Cicero

More than 2000 years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero (January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC, the date of his assassination), a Roman politician and lawyer and also one of the ancient Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists had cautioned rulers, “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.

In modern age, Winston Churchill echoed the same warning, “when there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”

Today, no one is better aware of the warning than Narendra Modi. As leader of the BJP and as the Prime Minister of India, he is facing attacks from outside as well as from within but is more vulnerable to attacks from the internal enemies within his party than from the opposition parties. It is highly unlikely, almost impossible, that all the opposition parties would unite to dethrone Modi in 2019.

However, his detractors of all hues within the party are more dangerous because they are sabotaging the success of the party from within.

There is a long list of such persons. Personally I do not attach much importance to the attacks being made by Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha who are frustrated only because they did not get ministership or any position of authority in the Modi government. They are lightweight without any political base. They can only provide news to the media and be cheered the opposition parties. By hobnobbing with Lalu Prasad and announcing that he might join Congress, Shatrughan Sinha has made himself a but of ridicule. Perhaps, he is so naive that he does not realise that neither Rahul nor Lalu would give him ministerial berth in the unlikely event of their being in power in 2019. The other Sinha and Shourie are more realistic. The know that they have no takers.

The real sources of trouble are those MPs and MLAs who have hold over their respective constituencies, geographical or demographic. They too may be frustrated because they know that they have no chance to get ministerial berth. Some of them might be apprehensive that unless they attack Modi, they may not maintain their hold over their supporters and  be considered relevant.

Look at a few examples.

Bharat Singh

When the Modi government was celebrating completion of one year in power Bharat Singh come the first-time MP from Ballia come attacked the Narendra Modi government and union ministers for ‘failing to fulfil people’s expectations’. Perhaps, he was in great hurry to be more important than he deserved.

 Nana Patole

Just before the first phase of feel election to Gujarat Assembley, BJP Maharashtra leader Nana Patole who had defeated NCP’s Praful Patel resigned from the Lok Sabha in protest against the Modi government’s style of functioning, whatever it might have meant to him. He might have sensed that Modi was not as strong as earlier. Mercifully, he parted company.

There are several BJP MPs who in order to maintain their hold on their constituencies pose as defenders of ‘Hinduism’ and whatever is associated with that, including ban on cow slaughter and eating beef. By their irresponsible utterances, they keep on alienating not only minorities but a large section of Hindu voters of upper castes as well as Dalits.

The Supreme Court ruling banning immediate arrest of a person accused of insulting or injuring any member of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 gave opportunities to the Dalit MPs to express their anger and frustration.

 

Savitribai Phule

Saffron clad BJP Dalit MP from Behraich Savitribai Phule organised a rally in Lucknow on April 01 last  to raise banner of revolt against the Modi government’s protest against ‘anti-Dalit policies’. She called for “Bharatiya Samvidhan Bachao (Save Indian Constitution)” and claimed that quite a few “Union ministers and BJP MPs who are constantly pursuing anti-Dalit policies and conspiring to end reservations for the SC/ ST.”

Then there are MPs who are not revolting or raising any banner to defend Hinduism or the Indian Constitution but are creating embarrassment by their loose talks and behaviour. One of them is Naresh Agarwal, till yesterday a powerful face of the Samajwadi Party and a bitter critique of the BJP. Only the party leadership knows the advantage of inducting him in the party fold.

 

Kuldeep Singh Sengar

The latest is the UP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar. Earlier a Samajwadi party MLA, he joined the BJP just before the 2018 assembly election to retain his fiefdom. The serious allegations levelled against him by rape victim and the failure of the UP police to take any action against him has seriously damaged Chief Minister Yogi’s image as a tough Chief Minister who would not tolerate criminals. The heat generated by the criminal activities of party leaders is bound to increase the vulnerability of the BJP and Narendra Modi in 2019 general election.

Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are known to be the best political strategists today. Given the ground realities of politics, the task of dealing with the enemies within is going to be tough even for them.

They must keep in mind that the short-term gains by giving a long rope to people like Kuldeep Singh and loud mouthed defenders of ‘Hinduism’ may prove costly in the long run.

Devendra Narain

April 12, 2018

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