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How Modi's victory has created a new political elite in India

by K Yatish Rajawat 

The aspirations of small town India has spoken loudly in Modi’s mandate. It is not an easy mandate it comes with sky high expectations. PM designate Narendra Damodardas Modi has to meet them, and this will lead to the biggest shake up in Delhi’s power elites. The edifice of the ecosystem is already shivering, anticipating the change and there are several reasons for it.

One, Modi’s win is the rise of a first generation politician representing the new aspirational class. He understands the impatience of the aspirational class well. It will also mean that there will be little room for bureaucrats and officials who try to explain the country to the new set of rulers. There will be little space for planners/explainers but a huge need for implementers.  That is why there is so much talk about dismantling the Planning Commission. It also means that Babus used to planning on files will lose out to a younger aspiring lot that has more recent implementation experience in states.

 How Modis victory has created a new political elite in India

Narendra Modi. Agencies.

Second, though Modi is not a Delhi based politician he has worked in Delhi as BJP’s spokesperson and understands the Delhi media’s pressure points well. This will again shake up the cozy combine of bureaucrats and their cliques of journalists. The natural hierarchy of bureaucrats who have worked in Delhi for the majority of their life and have developed cliques with business and journalists will give way to a new order. Babus owing their existence because of their proximity to business or journalists will not find it easy in the new regime.

Third, is the rise of a more holistic view of India rather than a Delhi based myopic view. Modi’s connect with India is higher due to his travels as a Pracharak. An RSS Pracharak  becomes ultra-practical.  He does not have any resources to support him and is totally dependent on well- wishers of the RSS in the society. At the same time he needs the society to follow the higher ideals that he is preaching.  This is what gives the PM designate that zeal. The Pracharak appeals to the patriotic fervor first, culture second and religion follows much later.

Living on the largesse also changes his view towards poor, he does not see them as dole takers or seekers. Modi has a far more granular view of what it takes to bring people out of poverty. UPA needed a motley band of jhola carrying elitists to understand the poor and make policies for them. This unholy alliance between party and the elites made and explained policies to politicians. Bureaucrats and their families with their own NGOs/think tanks formed the triumvirate of this alliance and controlled government dole. RSS and its affliated organization will assert itself much more strongly in this space now. This will affect a legion of second grade bureaucrats surviving on the bloat and dole.Fourth, Modi as a Gujarati does have a natural tendency to favor business.

He does not look at business as just a tax provider and knows that business will do anything for a higher profit. He knows that government needs to harness the animal spirits of business to create job growth.  He will support business but he will look beyond tax generation to job creation. He has a better understanding of which industry is a better job generator. This will change the approach that the industry chambers have towards the government. The standard Industry associations line that good business is good for economic growth will change.

The lobbying for policy change will change as both babus and chambers realize that business owners have a better access to the new regime. Their role as facilitators will shift towards balancing public expectations with business expectations. Industry chambers will have to adjust to shift in power within the babudom. A new breed of industrialists from states will acquire center stage in Delhi and even within Industry chambers as the new regimes favorites acquire control.

Fifth, Modi understands the trapping of political power and understands the need of people to be closer to power better than most leaders. While the Congress President did not have to struggle for getting power from an early age, Manmohan Singh rose to power as a technocrat. Modi has got to power by being a pure populist leader, this means he can motivate people by making them believe in a higher cause.  It is the role of a populist leaders to weave dreams, though their success depends upon implementing them.

The organization skills of the party and RSS combined with Modi’s   skills in tapping into the aspirations and anger created the momentum. He appeals to the self- respect of people by assuring them that it is possible to aspire for better. Due to this he has decimated regional parties and leaders like Mayawati, Sharad Yadav, Ajit Singh and several others who were surviving on caste based votes and failed to read the aspirations. This has a ripple effect on bureaucrats who survived in Delhi, due to their proximity to regional politicians due to caste and cadre. The fall of these regional parties means that these babus are now desperately searching new mentors fearing postings to the states. And thanks to MMS technocrats are now looked down upon and will not find space in the new regime.

Sixth, this is about corruption. Here we need to distinguish corruption on the basis of the level it occurs. Highest level is about crony capitalists bending the ears of politicians and bureaucrats to get favorable policy change. Another level is the one that a common man faces this involves speed money whenever they touch the government for work. The latter is more important to vast majority as it touches their pocket, and this is the message that AAP has to take home. An ordinary citizen in a small town cannot really fathom the thousands of crores that exchanges hand at the highest level. He does not choose his politician on the basis of corruption at the highest level his criteria are different.

For the aspirational class the moral compass corrects slowly, sometimes over a generation. The question of right or wrong for someone who has never experienced surplus income or even steady income is very different from those who see income as a right. How the new regime recognizes this aspect of the aspirational class, controls it and governs it will determine the future.

The author tweets at @yatishrajawat

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Updated Date: May 18, 2014 12:06:07 IST