The latest controversy on Article 370 after the BJP's prime ministerial candidate addressed a rally in Jammu on December 1 has its significance not in the constitutional or political debate but as a historical pattern.
Modi is a phenomenon in Indian politics at the moment mainly because he is perhaps the first regional leader in the country who has gathered a tremendous momentum to head for the post of the prime minister, the chief political executive in the country. The pattern of holding the top post in this country has largely been dominated by a single family.
The style of succession was quite predictable in nature as the Gandhis continued to influence the country's politics for a long, long time. Yet many of the non-Gandhi prime ministers were related to the Congress in many ways and never really made a distinct impact. The likes of Lal Bahadur Shastri, Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, VP Singh, Chandrasekhar, H D Deve Gowda, IK Gujral, PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh were 'insiders' at some or all point of their respect careers.
Other regional leaders are not happy with Modi's rise, that's the problem
The real outsiders were Jyoti Basu and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But the former missed the chance to become the prime minister by a whisker while the latter became a symbol of non-Congress force in Indian politics by ruling at the Centre for a full tenure once although he became the PM three times.
Modi, before anything else, has capitalised on this aspect. But the irony is that despite the second BJP man to vie for the top post, Modi has certain disadvantages when compared to Vajpayee. First, Vajpayee was already national leader for the party by 1998, when he began to lead the NDA government for a full term and secondly, his image was benefitted by the presence of the hardliner Lal Krishna Advani, for pluralist India preferred a softer incumbent at the top.
For Modi, these advantages are not there. He is not only an outsider for the Congress but in the entire national political circle. And he does not have an Advani who would act as a facilitator of his image. For Modi, his alternative image is he himself.
So naturally, when Modi is making a mark towards realising a national dream, there is bound to be backlashes as it is being seen. Here comes that historical pattern.
During both the Mughal and British periods, there were a number of strong and ambitious regional forces in India. They were nationalists but could never take a united stand to either defeat the Mughals or the British. The central power changed hands from one group of outsiders to another as the indigenous forces fought among themselves. Had the regional forces arrived at an understanding to take on the common enemies, the history of India might have been different.
The same story is being repeated today. When Modi, as a strong regional leader, is visiting states across the length and breath of the country to canvass support for himself and his party to topple a tainted government at the Centre, a fierce competition is seen coming from the leaders of those states, be it Nitish Kumar, Mulayam Singh Yadav or Omar Abdullah.
Controversies are being raised on issues like terrorism, riots or Article 370 but all the controversies have a common target and that is: To stop Modi's rise. The burning issues remain just an occasion to create a furore. The controversy and the media glare are the real things.
Just like what had happened ages ago, the regional leaders today are too ambitious to arrive at an understanding between themselves and most of them somehow decide to back the Congress, as many princely states had done during the Mughal and British periods by aligning with the central ruling power to undermine fellow Indian forces.
Whether a democracy or not, the basic pattern of India's national life has remained the same over the years. The huge diversity and the unwillingness to compromise have left us divided so much so that we have little hope of forging a national alliance for a constructive cause.
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addresses an election campaign rally at MA Stadium in Jammu on Sunday.
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and party president Rajnath Singh being presented with a potrait during an election campaign rally at MA Stadium in Jammu on Sunday.
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi during an election campaign rally at MA Stadium in Jammu on Sunday.
BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressing party workers during Lalkar Rally at MA Stadium in Jammu on Sunday.
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi interacts with the audience during an election campaign rally at MA Stadium in Jammu on Sunday.
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and party president Rajnath Singh being presented with a momento during an election campaign rally at MA Stadium in Jammu on Sunday.
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi with party president Rajnath Singh during an election campaign rally at MA Stadium in Jammu on Sunday.
ammu and Kashmir police frisk people outside MA stadium, the venue of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's election rally in Jammu on Sunday.