New Delhi: One of the few likeable ministers in the Narendra Modi government is Rajnath Singh. He has none of the airs of other ministers. Being from Uttar Pradesh, politics runs in his blood. His politics is different from the politics of Narendra Modi, if politics it is. Modi believes in one way communication. He speaks, the others listen. He knows everything about everything.

Rajnath Singh is not cut that way or at least wasn’t until he became a minister in Modi’s cabinet. Rajnath’s politics was the politics of Uttar Pradesh. Its style and substance were set in the modern era by Jawaharlal Nehru and many doyens of politics embraced it. Uttar Pradesh’s politics was the politics of dialogue. However vast and deep the disagreements, there was always scope to sit down and talk things through.

Being from Uttar Pradesh himself, Atal Behari Vajpayee was an exemplar of such politics. It was not an accident that Vajpayee was a stout admirer of Nehru for Nehru’s openness to dialogue and dissent. Dialogue, dissent, politics and democracy are directly linked. Rajnath Singh was a beneficiary of Vajpayee’s politics. He learnt much about the politics of dialogue from the former Prime Minister.

Which is why it is odd and basically gross and tasteless to see Rajnath Singh say Narendra Modi-like that a permanent solution to the Kashmir issue is based on five C’s. The five C’s here are merely poor alliterations which might as well be five or six B’s or three and seven X’s, Y’s or Z’s. They happen, in this instance, to stand for compassion, communication, coexistence, confidence-building, and consistency: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The trick here is to start with one nice-sounding catchword and then couple to it more alliterations of diminishing important. This is so obviously bogus.

Much about Narendra Modi is bogus. More and more people are seeing through him though they may not be voluble. Indians speak volumes through the ballot box when they are no more willing to forgive. But to have Rajnath Singh mouthing such triteness is nearly unbelievable: Doesn’t he know how awful he sounds? How can anyone be serious when they talk of five A’s or four B’s or nine G’s? Most of us leave that sort of juvenility in class four or five.

When politics is reduced to triteness, politics dies. Politics as politics is meant to be, full of vigour and goodwill, give and take, dialogue, trust and generosity, consensus and so on, has gone AWOL under Narendra Modi. Modi’s BJP may be winning election after election but this is not necessarily the victory of politics or dialogue or democracy. It is only as good as it lasts.

But Modi-style politics is definitely not winning in Jammu and Kashmir. Compelled to adopt some of Modi’s methodologies, Rajnath Singh, who is most un-Modi-like of Modi’s ministers, is also failing in Jammu and Kashmir. He says Kashmir will become “Jannat” again. This is as vacuous as Donald Trump saying, “Make America great again.” How can Rajnath Singh indulge in such unredeemable shallowness? Is this the price of being in Modi’s cabinet?

On one another of his infrequent visits to Jammu and Kashmir presently, Rajnath Singh says he is open to meeting Kashmiris from all walks. Thus far, his interlocutors have been men from his own side, namely police and paramilitary officers. You meet one of them, you meet all. They would have been more than glad, indeed, fallen over one another, to kowtow to him in Delhi. Why go all the way to Srinagar to engage them? In the meantime, no significant Kashmiri politician or activist from the opposition has met him. They won’t. This is not how politics is transacted in Kashmir. This is also not how politics was conducted in the rest of the country prior to May 2014. In some ways, democratic politics is a leveller. A political dialogue is basically driven by a levelling dynamic. The true dialogue element is missing from Rajnath Singh’s outreach. In its absence, he cannot succeed; success, in any case, is prodigiously elusive in Jammu and Kashmir.

The elder politician who knows most about the tangled Kashmir issue in the Bharatiya Janata Party is Yashwant Sinha, but Rajnath Singh cannot consult him because of Modi. Modi cannot tolerate Sinha because of his low opinion of him; he is also part of the old BJP represented by the likes of L. K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. Sinha has closely interacted with all those who matter in Jammu and Kashmir politics, and he has very definite and purposive views about the situation. This goes against the grain for Modi. Poor Rajnath Singh is caught in the middle having to take the road to nowhere.

All in all: What a deplorable waste and desecration of India’s democratic and political genius.