First it was BJP Bihar MLA Mr. Giriraj Singh. Next it was Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Mr. Pravin Togadia. Latest it was Shiv Sena MLC Mr. Ramdas Kadam. All three made virulent hate speeches against Muslims and Pakistan. Mr. Kadam made his hate speech while BJP prime ministerial candidate Mr. Narendra Modi was sharing the stage with him. Mr. Kadam told the public rally that when Mr. Modi becomes Prime Minister he will “destroy Pakistan within six months of assuming power”. Mr. Modi sitting by his side did not utter a word. Next day he gave a weak reprimand on Twitter, without naming a single leader, urging his colleagues to exercise restraint while addressing the public. Does such response reflect a strong leader or a wimp? As Prime Minister how will he control erring colleagues? Mr. Modi’s apologists will argue that electoral compulsions dictated such a mild response. Exactly! That tells a story.
Most analysts think that these hate speeches reflect the real communal nature of the Sangh Parivar asserting itself. They are being naïve. The perpetrators of these hate speeches are seasoned politicians who are aware of how their utterances can damage BJP poll prospects. Their hate speeches are deliberate acts of sabotage to damage Mr. Modi’s future.
The question is why they should want to damage Mr. Modi. To understand that one must recall the background that preceded the start of Mr. Modi’s campaign.
After three consecutive poll mandates in Gujarat Mr. Modi arguably acquired sufficient authority to allow BJP workers to transcend their obedience to the RSS. Mr. Modi unfettered could dictate things in Gujarat . He attracted the attention of the NRI Diaspora, with a substantial Gujarati presence. These acted as conduits for international big business finance desperately seeking an alternative to China as an investment destination. In short, international big business latched itself to Mr. Modi. In an unprecedented departure from diplomatic norms ambassadors from 45 nations flocked to Gujarat to endorse Mr. Modi even as he appeared to be becoming a prime ministerial candidate on the eve of a general election. No wonder the poll campaign expenses and the media blitzkrieg in favour of Mr. Modi during this campaign has exceeded anything in the past, in this country and perhaps even in any nation in the west.
The media campaign monitored by NRI techies from abroad was overwhelming. It generated a spectacular Modi wave. A parallel army was conducting this campaign keeping the BJP out of the loop. The private resentment this caused among many BJP leaders was compounded by Mr. Modi’s own conduct. In the initial stages of the campaign not only was he projected as being larger than his party, but he also gave short shrift to senior leaders of his party. But Mr. Modi and his publicity mentors made one serious and fatal miscalculation. They could create the hype which made Mr. Modi a household name across the nation. They lacked the logistics to mobilize voters to polling booths. Only RSS and BJP workers could do that. That is why Mr. Modi had to fall back on RSS for support. The RSS extracted its price.
Reportedly the RSS insisted on four preconditions before committing support. Mr. Modi had to pledge building the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, to reiterate application of a Uniform Civil Code across India , to repeal Article 370 in J&K and end the special status of the state, and to press for ban on cow slaughter. All four conditions were traditional RSS demands. At that point it should have been clarified to the powerful big business elements that the RSS inputs would be factored in Mr. Modi’s agenda. Mr. Modi and the RSS would not be separable if he became Prime Minister. If there remained irreconcilable differences between the big business development agenda and the RSS preconditions there could be serious problems. Mr. Modi’s government in that event could become as paralyzed as Mr. Manmohan Singh’s government. Mr. Modi’s government could display the same kind of diarchy in governance that paralyzed the UPA government. Mr. Modi never addressed this problem.
Mr. Modi in his campaign emphasized the big business development model and virtually ignored the RSS preconditions. In addition his publicity campaign further promoted a personality cult that diminished the organization he needed for mobilizing votes. And finally, he wittingly or otherwise humiliated in public perception several senior party colleagues. Now belatedly he has stated that he is pained by the thought that anyone should consider him to be bigger than the BJP. He is going out of the way to woo senior leaders and make appropriate noises about his commitment to Hindu pride. But the damage had already been done. There is breakdown of trust between Mr. Modi and segments of the Sangh Parivar that would not mind seeing him humiliated even if that reduces the BJP poll tally.
Mr. Modi rode two horses running in different directions. He was banking on two incompatibles. He would have done better if he had approached regional parties and initiated steps to create a federal party when he was confined to Gujarat where he was supreme. That required the courage to gamble. Mr. Modi adopted the safe and conventional course without ironing out differences between his two main sources of support. On May 16 we will know the results. Regardless of whether he gets an absolute majority or not, the hate speeches by leaders are not intended to help but to harm him.