Unleash ED, make them needy, get them to Modi

The days are long gone when the BJP projected itself as a "party with a difference". It has now absorbed several opposition politicians against whom it initiated corruption cases

Narendra Modi

Digambar Kamat, former Chief Minister of Goa, has been under investigation for various mining scams, one apparently valued at over Rs 35,000 crore. Kamat belonged to the Congress Party.

Because this week, Digambar Kamat went to a temple. There, he received a telephone call from God. God suggested that Kamat join the Bharatiya Janata Party.

And so Kamat had no option but to follow "God's" advice.

The joke goes that God is the new name for the Enforcement Directorate.

The days are long gone when the BJP projected itself as a "party with a difference". It has now absorbed several opposition politicians against whom it initiated corruption cases. Some of these politicians run back and forth, as a few from the Trinamool in Bengal did, dropping and picking up corruption charges as they ran the political mile hoping for political protection in case the Trinamool lost Bengal and back home when the BJP didn't win Bengal.

Others cower somewhere in the background like former Karnataka chief minister SM Krishna. Others pretend to join or form other parties like former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh. We're still to find out what exactly Ghulam Nabi Azad is going to do after he recently left the Congress in a huff.

You can rest assured that if you are too loud, too vociferous and too much of a threat to the BJP, either the Enforcement Directorate or the Central Bureau of Investigation will come knocking.

I hear the chorus: Other parties also do this. Congress also did it.

The problem for India's political future is that the BJP does it better.

Giving the ED divine status is indeed a masterstroke, adding to the atmosphere of intimidation and manipulation.

The threat of harassment by state agencies is only one method used by the BJP to increase its numbers and bring down democratically elected governments.

The same pattern has been repeated more than once in Goa, as well as in Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Puducherry, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and of course, the most dramatic of all, Maharashtra.

The lesson of Maharashtra is particularly interesting for non-BJP state governments. This was a relatively stable government of a large state which is not given to political upheaval. It had also done well under Uddhav Thackeray's CMship, in handling the many challenges of the Covid19 pandemic. But the fact that its former ally the Shiv Sena had jumped ship irked the BJP and it ate away at the foundations of the Sena, while the government was tackling governance and crises.

The end result for Maharashtra, however, has been disastrous. A Shiv Sena frontman in Eknath Shinde is managed by the BJP. Big investment and government projects have been shifted out of Maharashtra to Gujarat and other BJP-run states. The eye is on Assembly elections elsewhere to ensure BJP victories.

As we have seen since 2014, the BJP and its government at the Centre is least interested in economic growth and social progress. By its machinations and its systematic and successful spread of societal hatred and violence, it has only strengthened its stranglehold on a section of the electorate.

And it has one more massive weapon in its arsenal: money.

The numbers being bandied about as the cost of an MLA today is extraordinary. Anything from Rs 6 crore to Rs 20 crore, depending on the state and the stakes. The TRS in Telangana managed to foil a run on its party recently. A few others have managed. But the gauntlet has been thrown down.

How India's opposition parties respond is another matter.

One lesson though is clear, even if politics is a fluid game: Playing toey-toey with the BJP will get you nowhere. They are ready and prepared to threaten, ravage and pay big money to get their way. All democratic processes are subverted with ease. The flock in other political parties is made up of the committed and the restless. And the BJP knows how to target the restless and the greedy.

The lesson of Nitish Kumar of Bihar is one to pay heed to. He flipped and he flopped, yes. But you get the sense that there was something being held over his head that made him return to the NDA, having trashed Narendra Modi and the party before the last state election. That sword appears to have been removed by whatever method.

All your various political consultants and experts will give you all sorts of manipulated advice and strategies. But the writing is on the wall for India: if you think God tells you to switch political allegiances to save yourself from legal cases, you might want to rethink the Divine and also use the brain that this God of your choice has given you.

The future of India depends on this small effort to think.

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