The intricate politics of a maternity ward MJ Akbar The British metaphor for a political party is a broad church. It must have substantial space for an elastic congregation, continually tempted by wayward choices in the absence of hard doctrine. There is God, of course; but as an idea rather than an ideology. And in any case God created the conditions for democracy when He blessed, or cursed, the human being with free will. The magic potion of democracy is options. There lies the problem, for this potion is not a glue for discipline, with its attendant terrors. The parsonâ€™s primary responsibility is to keep any sermon lucid but limp to cover a multiplicity of views, and ensure order inside and outside the church. But, since power breeds politics more often than politics leads to power, passions climb sharply whenever the bells of public opinion announce that the time has come for change. An Indian political party, being Indian, is more akin to a joint family locked in a church. Anyone who thinks this is good news, has lost touch with family. A joint family is patriarchal in structure, which provides a veneer of stability, but, in the subterranean world of undertones, authority is constantly measured by utility. Loyalty is a variable virtue qualified by beehive ambitions. Kinship is no guarantee of peace. The Mahabharata was a family quarrel run through intense politics. The high point of tension is palpable in the excitement of a maternity ward, when the future is being born. The BJPâ€™s inner struggles were accentuated by the fact that a shift was taking place at a pregnant rather than passive moment in national affairs. Ever previous transition, including the one which carried Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani to pre-eminence, happened when the prospect of power was at best theoretical for the party. For the first time BJP is nominating a leader who is not only a potential prime minister, but also perceived as one who can energise the leap to office. An heir is being enthroned in the presence of a patriarch. All prime ministers are potential until they have uttered that hallowed oath of office: mundane words to us, but almost mystical to politicians. Delhi has a thick log book of PM-claimants who stumbled on the stairs of the Presidentâ€™s palace where the anointment takes place. That final climb demands reservoirs of energy and clarity which you barely knew you possessed. There are two critical requirements if you want the keys to this hallowed kingdom. You need ability. Alas, this is a negotiable asset. There have been prime ministers and presidents, in India as often as elsewhere, whose skills did not extend beyond finding the right corner for a postage stamp. The second component is more relevant. You have to have luck. Ability is important; luck is compulsory. Narendra Modi has shown definite ability in Gujarat. We shall know soon enough if he can convert that into enough votes to carry him to national office. But what is indisputable is that he has the required quota of luck. One of the startling facts of the past yearâ€™s politics is the manner in which each one of his vocal or silent opponents has bled away credibility through self-inflicted wounds. Fortune has helped in minor ways as well. On the eve of BJPâ€™s crucial Goa session, for instance, thanks to an electoral calendar that no one could have preordained, Modi overwhelmed Congress in Gujarat by-elections. This generated unstoppable momentum in Goa. Modi owes a deep debt of gratitude to two politicians for his rise: Dr Manmohan Singh and his nominated successor Rahul Gandhi. In public perception he represents everything that Dr Singh lacks. He is articulate. Right or wrong, you know where he stands. He promises strong governance, rather than a waffled approach to policy and partners. Voters hope he will control corruption and ensure accountability because he is tough. Dr Singhâ€™s weakness has become Narendra Modiâ€™s strength. The electorate yearns for a leader who is both right and forthright. For five years, Dr Singh has been neither. Rahul Gandhi could have filled the vacuum left by Dr Singhâ€™s retreat. He had time, opportunity and goodwill, but never the answers to crises manufactured by his own government. Inane statements â€” â€˜I will crush my dreams to fulfil yoursâ€™ â€” only highlight the urgent need for a better speechwriter. Perhaps Rahul Gandhi lost his way after the shattering defeat in the UP Assembly elections 18 months ago, but he represents nothing at the moment except a lapse, perhaps temporary, of genetic luck. No battle is lost until it is fought. The camps are finally in place, commanders named. Both God-fearing parson and indulgent patriarch will surely offer a blessing for the good of the country: May the best man win. They neednâ€™t worry. The best man will. The intricate politics of a maternity ward by The Siege Within : MJ Akbar's blog-The Times Of India ********************************************** There is no doubt that Modi is lucky as MJ puts it. Indeed, his sweep in Gujarat was not thought to be feasible, given all the issues that were being raised about his rule or his claim of development. The Congress was very vociferous about all that, but then it appears Fortune Favours the Brave. It is also true that Modi represents everything that Manmohan and Rahul does not represent, though they should have. One knows where Modi stands, but one does not know Manmohan or Rahul's stand on issues, except some vague claims that borders on crass and misguided populism and that is not the right mantra at a time when the country faces a crisis, in politics, defence, economy and so on. One has to be articulate, clear-minded and decisive. One cannot worth bumbling along or even giving he perception of a rudderless Nation meandering from crisis to crisis. Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, appears to many as an overgrown school child- high on meaningless and inane rhetoric and low on substance, the latest being - â€˜I will crush my dreams to fulfil yoursâ€™ . Appears more of dialogue from a Bollywood movie, - the scene being the fiery labour union leader exhorting the labour on strike. Totally mushy! Interestingly, Sanjay Jha claimed Rahul Gandhi was a great national leader as he has repeatedly criss crossed the nation, while Modi was Gujarat based and has not seen the real Nation. To this, the BJP spokesman (I can't remember which) said, possibly a wee bit catty, "That was to collect Flying Miles".possibly meaning collecting points for the Frequent Flyer programmes of the airlines! The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The Election will indicate which of them is best for the Nation. Let the best Man win!