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#RightSideUp: 'The Confidence, Courage and Conviction of Narendra Modi'

A weekly round-up of voices from the right.

New Delhi: Many websites this week took note of Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s decision to fight from Wayanad in Kerala with glee. A few hours of analysis later, most concluded that the reason behind Rahul using the “Modi model” of fighting from two places meant that the Gandhi scion was afraid of losing Amethi.

Others noted how Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a display of strength ‘yet again’ for India with the ASAT test, never mind what the NASA chief has had to say about the space debris resulting from it.

The Wayanad decision

Among those who tried to make sense of Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from “minority-dominated Wayanad” was Rahul Shivshankar, the editor-in-chief of Times Now post Arnab Goswami’s exit from the channel for Republic TV.

Lest political rivals and commentators interpret the decision to contest from Wayanad as Rahul Gandhi’s insecurity over winning from Amethi the Congress spun an expedient explanation: Their big hope Rahul, presumably in contrast to rival Modi, is acceptable across the length and breadth of this nation.

Delving into what the real reason is, Shivshankar moves towards the recent Samjhauta Express blast verdict, where all the accused were acquitted by a special NIA court. He says that Rahul “fears Hindu anger in the North, especially in Uttar Pradesh” as the BJP has “polarised the contest by painting it as a clash between the torchbearers of Hindu ‘asmita’ and a ‘Muslim party’.”

Speaking of how BJP’s campaigners paint the Congress to its “Hindutva vote bank”, he writes of Congress’ appeasement of Muslim hardliners, its mockery of “Modi’s muscular Pakistan policy” and its creation of “Hindu terror”.

Over the last few days, this one claim is acquiring a potent resonance with the voters. Especially after a special court has virtually slammed the NIA (under UPA) for succumbing to pressure and leading the Samjhauta train blast probe down a blind alley paved with an anti-Hindu sentiment.

In fact, some Congress insiders told TIMES NOW that the party waited to make the announcement till after the Samjhauta blast verdict. If this is true, then it makes perfect electoral sense for Rahul to pick Wayanad as a putative ‘safe seat’.

Whether the “minorities of Wayanad will be prepared to forgive Rahul Gandhi for opportunistically flirting with soft Hindutva while masquerading as a ‘Shiv Bhakt’,” will be made clear on May 23, he says.

But what we will not know for a long time is the extent to which Rahul Gandhi may have hurt Congress prospects in his desperation for self-preservation. Remember, more than any other factor the Congress’s long term survival is linked to how effectively it can win back large swathes of Hindus who are today held in thrall by the wiles of Narendra Modi. Will they be able to trust a Rahul Gandhi held up by Minority crutches after May 2019 and beyond?

Also read: #RightSideUp: Modi’s Political Appeal; Letter to ‘Brown Sahib’ Hasan Minhaj

‘Modi model imitation’

Continuing the criticism of Rahul Gandhi contesting from two states, Akriti Tyagi for rightlog.in asks whether it is “Modi model imitation or insecurity over his family bastion”.

[The] Congress heir has led the party to a slow downfall, and nothing is more evident to that than the fact that Amethi might cease to be a Congress bastion after the 2019 elections.

In response to Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala’s comment on why Rahul is contesting from Wayanad as well as Amethi where he had asked about why Modi left Gujarat to contest from Varanasi, she says:

Perhaps the Congress fails to comprehend the fact that Narendra Modi was contesting the Lok Sabha elections for the first time in 2014. PM Modi chose the city of Vadodara because Gujarat is his hometown and chose Varanasi as it is the epicenter of Hinduism, a place from where his ideologies stem. Narendra Modi was a new Lok Sabha entrant who was chosen as the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate solely on his merits.

Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand has been opted for the post on the basis of his dynasty. He has no qualms to prove his worth to be elected by the party; his ‘Gandhi name’ is enough.

The need for the second seat, she opines, is ” Rahul Gandhi’s declining popularity in Amethi”.

Over the last five years, while Rahul Gandhi has taken Amethi for granted, Smriti Irani has been working for the development of the region. With the elections nearing the corner, the entire Congress fleet is worried as they realise Smriti Irani’s staggering effect on Amethi and what it would mean for the PM candidate to lose his family bastion and not be elected to the Lok Sabha.

The second reason offered up by Tyagi, a ‘lawyer by education, but a writer by disposition’, is that Rahul Gandhi is attempting to imitate Modi.

Being the imitator Rahul Gandhi is, he perhaps wanted to follow PM Modi’s footsteps and as PM candidate, apart from his home constituency, wants to contest from the seat of ‘syncretic culture’. As PM Modi chose Varanasi, respecting his Hinduism ideologies, the Gandhi heir ironically chose Wayanad. He opted to incorporate the ‘syncretic culture’ in the party by choosing a constituency with a rather interesting minority dominated demography. Congress’ love for divide and rule is well known.

Having failed to accomplish anything worthwhile, Rahul Gandhi wants to attain votes solely on the basis of religion in both the constituencies… It is humorous to see the lengths the grand old party will go to in order to protect their incompetent heir.

Also read: #RightSideUp: Making ‘Chowkidar Cool Again’; India’s ‘Pseudo-Intellectual Worms’

Five years of Narendra Modi

In an article for the Organiser on the five years of Narendra Modi’s reign, Vandana Mishra, an assistant professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, says the “baffled voter” has an easy choice this election:

The election to the 17th Lok Sabha has eased the voter’s task of ‘choosing’ as there is hardly a party, other than the Bharatiya Janata Party, that is staking claim to win the election on its own. This election does not present before us a choice between BJP or Congress or Mahagathbandhan. Neither is it a choice between Narendra Modi or X, Y, or Z. It is a choice between a confident and courageous leader and the rest (all taken together).

People voted for Modi in 2014 despite “vicious media propaganda against him” and now in 2019, the people “seem satisfied that their bet has paid off,” she says. Mishra then begins to list the areas where Modi has succeeded in proving his “commitment towards the welfare of all,” from “Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan to International Yoga day”.

Be it the virulent attacks on demonetisation or the Rafale deal, scathing comments on Surgical strike-I and Balakot strike, or the hullabaloo over the disgraces committed by the self-acclaimed Gaurakshaks or the anti-love jihad squads, or media/opposition furore over PM’s foreign visits, or even the deafening silence of the peers about the ‘impact on the elections’ fear, nothing has deterred him.

Speaking of his foreign policy, she says that Modi bypassed the “verbal salutations to the existing power equations in the world” and went ahead with a ‘New India Foreign Policy’ and “extended friendship with Iran and Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine, China and America, all at the same time”.

Along with his ‘clean’ image, hard work, and visionary depth, the confidence and courage of Narendra Modi, obviously stemming from his conviction towards the larger development goals and enabling India to occupy the position of ‘POWER’ in the global politics, is knotty for the opponents and infectious for the rest.

‘PM Raghuram Rajan’

Can Raghuram Rajan be UPA’s PM candidate? More importantly, is ‘PM Raghuram Rajan’ good for you?

That’s the question Mayuresh Didolkar poses in Swarajya this week. Writing about how it was a “distrust of the dynasty” that led the Congress to appoint Manmohan Singh as the prime minister in 2014, even though the dynasty itself “retained control of the UPA government”.

Having someone with reputation for intellect and domain knowledge as its face, helped the party immensely in returning to power in 2009…

This time, Didolkar says, perhaps it is former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan’s time:

Fast forward to 2019, with former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan making numerous public appearances, ostensibly to promote his book The Third Pillar, but in reality to let the powers be known about his availability and eagerness, as well as display his liberal credentials by calling majoritarian Hindus and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as threats to liberal India.

Speaking of how “an articulate, urbane man with the right resume, and an ideological alignment to the party might look like a godsend” for an “ill-prepared Congress,” Didolkar goes on to explain the “halo effect” and explains why people with no political experience sometimes find “mainstream acceptance”.

Also read: Raghuram Rajan Raises Doubts About India Growing At 7%

But another bias is at work too, he says, that will ensure that voters see Rajan (whom is referred to as R3 for much of the article) as a credible fellow: “fundamental attribution error” where people “tend to overlook factors like privilege and background while evaluating successful people and attribute all of the success to some mythical qualities within them”.

There is more bad news for such voters though. As incredible as it sounds, good economic policy does not require good economists…A person with R3’s academic and work track record is just as prone to prejudices and biases as you and your neighbour. However, the elites in mainstream media and academics have made a concentrated effort to draw an ‘equal to’ sign between elite beliefs and morality.

By giving his implicit endorsement to Rahul Gandhi’s largely unworkable minimum income guarantee scheme, he has demonstrated his willingness to use his eminent reputation as a bargaining chip at the high table of power. With the mandatory lip-service to the danger posed to India by majority Hindus, he has signalled accommodation towards his worshippers in mainstream media. The stage for Raghuram Rajan the politician is set.