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India needs a strong leader, strong nation (Column Political Calculus)


I am a being - sapiens. But does that mean I am poor, brutish, nasty and small? That is what had thought. Machiavelli's had also said that if you want to control people, the masses, the electorate - then you've to keep a in your hand like the in a Only a strong leader can control the mobocracy.

The great Indian political has also had several Prime Ministers. From Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modi. Each is unique The modus operandi is different. In 2014 when Modi entered Lutyen's Delhi, the popular perception was that a strong man has arrived. Like the arrival of James Bond, after the World War II to dispel the darkness of the depressed British masses. Plato had preached that for a philosopher who would also be the of God - that he will bring justice to mankind.

Today in a democracy, we chose our leader through the process of election. There is no monarch. Nor do we have a like S. Radhakrishnan. We have Modi and the popular perception persists that he is a 'strong leader'. At the eve of another election, the discourse on strong leadership has started again. But we need to understand that strong leader doesn't mean an undemocratic leader. I think that even in a coalition government one needs a strong leadership to run the coalition. A strong leader does not mean that he will be blunt to the ideas of others - that he or she will not listen to the voice of the people. Rather, if you want to frame policies, you've to talk to experts, bureaucrats and even other people.

After getting 282 seats, was Modi reluctant to listen any other opinion?

I think this belief is absolutely wrong. I know his style of functioning and I can say, bluntly, that each and every day he spoke to several people on different subjects. In Lutyen's Delhi, there is a wrong perception that he takes his own decision - this isn't correct. In Delhi, he begins his daily routine with briefing meetings. meets him first. Then P.K. Mishra and other PMO officials. He talks to his PS and APSs daily. Then, the PM conducts video conferences with his department secretaries. He would also hold such conferences with state government officials.

He also has his own unique way of taking inputs from the feedback from the ground; a team, a set-up that isn't just restricted to like or He seeks opinion from the chaupals of different villages. Before the declaration of the election, he conducted a review meeting. The PMO wanted to know the status of implementation of different schemes in the country's 29 states and 7 union territories.

It is true that Modi didn't encourage the Dalal Raj of the political system. In Maharashtra, what is the reason for the deteriorating relationship between Uddhav and Modi took in the past 5 years? Was it ideological? Was it the just the BJP's single party mindset? An arrogance of big brotherhood? The informed political circle know that the actual reason is because couldn't get the malai of Delhi's power. It started with the corporation and ended in a cabinet birth for

When was the Prime Minister, quarrelled on several issues. But the supply line for was never disturbed. Vajpayee was the in 1998. The Vajpayee era could easily be said as the beginning of the 'swarna yug' of Indian economy. It was under his leadership that went for Pokhran 2, but was he a strong leader? The Indian mythology of strong leadership would dictate that he wasn't.

Vajpayee was, after all, a man of political consensus. How can such a leader be characterised as strong? Here lies the fallacy. Once the late Pramod Mahajan of the BJP told me: "Do you know what is our major problem in this party and government? And what is the advantage the family of the have?" He explained: "In our party it is a tyranny of democracy. Vajpayee may be the leader but there is an oligarchy. Advani, M.M. Joshi, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha. And beyond these leaders there is Humhara yaha fayasla lenese jada chintan manthan hota haye!"

In there is a working committee but only one will take the final call. Nobody can object. and raised issues and they had to leave the party. Only once Vajpayee did not disclose the decision to also -- and that was the Pokhran blast and that event made Indian leadership strong! See, pressurised Vajpayee to hold election six months early. And Vajpayee accepted. He lost the election.

Can anybody dictate Modi like this today?

In the party national meeting held at Palampur (Himachal Pradesh), the BJP leadership led by took the resolution in 1989 to start movement. Vajpayee objected but he was a loner and a minority voice. Now this leadership is desirable? When a cannot issue order to his soldiers forcefully? Second, when you are a victim of political blackmail. P.had to manage JMM MPs to win the no confidence motion in the Lok Sabha. How can he be the strong man? did not like it, but chargesheeted Lalu Prasad was in his cabinet. I recall that once, while accompanying him during a trip, he said on record that keeping Lalu in cabinet is coalition compulsion. wanted to go to to talk. The party said no. How can he be a strong leader?

Today we need a strong leader and strong nation. But this doesn't mean that it has to be against the culture of political pluralism. Such a leader need not be against federalism, need not run an unitary government. Our Constitution suggests a quasi-federal structure, and such a leader can be a symbol of that political entropy. But creating a hate campaign against Modi, projecting him as an autocrat - is that democracy? Actually, till today, I have not seen one Devkant Baruah statement in the BJP saying 'Modi is India'.

(The is a senior journalist)



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, April 14 2019. 17:56 IST