantically virtue-signalling that they couldn’t detect the reality of what was happening on the ground.

And so it transpired. I didn’t take any particular delight in Trump’s victory; I wasn’t even gruntled at having been more or less correct in predicting he would win. I didn’t like Hillary at all – a greedy, corrupt, establishment money-grubber and war-monger who had utterly forsaken the ordinary folk who were the Democratic Party’s mass (and essential) voters. Trump was loud, vulgar, abusive and egomaniacal – although he was less boring than the alternative. Like many, I quite liked some of what he was saying but I wondered if it was insincere and crazed gibberish that he had no real intent of making good on. But he certainly knew how to ‘lead and pace’ his supporters.

Continue reading “We don’t need no stinking dynasties!”

September upsum

A lot’s happened since Bharatiyata! started half a year ago. Let’s have a quick review of what this is all about …

I started this website back in February and now, just over six months later, I’m going to do a quick upsum to see how far we’ve come, where we’ve got to, what topics we’ve covered and where we’re going. It’s a drawing of breath before moving forward again.

First of all, I haven’t done much over the past month – in fact the work has been mostly behind the scenes as I’ve been ‘SEO-optimising’ the site (mind-numbing work) and bringing various things up to date. At the start I decided I wouldn’t take advertising on here because Bharatiyata! was not created to be a money-making vehicle, at least not in the short-term sense of scraping fractions of pennies from click-throughs. I have zero interest in that model of commerce. I’m trying to be generous with this site and am simply attempting to give information and insight to people who might be interested in those topics. Continue reading “September upsum”

So much more than musical chairs

Studying the changing profile of power in Modi’s government will reward those who wish to understand and do business with India

A week ago Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated a major reshuffle of his cabinet and ministers. Halfway through the NDA’s term of government is a good time to take stock in a significant way, and to position the government for the coming election in 2019 whose approach is still just below the horizon.

What seems clear is that with this reshuffle Modi is further putting his stamp on the character of the administration, and that he has one eye on the future electoral profile of the BJP: good performance is rewarded and poor performance, including ministers getting too big for their boots, is punished. The demotion everybody is talking about is Smriti Irani being moved from Employment to Textiles due to her proclivity for never knowingly avoiding a fight and admiring herself way too much. Some claim it is not a demotion but a sideways deployment that positions her to fight in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections. (Note that the Gandhi family ‘pocket boroughs’, Amethi and Rae Bareli – which hold the honours of the most severe child malnutrition in India, and some of the worst highways – are in Uttar Pradesh.) Others say that is nonsense and that caste issues by far outweigh any influence that Irani could bring to bear in that state. We shall see.

Continue reading “So much more than musical chairs”

Things are finally moving …

Modi entered Delhi facing an entrenched and obstructive government bureaucracy that was bespoke-designed over many decades to serve the bigwigs of Congress

Despite being Modi’s biographer and genuinely liking the man, I am not here to defend him. It is a fact that as we pass the two-year mark of the BJP administration in power, there are justified criticisms to be made. Overall the biggest complaint has to be the apparently slow and timid pace of change and reform – for, incidentally, nothing dramatically disastrous or unforgivable has occurred, despite such being endlessly predicted by Modi’s political and media enemies loyal to the Gandhi dynasty.

When I am asked, as I always am asked, the reason why Modi has not changed everything quickly and delivered India to its wonderful prosperous destiny already, I reply with an offering of a reality sandwich. First of all, Modi entered Delhi facing an entrenched and obstructive government bureaucracy that was bespoke-designed over many decades to serve the bigwigs of the Congress Party and the Gandhi dynasty. Very many careers were owed to and depended upon the established structure; forcing it to change was always going to be a Herculean task. The babus of government service constitute a complete society, unbelieveably  loyal to that Gandhi dynasty, and changing their orientation would be a work of years and would require a master administrator.

Continue reading “Things are finally moving …”

Why India? #2

India is finally waking from its slumber

Soon enough I hope to remove the question-mark from this series of posts even though that might appear optimistic given India’s track-record of (self-imposed) failures. I’m no Aunt Sally: I am not trying to look on the bright side, nor to poke around for morsels of good news among the gristly stuff. I’m not a Trümmerfrau either, picking among the wreckage and piling up the bricks and masonry strewn around the bombsite to start building an impossible future. I am in fact a hopeful skeptic rather than a pessimist.

For pessimism is an aspect of nihilism and nihilism is an aspect of narcissism, which is itself an aspect of solipsism. India has been subjected to quite enough of that.

India has also been the victim of skewed perceptions since Independence, and has mostly believed what it has been told.

For example, it is difficult to grasp the economic potential and promise of India, partly because in geographic terms it is relatively insignificant, covering much less than half the land mass of the USA or China – which are almost identical in size, at 3,805,927 and 3,705,407 square miles respectively – and only one fifth of the territory of Russia, which is 6,592,800 square miles excluding the Crimea.

Continue reading “Why India? #2”