Tag Archives: Elections

Trump-ed

Against all odds, Donald Trump pipped Hillary Clinton at the hustings. It was a case where Clinton’s victory was a supposed foregone conclusion. There was a heady concoction of ingredients – vocal supporters, pliant media, complete Democratic party support, tacit GOP dislike for its candidate and to top it all a near about offensive opponent. It was a bolt from the blue on the final day when all hell broke loose. Perhaps the American people are still yet to come to terms to the fact that Donald Trump is going to be next POTUS.

There are various implications that come along with the ascent of Donald Trump as arguably the most powerful man on the planet. Let us look at a few:

Implication 1: Un-holy-ing Cows

When the elections were being held, I had a discussion with a friend of mine. He commented that the US administration is a well-oiled machine and relies very little on the head of the state. However disruptive the head might be the constituents will ensure that it would be business as usual in the system – be it foreign affairs, economy, homeland security or what have you. Near about most aspects are clearly enumerated by the respective parties and toeing the party line is the only option available. So one would expect a GOP President to be capitalist in nature with little left-of-centre behaviour and the Democrat would be the exact opposite.

Yet, Donald Trump is going to be different. Even before he has taken the oath he has shown that there are absolutely no holy cows for him. There was a certain promise with which he was elected for the top job and that itself will be weighing on him. Thus issues that have been in the  deep cold freezer and done and dusted are going to be brought to the fore – recognising Taiwan (even perhaps to use it as a counter-weight to China’s currency manipulating ways), undermining the relationship with NATO, re-configuring the interest with Russia, so on and so forth. President-elect, when he drops the suffix is going to come out all guns blazing and we are going to see altogether different combinations emerge. There is a goodish chance of seeing a US-Russia-UK axis emerge creating a strong counterweight to EU.

Implication 2: Politicising Incorrect-ness

Going forward, do expect the political correctness to go straight out of the window. There was a certain way a consummate political lifer used to behave. Not this man. He will behave the way he deems fit – bullying individual companies in to toeing his line, keeping the pliant media at arm’s length, communicating directly to the larger public through different avenues like Facebook or Twitter, building a wall (physically and mentally) for all non Americans or even announcing important policy decisions on Twitter. It is the end of perhaps the holier than thou perception that the President had and in a way Donald Trump might be democratising the position by bringing it closer to the common man. The common man read blue collared, under-educated, working class white American who was left scratching his or her head at the political gobbledegook being dished out every day. Eventually, the next POTUS, intentionally or unwittingly going to present the political going-ons in a very simple laymen terms for everybody to understand

Implication 3: Action Stations

It appears that the years of managing and being at the help of his business has made Donald Trump a person who has a bias for action. Thus, there is a goodish chance that the President-elect is going to be a man of action. There would rarely be an instance where in he would let the situation drift much to the chagrin of everybody involved. It wouldn’t much matter whether the action taken is on sound judgement or thought through, the crux of the matter would be that no situation would be unnecessarily fester or drift about. In all likelihood, there is little chance of empty rhetoric.

Implication 4: Individual vs Collective

Every decision henceforth from the POTUS’s office will have the imprimatur of the man. He will have ears for everybody but the final decision on any given situation would be his. Perhaps, he feels that he has more objectivity and smartness than anybody else and perhaps he is able to see any given situation in a different light. Nevertheless, every decision made would be only his to make. Thus, being pally with Russia and UK, a virtual break-up of the cosy club of NATO, riling up China, breaking up the multi-lateral agreements and cozying up to bilateral and many more such decisions would be entirely his call and perhaps aided by a close clique that he has. Thus, the idea of governing by consensus and taking everybody along would be a completely still-born thought under his watch.

Implication 5: Anti-Global Nationalistic Tendencies

POTUS is going to repeal whatever he deems to be unfair to the common American. It could be an agreement that was signed years earlier or a silent tacit understanding that affects the US or even an extolled virtue of being the torch-bearer on climate change. There is a good chance that US would go back on its commitments on the reducing the carbon footprints(thermal based power plants and the attendant coal mining industry being a big jobs creator, coal mining has been steadily decreasing in US over the years from 2008). Any earlier decision that he feels affects the country’s present is up for scrutiny – thus turning US inwards and nationalistic in nature. This would affect the immigration policies, work visas, multi-lateral trade agreements, border and homeland security enforcements and the decision-making at various private US companies.

Also, there is an attendant upshot of this idea, though not exactly affecting the US directly but definitely affecting the world indirectly. 2017 is a year of elections in EU. Germany, Spain and France are looking to elect new national governments. The nationalist leaning ultra-right anti-globalisation parties (akin to the narrative arranged by Donald Trump) are just about licking their lips at the prospect. Earlier it was Br-exit followed closely by Cl-exit (Clinton-exit) and the world could just wake up for a rude shock with Gr-exit, Sp-exit and Fr-exit on the horizon with National Democratic Party, Respeto Party and National Front of these respective countries performing exceedingly and surprisingly well at the national hustings.

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‘Dilli ka Thug???’

Delhi Elections are on 7th February 2015 and the results would be out in 3 days time. Till then most TV channels are crying hoarse about the opinion polls which give a clear lead to the AAP. All are stumbling over each other to write the obituary of BJP and well the ascent of AAP and Arvind Kejriwal. But is this the situation which is going to unfold on the 10th of February when the votes are counted. Are the people of Delhi going to vote for a newbie at the hustings? Are we going to see Arvind Kejriwal on the CM’s throne again? Well, there might just be a small slip between the cup and the lip. Lets take a brief look back.

In 2003, the opinion polls had suggested the following scenario (have taken CVoter opinion poll)

BJP: 39 / Congress: 30. The actual situation turned out to be BJP:20/Congress: 47. A yawning gap between the actual and the projected. Ms. Sheila Dikshit took the accolades in 2003. Come 2008 and it was an encore. The projection was BJP: 36-42/Congress: 28-34. The actual on-ground situation turned out to be BJP: 23/Congress:43. Once again a yawning gap between the projection and the actual. If the 2003 and 2008 opinion polls are some kind of an aberration then lets focus on the 2013 opinion polls. Am adding a small excel file to prove my point

Cvoter Cicero ORG CSDS Nielsen Cfore
BJP 29 8-14 36 22-28 28 22-27
Congress 27 11-17 22 19-25 22 32-37
AAP 10 38-50 6 19-25 18 7-12

The actual numbers are BJP: 31/Congress: 8/AAP: 28.

Now if we look at each of the above opinion polls, we can see that none of the polls got the numbers correct. In-fact none got the trends correct too barring a bit of CSDS which projected that Congress and AAP might get the same number of seats. None projected the decimation of Congress and the meteoric ascent of AAP. If we look at the above results with a fine-toothed comb then we can see that the opinion polls got one number somewhere close to the actual. i.e. Cvoter for BJP, Cicero for AAP (somewhat), ORG for BJP, CSDS for AAP, Nielsen for BJP and Cfore for BJP. This being a triangular contest, it does make sense that if the opinion polls get correct for one then it is bound to go haywire for the other two which is not in the case of a duo-polistic contest.

If one were to read a bit deeper in to this then I guess the people of Delhi are bit different. They choose to put the opinion pollsters off guard and necessarily and with impunity lie about the party they are going to vote for. With what reason they do that, it is difficult to understand but then the idea of people in Delhi being ‘thugs’ (Dilli ka thug) lends itself quite well to this behaviour. Why the hell should I tell this lame joker about the party I owe my allegiance to? Is there anything in return for this? Why bother telling the truth – let me just lie?

When the real votes get counted on 10th, it is a good chance that BJP might come out tops. AAP will be second definitely and surely Congress will have to look with a microscope to find – not only the number of seats it brings back home but the vote percentage it will poll in these elections.

Lets see what the ‘trickster’ of Dilli has in store for everybody.

General Elections Plausible Outcomes

The mega show for the country i.e. the General Elections is in its final phase with the various parties batting hard in the final slog overs. The BJP with its prime ministerial candidate clearly has its noses in the front where as the Congress is reduced to has been. Perhaps and as many opinion polls predict, the Grand Old Party is going to have a hard time notching up even a 3-figure mark. All said and done these elections saw fiercely fought, no-holds barred, un-civilized words and even un-civilizing narratives. It was as if everything goes to get to 272.

But one has to admit that these elections were not like the previous elections ever. The magnitude, scale, narrative etc was distinct from other elections but then there are certain other aspects that clearly differentiate these elections from the ones that were fought before. There are certain outcomes/ideas that one notices that could portray the way the Indian political scene would be governed in the years to come.

Outcome 1: Clearly, BJP sought to establish these elections in the presidential format rather than the current parliamentary system that India has. It clearly pitched the strong, decisive and proven leadership of Narendra Modi against the oft-vacillating, somewhat pusillanimous and un-charismatic leadership of either Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi. It is yet to be seen whether this strategy would pay dividends to BJP or not but it sure is evident that a presidential format strategy lends itself a wonderful opportunity to create a strong and credible narrative. On any given issue any political party is a function of the average viz. say on issue of corruption, any political party does include a person who is highly corrupt and along with includes a person who is highly incorruptible. The perception on that issue about the party generally hovers around the average. Thus the clear way forward is to subdue the people with wayward intentions and highlight the people with superior objectives. Thus when Modi says that for every button that you bleep against the lotus – the vote would directly come to me, the party is seriously trying to de-emphasize the negative aspects and personalities in the BJP and highlight the aura around one personality (necessarily the glaring difference between the singular and the plural). Going forward, one feels that to ask vote for an average i.e. a party is going to be much more difficult as compared to an ideal i.e. a person. Hence, chances are the presidential format for a parliamentary election would be the way ahead

Outcome 2: The Indian political scene is closely mirroring a developed democracy where in there are 2-3 principal parties going at each other in the General Elections. Most others are a part of one combine or the other. At the centre there is either a NDA or a UPA which generally forms the Government with the BJP or Congress being the principal party in the combine. The direction taken by the combine would be necessarily governed by the principal parties. The regional parties will tend to take sides and be part of either of the combine. To that extent, the Third Front is clearly a still-born concept

Outcome 3: BJP has a clear strong association of a Hindu-based party with a centre-right approach. Similarly, there is a clear vacuum in the political system for a similar such approach but with a strong association of a minority-based party. Most ‘secular’ parties – be it the Congress or the regional parties – which espouse the needs of the minorities, have been indulging in a rights-based approach. There have been dole-outs, subsidies and reservations but never ever the narrative arranged is the complete over-haul and development of the community. Perhaps, the rights-based approach works favorably for the ‘secular’ parties as a vote-bank politics but then the community as a whole receives very little. Gandhijji had once said that it doesn’t much matter to a person whether he genuflects before Mother Mary or Mother Kali as long as one of these helps him douse the ambers in his stomach. When the narrative changes to roti-rozgaar-kapda-makaan-shiksha surely the intolerant view about religion is bound to take a backseat. Just like nature, politics also abhors a vacuum and surely this space would see a fill-up

Outcome 4: It appears that the biggest loss in these elections would not be for the Congress (though chances are they wouldn’t even cross the 3-digit mark). In terms of the opportunity loss, one senses that the biggest would land at the door-step of Aam Aadmi Party. Just about a few months back the party which was the toast of the ‘aam aadmi’ so to speak has been summarily rejected and castigated by the same people. It appears that the AAP is bound to be restricted to at the maximum single-digit number in the Lok Sabha. Post the debacle in the General Elections and the ascent of Narendra Modi to 7 Race Course Road and more importantly the brouhaha in the Delhi Assembly if one were to extrapolate the results to the Delhi Vidhan Sabha elections (probably could be conducted in October/November 2014) BJP is most likely to get majority. If Narendra Modi would live up to its promise and oft-repeated one-liner ‘mein khata bhi nahi nah mein khaane deta hoon’ then in about half a decade’s time the raison d’être for AAP would be completely negated at least at the national level. Then there is a good chance of AAP to go through a thorough churning and most probably completely disband or reduce to a has-been on the fringes of the political scene restricted to a state or two. All of this if AAP chooses not to re-invent itself

Outcome 5: If the Grand Old Party is reduced to its worst ever performance (which is quite likely) then there is going to be a fierce round of blame storming. The family will desperately try to ring-fence and absolve itself of the blame though it would be extremely difficult and unnatural. There is a good chance that the party rank and file would bay for blood and Rahul Gandhi, logically would be the sacrificial lamb. Chances are that he wouldn’t also become the leader of opposition. Post this, if the family still would be looking to keep the fief then it is imperative that Priyanka is immediately pushed up the ladder or else there is bound to be an ambitious up-start who would claim the position. Contrarily, if the family is somehow able to ring-fence itself and absolve Rahul Gandhi of the blame then there is a high probability of a clear split in the Congress. There are very many ambitious and charismatic young leaders in the Congress who sense a de-facto glass-ceiling and hence would like to break away and form a small fief of their own. Being under an in-effective, unproven and more importantly failed leader would definitely bar them from giving wings to their ambition

Modi Antsy-sm

A e-mail response to an article by Shekhar Gupta (Editor-in-Chief, Indian Express). Have re-presented the mail as is here:


 

For quite some time now, I have been giving a very serious thought to an often unexpressed fact – a morbid reluctance to Modi (hatred comes across to me as a very strong word and hence the word ‘morbid reluctance’). These are some observations on my part. I am a complete outsider sitting pretty far away from the humdrum of politics in Delhi (am in Mumbai) and just an avid follower and reader of the Indian political scene. Hence I am not privy to any information so what I put across might come across as just a bit fictional and over the top but nevertheless here it goes.

  1. Congress and BJP have been at each other for quite some time (since BJP emerged as a force to reckon with post Ayodhya Ram Temple strategy) and rightly so since they are opposing parties and also since they represent opposing thought processes (wont use the word ideologies since I sincerely feel Congress doesn’t have one and BJP has its moorings in one but does vacillate). But never ever have we seen the narrative between the two so sharp and acrid. Somehow I get a feeling that the mere mention and sight of Modi makes the Congress absolutely antsy
  2. Moreover, I feel is that antsy-ness (if I may use the term) is specifically related to the family and somehow the family has been able to percolate and distill it down to its close and loyal associates who then flow it much further down the rank. Additionally, if that antsy-ness is not displayed by all and sundry in full force then lo and behold the political career of the defaulting Congressman would careen downhill and hence the sharp tirade from all quarters towards Modi. The more vituperative the comments the deeper the loyalty ‘expressed’ towards the family
  3. Why then such antsy-ness towards Modi? I feel Modi as an idea is what makes the family squirm. He has a strong perception of being a no-nonsense getter, brutally incorruptible, breaking old shackles and old cozy relationships to get the job done, rustic, being abnormally nationalistic and so supremely confident that he has the gall to show a middle-finger to anybody (Indian or otherwise) who doubts his vision. Perhaps, Modi represents the complete anti-thesis of the dynasty, the perfect anti-thesis of what the family stands for. Modi stands for self-made whereas the family stands for a silver-spooned lineage on a platter, he stands for a rustic, grass-roots person where as the family is perceived to be ensconced in its high citadel, he is seen as once poor yet driven who had to strive at every step of his life whereas the family generally had it pretty easy where in it didn’t even have to move a muscle to get things done. There is a clear, striking distinction between the two – a distinction of entitlement – one deserved the other inherited. Moreover, the kind of support, allegiance and favor Modi is receiving from the country – urban, rural alike, the family might just be afraid to look at the writing on the wall and sulking at the change of guard. Modi in a way is not just talking about ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ but about ‘Gandhi-mukt Bharat’ where the family is rendered irrelevant and ineffective not only in the country but more importantly in the Congress
  4. Another aspect that I observe is that there have been innumerous riots that have happened in India (am not even for a moment condoning it and asking for business as usual), a number of them under Congress’ watch, most notably 1984. A simple Wikipedia page would tell us that there have been innumerable such communal conflagration across the country since 1947 – useless to get in to that. Why is then Congress fixated on Godhra 2002? Is it then that there are no issues that they can rake up against Modi? Or are they trying to make the Muslims ‘understand’ the fear of Modi and thus make them vote en-bloc for Congress? Isn’t a counter-polarization a counter-strategy? At the outset the handicap is only 15%, but the advantage a whopping 85%. Or is the Congress trying to belittle and morally assault Modi by reminding him about Godhra over and over again? Perhaps they feel that the person can be broken down by a persistent and stinging moral assault day in day out
  5. There is the behavior of one more group I find very intriguing. The intelligentsia. They are going completely gung-ho about the country’s non-communal status, its secular fabric the ‘Indian-ness’ etc going the Ganges way i.e. in dirt, if Modi becomes the PM. I feel Swapan Dasgupta made a brilliant point in his article in TOI (6th April edition) when he said that maybe the intelligentsia is a bit afraid that the ‘outsider’ tag that Modi brings along with him would seriously alter the relationships in Delhi. The cozy clique that the babudom, editors, newsmen and the legislators had created and nurtured for so long is in for a rude shock. The ‘I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine’ syndrome is going to meet an abrupt end when Modi unveils his sharp claws
  6. Also, I really would like to understand as a fly-on-the-wall as to what exactly the Muslim voter is thinking. It is a foregone conclusion that theirs is a negative vote rather than a positive one i.e. s/he votes to defeat the BJP rather than look to win a SP/Congress candidate. So whoever is supposedly best placed to defeat the BJP candidate would be voted for. The sad part of this is that a negative vote is necessarily never going to make things better. I guess it started out as a positive vote for SP, BSP, RJD, Congress but then later converted in to a negative one post the ‘promised backlash’ if BJP was voted in to power. It is imperative for the community to understand that even after 60 years and voting (positive or a negative one) primarily for an anti-BJP party why are they still lacking in most social parameters i.e. education, enrolment, jobs, security, overall well-being etc. This fear and supposed protection vote that the anti-BJP party claim precludes them from feverishly acting on the social parameters of the community and assimilating them in the mainstream. It is obvious that if the mind is pre-occupied with security fears and existential issues where then would be the mental space and bandwidth to focus on the day-to-day travails of roti-rozgaar-kapda-makaan-shiksha. Why is the narrative arranged for them always on the brink of a morbid and unnatural fear related to their religion and the idea of joining the mainstream never arises? I believe the onus squarely would lie on the liberal, educated and sentient people in the community. The community needs to understand and inherently believe that this is nothing but the path of diminishing returns. It is turning in to a self-fulfilling prophecy where in the community claims of being socially outcast is being re-asserted time and again by the un-willingness of the community to assimilate itself in to the mainstream much to the delight and glee of the anti-BJP party
  7. Lastly, I feel Modi is a very smart chap. There is no hope in hell that he believes that he can continue with the majoritarian view-point, if he has any. This is but likely the view that ‘khaane ke daat kuch aur dikhane ke kuch aur’. BJP might push for counter-polarization as a strategy but surely that wouldn’t be the game going forward. It is just not possible for the country to clock 8-10% GDP growth with the 15% handicap being ghettoized. At this point of time he has plucked on the mantra of ‘hope’. A hope for development, a hope for jobs, security, water, electricity, infrastructure etc. A narrative which is definitely going to energize and enthuse the voters. A narrative which necessarily has a corollary of the misrule of the UPA and the scam-a-day Government that has reined upon us