March 18, 2015 Leave a comment
One of the strongest planks on which Narendra Modi rode to power in 2014 elections was ‘Decisive Leadership’.
Apart from being no match to Modi in oratory, Manmohan Singh, especially in UPA II allowed himself to be portrayed as a timid and weak PM. And his infamous statement about “coalition pressure” completely negated the long held view that the cabinet exists and functions on the prerogative of the PM.
If not the first, but a very important moments of decisive leadership has arrived for PM Modi – Taming the right-wing nuisance.
I carefully choose the word “nuisance” but I strongly believe it is nothing more than that. History has shown that ‘right-wing extremism’ has found very little internal support from the followers of Hinduism. The structural model of Hinduism with it’s emphasis on a loosely coupled, non-aggrandizing nature means that it cannot sustain extremism nor can it aggressively proselytize. In terms of a ‘push-pull’ approach, no one can be “pushed” to being or becoming a Hindu but one can let himself be ‘pulled’ by the attraction of the ‘dharma of the world’ viz Sanatana Dharma. It is this model that the right-wing rabble-rousers are trying hard to change.
The constitution of India protects the rights of every citizen to practice the religion of his/her choice and the freedom to propagate. This should naturally mean that campaigns such as ‘Ghar Wapsi’ are not inconsistent with the foundational law of the country. So what’s actually shocking the so-called seculars ?
What has caused the ‘secular brigade’ to spring into defensive mode is the fact that the right-wingers have begun giving back dose of the same medicine, albeit in the crudest possible way. It is a pity that this country doesn’t have (or has very little) right-wing platform that’s credible, informed and can argue on facts, not on emotion.
The right-wingers have proved to be highly impatient and have lost the plot on making the “illegal conversions” as the center-piece of the argument. The campaign was NEVER about conversions, it was all about “illegal, forced and fraudulent” conversions. But in the way they have gone about their campaign, they let themselves upstaged by the so-called secular crooks.
Church vandalism is just that – act of few vagabonds and thugs who can’t distinguish between a Virgin Mary or a Bloody Mary. Sexual attacks on nuns are extension of the social evil that has plagued the country, objectifying women.
But the clever manipulation of the ‘secular brigade’ has positioned these issues right at the door-step of the PM, conveniently forgetting the fact that “law and order” is a state subject. I haven’t seen any condemnation of the Govt of WB which is blaming the right-wing brigade for these deplorable acts. No one has questioned them – if you know who did it, why don’t you just go and get them ?
The rousing defeat of the BJP in Delhi has added a huge fillip to the campaign against the party and the Govt. The right-wing which is often seen as an extension of the party hasn’t helped the cause of the Govt. with strange utterances on matters like the family size of hindus, absolutely counter-intuitive to the plank of development.
So what should the PM be doing ?
He made a decent comeback with his strong utterances in the Lok Sabha conveying his allegiance to the only “holy book” that he cares for – The Indian Constitution. However the malcontents in the right-wing are not taking the cue, which seem to be thinking that they can get away with anything, now that a “Hindu Govt.” is in place. This is the impression that Modi should strive to dispel and dispel very fast.
The moment some elements of the right-wing behave as a ‘first-among-equals’, Modi would begin to lose the plot.
I am a bit disappointed that PM Modi hasn’t done anything that’s different from what a Manmohan would have done – seek a report. A different and decisive leadership is what we voted for isn’t it ?
The following, in my view, would constitute decisive action from the PM :
- Relieving the MHA from the responsibility of Delhi police and handing it over to the State Govt. With such a massive mandate, AAP has to prove why it can make Delhi more safer than any other. By clinging on to the responsibility of policing Delhi, Modi is letting his Govt. go more local.
- Decisive discussion with RSS : RSS has to be told very firmly that they have to find better ways of raising genuine issues such as “illegal conversions”. The polemics against right-wing groups are determined by “how-something-is-said” rather than “what-is-said”. Someone like Modi with his superior oratory, must be aware of this critical factor.
- Modi must make it amply clear to all his party MPs that Governance runs from 7, RCR and not from public platforms. So if they can’t say something sensible, they are better off not saying much at all.
- If need be sack a few : On the coalition front, the going seems to be steady. So if Modi wants to send a tough message, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to show a few guys their political place. It wouldn’t, of course endanger his position or the Govt.
- Setup an internal security review mechanism with State Govts to ensure that the law and order is not a problem that can be perennially “kicked upstairs” to the Union. The states have a significant role to play, and so they must.
On the political front, Modi would do well to articulate a ‘nuanced position’ of his Govt. with respect to “conversions”. The response must not be seen as a “Hindu response” but a response that seeks to protect the right of every faith and every faithful.
During the US presidential visit, Modi made no secret of his sartorial sense, changing into multiple hues in the course of the day. But the last thing that he’d want, is to be seen as someone who has changed his political hue.
If seeing is believing, acting is being decisive.