Two Letters that will never be written – Part One
December 27, 2015 Leave a comment
Dear Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh ji,
I would have preferred to write this letter in Hindi, however as I suspect your ability to understand Hindi too well and the fact that the pseudo-secular elite has a condescending attitude towards my English, I have chosen to address you in the Queen’s language.
Ever since I “won” the ‘primaries’ in my party to be nominated as the Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014, I have been wanting to thank you for the immense help that you rendered through your tenures, which helped me to design, develop and deliver a ‘development based’ alternative to the voters of India.
Despite being a man of great intellect, Dr Singh, even your best friends would have to admit that your second tenure was all about being drab, dull and disastrous. Except for my candidature though.
As a Prime Minister who didn’t occupy the 7 RCR address by virtue of electoral success but more as a non-threatening alternative to the Madam herself, I fully understand the constant erosion that your authority – moral and legal – was subjected to. Of course, I have no complaints that you allowed it to happen, as it provided me with additional ammunition for my electoral success.
Now after occupying the chair vacated by you, 20 months later, I have come to understand you and your actions, a bit more, something I couldn’t have done as your political alternative.
- I have realized that as a Prime Minister, it is impossible and indeed useless to react to everything that happens in the political spectrum. I have to come to recognize that the front yards of Prime Minister’s office is always full of people wanting to wish dirty political linen, but it will be a huge disservice to the office to either willingly participate or even be a keen bystander. I now understand as to why you didn’t react to every single political byte that ever came to your notice.
- I have realized that in the musical choir of politics, a Prime Minister will always be a ‘Dholak’ – getting thumped on either side. The more illustrious pseudo-secular English media may look down upon this metaphor but I am sure you get my point. There is never ever “sufficient action” or “sufficient inaction” that can come out of a PMO that can please everyone across the political spectrum. Moving fast has it’s own detractors as well as moving slow, so as a PM, one of my significant learnings has been to never look at the speedometer.
- I have realized that once electoral success is achieved, the real politicking is managing the “internal politics”. And it is a continuous process. Even if in a party like ours, we could “hive off” discontent to a ‘Marg Darshak Mandal’, the power wielded by internal adversaries is never diminished. And when the electoral success formula begins to elude, the voices get ever louder and bolder. If this can happen to me, with my Midas-touch electoral success, I can only shudder to think as to how you would have silently suffered a decade inside the political cauldron. And the stiff ‘bandgalas’ don’t help.
- I have realized, – excuse the bad pun that follows – the “lok” ka sabha is easy to win, but for good “rajya”, the sabha is very different and indeed difficult. Even though, I am no stranger to parliamentary democracy, courtesy my tenure as Gujarat CM, I did imagine during my campaign that legislation isn’t something too challenging as baking a ‘dhokla’. Without the numbers in the “Upper House”, I have come to recognize the obstructionist force of the Opposition, however weakened they may be from the point of people’s mandate. So I fully appreciate your difficulties in initiating and carrying through sweeping legislative changes that will alter the course of the economy and policy making.
- I have realized that every party has “Mani Shankar Aiyers” in various shapes, sizes and situations. It was politically convenient for me to be silent when my opponents were asked to be packed off to Pakistan but it is not much fun to see my own MPs becoming principal tourism mascots for ‘destination Pakistan’. When Mani took that swipe at me for being a ‘chaiwalla’, me and my campaign team were quick to ‘milk’ the opportunity (pun intended) fully, and very successfully. Even as you were out of the political race, I am sure that you were extremely apologetic about the lowering of the political discourse but were helpless. A situation that I often find myself in recently and sadly more often.
These are matters that I will never speak about, either directly or indirectly, nor would I cover it as part of my speeches in India or elsewhere. But I do want you to know, that I have begun to understand and indeed appreciate the various pressure points of your tenure as Prime Minister.
I may not be able to openly acknowledge, during my tenure as PM, your steering of the Indian democracy, with all it’s failings and fantasies, but once it ends, I shall have nothing but admiration for you. Plus of course, I will have my own story to tell.