The winter chill is responsible for the shivers across the northern part of the country but there is no geographical qualification to the jitters in BJP circles ~ as is evident from the raft of extreme moves aimed at ensuring that the party heads into the upcoming “silly” season in a position as advantageous as in 2014. The rushing through with the “Upper caste quota Bill” in the Lok Sabha, along with the citizenship and triple talaq legislations appear near-reckless moves to compensate for recent electoral setbacks, and “desertions” from the NDA. A degree of desperation is discernible in the party, hence it is reducing what could be the closing session of Parliament for this Modi government to a promise-unveiling one. This ought to have provided the platform from which the accomplishments of the past five years could have been articulated as an advertisement for what further gain was in store: it is a sign of acceptance that the government has failed to deliver on several of its tall promises that it continues to focus on promise, not performance. And remember that Modi & Co having thundered about its predecessors’ policy-paralysis have invited a counter-punch of performance paralysis.

There is an element of cynicism and contempt of “due process” to some of the recent moves that have little chance of being implemented in the immediate future. There is cause to suspect they were essentially aimed at vote-attraction: for there is always the Opposition-dominated Rajya Sabha to blame for moves that were stalled. “Dividing” the two Houses is par for this opportunistic course. And should the judiciary prove a “speed bump”, recourse could also be taken to Indira Gandhi’s plea for a “committed” judiciary. Ravi Shankar Prasad often expresses a similar desire but is too “Emergency- conscious” to make bold and say so. The NDA government has a couple of months to go, long enough display that it is confusing efficient governance with election management. There could be more “initiatives” ahead, vote-garnering has become an unprincipled no-holds-barred affair. The communal cannon is still being held in reserve, will it be unleashed when the time comes to upgrade the push to a decisive shove? There are also jitters in abundance for those who lament the decay of the dream that had inspired the freedom fighters and found expression in the Constitution. That dream included an Opposition capable of overcoming petty internal differences to ensure a determined battle to safeguard all that is upright and enshrined in the Constitution. Today the BJP is projected as a menacing monster but the gatbandhans are coming apart before they were even glued together ~ who will be the leader is their divisive issue. Maybe Narendra Modi does not trigger the level of animosity that Indira Gandhi did during the Emergecncy: but there can be no “maybe” about the absence of a JP on the political horizon.