Narendra Modi was a star campaigner during the assembly elections of 2013 which included Rajasthan. The then Gujarat Chief Minister was extremely vocal on the alleged land scams of Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi. In the run up to the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 too, Modi and sundry BJP leaders went ballistic against the Gandhi family on the issue of land scams of Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law in the states of Rajasthan and Haryana. Ravi Shankar Prasad even released a booklet titled ‘Damadshree’ highlighting Vadra’s various land scams in the abovementioned two states.
It was then widely believed that the Bhartiya Janta Party government would act in this matter and bring the guilty to the book. But even after Congress party’s repeated challenges to the BJP to take action against the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi on this issue it has hardly moved anywhere. As per political commentators Modi’s 56” chest contracts considerably in acting against the first political family. The main reason attributed to this supposed inaction is that Sonia Gandhi will come back to power in 2019 riding the sympathy wave, a la Indira Gandhi if action is taken against her or her family members.
This appears true as even after forming governments in Rajasthan, Haryana and the Centre for nearly two years the Vadra land scam cases have not yet crossed the enquiry stage. Only last week the Rajasthan govt issued him a notice. On no other issue too, there is any hint of a government action against the powerful family. In fact, the only person who has taken the Gandhis to Court is none other than the maverick Subramanian Swamy in his personal capacity.
But is the notion true that Indira Gandhi came back to power because of a sympathy wave in her favour after the then Home Minister, Charan Singh hurriedly got her arrested for one night (though later he failed miserably to prove anything against her)?
I think it certainly was not the reason for the iron lady’s comeback. The reason why she returned to power was daily infighting between the then Prime Minister, Morarji Desai and Charan Singh. Almost every day newspapers carried their ugly fights on their front pages. By a curious turn of events Charan Singh, who was nursing ambitions of being Prime Minister himself ultimately dumped Morarji Desai and became PM with the help of India Gandhi!
It was a smart move by Indira, who exploited their infighting; broke the Janta Party and later withdrew her support to the Kisan leader even before he faced the Parliament. As a result, the government fell and fresh elections were necessitated. The Jan Sangha, which had merged with the Janta Party at the call of Jai Prakash Narayan went their separate ways on the issue of RSS membership and Bhartiya Janta Party was born. As a result, there was no single strong party or leader left amongst the non-Congress parties and hence Indira Gandhi’s comeback was a foregone conclusion.
Therefore, Indira Gandhi’s return to power was not due to any sympathy wave; rather it was in-fighting amongst the two biggest leaders of the ruling party and the subsequent parting of ways.
Let us analyze the 1980 situation with today’s: the scenario is completely different today than what it was more than 30 years ago. People had forgotten Emergency because a common man was hardly affected, save some cases of forced sterilization in northern India. But memories of gigantic corruption during UPA’s 10 years rule are still fresh in people’s minds and cannot be easily forgotten. The Congress Party is now considered synonymous with corruption.
The Janta Party was a hotchpotch coalition of different ideologies and aspirational leaders. But the BJP today has 11 crore members and Narendra Modi is the unchallenged leader within the NDA. BJP’s strength has deep roots as it is ruling the Centre and in as many as 12 States. Narendra Modi is undisputedly the No 1 leader in India like Indira Gandhi was at her hey days. Moreover, Rahul and Sonia Gandhi are nowhere close to the former prime Minister.
The National Herald case may become a big impediment for the comeback of the Gandhis, where they are on a sticky wicket. An adverse ruling by the Court could prove disastrous for them. As the case is not being fought by the ruling dispensation a cry of political vendetta is not likely to cut much ice with the people. A court ordered conviction is not going to bring sympathies but will only revive the memories of mega loot of the exchequer.
Apart from this, not only the political situation has changed in these 30 odd years but also the understanding of the masses. Elections after Indira Gandhi’s assassination and Ram Temple movement will perhaps remain the last occasions when people voted on emotion. People have now become inspirational will vote on performances. Narendra Modi has made “Vikas” the main electoral issue. Spread of education, competitive news channels and active social media have made today’s situation vastly different from 1980.
So there is no need to worry about any sympathy wave. I hope BJP strategists and government realise this.