“By the skilful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make the people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as a paradise”– Adolf Hitler
Attuning to a similar fervor explicated by the aforesaid quote, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mesmerised the teeming crowd, hurling words or rather fleshing out his ammos directly targeting the new found Kumar-Yadav duo at the Parivartan Rally in Gaya.
With 4000 security personnel at guard and prominent BJP stalwarts flanking the political juggernaut, the rally in Gaya gave flashes of Modi’s efficient oratory and his penchant for words. His tweaked words and phrases, in an attempt at maligning the present chief minister Nitish Kumar gave the media a platter of toothsome acronyms like JDU: Janta ka Daman aur Utpeedan (The oppression and persecution of the people), RJD: Rozana ke jungleraj ka dar.(Fear of the jungle raj)
Amid Modi’s quite plausible and rational plans for the state’s development, there was a flurry of quips that weren’t sagacious enough to expound the truth. Amongst them is the following: Don’t give the people who have ruined Bihar in the last 25 years a second chance.
Poring over the statements sounded out by Modi, one would beg to differ from the maverick considering the developmental activities doled out by the Bihar government under the chief ministership of Nitish Kumar.
Decoding the contention
According to a report released by the ASSOCHAM on Bihar in the year 2013, the state has upped its status considerably despite its “huge disadvantage of the past baggage of laggard development“. The statistical record given by the organization pegged the compounded average growth rate at 20 per cent in terms of public investment between March 2003 – March 2013, while Gujarat lagged behind at 14.1 percent.
Further, the report also threw light upon the positive changes pulled in the state owing to the amount of public investment garnered by the state over the period of time. “It is the public investment which is ushering in the growth trajectory in Bihar, where the BJP is the junior partner to its NDA ally with the JD(U) in coalition that rules Bihar,” posted the report.
Moreover, economist Swaminathan Aiyar’s accreditation of the economic turnaround in Bihar owing to the sound law and order situation under Nitish Kumar in a report in the Mint clearly refutes Narendra Modi’s imagery of a destructed Bihar.
Bihar is a BIMARU state
Amid the lackluster states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa etc, Modi’s hawk eyes are on a trail to register the anomalies prevalent in Bihar. Lashing out at the chief minister of the state, he said that both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh under the leadership of Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chauhan respectively have succeeded in fending off their BIMARU status.
“Bihar has hit the road on its way to economic recovery and among the BIMARU states comprising Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, it has attained the top position in terms of growth rate with an annual GSDP OF 9.3 percent in the year 2013,” said ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S Rawat.
Taking a step ahead, Economist Jean Dreaze conceded to the improving circumstances in Bihar. He dilated his stand stating that Bihar has considerably cut leakages from the PDS (Public Distribution System) which came down from 90 per cent during 2000’s to less than 75 percent in 2011-2012.
“A combination of political will, empowerment on the ground and institutional reforms like issuing coupons to the beneficiaries which made embezzlement difficult for ration sellers have all helped”, said Reetika Khera, assistant professor of economics at IIT Delhi (an excerpt from the Mint).
Khera’s take on Nitish Kumar’s dedication and his relentless efforts on curbing the malpractices prevalent in the state confirms the veracity of the JD(U) leader’s potential as the harbinger of development.
Mr. Prime Minister seemed overly concerned over Bihar’s depreciating status but did he ever wonder why poor Nitish Kumar has been harping on a special status to be rendered to the state?
“Considering the fact that 53.3 per cent of Bihar population’s is below the poverty line, further, the state’s manufacturing growth being a meagre 0.4 percent as compared to higher numbers for Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, owing to the lack of private investments in the state, it becomes all the more important for the same to bear a special status”, reported the Economic Times report.
A special status would render an enhanced flow of funds into the state along with other brownie points such as freight equalization and increased availability of resources.
With Modi’s ostentatious promises reverberating the rally in Gaya, one might have overlooked the fact that it was NDA led central government which had denied a special status to the state like the former governments.
JDU means Janata Ka Daman and Utpeedan and RJD means Rozana Jungle Raj ka Darr
Though, at the very first look, the acronyms might seem quite attractive and bewitching but the suppression and the jungle Raj which Modi is talking of might turn out to be an effective card in solving the electoral riddle. With the amount of support that RJD might garner from its Yadav counterparts and the acumen and deftness wielded by Nitish Kumar, the political union might end up bringing forth favourable changes in the state.
“No party wins elections only on development and Lalu’s track record in governance can be compensated if there is an authentic alliance which helps Nitish with Lalu’s large social base,” said Shaibal Gupta, renowned economist and member secretary of the Asian Development Research Institute based in Patna.
Gupta’s take on the political jointure gives an inkling of a balanced concoction wherein majority support with a chunk of prudent developmental policies might end up fetching Bihar the favourable status it has been looking for.
“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby becomes a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you”- Friedrich Nietzsche
Politics is quite similar to what Friedrich had to say on people fighting monsters. In an attempt at obliterating bad, we often get enchanted by the bad. Similarly, politicians in their efforts at fixing things rights end up taking to vicious practices.
The tussle between the political adversaries will inevitably encapsulate ceaseless episodes of mud slinging, with media houses nibbling on the jargons used by them in the electoral rallies yet to take place. However, the onus lies on the mango man.
Will the citizenry of Bihar filter out the truth or get stuck in the political Jumla (rhetoric) that lies ahead?
A recent European Union intelligence sharing exercise with India has revealed that Lockheed Martin, the US-headquartered company which manufactures the F-16 fighter jets, has been up to mischief mongering on the Rafale issue.
The Rafale jets, which India wants, is manufactured by the French aerospace company Dassault Aviation, a rival of Lockheed Martin.
That Lockheed Martin could be working in the shadows to sour the Rafale deal for India so that it could move in with its own deal was validated when Vivek Lall, Lockheed Martin’s high-profile head of strategy and India operations, said that the company was in the process of finalising the sale of 200 fighters to India.
During the UPA regime, the government had signed an MoU for 126 Rafale fighter jets to replenish a major shortcoming in air defence preparedness because the Indian Air Force did not have quality fighter jets. When the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, this deal was revised and an inter-government deal was struck to receive 36 fully-loaded Rafale jets. The controversy now raging in India is related to the pricing for the fighters negotiated by the NDA.
In December when the Rafale case came before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed that processes were generally followed over the procurement. He also noted that the controversy had been triggered by comments by former French President Francois Hollande over the selection of the offset partner and that mere comments could not form the basis for a probe.
However, this has not prevented the Rafale purchase controversy from becoming a high-octane political battle between the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Repeatedly over the past few months and more stridently now in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has led a no-holds barred attack on the government and the Prime Minister specifically on the issue. From the earlier public disinterest on the controversy, it is now now getting some traction — the Congress party believes this could be possible because it has relentlessly raised the matter at all public forums.
Bringing up the case of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was said to be part of the orhestrated plan to present the case of the American companies while also appearing nationalistic. In the government’s estimate, HAL’s record is abysmal and it cannot be given a big responsibility like building fighter jets — more so in the light of the safety record of MiG fighters purchased from Russia and made under licence from HAL.
The BJP-led government at the Centre believes — and it is certain it has evidence of this — that the Congress party is doing this as it has become a party to corporate rivalry between the US and French aerospace companies. For the record, Lockheed Martin is believed to have found a sympathetic ally in another US aerospace major, Boeing, which manufactures the F-18. Dassault has another rival in French manufacturer Airbus Industrie, which is associated with BAE for the manufacture of the Eurofighter. It is also angling for a fighter jet contract with India.
Rahul Gandhi’s attacks on the government over the Rafale issue started after his visit to the US in August 2017 when he met several defence lobbyists, CEOs of US defence companies and Pentagon officials.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’.
The government’s efforts to trace the footprints of the dramatis personae at the forefront of the campaign to target the government over the Rafale deal has produced surprising results. It has found what it believes are eye-opening linkages between Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie — who filed a PIL in the Supreme Court accusing the Prime Minister of corruption in the deal — and arms dealers and defence manufacturers. At least in one case, the linkages show deep connections between members of Shourie’s family with aerospace companies, arms dealers and defence lobbies.
A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie’s dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.
The government is also aware of the links between a top BJP leader’s son-in-law and a French manufacturer. The son-in-law is said to be advising Rahul Gandhi and is believed to be making government documents available to him for the campaign against Rafale.
Lockheed Martin’s alleged actions to work the political ecosystem to pull down the Rafale procurement deal also has a larger strategic context. Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. (IANS)