Shah and Yogi: Beware of Smriti
Tukoji R Pandit
It is not in doubt that Narendra Modi faces no challenge within the BJP, but those who like to look into the distant future seem to feel that as and when it becomes necessary for the saffron party to choose a successor to the all-time powerful Indian politician, it will be a tossup between Amit Shah, the Union home minister, and ‘Yogi’ Adityanath, UP chief minister.
Now the list needs to include another challenger: women and child development minister and former TV actor and a ‘degree’ holder from a prestigious US university, Smriti Irani.
Watching some videos of her display of uncontrollable aggression and hubris in the Lok Sabha, directed at Congress president Sonia Gandhi, it will not be fanciful to see her as BJP’s strongest contender for the top slot once Modi is out of the picture (apologies for the blasphemous thought).
With a shrill voice quivering in anger, her quick motion to and fro fingers pointing towards Sonia Gandhi made her look like a modern-day Laxmibai, an ideal figure for the Sangha Parivar and the millions who have become devout Bhakts. Or, should we call it an incarnation of ‘Rudra’, the mightiest of the mighty.
Shah is hailed as a 21st century Chanakya, a man who knows what it takes to win wars and if there is any setback, how to snatch victory. That elevates him to Number Two position in the BJP hierarchy. Unlike his party supremo, Modi, Shah has no claim to oratory except that he too can whip up sufficient nationalistic, religious fervor in the audiences to boost the appeal of the BJP.
Many would argue that Adityanath is better suited for that role being a sort of ‘holy man’—head of a Hindu Mutt. His vocabulary targeting the minority community is rich; a definite asset in the Sangh Parivar universe. It has helped him rule the roost without seeking help of any Chankaya.
If political rumours are to be believed, Shah and Yogi are competitors in BJP’s succession race, howsoever hypothetical that may appear for the moment. Shah initially derived his strength from the fact of being the alter ego of Modi. He came into his own when he started to deliver non-BJP states to the BJP.
A factor, well known to all but less discussed, is BJP’s immeasurable wealth which lies at the disposal of Shah to perform some incredible feats of pulling down non-BJP state governments. Add to this the unique washing machine of the BJP which instantly turns tainted men and women into sparkling Tinopal white specimen dying to serve the people without any altruistic considerations.
But look at it this way: Will the bulging BJP coffers not be available to any other leader who requires the boodle for a ‘noble’ cause of overthrowing a ‘corrupt’ and ‘anti-national’ government and replace it with rule of genuine patriots?
Smriti Irani will surely expect plenty of lucre to be at her disposal should any occasion arise to put it for achieving the honourable task of a regime change.
But there are some other assets that Irani has and the aforesaid two competitors in the succession battle do not have. She can converse freely in the English language unlike Shah and Adityanath. Yes, speaking in English is considered almost a sin by the majority in the Sangh Parivar ( even amongst the Socialists for that matter) who think it smacks of ‘slavery’. The deficiency in the language of ‘slavery’ amongst most of the Sangh Parivar members may have evolved into hatred for the English language, but they all realise in their hearts of heart the importance of the facility to converse in that language.
In terms of being aggressive and arrogant towards the ‘enemy’ parties there may not be much difference between the Shah-Yogi duo and Irani. All three of them can outdo each other, depending on the need of the hour. But aggression and arrogance become more effective if it is accompanied by a play of the ‘victim card’.
Smriti Irani is more adapt at playing this game than Shah and Yogi. Recall, how she played this game in parliament when ostensibly the matter being hotly debated was an objectionable and disrespectful reference to President Droupadi Murmu by the leader of the Congress party, Adhi Ranjan Chowdhury, in the Lok Sabha.
How Sonia Gandhi had ‘tutored’ Chowdhury to insult not only the President of India but also women and the tribal community, fumed Irani as though she was privy to the diktat from Sonia Gandhi to Chowdhury.
Irani’s attempt to belittle Sonia Gandhi for her alleged instructions to Chowdhury could be seen in light of an on-going controversy involving her family, including her daughter. After the Congress alleged irregularities in the running of a restaurant cum bar in Goa, Smriti Irani thundered that the Congress had not spared even her ‘eighteen-year-old daughter who is a college student’ and has nothing to do with the running of the restaurant cum bar.
That is a matter requiring an honest probe, but even before that happens, Irani was able to appeal to the emotions by alleging victimization of her college-going daughter. Shah has a son who is quite grown up and, in fact, serves the Board of Control for Cricket in India as its general secretary. The detractors of Shah alleged that his son had an incredible run of success in his business where he was able to earn an unheard-of high percentage of profit in less than a year. Even if it is not true, the point is that Shah has nothing to play the victim card.
And neither has Adityanath, though he may differ having fought and won an election for the benefit of the ‘80 per cent’ of his state’s population which for decades and centuries lived the life of a ‘victim’ under the yoke of heathens.
There is one area where Adityanath can probably match the qualities of Smriti Irani: The department of theatrics. Several years ago, as a member of the Lok Sabha, he had made a tearful speech to express his fears of being attacked by his political rivals. Whether that kind of victim card won him votes is not clear.
But it will be pointless to place him above Smriti Irani in the art of command performance in shedding tears###
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