Apparently it may appear that Arun Shouri’s diatribe against Modi and his government has embarrassed Prime Minister Modi and his party. His attacks on him for failures on the economic as well as social front, his strident criticism of the “Trimurti” comprising Modi, Jaitley and Shah may all look lethal castigation of the government and the ruling party, but in truth, they are meant to help improve their image in public so that they can continue with their hidden agenda.
It is well known that Shouri is a big supporter of privatization. Modi embarked on the fleet of privatization immediately after coming to power with a series of actions that include raising FDI in Insurance fro0m 26 pc to 49 pc, labour reforms, Goods & Services Tax, Assets Sales amounting to 9.5 billion dollars, Subsidy Reforms, Land Bill and proposed total privatization of Mobile and FM Radio Spectrum. But with the slide in popularity graph and challenges in the Parliament and outside have unnerved the BJP supporters.
Rahul Gandhi’s declaration of crusade against the “Corporate Government” and “Suit Boot ki Sarkaar” in Parliament and outside has struck the government more lethally thatn how the earthquake hit Nepal. Nepal Earthquake was used by Modi to shift attention from his suit-boot image to one who cares for humanity. Nut he could distract attention from Rahul only for a couple of days. Now, with Shouri launching an attack on BJP, this will give hope to the ruling coalition that it would prove Modi is not a man of corporate. Any message in the public about the Corporate being unhappy about the government will be a positive development from its point of view.
It is difficult to know whether Shouri acted on behalf of the corporate alone or had the tacit approval of the BJP bosses also. But the truth remains that even the corporate does not want a government to be viewed pro-corporate in the masses. In a democratic country, any government cannot survive if it cannot keep the masses in good humour. The corporate therefore advise their minions in the government to continue to make some symbolic gestures to the common people. Obviously, the governments are keen to take steps in favour of the corporate and their other support lobbies in the first 2-3 years. As the elections approach, they have to switch to what has been cruelly termed as “populist” policies.
The sad truth is that both Congress and BJP have remained tilted towards elites and corporates. Both have used the communal agenda to help this cause. Congress initiated the first round of privatization in the late 1980s which went in full swing in the reign of Narsimha Rao. This coincided with the destruction of Babri Masjis. People including the left parties got busy fighting the monster of communalism and the first round of privatization was completed without any noticeable opposition. The policies started shifting in the last phase of UPA rule with an enhanced people-friendly approach. This was partly due to the emergence of the heir in the form of Rahul Gandhi who was showing visible concerns for the lowest sections of society. This unnerved the corporates and this was one of the factors why media chose to destroy Rahul’s image in the election phase. Now, the writers like Amulya Ganguly are clearly talking of Rahul’s “leftist”tendencies. Shouri’s lambaste will help Modi in facing this challenge posed by Gandhi. If they cannot blunt a resurgent Rahul and Congress, their project of Second Round of Privatisation will fail.
If there have been communal statements on the daily basis almost throughout the first year of Modi government, they are again meant to keep the public attention away from the privatization plan. They thought that the opposition will fall into their trap again. But Rahul Gandhi seems to have understood this game. If he has not yet fully understood, he must do understand now that the biggest antidote to Saffron communalism will be a frontal attack on it economic agenda. He should keep his focus on the “Corporate Sarkar” and it will not be difficult to show how dangerous the government policies are for the whole nation except a privileged 1 percent, which holds more assets than the rest. If in the process, he has to admit the follies of the Congress in the past, he will have to take that risk. He has to show that Congress under him will be more people-friendly than the older Congress and than any other current political dispensation.
Meanwhile, Shouri may also get the reward for his timely support to the Corporate and Modi government. He may have to wait a little though.