You win some. You lose some.
But you have to fight. And you must not just fight, you must be SEEN to be fighting. So that your millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of supporters can SEE that you share their hostility for the evil Dynasty.
Anybody who remembers the BJP between 2004 and 2013 will know what I am talking about.
I’ll say it : when Arvind Kejriwal came forward in 2012 saying that BJP & Congress are actually “friends behind the curtain”, I almost believed him. I could see no reason not to.
But things changed since Sept 13, 2013 when Narendra Modi became BJP’s PM candidate.
Earlier this week, we could SEE the light of battle in the eyes of Amit Shah, even as he sat alongside Gujarat CM Vijaybhai Rupani waiting for the results of the Rajya Sabha cliffhanger.
We could see the Dynastycrooks fighting with their backs to the wall and Amit Shah fighting tooth and nail to punish them.
And that is something that is reassuring. It is all too easy to get cynical about politics, to say that “nothing has changed”. But when you see the right hand man of the Dynasty scampering to save a Rajya Sabha seat he used to take for granted, you can feel the wrath of new India expressed through Modi and Shah.
Hindsight is always 20/20. Yes, there were lots of mistakes, some mistakes that are truly puzzling by Amit Shah’s standards. At the top of the table are the two nincompoop Congress MLAs who ended up showing their votes and got invalidated. But even more puzzling are the 6 (or 8 according to some reports) numbskull Congress MLAs who actually resigned from the Assembly. If they had just held on to their seats and cross voted on the day of reckoning, Ahmed Patel would have lost miserably.
Whose decision was it to make the Congress MLAs resign instead of staying put and cross voting? Nobody other than Amit Shah himself should be blamed for this tactical disaster.
Did Vaghela play a game of double cross? Even though it is hard to see what he gains from this.
While fighting hard is one aim, it is not an end in itself. The bottomline is that Shah lost and each defeat has to be dissected brutally. Or else, losing becomes a habit.
The true winners do BOTH.
The first lesson from this result is that Congress still retains shades of its old instincts. When pushed to the wall, the Congress still knows how to fight back. And as we saw during the late night drama at the Election Commission, it’s power within institutions is still very significant.
In some ways, this has been the story of the last 3 years. As the tide of Modi has ravaged the electoral landscape, Congress friendly institutions have remained secular fortresses. This could be anything from universities to commissions to the Lords who cannot be named.
I am not asking for an India with no checks and balances. That would be a terrible fate. But it is galling that India’s ruling party has little to no influence within India’s institutional core, while the Congress has so much. It is a gap that is understandable … the elaborate system of family favors underlying this institutional power often goes back decades to periods even before independence.
Who knows which person’s grandfather gave young X the crucial promotion that let him into the big league? Today when X is a big powerful man, he remembers that favor from the grandfather. If the granddaughter is in trouble with the police, why not help her out and repay the favor?
The second lesson from this is that Rahul Gandhi does not even have a single straw of leadership skills in him. Amit Shah was out there, with his workers, with his party, managing every battle effort till the bitter end. Rahul Gandhi on the other hand had bolted, leaving his minions to fight. Rahul was too shy to be seen fighting with his troops and too arrogant to be seen celebrating their victory with them. That this man still has a shot at becoming India’s PM one day is a national embarrassment.