Corporate Rivalry may Prove BJP’s Waterloo

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The fight to secure 5G spectrum is going to be one of the most defining moments of this century which is going to transform not just trade and commerce, but more importantly, realign our social and political landscape

Aariz Imam | Clarion India

The rollout of the 5G spectrum allocation tendering process has set the stage for the first direct face-off between two of the world’s biggest business groups, the Ambanis and Adanis. Sources privy to the information confirm that apart from Jio, Vodafone, Idea, and Airtel, the Adani group is the fourth player to have entered the spectrum race.

The fight to secure the 5G spectrum is going to be one of the most defining moments of this century which is going to transform not just trade and commerce, but more importantly, realign our social and political landscape.

With the world bracing for the fourth wave of the industrial revolution, harnessing the power of its prime movers, the Web3, metaverse, blockchain, AI, and IOT, is contingent on the availability of a more reliable and responsive network. A licence for 5G spectrum usage hence is going to be the most valuable infrastructure asset for an organisation to take the giant leap in the digital future.

The rapidly diversifying Adani group has, so far, avoided any direct confrontation with the Ambanis, but its ambitious foray into petrochemicals, media, and the recent bid for 5G spectrum are all a recipe for a bitter rivalry. However, it is not the competition that is of concern here. The bigger concern is that the rivalry to secure the number one spot in India with an all-encompassing power will ultimately stretch the Narendra Modi government into two opposing directions.

It is no secret that Modi is the best friend of both the businessmen from Gujarat, and hence in the event of a decision that favours one at the expense of the other, it will have some ramifications for the government and consecutively on Indian polity
It is public knowledge that one of the biggest reasons for the electoral rout of the UPA-2 was the angst it had accumulated in the eyes of corporate houses for staying projects worth over Rs 5 lakh crore on the grounds of adverse environmental impact. The corporate houses lobbied hard and as many as three environment ministers got changed during the UPA regime. But when the matters didn’t pass, they brokered a deal with the Opposition.

Come 2014, and the BJP, slush with corporate funds, launched full-blown propaganda and psycho-analytical information war that ultimately secured it a grand victory. As one of its first major decision after coming to power, the BJP government holding on to its promise initiated actions to dilute all regulatory hurdles.

There is no reason that the same corporate ambitions that once paved the way for a BJP government cannot turn the tables on them. If the supersonic rise and heightened ambitions of Adani and the contest he is picking with the Ambanis are anything to go by, it is definite that the BJP will have to face the taste of its own medicine.

Though a lot has changed over the years and the BJP is a more formidable force today backed by an even stronger RSS, there are always fault lines waiting for that big shake. A squeeze in funds is not just going to put the brakes and expose the limitations in the practice of horse-trading and poaching but may very well reverse the pattern thereby also busting the shrewdly crafted Chanakya image of the second in command.

One of the hallmarks of the BJP’s rise under the Modi-Shah duo has been the corporate-style structuring of the party organisation and the discipline it has been able to instil in its rank and file. A powerful adversary with a killer appetite can bring it all down in months, if not moments. A force to contend with that has been so far elusive for the BJP on the political front might just come from the corporate world. Fair still that it won’t come as a surprise. The balance sheet, after all, is political in nature, and the bottom line is determined by returns.

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