After the application of Article 370 to Jammu and Kashmir was scrapped, Modi bhakti seems to have infected the RSS too. Much to the surprise of Sangh followers, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat parroted the Modi 2019 election campaign line of “Modi hai to mumkin hai’’ at his annual address on Independence Day at the organisation’s Nagpur headquarters.

Bhagwat was full of praise for Modi and his government for implementing a long-cherished goal of the RSS. He complimented Modi for showing political will and determination to get rid of Article 370. It was in this context that he repeated the campaign line. He said they are right when they say “Modi hai to mumkin hai’’

What surprised observers is that RSS chiefs usually stay away from pop language and phrases. Their speeches tend to be pedantic and are delivered in chaste Hindi which is rooted in Sanskrit.

The campaign slogan uses the Urdu word “mumkin’’ because it’s incorporated into Hindustani which is the popular language in north India. To reach out to the common man, Modi’s managers used every-day lingo for catchy, easily understood campaign lines. Bhagwat’s use of the election slogan in his speech shows how overwhelmed RSS bosses are by the Modi government’s bold move on Article 370.

Flag hoisting

For the first time in years, BJP patriarch L K Advani did not unfurl the tricolor at his residence on August 15. It has been a long-time practice with Advani, even when he was home minister in the Vajpayee government, to hoist the flag and sing the national anthem at his residence.

When he was home minister, he would host the function after returning from Red Fort where Vajpayee would deliver the traditional PM speech from the Red Fort. In those days, many ministers and top leaders of the BJP landed up at his house to join him in his annual ritual.

But in recent years, in keeping with his declining status in the BJP, the attendees also dropped. And this year, Advani had to forgo the ritual because he was unwell. Sources say he has been suffering from viral fever.

Interestingly, Advani’s replacement in the home ministry and in the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency, Amit Shah, seems to have decided to carry on the tradition. On his return from Red Fort, he unfurled the tricolor at his residence and sang the national anthem. But unlike Advani, he kept the event small. Those present were mostly his staff members and some home ministry officials. Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari too did a similar function at his residence. BJP president J P Nadda hoisted the flag at the BJP headquarters on Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg. Union railways minister Piyush Goyal was the only minister present at the BJP office.

Steering Mamata

Mamata Banerjee’s campaign strategist Prashant Kishore hosted Bengali journalists in Delhi to a Chinese lunch at a swanky restaurant in the heart of the Capital. The ostensible reason was to pick their brains for ideas but as it turned out, he did most of the talking as he elaborated on his plans to help steer Mamata back for a third term in Bengal.

Ironically, the meeting happened at a time when a close Mamata aide and TMC MLA Sovan Chatterjee joined the BJP. When Kishore was questioned why Mamata’s MLAs are ditching her to move to the BJP in droves, the strategist dismissed the phenomenon.

He maintained that MLAs don’t matter in Bengal. He said the election will be fought and won in Mamata’s name and on her charisma. He even admitted that more MLAs are likely to leave, particularly those who know that they will not get a ticket to contest. But it’s of no concern, he insisted. Interestingly, Chatterjee was known to be close to Mamata. TMC circles are hesitant to reveal the reasons for their falling out but it may have had something to do with party funding. Chatterjee represents the Behala East constituency in Greater Kolkata. It used to be a CPM stronghold till TMC smashed it in 2011 and Chatterjee won. It was Chatterjee’s first victory from the area. Political circles feel that without Mamata’s backing, it will be difficult for him to retain the seat. Mamata is very strong in Kolkata. Her party won all the seats in the greater Kolkata area in the Lok Sabha election even as it lost out to the BJP in rural areas.

Creating wealth

Modi’s praise for “wealth creators’’ in his Independence Day address has caught the fancy of business circles. They are wondering whether this is the impact of Café Coffee Day founder V G Siddhartha’s recent suicide and subsequent critical statements from well-known Modi fans in the corporate sector like Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and Mohandas Pai.

Siddhartha drowned himself alleging harassment by tax authorities. After his death, Shaw and Pai both came down heavily on the government for tax terrorism. Is Modi trying to reassure the business community by saying wealth creation is “a national service’’?