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Why Modi’s BJP Is Always Ahead Of Ideas Like ‘All India Professional Congress’

At the Centre, Modi rules with an iron fist and a super powerful PMO. Ministers, except for the likes of Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley, wield little power

Photo Credit : PTI,

As a Chief Minister, Narendra Modi ruled the state of Gujarat through handpicked officials, and a powerful Chief Minister’s Office (CMO). There was no second-rung leadership in the state BJP. Modi meant the BJP and vice versa.

At the Centre, Modi rules with an iron fist and a super powerful PMO. Ministers, except for the likes of Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley, wield little power. We all are familiar with this narrative.

As a Chief Minister, Modi talked about creating a neo middle class. He said he was bringing out the poor out of poverty, who would join the Great Indian Middle Class. As a Prime Ministerial aspirant, he primarily targeted the middle class, and after harvesting a bumper yield at the hustings sought to broad base the mandate by selling moves like demonetization “as a move against the rich and the powerful (which brought benefits to the poor)”.

Those familiar with Modi’s working style are not surprised at all by his move to inject a liberal dose of bureaucracy (agreed, officials who excelled in their fields) into the Cabinet. Following the lateral entry of K J Alphons, Hardeep Singh Puri, Rajkumar Singh, and Satyapal Singh – former IAS, IFS, IPS officials -- into the Cabinet, commentators might have scoffed at the “lack of political talent in the BJP”, but the fact remains that they are an integral part of Modi’s India.

Alphons was known as a ‘Demolition Man’ during his stint in the DDA, Delhi. Puri had a distinguished career as a diplomat. Satyapal Singh was once a Commissioner of Police in Mumbai. Rajkumar Singh, on the other hand, is a former Union Home Secretary.

All of them reflect the middle-class aspirational values that Modi holds so dear, and are professionals who would be the driving force of Middle-Class India, that India is poised to be.

Modi’s move, thus, is perfectly in sync with his politics.

What is interesting that the Congress, after a long while, sought to match Modi step by step, by launching its own All India Professionals’ Congress. The party said that anyone who paid taxes was a professional. Parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor was made to head the body, while others like Milind Deora and Gaurav Gogoi, among others, were made coordinators.

Some news channels may be hounding Tharoor, but the fact remains that he remains an extremely powerful influencer, especially when it concerns the middle class and the educated elites. He has an extremely large Twitter following and remains a sought after columnist on contemporary issues and issues of historical importance.

For the first time after a long struggle, it appeared, the Congress would take the fight to Modi’s camp, and engage him while vying for the attention of the middle class and professionals.

The Congress, however, erred on one account.

While the country has moved to a post-dynasty era, the Congress chose to persist with dynasts like Deora and Gogoi as the body’s key figures, giving out an impression that for the middle class – and indeed professionals – a place on the high table in the party remains a distant dream.

As India urbanises at a rapid pace and continues to be the bright spot in the world economy (notwithstanding the temporary setback, this quarter), the middle class would continue to grow and prosper. Indeed the ‘new India’ that Modi talks of would be primarily middle-class India.

With his latest move to induct ex-bureaucrats, Modi has shown that he walks the talk. If the Congress has to take on the Congress, it must fight him with robust middle-class ideas, and not just tokenism.

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