Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Virtual Power

In the movie Raanjhanaa (2013) there is a scene where the party workers of All India Citizen Party (AICP) are setting up tents for their rally and suddenly police arrives and starts removing the tents with help of their force. Suddenly, Zoya starts a fight with the police and the following dialogues happen.

Kundan: रिकॉर्ड तो नहीं किया ? (did you record?)
Kundan's Friend: हाँ! हो गया। अपलोड करना है क्या ? (Yes! It's done. You want it uploaded?)   
Kundan to police guy: कोई बात नहीं। मैं देख लूंगा। और सर , अगर ये इलेक्शन में हम दो सीट भी जीत गए न तो ट्रांसफर नहीं  करवाएंगे आपका। पक्का ! (Don't worry, I will handle it. And sir, if we manage to win even 2 seats in the next election, then we will not transfer you for sure.)
Police Guy : अरे सर। हमें भी तो ऊपर से आर्डर आते हैं न ! वैसे हमारी आपसे कोई ज्यादती दुश्मनी तो है नहीं।(Oh Sir! We also get orders from above. Isn't it? Otherwise we dont have any personal animosity towards you) Sorry!

This above scene is one such example of showing what I call as a "Virtual Power". It means that you don't have any real power/position/authority over something but you still control it with a probability that you soon will have. So, mathematically it depends on a certain probability say "P", whose value always ranges from 0 to 1. It is very difficult to define it formally so I will try to give some understanding of it using various examples by this post. One of a definitive example is the recent US Presidential Elections in which Donald Trump swept through. Now, after the win, he is called the "president elect", because the term of the old president Obama is still there. At the present time the real power is still held (temporarily) by Obama but Trump has virtual power. So, any police department etc. will think twice before taking any action against Trump. Now, since Trump has won the elections, the probability P = 1 here. It is one of the trivial example of virtual power which lasts for months.
In the Indian political context, the use of virtual power is in abundance throught the history. The trivial examples are obviously after every election results which lasts for some days just between the election results and the oath-taking ceremony which what last for months in USA. However, majority of the times we Indians thrive on the use of non trivial virtual power. In one of my previous post, the addressing of JP was a display of virtual power by JP to Indira Gandhi after which using the real power she declared emergency in India. The impact of this virtual power can be seen in the jails were the leaders were kept. The policemen were often very nice to them as compared to other inmates. The value of P here was very close to 1 which can be concluded by the 1977 election results. Another of these incidents was displayed by L. K. Advani during his famous rath yatra when Lalu Prasad Yadav arrested him in bihar and the coalition government in the center fell down. In 2013-14, this virtual power was exploited a lot by the current prime minister and the then chief minister of the Gujarat state Narendra Modi. That is the primary reason that most of the news media succumbed into him and he was covering more than 90% of the advertisements in the news and most of the media did not raise any questions on him.


In the present time this strategy of showing virtual power is very smartly used by two politicians in two entirely different ways. I am talking about Arvind Kejriwal and Nitish Kumar. Currently Kejriwal has real power in Delhi but is being obstructed on a daily basis by the BJP in center using the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. So, he is campaigning in Punjab and showing his virtual power to his opponents in form of the huge crowds that he is receiving in Punjab. In most of the unbiased surveys AAP is getting 95+ seats out of 117 so it is highly probable that they are crossing the three figure mark.
So, In punjab the value of P tends to 1 so the virtual power is highly effective here. The similar thing he is doing in Goa where most of the unbiased surveys give 15+/40 seats to AAP as the largest party in the place at the present time which is bound to increase in the next two months. Two questions come to mind.
1. What will happen when they will form the two governments?


2. But how will a small delhi based party get recognition nationally?
Look at the image on the right. They will start to get more and more acceptance in the country. The next election after that will be in Gujrat which will happen in December 2017. Effectively that gives them a time period of about 9 months to move their organisational skills in the Gujarat elections. Adding to the anti-incumbency of about 15 years will give them high chance there.


And continuing it to Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh just by using this virtual power play they can win these places one by one because of the time gap between the elections. Finally, the Aam Aadmi Party will be going to the national elections in 2019 with having the state governments in at least 8 states. The value of P as per my understanding here is about 0.9. The big task is to 'unhide' the hidden support base of AAP to gain the virtual power that is required by them.



The way Nitish is using the virtual is more of like an intelligent bluff in a poker game. While Kejriwal is relying on the people for his virtual power, Nitish on the other hand is relying on the politicians. The plan of Nitish Kumar seems to be making tactical political alliances as he is always known for throught his political career. Currently he has the real power in Bihar with RJD as his allaince partner who was his opponent earlier on. But since BJP also has enough seats for him to have a majority required for the government, he is silently flirting with BJP. This was very much visible in the recent demonetization exercise. When he supported the idea but opposed its implementation. He has also rooted for his liquor ban program in UP not for any direct electoral benefits but indirect ones gaining allies. Currently he is trying to get allied with either Akhilesh Yadav or Mayawati using the virtual power that he can show by going soft on BJP policies who will very happily accept him as allies. So, here in reality he is allied to none of the three but he is using the virtual power on each of them for an alliance and they will bring the electoral votes for him in 2019 if any such allaince happens. Quantitatively, I am guessing the value of P here will be very close to 0.8.
After the Demonetization/Currency Exchange move the BJP will be completely defeated by this political strategy. The forces of politicians and public that Nitish and Arvind respectively are trying to create here can may be tackled by the BJP individually using their propagandas like they used during 2013-14 when these forces were not strong and were separate. But here Using Nitish's virtual power on Arvind Kejriwal we can have a possibility of another allaince as one united opposition which will be impossible to counter. Now, How can BJP tackle this? There are various ways.

  1. Create Hindu-Muslim Riots using the sangh parivar (RSS/VHP/Shiv Sena/Hindu Vahini etc.) as usual and claim that hinduism is in danger etc. gain a communal virtual power of their own.
  2. Create a binaries by playing the nationalist's game, where whoever opposes BJP/Modi becomes anti-national.
  3. Declare Early elections in their states like Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh.
  4. Create Propoganda of Modi's greatness which is supposed to be admired by the world.
The points 1,2 and 4 have failed miserably in the Delhi/Bihar/Kerala elections. But it may work again as Muzaffarnagar Riots in 2013 benefited them in the 2014 general elections where they won 72 out of 80 seats in UP. Point 3 however is very significant especially to Kejriwal's strategy. The biggest resource Kejriwal has is the time gap between the elections which he is planning to use as gaining the virtual power thereby controlling the resources of the states. BJP cannot win Punjab and Goa now so they can dissolve their governments in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh as early as possible and go for polling simultaneously to Punjab and Goa. In this manner Arvind's strategy will fail because currently there are only hidden huge support of AAP in these states which are controlled by the Myth of small regional party as I mentioned above. This myth can only break if they see further victories of AAP. As of now most of my points that I raised are logical speculations based on the current political scenario in India. Only time will tell how it unfolds in reality.
Thanks for reading.