Thursday, August 15, 2013

Who Is The New ‘Nitish Kumar’?: Of Shivraj, Modi And The Politics Of Topi

After Nitish Kumar took an exit from NDA, Shivraj Singh has become the new Nitish Kumar for Indian media and also for NaMo. This statement quite easily sums up the emerging political scenario in the country. Shivraj Singh’s wearing of the auspicious topi while celebrating Eid two days back in Madhya Pradesh comes as a big turn in the partisan politics within BJP.

Few days back Nitish Kumar used to be the newsmaker while talking about Modi’s communal politics. He was the only secular face within the larger NDA alliance. Shivraj Singh’s attempt to take a secular stand is more important to analyze because he is part of the BJP and is widely considered as an able administrator in the country. He has been hailed for his development work in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Analyzing the Secular stand of Shivraj Singh

Shivraj Singh’s secular stand may remind us of Advani’s secular stand few years back, because of which he lost the backing of RSS and the Hindutva cadre both in RSS and BJP. Shivraj Singh’s attempt of playing the secular card is a bit different though. He is relying on the anti-Modi faction within and outside BJP and RSS. This is a different ballgame altogether, and has the potential of becoming big, or rather huge in the coming days. Shivraj Singh has been trying hard to prove himself better than Modi in the recent past. He has been trying to tell that he is the leader of all who has the immense potential of inclusive development. His Uttarakhand statement which came promptly after Modi’s alleged 15000 Gujarati statement is an important example in this case. He has also said several times that Madhya Pradesh has a real model of development which must be acceptable to the entire country.

After Nitish Kumar’s loss in popularity, it is Shivraj Singh who has taken the centre role of contesting against Modi. The debates on Social Media illustrate this. Nitish is no more a subject of discussion now. Shivraj Singh on the other hand is being criticized by hardcore Hindutva/Modi supporters.

Major Concerns waiting ahead

My major concern is how positive is this development in Indian polity? I cannot consider Shivraj Singh a secular leader; rather I will preferably call him an opportunist leader, which is an essential part of the Indian polity- Modi being a bigger opportunist for that matter. Raza Murad’s praise for him was indirectly pointed towards Modi, and Shivraj Singh had an innocent smile on his face. This politics oftopi is a game which is essentially playing with faith and aspirations of the people, many of whom are afraid and many trying to heal their wounds.

A true secular leader would never talk about any religious matter in the public domain. Secularism does not mean embracing all religion for a political motive, but rather keeping a reasonable distance from any religion in the public domain. By this standard, India doesn’t have a single secular leader who has a mass appeal. We have a bunch of communalists trying to screw this country a big time!

This article first appeared in Youth Ki Awaaz on August 11, 2013

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