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'Difficult For Modi Govt To Win Floor Test'

By SHOBHA WARRIER
June 19, 2024 08:24 IST
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'The longevity of the government is a doubt for me because when the going gets tough, there could a be a point in time where there might be pressure, from within the party or from the allies.'

IMAGE: President Droupadi Murmu exchanges greetings with Narendra D Modi after he was sworn in as prime minister, June 9, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Political economist Parakala Prabhakar was one of the few commentators in India who had predicted before the elections that the Bharatiya Janata Party would not get more than 240 seats! And he was bang on!

In his interview to Rediff.com, Prabhakar -- who is married to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman -- had said, "Modi fatigue has set in, and the BJP is in for huge punishment by the electorate."

"If it gets to his nerves every day when he has to placate his allies, he might take a very far reaching significant decision and dissolve the House. He will then go to the people and say, 'I wanted to implement many things but could not because my allies were not cooperating. So, I want a clear mandate'," Prabhakar tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier in the first of a two-part interview:

 

After the election results were out, Narendra Modi said it was a historic verdict. You remarked that it was a slap on his face.
Some said he doesn't have the mandate of the people or moral authority to rule India again.

As far as moral authority is concerned, it is very badly reduced.

Modi and his supporters say that it is a historic verdict, and it is Modi 3.0. But it is nothing but gaslighting.

I would have rated the BJP and Narendra Modi higher if they had accepted the verdict of the people, tried to understand the message of the people, and accommodated the coalition partners in a better way.

But the very fact that they try to show that they are not defeated, and they have come back as Modi 3.0 shows their inferiority complex.

They want to pretend that they are victorious, but they are defeated.

The Congress compares the situation with what Rajiv Gandhi did in 1989. Though the Congress was the single largest party, he refused to stake a claim to form the government as his party was reduced to 197 from the 404 seats he had won in 1984.

If you read the message that is there in the results, Modi should have desisted from staking a claim (to form a government).

Instead, they have now started talking about NDA. In 2014, it was an NDA government. In 2019 also, it was an NDA government.

But it was always touted as the Modi Sarkar and not even a BJP government.

And the entire election pitch was of Modi ki guarantee. When Modi ki guarantee fetched you only 240, what moral claim you have to say that it was a historic victory, huge victory, etc?

The results show that the Modi ki guarantee is rejected.

Between the leadership of Modi and the people of India, the chemistry is gone.

There is no more the Modi magic they spoke about.

In fact, on the contrary, it is Modi fatigue.

Yes, you said there was Modi fatigue when we spoke before the elections...

Now you saw in the election results that Modi fatigue has really set in..

IMAGE: Modi during an election roadshow in Kolkata, May 28, 2024. Photograph: Sahiba Chawdhary/Reuters

There is a vast difference between what he said he would get, and what he got finally...

It is like this. A strong person accepts the vulnerabilities and limitations. On the other hand, a weak person tries to pretend that there are no limitations and there are no vulnerabilities.

That's exactly what is happening now.

The writing on the wall is so clear that the BJP is reduced from 303 to 240.

It is just luck that they got some seats in Andhra Pradesh which was not because of their strength. It was because of (Chandrababu) Naidu.

In fact, Naidu could win the elections not because of the BJP but in spite of the BJP.

In Odidha, they could make some gains because of the anti-incumbency, after long years of Naveen Patnaik's rule.

The BJP picked up some seats this way in these two states.

But in UP which is their actual battleground, they were completely mauled.

Would you say the biggest shock in this election came from UP?

That's right.

By trying to pretend that everything is like 2014 or 2019, if they think they are fooling the people, they are actually fooling themselves.

IMAGE: Modi meets with BJP and NDA leaders before they were sworn in as ministers, June 9, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Commentators say Modi is not accustomed to coalition politics, and from the time he was Gujarat chief minister and even as prime minister for ten years, he ran the governments the way he wanted.
How do you expect him to perform as the prime minister of a coalition government?

What is Narendra Modi up against now? He is now dependant on his allies, especially the two major allies, the TDP and the JD-U.

The leaders of these two political parties are very experienced. They have seen a lot of ups and downs in politics. They fell many times and got up many times.

They are skilled in taking everybody together, they are experts in making deals, and persuading others.

These are precisely the skills Narendra Modi lacks.

The governments he ran both in Gandhinagar as well as in Delhi, leave alone coalition governments, they were not even his party governments; he ran his own governments.

And to expect Narendra Modi to suddenly develop skills like deal making, consensus building or consulting people, taking suggestions from the allies, is too much.

I don't think he has the temperament or the skills to do so.

This is going to be a very huge obstacle in the functioning of this government.

There are two things. One: as things stand today, it will be very difficult for the Narendra Modi government to pass the floor test.

I am not saying they won't be able to. I am saying, it is going to be very difficult.

IMAGE: Modi with Andhra Pradesh Governor and retired Supreme Court judge Abdul Nazeer, newly sworn-in Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu during the oath-taking ceremony in Vijayawada, June 12, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Why do you say so?

See, they don't have a single ally in the NDA which is an ideological ally of the BJP. They are all contextual allies. They are transactional allies.

You can go to the extent of saying, some of them are just opportunistic allies.

So, the alliance doesn't depend on any ideological bonding.

If the BJP wants to go forward with CAA or NRC, what would be the reaction from the JD-U and TDP?

Suppose they want to go ahead with Gyanvapi and Mathura and other temples, what will be the reaction?

And the JD-U wants caste census. Will Narendra Modi and the BJP be able to ready to accommodate that?

Let's come to state specific demands, like Andhra Pradesh would like to have special category status.

They want a metro granted for Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. They want a Visakhapatnam railway zone.

They want funds for Amaravati, the capital and Polavaram.

There are many similar demands in Bihar also.

And these are the actual bones of contention.

These are in addition to the political demands like portfolios, number of ministries, number of governors, chairmanship, directorship, etc.

Demands for such positions will be continuous and unending.

IMAGE: Parakala Prabhakar

At present, the BJP has kept all the important ministries...

Yes. That also might have caused some kind of heartburn. See, these are experienced leaders, they won't say anything immediately.

The very fact that they were not treated properly will be there in some corner of their mind.

When these feelings pile up, the outburst and backlash will be very severe at one point of time.

That's the reason why I find that passing the floor test for the Modi government is going to be difficult.

They have to summon all their resources in terms of political skills. It will be a huge challenge.

The longevity of the government is a doubt for me because when the going gets tough, there could a be a point in time where there might be pressure, from within the party or from the allies.

So, instead of sacrificing the government for just one or two individuals, the party may ask them to gracefully leave so that they can form another government where allies are taken care of.

I could see another possibility. If at all Mr Modi continues, and if it gets to his nerves every day when he has to placate his allies, he might take a very far reaching significant decision and dissolve the House.

He will then go to the people and say, 'I wanted to implement many things but could not because my allies were not cooperating. So, I want a clear mandate'. He might do that also.

Do you think this is where Narendra Modi differs from Atal Bihari Vajpayee?

Yes. Suddenly, you cannot expect Narendra Modi to transform himself as Vajpayee. It's a tall order. It's very unlikely.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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SHOBHA WARRIER / Rediff.com