It doesn’t require the world to point out that Manmohan Singh is a puppet Prime Minister! The question actually is, who is the “real” Prime Minister? Sonia Gandhi wasn’t the “real” Prime Minister. It was Pranab Mukherjee, the man who was virtually running the entire show of running the nation, while Sonia managed Manmohan and a large part of party politics. Can you believe it that out of a list of 40 plus EGoMs, Mukherjee was heading almost a whopping 66%? Mukherjee wasn’t just Congress’ crisis man, but also the man running the government and its intricacies. Now that the man — who should have been Prime Minister in place of Rajiv Gandhi long back — has been given his due, what happens to the government? It’s actually not so much about who will head which EGoM, but more about a sudden realisation of where are the leaders in Congress?
The death of mass leaders in Congress started from the times of Indira Gandhi when the inner party democracy gave way to dynastic politics. Indira, at least herself, became a mass leader; but by the time Rajiv became the Prime Minister purely on sympathy, the mass leaders started finishing off. The last of the mass leaders in the Congress under Sonia — Sharad Pawar — left Congress; and YSR, the one and only mass leader left, met an unfortunate end too. So now, what the Congress is left with, from Sonia to Manmohan to Chidambaram to Rahul, are all well-planned and planted leaders instead of leaders with a mass base.
Compare that to the BJP! From its father-figure L K Advani to its current leaders Narendra Modi, Shivraj Chauhan, Raman Singh, Khanduri to Yeddyurappa, one after the other of them are not only the real mass leaders of this country but also with a completely honest record, most of them! So, contrary to speculation that BJP is leaderless, it is actually the only party with mass leaders spread nationally!
So what is it that is still keeping them away from being outright favorites for 2014? The lack of clarity about who is the face of 2014 and not the lack of leaders or public dissatisfaction with the Congress. In fact, with Mukherjee gone, Congress is now weaker than ever before and one can easily expect our so-called PM to mess things up very soon!
Thus, the only thing right now between BJP being portrayed as an outright winner in 2014 and being in the fray, is the declaration of its face. Or should I say, declaration of Narendra Modi as its face? Gujarat under him has progressed like never before. It is safe, it is clean and it is being led honestly. BJP has a committed 18% to 20% voter base in India and it’s only Modi who can retain it intact — that’s his strong appeal in that particularly staunch BJP vote-base. Add to that about 3% to 4% swing votes specifically due to the massive Modi abuse that the Congress and CPM etc will launch, forcing the public to feel more for him than oppose him, especially given their dissatisfaction with Congress and want for a strong leader. There is a future Prime Minister clearly waiting in him. And it’s not just the global business community that adores him, but worldwide, as I interact with more and more intelligentsia, there is clear realisation inside me that they are all growingly waiting to see him at the top position — or should I say, the position left vacant by Pranab da?
— The writer is a management guru and Honorary Director of IIPM Think Tank