Editor : Satish Ohri    Edition : June 2017

Illusions of Invulnerability

Mid-point for the ruling dispensation in office is always a moment to reflect and take mid-course corrections so that the trappings of power and the illusions of invulnerability together do not make the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the tallest person in the pantheon of the NDA alliance complacent. No doubt when Mr. Modi decimated the entire bunch of Opposition parties in the May 2014 General Election leaving none even to don the mantle of a credible Opposition leader in the lower house of Parliament, there were murmurs and threats that democracy under his watch would descend to autocracy. But in a democratic tradition spanning over seven decades that included the horrible drubbings of Emergency inflicted by the charismatic Indira Gandhi in the mid-1970s, there were quite some realistic convictions that situation today is vastly different. This is perspicuously clear as the bedrock of the inherent checks and balances coalesced into the system would not render any single leader even to remotely imagining or entertaining any such notion of taming a billion plus people into a procrustean masses to be dictated to. A party assiduously encouraging social media cannot hide its ulterior designs, if it has any such! It must be said to the credit of the Prime Minister Modi that the three year on the saddle of governance had mellowed him a lot as he displayed leadership qualities of forbearance and fortitude in trying to grapple with a slew of unique problems India had been privy to for decades. India is undoubtedly a land of paradox with high democratic values inspiring its vast swathe of population even as equally hefty number of legions of people show uncommon apathy to basic sanitary norms, primary health and primary education, leave aside concerns for ameliorating one’s lot even if one’s circumstances of birth made one vulnerable and host to unhealthy ideas and ideologies. Post-Independence, the successive rulers took a naïve view that things would improve on their own without any positive and pro-active interventions by the State with the result that the leaders believed in promoting a welter of wasteful welfare schemes on caste and communal lines, instead of aiming at universal coverage of rights-based requirements for development and healthy and holistic growth of the country. Incentives for evolving work culture, innovation and incubation of ideas into commercial proposition hardly figured in the scheme of things of the authorities and the bureaucracy both at the Centre and in the States only muddied the waters by riding on the ignorance of the ruling dispensation. Canny politicians and wily bureaucrats between them battened on and the system served none with sympathy and in the exalted consideration for civic responsibility.

That is why the decade-long dispensation of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by a distinguished economist Dr.Manmohan Singh 2004-14 with each constituent pulling in its own direction saw policy paralysis, nepotism, corruption and abuse of power to deplorable level. India’s acme of corruption was during this period as it made all the past shenanigans a pale and forgettable shadow. The amounts involved in corruption taxed even the deft mathematicians as the scams after scams scaled new summits to the horror of honest citizen who saw his or her hard-earned income and the tax so disbursed on it frittered away in fabulous loot organized by alliance partners of the ruling coalition. So when the 2014 Election ended all the scurvy chapters in the country’s recent past by electing a clean and relatively efficient Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), there was widespread relief that things would by degrees improve and with that the common man’s lot too. Now that the BJP’s mass leader Narendra Modi proved that he is a different person than what his diehard critics portrayed him, though his party has not proved that it is “a party with a difference” as claimed by the legendary Atal Bihari Vajpayee in his heydays of 1999-2004. The latter is true in the sense that it has given sanctuary to all discredited leaders from the scattered Opposition parties to join BJP post-2014! This has definitely rattled right-thinking observers as to whether BJP would retain its primordial purity or get mixed up with incoming rush and gush of gross dregs ejected from all corrupt parties! This is a matter that the BJP higher echelons should give serious thought to as people know who enter or exit from each party and how to treat the turncoats or those who roll out welcome mat to such turncoats!

It also goes to the credit of Modi that during this three year tenure there has not been a single instance of corruption in his administration that includes all the ministers working under his supervision. This is where Dr.Singh miserably failed to monitor because it was not only against coalition partners but also against his own party ministers serious charges of corruption and nepotism surfaced that he remained deaf and dumb till the end. It is the great skill with which Modi manages this unobtrusive and ubiquitous honesty that would stand him in good stead as he goes winning poll after poll in state after state where BJP had seldom enjoyed much footprint. It is also to his credit that Modi ensured that BJP is now a pan-India national party, pushing Congress far behind which is a feat to be applauded. As the Opposition parties find it difficult to criticize the government at the Centre for transparent governance with no visible or invisible taint to mar its administration, they had expressed their fear psychosis of how the supremacy of a single leader has done disservice to democracy by suppressing dissent, promoting intolerance and reviving a false sense of pride in nationalism! The fringe elements within the BJP and the expanded Sangh Parivar have undoubtedly provided fodder and grist to the grinding mills. Mr. Modi who successfully managed his own ministers from emerging as loose cannons could also make do without much ado those loony elements who speak with their flabby foot in their noxious mouths. Otherwise his government is bound to run reputational risks before long even as it is doing a relatively salutary job of keeping the nation in the front on all fronts by bold policy measures, unique leadership and unquestionable loyalty of millions of Modi fans who grow expanding each day. This is the message loud and clear as BJP enjoys month-long celebration of its three-year completion at the Centre.

-G.Srinivasan

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