Last week, while replying to the thanks giving motion to the President’s address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had revealed that in BJP parliamentary party meetings which are held every Tuesday when the Parliament is in session, he does plain speaking, venting his anguish, cautioning and warning members of his party whose words or actions bring disrepute or create avoidable controversies.
Modi wouldn’t have known that only a week later a situation would emerge when he would have to come true to his words, and take to task one of the prominent BJP national general secretaries Kailash Vijayvargiya and his arrogant MLA son Akash. Vijayvargiya senior had recently defended his son Akash for using a cricket bat to browbeat an on-duty state official in Madhya Pradesh.
The brat with the bat made national headlines, went to jail for a few days for the offence committed only to be released on bail to get a hero’s welcome. All this happened while Modi was attending the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. The unrepentant attitude of the father-son duo had caused damage to the party’s image, more so because it involved a high ranking party leader who was tasked with upscaling the party’s fortunes in West Bengal.
It needed no insight to estimate that the rousing reception that Akash got was all orchestrated. His father has a massive clout in Madhya Pradesh, more so in Indore. The Akash issue in many ways was a true depiction of what Mark Twain had said “the offspring of riches: pride, vanity, ostentation, arrogance, tyranny".
Under the given situation, Modi did what was expected of him as the face of a party which for long prided itself with the catchphrase, party with a difference. Modi is aware that with party’s expansion as a mass party, which now rules at the Centre and more than half of Indian states, arrogance of power could be manifested in varied forms. The other problem is that he is blamed for almost everything that goes wrong within the party or for any wrongdoing of its leaders. It's thus his responsibility that as a guardian of the party, he carries the whip to make leaders behave properly.
Since party’s moral posturing is guided by its ideological fountainhead Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the party always prided itself with developing certain character and thought process in public life. This essentially was to portray that despite being in politics, its leaders and workers were guided by certain moral values and discipline in public life. KN Govindacharya’s “chaal, charitra and chehra” formulation, though originally made in slightly different context of social engineering, had a different meaning in terms of public perception.
In his first meeting in the Central Hall of the Parliament with all elected NDA MPs on his return to power, Modi had dwelt at length of how public representatives were expected to behave in public life. The thrust of his argument was to remind them of their duties. Winning an election and consequent perks of power offered every possibility to make a leader arrogant. Modi was cautioning them against that. He spoke at length, practically acting as a tough yet caring headmaster who cared for his school and students.
One out-of-turn statement or unbecoming act by a ruling party leader spoils all the hard work done by the government and the party in one ago. In a different context, Modi had said that 'politics is about public perception'. It was thus very important that his party leaders remained conscious of it so that he doesn't have to spare the extent of time and energy he has on damage control or even in taking the wrongdoers to task in order to send a message down the line. Modi, as a prime minister wants to focus his time and energy on governance. In his second term with increased mandate popular expectations from him have only enhanced.
Veteran BJP leader LK Advani used to say that politics was one vocation which offered positions of immense clout and power to shape public policy. At times, the positions that he got were disproportionate to their capabilities and thus there were greater chances of becoming arrogant. He often used to caution his party workers and supporters of that.
By blasting the Vijayvargiyas at the parliamentary party meeting attended by around 380 members on Tuesday and letting party spokesperson brief the media about it, he intended to send a message to the rank and file across the country that the tolerance limit on the issue was thin.
Updated Date: Jul 02, 2019 17:20:21 IST