Electoral politics is that ‘zone’ of Maths which only people on drugs can understand.
While everyone debates between Modi and Congress, I found this zone in two people. One, Arvind Kejriwal, which is no surprise. But my second Zone is surprisingly, Baba Ramdev. When you mention Ramdev, the urban educated elite and NRI’s start to smile. Its a very transparent smile which means ‘he is an idiot’.
But the reverse is true. All those who do not understand the maths of politics can smile but in the end Ramdev is the one who is going to laugh. And joining him will be BJP. Here is why:
Somewhere in last 4-5 years, BJP, on the basis of its relatively cleaner and successful governments in 4-5 states, realised that development and corruption-free governance pays long term dividends. They also realised that voter was looking for leaders who address their real concerns and corruption was at the top. Not because corruption is a top issue. Its the comprehension of the unlimited chaos that gives an impression that if traffic is bad, its due to corruption. Whereas its actually due to inefficiency and bad governance. So, along with development and good governance, BJP also started to focus on corruption. It wasn’t enough to run corruption-free governments, its also important to expose corruption. So, they concentrated on big-ticket corruption cases (2G, CWG, Adarsh, Coalgate, Augusta Westland etc). But somehow, their message was not reaching the middle class.
Somewhere in Ahmedabad, the think-tank and strategists of Modi analysed the problem and realised the need for taking the message of corruption in an ‘idiot-proof’, dumb-down version to the common man. They understood that the fastest way to explaining corruption to common man was the magical mantra ‘Swiss Bank’. In Indian psyche, Swiss bank is to corruption what ‘Versova beach’ is to smuggling. Indians have learnt this very well in Bollywood movies.
Lal Krishna Advani had done long rath yatras and had expressed on several occasions about his dream to get black money from Swiss Banks. Swiss Bank doesn’t necessarily mean banks in Switzerland. Its the black money, outside India. Advani’s campaign wasn’t going anywhere. He just couldn’t connect. As he was a political person and voters were not ready to trust any politician. Anna made the dent because he was apolitical. This is the time when Anna sat on a hunger strike for his Lokpal bill. Corruption was at the centre stage and Indian middle class and the youth had found an icon in Anna. Media which was finding it extremely difficult to defend the indefensible Congress and didn’t want to be seen tilting towards BJP, lapped Anna.
This is when the strategists in BJP panicked. After all, they had done most of the groundwork. It was RSS which was mobilising their cadre to organise Anna’s movement but BJP was not benefiting. They had given the ‘Justice against corruption’ – The Lokpal issue to team Anna. They couldn’t afford to let the ‘Swiss Bank’ issue go from their hands. They needed a leader other than Advani who could hold this plank and also translate it into positive votes. The HR department of BJP started looking for the right candidate for this highly tricky job.
With this reality in hand they looked for apolitical leader with the following key characteristics:
- A known name who has an emotional connect and can ignite the imagination of middle India that is otherwise largely indifferent and despondent.
- Access to deep financial resources drawn from a certifiably legal and untainted source to carry a massive campaign.
- Wide ranging public trust and credibility
- Self-made individual, who has risen from the soil of India, preferably lower middle class – surely not a rootless metropolitan elite with little to no understanding of native sensibilities. (Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi’s names were considered and rejected for the same reason)
- Communicate and converse common people’s own idioms
- A cunning and clever politician with enough courage and strength to be able to fight and manouavere Congress’s attempts to dilute or destroy popular mood and anger against corruption
- An individual who can go beyond caste and regional identities
- No ulterior motives or agenda to grab political power.
- Lastly, relatively young with enough productive years.
How many people can meet these specs? I can’t guess.
And then one day Modi met Baba Ramdev in a function. He was tailor made to lead this revolution against cancerous ‘Swiss Bank’ corruption.
See how Baba Ramdev fits the bill:
- His phenomenal contribution to preventive healthcare and spiritual bridging.
- Thanks to his follower who have immensely benefited from the meditation lessons learned from him, Ramdev has built an spiritual empire unparalleled, in popularity, scale, reach and growth potential.
- He’s a self-made man of exceptional talent
- He has no family, no personal responsibilities and no personal possessions. He has managed to create a public trust of unparalleled magnitude.
- Few Indians know (or care) that Baba Ramdev belongs to the Yadav(OBC) caste of north India. He personally has never spoken about his caste or shown any favours to his clan. Moreover his yoga conclaves join Indians with the glue of spiritual experience, as one .
- Most importantly Baba Ramdev has the single greatest weapon in modern political warfare – access to and control of electronic media especially given vast section of media. Astha channel, run by Baba Ramdev’s well-wishers, is one of the most watched media outlets in India and amongst NRIs. His DVDs and YouTube videos have expanded his reach beyond his target audience.
Besides matching the criteria there was one thing common between Modi and Ramdev. Millions had benefited from them. On one side there were beneficiaries of Modi’s development on the other there were beneficiaries of Baba’s yoga. Both had another similarity. They could communicate most difficult concepts of economics in simplest possible manner. And yet another similarity. They are very hard workers. Both realised the strengths of each other.
When middle class started swelling at Anna’s dharna, BJP went on war-footing to capture ‘Swiss-Bank’ constituency before it could merge in Anna’s movement. Baba Staged dharna against ‘Swiss Bank’ money at Ramleela ground. He was lathi-charged. He ran away in woman’s clothes. While the smiling clan of Delhi was busy laughing and ridiculing Baba, his followers were getting united. They took it as their own insult. Why won’t you feel bad if someone who cured you of Asthama or joint pain or diabetes is lathi-charged for he wants the Government to bring back ‘swiss money’. Suddenly, he created a constituency. ‘Swiss money’ became it’s currency.
Kejriwal along with Yogi Yadav realised that this is a very huge constituency and a major share was already behind Baba. So, kejriwal rushed, on the advise of psephologist Yadav, to capture the educated middle class of Delhi who was angry with corruption but wasn’t ready to buy Ramdev’s gimmicks. Its another thing that later as CM, Kejriwal also used gimmickry and lost most of his educated, young and urban middle class constituency. With sliding nos. Yogi and Kejriwal sought to reach those who never understood or benefited from either Modi’s Deveopment or Baba’s yoga – the urban poor. It’s no surprise that since he resigned and got into LS poll mode only socialists, leftists, maoists and naxal sympathisers are joining AAP. More on AAP in next blog. But in the meantime, Baba has worked as a critical force in BJP’s 272+ mission.
Another thing common between Modi and Baba is that they don’t have supporters. They have fans. Loyal fans.
Just like you can’t attack Salman Khan, those attacking Baba end up with self-inflicted wounds. And likes of Kejriwal know this very well. Haven’t you wondered no politician (including Kejriwal who attacks everyone and anyone) ever attacks Baba. Even isolated Delhi based media never attacks him. For they know that they would end up seriously damaging their own interests if any scurrilous attack is made on Baba Ramdev.
It was no surprise that when political parties and media started to wake up to 2014 elections, Modi wave had already started to build up. It made everyone sit up and acknowledge. This worked as a shock for Congress. They knew BJP was a strong contender but they thought Modi will bring in Communal agenda and will give them chance to fight that. Congress couldn’t gauge that while Modi’s development and governance agenda was working another factor was also working and the synergy of which was converting into a wave. that factor was Baba Ramdev.
Like Baba has helped millions of middle indians to imbibe pranayam in their lives, he has also made their minds think of punishing the owners and supporters of ‘Swiss Money’ which translates to Congress. BJP is laughing.
I do not support any party. As yet. This is just my understanding of politics and not a certified research.