A Short comment on role of political strategist in party & governance
Ever wonder why Mr. Arun Jaitley despite losing election is offered two most important ministries of Finance and & Defence? The answer is very simple – He is political Master Strategist.
Strategist is most abused of terms in recent time & political strategist is even more. Backroom people with no experience in electoral politics or mass supports are described as political strategist at par, often attributing past success of parties in state and national election to them by their friends in media and intellectual circle.
It’s easy to be known as strategist in political sphere. All you need to know is certain rules of game which inter alia includes good relation with media, corporate & PR firms, a wider access to who’s who in political circle & backing of someone (who doesn’t want to be exposing herself/himself).
Two contemporary examples of strategist are Mr. Jairam Ramesh in Congress (who haven’t contested single election of Loksabha) & Mr. Arun Jaitley in BJP (who fought Loksabha Election in 2014 but lost badly). off course both have been & are members of Rajyasabha.
There are many advantages of being so called strategist in political sphere. Foremost is that you enjoy power & privileges which is more than Commensurate with your capability & talent. Second, you are always in limelight and play a crucial role in deciding the fate of others (even the mass leaders) by having a key say in allocation of seats, allocating ministries. Thirdly, it is wonderful job where you enjoy power without responsibility. If election is won, you are brain or strategist behind the election but if party lost then again you are back to limelight in changed scenario. You are anyway not responsible for loss but credit for win must go to you. Blame goes to other leaders who played from front, Policies or organisational weakness. What a wonderful idea to have no accountability. It’s not surprise that no strategist is blamed, leave alone punished, for poll debacle. It’s like head you lose, tail I win situation. After some time they are back in limelight with important position in their party.
One special feature which allows this is they never lead from front. They are too clever to expose themselves to extent which allows others to seek their accountability. While it’s plausible that in congress, so called strategist survive on loyalty to dynasty. But how can brilliant strategist survive in cadre based party after two successive poll debacles is still a mystery.
Strategist does have certain peculiar characteristics. They have brilliant oratory skill. They have good public image, if you go by media reports and public perception. They are connected with people who shape public discourse. They are able to manipulate the system to extent possible that whoever takes them head-on (i.e. Panga) subject to vilification by media & machinery to extent to get sidelined or marginalised. They do have some cunningness & intelligence but not so extraordinary.
One of Strategist Mr. AJ has emerged the de facto No.2, with the portfolios of both defence and finance, despite losing election in Loksabha. Mind that he was strategist for 2009 LokSabha election which party lost badly but as usual he was able to secure plumb posting. He was even contender for PM candidate despite lack of any mass base (anyway if MMS can be PM why not him!). The Other strategist Mr. JR is out of seen for some time but expecting his comeback in new avatar in next 2-3 years.
Isn’t it wonderful that you are able to secure such important posting despite losing election? Where is principle of democratic accountability? Off course in politics you have freedom to taunt your opponent (like Mr. AJ used to do to Mr. MMS) but same principle don’t apply to you. ‘One core principle of politics is Principle of Double Standard.’
Off course matter would have been different if he has not fought LS elections. But after having fought election and defeated badly, giving such important portfolio doesn’t augur well for democratic accountability. It would have been totally legitimate in presidential system where president appoints non-elected person in charge of various portfolio but not so in parliamentary system in which legitimacy rest on winning public support by each contender for Ministry. (Off course we have provision that minister can be from RS as our last PM was).
Was there any shortage or dearth of talent? What was such an extraordinary qualification of Mr AJ so that he is handed over two most important portfolios? Or is he more a proxy to PM? Or is this reward by Prime Minister to Mr. AJ for supporting him as PM (AJ was one of early convert from Delhi Durbar to support him for PM) or pact to announce AJ as deputy PM backfired due to LS verdict (As was being projected by their coalition partner Akalis during his campaign in Amritsar).
Off course, you would have expected such questions from independent media who acts as watchdog (any way what does watch-dog means!) of democracy. But the inherent characteristics of strategist are that they are above radar & not supposed to be subjected to public scrutiny ever (or never). It’s clearly a media creation and corporate lobbyist playing its parts if one person being defeated heavily is still characterised as master strategist. Beside his own defeat in this election, he was also master strategist for two of unexpected loss of party in last two general elections. But Alas! Who cares, as long as he has friends in media & India Inc.? It seems outsider is either playing it safe to gain foothold in Delhi durbar using his strategy or he is falling into trap due to attraction of power. If you have time to analyse in retrospect, master strategist did use his mastery over manipulation while creating spaces for himself in Amritsar. Many may not remember media reports surfacing (planted) about so called absence of their current MP Navjot Singh Sidhu but he forgot that people don’t solely judge by reading English newspapers but also on ground work done & much of goodwill depends on that . If people would have voted based on English news reports (many of which are planted in similar fashion) then congress would have been power forever.
It would be too early to pass verdict on performance but rumour are that business lobby groups played a important role in placing Mr. AJ as FM as was evident from one of tweets of Mr. Subramaniam Swamy who was also one of contender for post.
So what can you expect from Mr. Strategist in Finance Ministry? Well, there has already been murmur about owner of One leading media house & its famous Anchor who’s name figured prominently in Radia tapes in fixing the ministry (Mr. Pranaoy Roy & Ms. Barkha Dutta of NDTV) have sought a meeting with Mr. Strategist(FM) to explain their position in illegal transaction or Black Money or Hawala case. If you can recall, the said media house was in news (mostly in social media as media has unwritten rule/norm that they don’t report illegal works of their fraternity) for probe by Income Tax Department & Enforcement directorate for violation of non-payment of taxes and money laundering. There is nothing wrong in any party meeting the finance minister (Mr. Anil Ambani used to our previous finance minister Mr. P Chidambaram on every Tuesday when 2G trials were going on!!) but lack of transparency breeds suspicion among the public. All the dealing of public officials needs to above board.
But that’s fate of our nation. When people were expecting great changes, we are being subjected to such a profound change!
On conclusion it would be too early to speculate on fate of Master Strategist. Off course it may be too simplistic explanation. I have only once directly heard both above mentioned strategists. Rest of opinion is framed based on analysis of various events and reports from media. This is just a forewarning and we should judge people based on their performance rather than our opinion and prejudices. Keep watching. Jai Hind!
Post Script: I sincerely salute Mr. Strategist for his acumen, capability and talent! It’s really wonderful, Mango man (& strawberry woman!) likes I & you can only think and analyse but they are destined to rule.
A Short comment on role of political strategist in party & governance