Why BJP is right in politicising Vadra's shenanigans

Vadra3 (1) 

Vivek Kaul 

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) disrupted the functioning of both the houses of Parliament yesterday (i.e. August 13, 2013). “Congress ka haath, damaad ke saath, (hand of Congress is with the son-in-law),” chanted members of the BJP. The damaad they were referring to is Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Kamal Nath, minister of parliamentary affairs, commenting on the issue said that Vadra’s alleged shenanigans were a state issue. “It is a state issue and parliament does not discuss state issues … if they (opposition) want to discuss, then Congress members will demand a debate on the mining scam in Karnataka and mining mafia in Madhya Pradesh. We must discuss issues of Gujarat,” he said.

This was an extremely lame duck defence. Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress party, had written to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue of the Uttar Pradesh government suspending IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal.
As a report in The Times of India points out “In a letter to Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh, Gandhi said there is widespread concern that the suspended officer Durga Shakti Nagpal in the course of her public duties was seen to be standing up against vested interests engaging in illegal activity. It is reported that Nagpal has been hastily suspended for unsubstantiated reasons, she said. “We must ensure that the officer is not unfairly treated,” she told the Prime Minister.”
If one were to use Kamal Nath’s logic then Sonia Gandhi should not have written a letter to the Prime Minister on what is basically a “state” issue. If a national leader of the stature of Sonia Gandhi can write a letter to the Prime Minister on a state issue, why can’t the Parliament, which has many other national leaders, discuss a state issue?
Also, what is a national issue and what is a state issue? It is ultimately the states that constitute the nation. And if the son-in-law of the leader of the party that runs the government is accused of corruption, it is a national issue and a big cause for concern.
Several non Congress leaders have come out in the support of Sonia Gandhi, saying she can’t be held responsible for the actions of her son-in-law. 
Mayawati, the President of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) said “I would like to say if Sonia Gandhi is held responsible for it, our party does not agree with it. If someone does something wrong, his or her relations should not be punished. On the allegations against Robert Vadra, how can Sonia Gandhi be held responsible.” 
A similar view was put forward by Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Aggarwal. “I don’t agree with the BJP’s slogan of ‘sarkari damaad’. We are not in agreement with the politicisation of the issue and dragging Sonia Gandhi in to the issue. I do not see how she can be held responsible for the whole issue,” said Aggarwal. 
Sonia Gandhi cannot be held responsible for the activities of her “damaad”, maybe a valid point, but that does not mean that the Parliament should not be discussing the issue. Allow me to elaborate.
Robert Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality Private Ltd bought 3.53 acres of land from Onkareshwar Properties run by one Satyanand Yajee. The sale was registered on February 12, 2008. Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality paid the money by issuing a Corporation Bank cheque. Yajee’s Onkareshwar Properties did not encash the cheque immediately. 
In the balance sheet of Sky Light Hospitality as on March 31, 2008, there is a book overdraft entry of Rs 7.944 crore. This includes Rs 7.5 crore that was to be paid for the 3.53 acres of land that was bought and around Rs 45 lakh for the stamp duty that was paid for registering the sale with the Haryana government.
A book overdraft is not an overdraft at a bank but essentially a record of cheques that have been issued by the company but not encashed minus its bank balance. 
The balance sheet of Onkareshwar Properties showed a sundy debtors entry of Rs 7.95 crore on March 31, 2008. What this meant was that the company had not encashed the cheque issued by Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality and at the same time also helped pay the stamp duty. It need not be said that if it had tried to encash the cheque, the cheque would have bounced. Sky Light Hospitality had a negative cash and bank balance of Rs 7.94 crore.
The question is why did Onkareshwar Properties go out of its way to help Sky Light Hospitality, on what was a purely commercial transaction. As I pointed out in this piece yesterday, Yajee is known to be very close to Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the chief minister of Haryana. 
The Haryana government’s department of town and country planning issued a letter of intent to Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality for grant of commercial colony license for 2.701 acres out of the total area of 3.53 acres, on March 28, 2008. This was done within a mere 18 days of application, IAS officer Ashok Khemka has pointed out in his 105 page reply to the report of the committee constituted by the Haryana state government (dated October 19, 2012) to inquire into the issues raised by Khemka when he was the director general of land records. 
The rules and regulations required the government to check for the capacity of the applicant to develop a colony. Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality had no previous experience of developing a colony. At the same time as on March 31, 2008, the company had a paid up capital of Rs 1 lakh. Paid up capital is the total amount of the company’s capital that is funded by its shareholders. How was a company with so little money expected to develop a colony? 
Once the commercial colony license was in place, Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality entered into into a collaboration agreement with with M/s DLF Retail Developers, on August 5, 2008. DLF as we know is the largest listed real estate company in the country. 
After this Sky Light Hospitality received a huge amount of advance or interest free loan from DLF. The balance sheet of Sky Light Hospitality as on March 31, 2009, clearly points out entries of Rs 15 crore and Rs 10 crore as advances received from DLF. 
Now as we can see everyone went out of their way to accommodate the business interests of Robert Vadra. Why was that the case? Not because Robert Vadra was a very promising entrepreneur and hence needed to be given all the help that the state government and the biggest real estate company in the country could give him. There are so many such entrepreneurs in the country who receive no help from the government. 
To conclude, lets go back to something that happened a few months back. Pawan Kumar Bansal, the union railway minister, was made to resign after his nephew was caught by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) while accepting a bribe of Rs 90 lakh, for organising a cash-for-jobs transfer of a senior railway board official Mahesh Kumar. 
Bansal said after his resignation that “I welcome the CBI probe. I gave a statement right after the incident that I have nothing to do with this. Also, that I have no business relationship with my nephew. The truth will come out.” 
Fair enough, even though it is difficult to believe that the nephew could have promised transfers without the minister knowing about it. 
The basic point is that Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion. Or to put in simple English, the associates of public figures must not even be suspected of wrongdoing. 
And if Bansal had to quit because of that, then the Parliament can at least have a discussion on the shenanigans of Robert Vadra.

The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on August 14, 2013 

(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek) 

Why Nitish Kumar 'really' dumped Modi led BJP

Vivek Kaul 
The Nitish Kumar led Janata Dal (United) (JD-U) ended its 17 year old alliance with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) yesterday afternoon. This was on account of the fact that the BJP has or more less declared Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, something which did not gone down well with Kumar and JD(U) and thus led to the split.
While prima facie it might seem to be a clash of two strong personalities i.e. Modi and Kumar, there is much more to the split than that. In order to understand the real reason behind the split one has to understand the caste politics of Bihar in its most basic form.
Nitish Kumar belongs to the 
kurmi caste which is the numerically too small to help him win elections. At the same time the people belonging to the caste are geographically concentrated and not spread out throughout the state. The kurmis form around 3.5% of the state’s population. In comparison, the yadavs, who back Lalu Prasad Yadav, Nitish’s biggest political rival in the state, form 11.7% of the population.
Given this, over the years Nitish has had to chip away at votes from other castes. This has included wooing the 
mahadalits (primarily the non Paswan schedule castes, which included Dalits other than the Dusadh, Chamar, Pasi and Dhobi) and the extremely backward classes or the EBCs (primarily the non yadav backward classes). The EBCs formed 32% of the state’s population but had only a 5% representation in the state assembly.
It has also included wooing the backward caste Muslims i.e. the 
pasmandas. This was what helped Nitish Kumar break Lalu Prasad Yadav’s MY or Muslim-Yadav formula. The MY formula was the main reason behind Lalu winning successive elections despite the governance in Bihar almost coming to a standstill. Muslims form 16-17% of the population in Bihar which is much more than 9.9% nationally.
What is interesting here is that even though Lalu Yadav successfully wooed the Muslims, when it came to distributing goodies he concentrated on the upper caste Muslims i.e. the 
Manjur Ali studies this phenomenon in a research paper titled 
Politics of ‘Pasmanda’ Muslims : A Case Study of BiharAs he writes “Lalu Prasad Yadav in the name of M-Y (Muslim-Yadav) alliance has promoted the FM-Y (Forward Muslim-Yadav) alliance, where major benefits were cornered by Ashraf Muslims in the name of the community… Unemployment, poverty and apathy of the state towards their problems were never raised by the Bihar Ashraf political elites ..The RJD made fourteen Muslims MLCs, out of which twelve were upper-caste Muslims. Again, there were seven appointments made for the post of Vice Chancellor, all from upper castes. Similarly, appointment to government posts like teachers, posts in the police department and in minority institutions were allotted to the sharif people. In turn, Lalu received blessings from religious leaders belonging to the upper castes for his electoral victory.”
Nitish Kumar was sympathetic to the cause of the backward caste Muslims while Lalu Yadav took the Muslim support for granted. On October 8, 2005, seven 
pasmanda political parties issued a clarion call to defeat Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in the state assembly elections. Slogans like ‘Vote hamara fatwa tumhara, nahi chalega’ (your dictate on our vote will not work) and ‘jo pasmanda ki baat karega, wahi Bihar pe raaj karega’ (those who concede the demand of Pasmanda will rule Bihar) became the order of the day.
This split in the Muslim vote along with other caste alliances that had been built, helped Nitish Kumar become the Chief Minister of Bihar in November 2005. In fact he first realised the power of the Muslim vote in 2004. The BJP-JD(U) alliance won just 11 out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state. This despite the fact that people of the state were fed up with the misrule of Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi. But the Muslims had not been voting for the BJP-JD(U) alliance and punishing it for the Gujarat riots of 2002.
In the state assembly elections of 2005, Nitish Kumar wooed the 
pasmanda Muslims and did not allow Narendra Modi to campaign in Bihar. The JD(U)-BJP alliance did very well winning 143 out of the 243 seats in the state assembly. This anti Modi stand continued and the alliance did very well in the state in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and 2010 state assembly elections as well. He also ensured that Modi did not campaign in these elections as well. So Nitish Kumar has found his anti-Modi stand reap electoral benefits in the past.
Hence, any direct association with the BJP which has Narendra Modi at the top would clearly have cost Kumar the 
pasmanda votes and helped his bete noire Lalu Yadav resurrect his MY formula. In fact, in the recently concluded Lok Sabha by election in Mahrajganj, the RJD candidate won by 1.37 lakh votes. The worrying thing here for Kumar was that Muslims seem to have voted for the RJD enmasse. This was the final nail in the coffin for the BJP-JD(U) alliance.
Critics of Nitish Kumar have repeatedly asked that why did he continue in the NDA government in Delhi after the 2002 Gujarat riots. If he had a problem, he should have quit then. Why wait for 11 years? While this seems like a valid point that is not how things work in politics.
In 2002, and till very recently, Modi was nowhere in the national scheme of things for the BJP. Hence, there was no direct association between Nitish Kumar and Modi. But now with Modi being BJP’s prime ministerial candidate the Muslim vote would have moved enmasse to RJD, which is something that Kumar could ill-afford. In the past Nitish managed to keep Modi away from Bihar, but now with Modi being the prime ministerial candidate for the BJP that would not have been possible.
That’s one part of the story. The caste alliances that Nitish Kumar built were one reason behind the success of the BJP-JD(U) alliance. Nevertheless the alliance was also helped by the upper caste vote that the BJP brought with it. The Brahmins, Rajputs, Bhumihars and Kayasthas, form the upper castes and account for around 16% of votes in Bihar.
The upper castes formed the icing on the cake. In fact, the JD(U) leader and former convener of NDA, Sharad Yadav, admitted to as much when he said after the 2005 win: “We had the masses with us but I am not sure we would have won such a landslide without the BJP. Although some JD(U) members wanted to break from BJP, we realised that it was the BJP which had the support system – the upper-caste dominated press, bureaucracy and judiciary. Though Nitish led from the front, the BJP played its part in this win.”
Manish K Jha and Pushpendra summarise the situation very well in their 2012 research paper 
Governing Caste and Managing Conflicts Bihar, 1990-2011 “Nitish Kumar had assiduously worked to bring together a coalition of Kurmis, Koeris, EBCs, lower Muslims (Pasmanda) and Mahadalits. and the upper-caste and business-community support-base of his party’s coalition partner, BJP. Finally, in November 2005 assembly elections, EBCs consolidated their votes in alliance with lower caste Muslims and upper castes and RJD regime was replaced by the JD(U)-BJP coalition.”
In a state as feudal as Bihar is, for any party the support of the upper castes is a huge help. What the BJP also brings with itself is the RSS cadre, which is a huge help during 
the election process, from campaigning to manning booths to having the right electoral agents at the right booths. This is something that Nitish would have realised during the recent Maharajganj Lok Sabha poll.
One possibility for Nitish is to align with the Congress to make up for the loss of the votes that BJP brought in. The Congress has already started sending feelers regarding an alliance. There are two problems with this approach. The first problem is that the Congress is more or less dead in the state. Hence, any alliance between the two parties is going to benefit the Congress more than the JD(U).
And the second problem is that the Congress already has an alliance with Lalu Yadav’s RJD. And aligning with Lalu won’t go well with the political plank of development that Nitish has built and also delivered on. Any political leader who stands for economic development can’t be seen aligning with Lalu Yadav, the very antithesis of development. But as they say funnier things have happened in politics.
Given these reasons, Nitish Kumar and JD(U) will be worse off after the split with the BJP, but only slightly. Nitish’s bigger interest here seems to hold back Lalu Yadav from resurrecting his MY alliance and from the way things stand here, he should be successful at that.
As far as the BJP is concerned it will continue to get the support of the upper castes in the state. But that in itself will not be enough to win a substantial number of the 40 Lok Sabha seats. In the current Lok Sabha, the BJP-JD(U) alliance had 32 seats from the state.
Also, it is worth remembering that Hindutva was never really a big issue in Bihar. Even after Lalu Yadav arrested Lal Krishna Advani during the course of his 1990 
Rath Yatra, the state continued to remain peaceful. So BJP’s attempts to resurrect this issue (as it is plans to in Uttar Pradesh by appointing Modi’s lieutenant Amit Shah as in-charge of the party in the state) won’t really work in Bihar. Given these reasons, it will be difficult for the party to win more than 10 Lok Sabha seats from the state, on its own. Hence, Modi will have to work more magic in other states so as to ensure that the party wins enough seats on its own so that potential allies are attracted to it at least after the elections.
The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on June 17,2013 

(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)

Why Advani’s resignation is the ‘black swan’ that can hurt the BJP

BotanicSwans11Vivek Kaul
All swans are white.
Or so went the wisdom till the world discovered Australia.
Australia had black swans.
This was the basis of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s black swan theory. The theory uses the black swan metaphor to explain the negative consequences of hard to predict rare events.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Mark Blyth explain the concept in a research paper titled 
The Black Swan of CairoBlack swans are essentially large scale events that lie far from the statistical norm and are largely unpredictable to a given set of observers. So basically these events have a very low chance of happening and hence are rarely predictable in advance.
“Such environments eventually experience massive blowups, catching everyone of-guard and undoing years of stability or, in some cases, ending up far worse than they were in their initial volatile state,” write the authors.
Lal Krishna Advani’s resignation from all official posts that he held within the Bhartiya Janata Party(BJP) is a similar black swan event. It came out of the blue and has caught the party totally off guard. None of the political commentators who appear on television almost every day discussing the way this country is headed, predicted it. And like black swan events do, it has already started to have negative after effects.
As soon as the news of Advani’s resignation broke out one stream of thought that was put forward by supporters of Narendra Modi(particularly those on Facebook and Twitter) and other analysts was that Advani’s days were up and he should retire gracefully. Some even went to the extent of saying that he should have already retired gracefully and let the younger generation take over. It was time for the 
Bhishma Pitamah to lie down on the bed of arrows that he had made for himself, said one political commentator.
Whether Advani should retire, or should have already retired, is a matter of conjecture. But the fact is that he has not and still wants to be part of the political set-up. And that is the important point on which any discussion should concentrate on. Keeping that in mind, what are the negative repercussions that it could have for the BJP in general and Narendra Modi’s efforts in becoming the Prime Minister of India, in particular?
The Rashtriya Swayemsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the BJP, seems to be backing Modi in this fight. So that’s one positive going for Modi.
But there are other issues at play here. Even Modi, with all his charisma and political guile, cannot ensure a majority for the BJP in the next Lok Sabha elections on its own (neither can any other leader for his or her party). So alliances (pre-poll and post-poll) are the only way to form a government.
Advani’s resignation seems to be pulling apart what remains of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Janata Dal (United) an important member of the alliance is already talking about leaving it. As Sharad Yadav, the convener of the NDA, and a member of Janata Dal (United) said after Advani’s resignation “It is sad … It is not good for NDA’s health.” KC Tyagi, another Janata Dal(United) leader was a little more direct: “It is tough for us to remain a part of the NDA now that the BJP’s tallest leader is gone.”
If the alliance between BJP and Janata Dal (United) breaks down, at least 30 seats could be at stake in the next Lok Sabha for the NDA. Bihar elects 40 MPs to the Lok Sabha. While the development agenda of Nitish Kumar has held the alliance in good stead in Bihar, but it has also got its caste calculations right. Caste calculations are very important in a state as caste ridden as Bihar is. The upper castes typically tend to vote for the BJP and lower castes follow the Janata Dal (United).
If the parties were to fight elections on their own, the only person that is likely to gain is Lalu Prasad Yadav. This has happened in the past where Lalu Yadav (with his wife Rabri Devi as his front) has won elections despite being terribly unpopular because the opposition vote against him was not united.
BJP is largely insignificant in most of Eastern India. In Bihar and Jharkhand(where the party is largely on its own and has done well due to good penetration of the RSS in the tribal areas) together elect 54 Lok Sabha MPs, the party has a significant presence. If the arrangement between Janata Dal (United) and BJP were to breakdown it would mean another problem for the BJP. And this can’t augur well for Modi’s PM campaign. The party has an insignificant presence in large parts of the country (particularly the South and the East). Hence, it needs to do very well in the portions it has a significant presence.
What makes Bihar even more important is the fact that the BJP hasn’t done well in Uttar Pradesh in the recent past. In the current Lok Sabha the party has 10 MPs from the state which elects 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha.
Shiv Sena, BJP’s first alliance partner, is also thinking along the lines of Janata Dal (United). “(Sena president) Uddhav Thackeray has said that the contribution of Advani and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayeein building the party was invaluable for both BJP and the NDA,” Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut told PTI. “One cannot think of NDA or the BJP without Advani-ji,” he quoted Thackeray as saying.
Another important issue that crops up here is the way Advani has been treated by the current lot of BJP leaders backed by the RSS and driven almost into isolation. Treating a father figure in an unrespectful manner is not likely to go down well with sections of voters. In fact, sections of the pro-Congress media have already started harping on this fact. This can be another major headache for the BJP to deal with.
Also it is worth remembering that many BJP leaders over the years have been mentored by Advani (and this includes Modi as well). And this might lead to the party not being able to put forward a united front in the months to come and various leaders working at cross purposes. The BJP’s best performance came in the Lok Sabha elections of 1996, 1998 and 1999 (it won 161 seats in 1996 and 182 in both 1998 and 1998). This was the time when the party largely united under the leadership of Advani and Vajpayee.
MG Vaidya, a former spokesperson of the RSS, had a telling comment to make in this regard.
“It’s shocking that a leader of such a great stature has to quit. It is now evident that all is not well in BJP. Advani was probably perturbed over the inner crisis in BJP and therefore quit all positions,” said Vaidya. “Some other leaders and Advani’s followers too may tender resignations,” he added. This remains a huge risk for the party. The top leaders of the party bickering doesn’t send down a good signal to the cadres. As a senior BJP leader in Uttar Pradesh told the Times of India “The latest developments in the party are damaging. Bickering at the top would certainly demoralise the party cadre and on the other hand confuse the voter. It would further dent the party’s prospects in the state in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. Though the prime reason for the rift is elevation of Narendra Modi as party’s LS poll panel chief, there are other issues too that need to be addressed.” Also it is worth remembering that the old warhorse Advani still remains a better bet than Modi, if things get tight for the BJP, after the next Lok Sabha elections. He is likely to be acceptable to more parties as the leader of the NDA than Modi. Even Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose party Samajwadi Party depends a lot on the Muslim vote, has had nice things to say about Advani in the recent past
Given these reasons it is little too early to say that Advani’s resignation will have no impact on the BJP and Modi’s race to become PM.
The piece originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on June 11,2013 

(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek) 

Advani versus Modi: The shishya who wanted to be guru

India's main opposition BJP leader Advani and Gujarat's Chief Minister Modi gesture during their party's election campaign in AhmedabadVivek Kaul
The patriarch of the Bhartiya Janata Party, India’s main opposition party, used the nuclear option today.
Or as the old Hindi film dialogue goes “
hum to doobenge sanam, par tumko bhi le doobenge.”
Lal Krishna Advani, a former film critic, who built the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) right from scratch, today quit from the three main fora of the party, the National Executive, the Parliamentary Board and the Election Committee.
In his resignation letter Advani said that for sometime he had been finding it difficult to reconcile with the current functioning of the party as well as the direction in which it was going. “I no longer have the feeling that this is the same idealistic party created by Dr (Shyama Prasad)Mookerji, Pandit Deendayalji (Sharma), Nanaji (Deshmukh) and (Atal Bihari) Vajpayeeji, whose sole concern was the country, and its people. Most leaders of ours are now concerned just with their personal agenda,” he write.
This came from a man under whose leadership the BJP went from two seats in the 1984 Lok Sabha election to 182 seats in the 1998 and 1999 Lok Sabha elections. Though when it came to leading the government Advani had to make way for the more acceptable and the softer face of the party, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Nearly 15 years later, in 2013, Advani thought that finally his time had come. His time to lead the country. Something he had always wanted to do, but never gotten around to. It was the last throw of the dice for him. A nice farewell into the sunset. But that was not to be.
He was upstaged by a man who was once very close to him. Someone who Advani taught a lot about politics. And someone whom he promoted as well as protected on different occasions. The man they call Narendra Damodardas Modi.
A son of a tea shop owner from Vadnagar in Gujarat, who rose first through the ranks of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS) and later the BJP, and grew so tall, that he finally managed to upstage his guru Advani as well. And this is something that Advani could not digest, which in turn led to the nuclear option, which now threatens to create huge problems for the BJP.
Narendra Modi started working for the RSS at a young age of six. He joined the RSS formally as a pracharak at the age of 21, in 1971. He was the second pracharak to be deputed by the RSS to BJP, its political affiliate. This happened sometime in 1987-88, during the days when Modi used to go around Ahemdabad in an ash coloured Bajaj Chetak.
This was also the time when Advani was looking to rebuild the BJP, after its disastrous performance in the 1984 Lok Sabha election, where the party had won just two seats. Among other things Advani decided to revive the post of the organising secretary in the state units of BJP. In the erstwhile Jana Sangh (BJP’s earlier avatar before it merged with other parties to form the Janata Party in 1977) the post was held by RSS pracharaks. Modi was made the organising secretary of the Gujarat unit of the BJP.
As Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay writes in 
Narendra Modi – The Man. The Times “From the beginning it was evident that Modi was Advani’s personal choice and he was keen to strengthen the unit in Gujarat because the state was identified as a potential citadel in the future.”
Advani also mentored Modi during his early days in politics. “It was Advani who mentored Modi when he virtually handpicked him into his team of state apparatchiks after recommendations from a few trusted peers in the late 1980s. Advani also gave Modi early lessons in how to convert the mosque-temple dispute into one of national identity and political blackmail,” writes Mukhopadhyay.
Modi would soon rise to national prominence when he would play a part in organising Advani’s famed rath yatra which yielded huge political dividends for the BJP. As Mukhopadhyay points out “Modi came into the national spotlight for the first time when he helped organise Advani’s Rath Yatra in September-October 1990…Modi coordinated the arrangements during the Gujarat leg and travelled up to Mumbai and it was a huge success in Gujarat – both in terms of seamless arrangements and public support.”
After the 
Rath Yatra he also helped organise Murli Manohar Joshi’s Ekta Yatra. Given the finesse with which he organised these yatras, for a while he was referred to as the poor man’s Pramod Mahajan. The late Pramod Mahajan was the man BJP turned to when it had organise big events.
In 1991, when it was getting risky for Advani to contest from the New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency given the low turn out that it had in elections, it was Modi who suggested that Advani move to the safe seat of Gandhinagar in Gujarat. A seat that Advani has represented since then except in 1996 when he had to resign due to the allegations of money laundering made against him in the 
hawala scam.
In the years to come the relationship between Modi and Advani went from strength to strength, with Modi emerging as the super Chief Minister of the first BJP government in Gujarat in the mid 1990s.
As Advani’s fondness for Modi grew, so did Modi’s stature within the BJP. “Throughout the 1990s and even after Modi became chief minister, Advani’s special fondness for Modi has been well known by both party insiders and observers… Advani had played a crucial role in the making of Modi as chief minister (of Gujarat) replacing Keshubhai Patel in October 2001.”
Within months of becoming the chief minister of Gujarat, Modi had a big problem on his hand. The bogey number S6 of the Sabarmati Express caught fire on February 27,2002, on the outskirts of the Godhra railway station. Fifty eight people died in the fire. The bogey had kar sevaks returning from a yagna n Ayodhya.
As Ramachandra Guha points out in 
India After Gandhi “On their way back home by train , these kar sevaks got into a fight with Muslim vendors at the Godhra railway station…Words of the altercation spread; young men from the Muslim neighbourhood outside the station joined in. The kar sevaks clambered back into the train, which started moving as stones were being thrown. However, the train stopped on the outskirts of the station, when a fire broke out in one of its coaches. Fifty eight people perished in the conflagration…Word that a group of kar sevaks had been burnt to death at Godhra quickly spread through Gujarat. A wave of retributory violence followed.”
After the riots there was immense pressure on Modi to resign. When prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee came to Gujarat after the riots, he suggested the same. As Mukhopadhyay writes “Vajpayee visited the state capital (of Gujarat) on 4 April 2002 and was apologetic – among other issues – for not paying a visit earlier. He called the events a blot on India and made no secret of his displeasure at the Modi government’s handling of the situation. The denouement came at the end of the day-long visit when he advised Modi to follow the 
Raj Dharma when the prime minister was specifically queried if he had any message for Modi.”
Modi continued to be the chief minister of Gujarat and that was primarily because of the blessings of Advani. Even though Vajpayee was the prime minister, the party was still run by Advani. As Mukhopadhyay points out “Once again in 2002, it was Advani who acted as a buffer between Modi and a section of the party which was baying for his blood as a symbolic atonement for the 2002 riots.”
Modi continued to live to fight another day and continued to rise within the BJP, applying the tricks of the trade that he had learnt from Advani.
On a visit to Pakistan in June 2005, tried to become the statesman that Vajpayee was by saying nice things about Mohammed Ali Jinnah. As Advani wrote in the 
Visitors’ Book at the Jinnah Mausoleum: “There are many people who leave an inerasable stamp on history…But there are very few who actually create history. Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah was one such rare individual.”
With this statement, Advani probably wanted to get rid of the tag of the original posterboy of Hindutva. But that did not work. And saying nice things about Jinnah did not go down well with RSS, which still believes in the idea of 
Akhand Bharat. Advani had to quit as the president of the BJP as a result of this faux pas.
The relations between Advani and Modi started turning sour after this. Advani obviously was trying to get rid of his tag of being the posterboy of Hindutva. But saying nice things about Jinnah went against the entire idea of 
Akhand Bharat which the RSS believes in. Around this time, Modi started to distance himself from his mentor. Advani had to pay for this statement and had to quit as the BJP party president in late 2005.
And this created space for Modi for a bigger role. As Mukhopadhyay writes “The original poster boy of Hindutva ceased to be and yielded space to the much younger Modi as the mascot of the aggressive Hindu face. At times it appeared that the 
guru-shishya relationship of yore had been replaced by intense rivalry.”
In the time that has followed the rivalry only grown. The final nail in the coffin came yesterday when the BJP decided to appoint Modi as the Chairman of the of the campaign committee of the BJP for the 2014 Lok Sabha election. This was essentially a signal that Modi was the tallest leader in the party and not Advani.
shishya had finally arrived.
The son of a tea shop owner had risen through the ranks and been chosen the leader among the leaders of the BJP.
This was very unlike the Congress which chose it leader on June 19, 1970, the day Rahul Gandhi was born.
The only problem was that the 
guru still wanted to be the guru.
His last ambition still hadn’t been fulfilled.
And given this, how could the 
shishya takeover?
And if the 
shishya had decided to takeover, what would the guru do in the party anyway.
But for a man who has fought his fights as well as Advani has, how could he go down into the textbooks of history without one last fight.
The masterstroke by Advani has caught everybody off guard. The boxer in him is still alive. Advani ‘Rocky’ Balboa may not be as quick as once he was, but when he hits them, they hurt.
What will the 
shishya do now?
The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on June 10, 2013

 (Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)

Why Narendra Modi is still far away from Delhi

Vivek Kaul
 If it were to be left to the Indians who use Twitter and Facebook, Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, would have already been appointed the Prime Minister of the country. But alas that cannot be the case.
Yesterday (June 9,2013), Modi was appointed the Chairman of the campaign committee of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the 2014 Lok Sabha election. This appointment is being seen as the first step that India’s main opposition party has taken towards declaring its prime ministerial candidate for the forthcoming election.
The appointment has sent out a clear signal that Modi is the ‘leader’ among the leaders in the BJP. But even with that there is still a long distance between Narendra Modi and 7, Race Course Road (the residence of the Indian Prime Minister). As the old English saying goes “well begun is half done”. But its only half done and half still remains to be done.
First and foremost it is clear that the BJP does not have the wherewithal to get a majority on its own (Neither does the Congress. No party does in the current scheme of things). This has happened because the proportion of votes got by national parties has fallen over the years. In 1991, national parties among them got around 81% of the votes polled. By 2009, this number had fallen to less than 64%.
The party has a very small presence in large parts of Eastern India (West Bengal and beyond) and is practically non-existent in Southern India, except for Karnataka. The irony here is that across all states in India, the Rashtriya Swayemsevak Sangh(RSS), the parent body of the BJP, has the highest penetration in the state of Kerala (though UP has more 
shakhas). Despite that the BJP has never been able to win a Lok Sabha seat in the state, till date.
The party is not much of a force to reckon with in Andhra Pradesh, though it has won a few seats in the state in the past when it was in alliance with the Telgu Desam Party (TDP). The state sends 42 MPs to the Lok Sabha. The TDP now does not want to be seen aligning with the BJP because that had cost the party its Muslim vote bank in the past. “This is not going to help the BJP. It will not improve the party’s fortunes,” said a TDP leader while reacting to Modi’s appointment. Jagan Mohan Reddy, the other big player in the state, has also said in the past that he won’t support the BJP. Though recent news-reports suggest that BJP is trying to get close to Reddy and his YSR Congress.
In the neighbouring state of Karnataka, the BJP was decimated in the recent assembly elections. This after BS Yeddyurappa, the most famous BJP leader in the state, quit the party. The going theory is that is the BJP has to be a serious player in the state that elects 28 MPs to the Lok Sabha,, it will have to get Yeddyurappa back into its fold. The question of course is will Modi attempt to get Yeddyurappa back into the state? And if he does that, how does he plan to handle all the corruption allegations that Yeddyurappa faces?
One of the major issues against the incumbent Congress government is the rampant corruption that it has unleashed. And if BJP decides to associate itself with corrupt politicians like Yeddyurappa and Jagan Mohan Reddy, then it will be putting itself in the same boat as the Congress.
In Tamil Nadu, which elects 39 MPs to the Lok Sabha, the BJP is non existent. But the Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa currently seems to be on amicable terms with Modi. “At a personal level, Modi is a very good friend of mine, I have high regard for him as an able administrator. My good wishes are always with him whether he wins election in Gujarat or achieves an elevation in his own party. I’m happy for him,” she remarked after Modi’s appointment. Whether the two ‘good friends’ translate their friendship into a pre-electoral alliance remains to be seen. Also, the BJP cannot forget that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA government fell in 1999, due to the mercurial Jayalalithaa, pulling out of the alliance.
The four southern states together elect 129 MPs to the Lok Sabha. The BJP has presence in only one of these states. Hence, its important that the BJP allies with other parties in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. But alliances in these states come with there share of problems.
Then come the states of Orissa and West Bengal which elect 63 Lok Sabha MPs between them (Orissa – 21, West Bengal – 42). The BJP was in alliance with Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Orissa till 2009 for a period of nearly 11 years. But since then Naveen Patnaik, chief minister of Orissa, and the main leader of BJD has been cold towards the BJP.
As he told The Economic Times in an interview today (June 10, 2013) “ I have always maintained that our party will not forge an alliance with either the Congress or the BJP, we will continue to maintain equi-distance from both.”
Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, one of the main political parties of West Bengal, has also been in alliance with the BJP in the past. The BJP has been in recent times trying to get close to Mamata. It did not put up a candidate in the recent by-election to the Howrah, Lok Sabha constituency, which Trinamool won. Mamata is also known be as mercurial as Jayalalithaa, and hence can be a tricky alliance partner.
A major reason that Narendra Modi has been appointed the premier leader of the BJP is the fact, that the party expects this move to help it do well in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), where it has rapidly lost support over the last 15 years. In the current Lok Sabha the party has only 10 MPs from the state, which elects 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. In the past it has even had more than fifty Lok Sabha MPs from the state. To tackle this Modi is being projected as an OBC leader in the state by the likes yoga guru Baba Ramdev. Modi’s protege Amit Shah has been appointed as the state party in charge. The resurgence of the BJP is not possible unless the party gets around 30 seats from Uttar Pradesh.
While Modi might draw in the votes in Uttar Pradesh, what does he do about Bihar? Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, does not want his party Janata Dal (United) association with a Modi led BJP. So even if Modi gets in the votes in Uttar Pradesh, a breakup of the BJP-Janata Dal(United) alliance in Bihar, might negate the overall effect. And if BJP and Janata Dal (United) fight elections separately in Bihar, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal might benefit from it. In Bihar, the upper castes vote for the BJP, whereas the a spate of lower castes vote for the Janata Dal (United), which is one of the reasons that makes the combination unbeatable. The state elects 40 MPs to the Lok Sabha.
So there are several tricky alliance issues that Modi needs to tackle. And the sooner he tackles them the better it is. Pre-poll alliances are much more beneficial in the first past the post system that India follows. This is the only way for the BJP to ensure that the anti incumbency vote against the Congress led UPA does not split.
Of course, Narendra Modi understands the alliance pressure on the BJP very well. Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay quotes Narendra Modi in the book 
Narendra Modi – The Man. The Times as saying “When Atalji became prime minister for the first time in 1996 – we got no allies – Akali Dal and Shiv Sena had been with us earlier but not new allies. But in 1998 the situation changed – the parties and their leaders also increased (laughs). Then in 2004 our seats got reduced – the allies got reduced. The issue therefore is that the number of allies depends on the winnability of the BJP”.
And the winnability of the BJP will depend a lot on the alliances it is able to enter before the elections. Given, Modi’s hardline image, it will be difficult for the BJP to get prepoll alliance partners (not that it will be easy to get post poll alliance partners), given that no party wants to drive away the minority vote. As Abheek Barman writes in The Economic Times “A BJP led by Modi will find it much tougher, without minority votes. Modi’s supporters say, so what? Modi will help bring all Hindu votes together. This united Hindu vote is a tired, old RSS assumption.” There is nothing like a Hindu vote. The Hindus largely vote along caste lines.
On its own the BJP has managed a best of 182 seats in the 1998 and 1999 Lok Sabha elections. Since then the number has fallen. After the 2004, Lok Sabha elections the party had 137 members in the Lok Sabha. This fell to 116 members after 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
If the BJP wants to come to power, it will have to best its tally of 182 seats, given that with Modi at the helm it will be more difficult for the party to find post poll alliance partners. As Sebastian PT writes on the Business Today website “There is little doubt that Modi is the most popular leader in the BJP today but he is still a polarising figure in Indian politics-very similar to L.K. Advani in the 1990s. Advani had to step aside for AB Vajpayee, who was seen as having the ability to take everyone along, especially the allies.” And for all we know Narendra Modi might have to step aside for someone else who is more agreeable to the potential allies. So one cannot write off the likes of Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh or for that matter even Arun Jaitley.
So Delhi is still faraway for Narendra Modi. Or as the sufi saint Nizamuddin Aulia once said “
Hunoo Dehli Door Ast (Delhi is still far away).
The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on June 10, 2013
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)