New Delhi: As a non-dynastic party, it was reasonably expected that voices would be raised in the Bharatiya Janata Party demanding accountability for the rout in Bihar. As the two chief leaders of the Bihar campaign, the responsibility for defeat squarely rests with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Amit Shah has to go. This is how the principle of accountability plays out. The BJP is not the Congress where the Nehru-Gandhis can do no wrong. L. K. Advani & Co. are perfectly justified to demand accountability from Modi and Shah and to insist on an inquiry into the Bihar debacle by a party panel independent of them. This is how democratic parties function. Advani, however, should have resisted signing a statement making these demands which contained the word “emasculated”, whose immediate and unfortunate provenance could be traced to Nitish Kumar during the Bihar campaign targeting Narendra Modi. You do not direct such language against the Prime Minister, who in the end represents the country, not a particular political party.

From this flows an equally obvious principle that the Prime Minister has special and unique responsibilities which they must never forget whatever the provocative circumstances at play. The Prime Minister’s hectic campaign in Bihar may or not be justified, although one has to make some minimal concessions to the demands of competitive democratic politics. But the nature and content of Prime Minister Modi’s campaign left much to be desired. He stooped to match the gutter rhetoric of Laloo Prasad Yadav, and it brought no credit to his office. The Prime Ministry demands decorum and dignity. Prime Minister Modi has to concede to the dictates of his office. If he can bear the close and suffocating security that is part and parcel of his office, he can surely put up with the restraints of dignity and civilized conduct imposed on his deportment. The Prime Minister must remember that each one of his actions, whether they take the form of speeches made, the clothes worn, etc, reflect on the country. A man is known by his actions and deeds, not his words or the clothes he wears. India has an ancient civilization. It demands simplicity, modesty, moderation, decency in public life, and polite and respectful conduct. The civilization will reject anyone who transgresses these standards.

Perhaps the Bihar election was an aberration in debouching the worst from all sides. When political generations change, this sort of dissonance is to be expected. The generation of P. V. Narasimha Rao, A. B. Vajpayee, Chandrasekhar, Pranab Mukherjee, Ramakrishna Hegde, Jyoti Basu, etc, did not indulge in name-calling. For all their political and ideological differences, they maintained temperance in public discourse. Modi and Nitish Kumar’s generation will surely learn in due course that there is no escape from civilized behaviour because History is always watching and punishing. But to their credit, they bring energies unthinkable in previous generations. The country is in their hands for better or worse. Generations after them will pitilessly dissect their actions as Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, etc, are being remorselessly examined under the microscope today. As the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi carries the heaviest burden.

For what it is worth, this writer believes there is no present alternative to Narendra Modi at the national level. He is relentless at hard work, indefatigable, quick, and set on his vision of economic growth, reforms and development. He has got cracking at reforms days after the Bihar debacle which is good. He must not flag. He must detach himself from the electoral cycle as much as possible and concentrate on delivery. The BJP and he must work on the same growth and development vision for the country and not deviate from it for any reason, including electoral and extraneous pressures. L. K. Advani and the other voices raised against Prime Minister Modi must also put limits to their opposition. Their actions to strengthen the BJP oughtn’t to come at a cost of weakening the Prime Minister and his growth agenda, because the country will suffer in consequence. They have enjoyed their time of power and should gracefully make way for the young. This is Nature’s way. For his part, Narendra Modi should gravely defer to the sagely advice of BJP elders.

The country comes first and always.

Editor’s Note: Happy Diwali to all our readers.