What do Speaker Boehner and PM Modi have in Common!

“A fringe element that is needed to win but hard to control!”


Speaker John Boehner is the 3rd in line to be the President of the United States. By all indications, he holds a very powerful position and is someone to be admired by his supporters and feared by his opponents. However, given the behavior of the Tea Party elements in his own party, he has become a figure of sympathy even by his opponents. They have shot down a lot of his initiatives and shut down the government for 15 days in October 2013. They also have led to the defeat of some easy Senate wins for the Republican Party in Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, etc.

Prime Minister Modi has a similar problem i.e. the fringe elements in and around his party (BJP) who keep making regular comments on religious issues that detract attention from his reform agenda. The PM talks about “Swatch Bharat” (Clean India), a woman MP speaks about Haramzade (illegitimate children); he talks about “Make in India,” and another MP speaks about women having 4 children. It seems like they are just waiting for him to announce an important initiative and you can be rest assured that someone is going to make a loony tune to detract from it.

If Speaker Boehner had a government shutdown due to the fringe, PM Modi had his Parliament shut down due to the statements by the fringe and opportunism by his political opponents.  However. both the Speaker and the Prime Minister cannot do without the fringe as the energy and grassroots of both the leaders reside in these elements of their base. Speaker Boehner and his Republicans got one of the largest majorities in the House in November 2014 and the Tea Party and their opposition to President Obama took a lot of the credit. Prime Minister Modi has won State elections in Haryana, Maharashtra, J&K and Jharkhand. His base apparently was out in full force during those elections. He did suffer a huge loss in the Delhi elections.

I am sure that PM Modi and Speaker Boehner do not check each other’s progress/challenges having to deal with their party’s fringe elements, but maybe they might want to have a “Chai pe Charcha” about this!

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