Teflon-coated wheeler-dealer modern Chanakya's bargain fails, as KCR smells rat

One of the TRS MLAs said that the BJP member who approached him mentioned that the offer came directly from Shah

Amit Shah and KCR

Amit Shah and KCR

The great Amit Shah, Union Home Minister and BJP's second-in-command, (after Narendra Modi, of course), is often presented as a reincarnation of Chanakya.

Kautilya or Chanakya is one of India's first – 3rd century BC – and most prominent political thinkers and strategists. He was adviser to Chandragupta Maurya, and is said to have helped him to defeat the all-powerful Nandas and set up the even more powerful Mauryan empire. His treatise, 'Artha Shastra' (The science of material gain), is considered a classic on wealth and power in ancient India.

Now, maybe Shah is not quite of Chanakyan standards, but in today's India, we are very liberal with our compliments sometimes. Although, Shah does have a reputation for strategizing and manipulating to ensure electoral successes for the BJP. Alas, these great skills do not always manifest themselves when they come to success for India but not everyone is Chanakya or indeed Chandragupta Maurya.

The latest ploy is apparently – and all this is as yet unproven – is to topple the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government in Telangana. What Shah uses in his clever strategizing is not statecraft so much as wallet-craft. Bribes worth Rs 250 crore have apparently been offered, all told, to at least four TRS MLAs. One of the TRS MLAs approached has made an official complaint, in which he stated that the BJP member who approached him mentioned that the offer came directly from Shah.

Now of course, if Shah had belonged to any other party, there would have been a massive uproar in India. Words like corruption and ethics would have been bandied about. Past history from a 1,000 years ago would have been put through rigorous scrutiny. Luckily, however, some parties are free of all such examination. Rather, they are hailed as being cleverer and cannier than others. But one must give Shah's great brain power its due also: his cleverness is apparent in that the four MLAs he apparently chose have jumped ship before. So, he had done his homework.

Perhaps, the TRS might have known this was coming. It is after all standard operating procedure. Poaching, and then EDing if you resist too far. How will it respond? The BJP is desperate to break down South India for itself. Its forays have not yet brought it major rewards. It messes up every now and then because of its largely North Indian bias.

The current insistence on Hindi as the national language and base language for scientific textbooks by the Sensational Political Strategist Union Home Minister Shah did not get much positive traction in the South. Quite, um, the opposite.

But, but, but. The trouble remains that no political party in India has effectively worked out a large-scale reaction strategy. For one, none of them have the same amount of money and empty pockets buy you no MLAs and actually win you no elections. And every attempt to use the main trump card of the main party is a self-goal. Dear Arvind Kejriwal, beloved of India's urban upper middle classes, has tried the Hindutva angle again with his suggestions that Hindu Gods and Goddesses should adorn our currency noted. His promises of free pilgrimages to religious centres did not work in Uttarakhand and Goa.

No one can beat Prime Minister Modi at the temple visit-costume change game. He has established that as his main forte and accomplishes it with ease and even panache. A short visit to Uttarakhand recently had him make four costume changes in one day. Few, not even film stars, have the bandwidth and ability to concentrate with such dedication on their wardrobes. Weeks must have been spent in planning. Imagine if the same attention was paid to pressing national issues.

Scratch that last sentence. I have no idea what came over me just then.

The one little fly in this trap is that Shah may have given the game away too early. This allows the TRS to strategise, even as the party plans its all-India journey. It also shows a tiny crack in the armour, as emerged in Bengal when the BJP pulled out all the stops. The TMC and Mamata Banerjee are a bit quiet because they are now in the ED phase of the BJP's pincer movement. But this relative silence will not last long, given Mamata Banerjee's own statecraft and streetfighter skills.

The South, however, has to answer one more bugle call in the Great Battle for India.

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