The politics of confrontation

Modi and Jayalalithaa fight it in their own style



Nothing deters the politicians from charting on a course of confrontation as means of furthering their political interests and careers. Whether to uphold the sanctity of a particular occasion, in terms of its national significance, or not, it hardly matters to them. Not that these leaders are less patriotic and nationalist than anyone else or that they do not have the well-being of the nation in mind, but perhaps their personal agenda and aspirations get precedence over everything else.
No one had ever doubted that the National Development Council meeting held in Delhi to discuss the contours of the 12th Five Year plan will be a smooth affair at least from the perspective of the non-Congress, non-UPA ruled states. But still there was a flicker of a hope that the national matters will get priority over everything else particularly the personal and regional aspirations. But that was not to be.
A confrontation between the Chief Ministers of such states and the Congress-led UPA Government was expected. But there was a glimmer of hope that the Gujarat Chief Minister Mr Narendra Modi in his new avtar and his new found friends such as his Tamil Nadu counterpart Ms Jay Jayalalithaa, the two Prime Ministerial candidates for future, will act differently and in a more matured manner. But the hopes were belied.
Never the one to allow any opportunity go, like her friend Mr Modi,  she took a short-cut to play to the gallery by walking out alleging “utter humiliation” and “stifling voices of the elected Chief Ministers”.
The political expediency, which has been the hallmark of the two Chief Ministers and other politicians of their ilk, was at full play once again. It happened. But no one had expected the fireworks to begin so early. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister preferred making headlines by walking out of the high profile NDC meeting rather than taking a more positive recourse and depend on her political and administrative intelligence to score some brownie points.
Never the one to allow any opportunity go, like her friend Mr Modi,  she took a short-cut to play to the gallery by walking out alleging “utter humiliation” and “stifling voices of the elected Chief Ministers” refusing to make a common cause with the Centre. The reasons for her walk-out were quite flimsy, she wanted more time to speak than the allotted 10 minutes, and did not cut any ice with the people although she might feel to be politically correct from the opposition point of view.
Her description of Manmohan Singh government as a “minority government” at the outset and her warm exchange of greetings with Mr Modi, as also her presence in Ahmedabad at his swearing-in ceremony do indicate towards a possible realignment of political forces in the near future. During the last NDC meeting, an informal meeting of Modi, Jayalalithaa and Odisha chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik had sparked off much speculation. Not only did it remain a non-starter but this time around Mr Patnaik went missing from the picture.
 Fresh from having attended the swearing-in ceremony of Mr Modi at Ahemdabad, she quickly found supportive voice in him. Mr Modi adopted a different approach and a much better one to stay in the meeting and question the Centre’s policies vis-a-vis his own Gujarat model of development. Many would not agree with his tone and tenor as well although he was trying to deliver a psychological message to his followers by directly taking on Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
Both tried to make a political capital out of the NDC meeting in their own ways. Although the approach was different the goal was common. Is that the shadow of the coming event? Are the two mercurial leaders going to stick with each other and fashion realignment of forces ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections? Nothing could be said with surety at this juncture.
There is no doubt that Mr Modi and Ms Jayalalithaa belonged to the mutual admiration club. But at the same time they are cunning politicians with a high degree of personal and political agenda and ambitions. There growing proximity will not diminish the sense of supremacy which both of them relish and will try to impose on each other and on any future political formation, may be the NDA, of which they become part.
The fact that both of them are perfectionists in the art of playing politics of confrontation also sends some alarm bells ringing. Despite Mr Modi’s attempts at very strong developmental and patriotic disposition as means of reaching to the people and a similar streak exhibited by the AIADM supremo as well, the policy of confrontation certainly has the potential of taking its toll. And the two leaders must realise that also.
No doubt Ms Jayalalithaa being a loner and head of a monolithically structured political outfit has the freedom to devise and follow her own strategies without any opposition from any quarter. The case is not so for Mr Modi. He has won the Gujarat Assembly elections for the third successive time on his own strength and at the cost of marginalising the BJP’s national leadership. But it will be a tough call for him to do so if he is aiming at Delhi’s power-centre.
An index of what awaits him in Delhi was visible at the BJP’s national headquarters where the party’s Delhi unit had organised a function to felicitate him on his electoral victory and at the same time to egg him on to take the call on the Prime Ministerial slot. The hundreds of enthusiastic workers raised the crescendo with chants of PM, PM...... with the party’s third rung leaders, barring the BJP chief Mr Nitin Gadkari, present on the dais to welcome Mr Modi.
The Modi-Jayalalithaa bonhomie and the former’s soaring Prime Ministerial ambitions will certainly send alarm bells ringing among his peer group and superiors in the BJP. The absence of the BJP’s top brass at the Delhi reception revealed more than what it could hide.
 Mr Modi made no direct reference to his Prime Ministerial ambitions but cleverly packaged his aspirations in his favourite development model of Gujarat. There were no political overtones particularly of the communal brand. Will he follow this model during future elections as well?

(The author is Delhi Bureau Chief of Greater Kashmir and can be contacted at

Lastupdate on : Mon, 31 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 31 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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