School of Thought
Modi is not only failing India but also his bhakts, Bharat Mata can't help
Those who voted for PM are waiting for the promised Midas touch.
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Last week, I was hosting a group of guests who were in India for the Make in India week. Those of Indian origin, who attempted to understand the politics behind the JNU episode, were flummoxed. Why on earth would the prime minister allow JNU to make headlines in a week when his prestigious event was underway? In fact, the only headline that the "Make in India" event made was the fire on the stage. Everything else about the event, including the MoUs, was relegated to crawlers on television and buried in business pages of newspapers. The hashtags did not trend. Prime time debates understandably gave a miss to the event. After all, the nation had to be saved first.
For a prime minister who has made a successful career through high-profile events, seeing such a major event die unsung must not have been easy. No attempt was made, by either action or word, to change the headlines and push them back to Mumbai. On the contrary, ministers goofed up; lawyers went about lawlessly bashing up journalists and students; cops kept making conflicting statements; international media was merciless in its commentary on state "attack on dissent" in India. In short, the drift we witnessed during the last two years of UPA-2 is panning out even before the second year of NDA-2.
None of us had answers. But the speculations offered on the table were quite interesting in their range of insight and also the perception these guests have of this government and its deep state in Nagpur. Is the prime minister losing his grip? Is the remote control from Nagpur completely in charge? Is this a result of internal sabotage? Does all of this have the prime minister's nod? Is the government trying to shift our attention from something else and JNU provided it a perfect opportunity to change the headlines? "This is a decisive round of fight between the Lutyens' Liberals and Modi", claimed a man from London, sounding very pleased with his choice of words.
Failing to defend the government on economic parameters and Pathankot, troll armies that had started to go back to their barracks are back with armouries full of patriotic-flavoured abuse. If the whispers within top circles are to be believed, from controlling the response of the police to the appointment of special prosecutors, the party leadership is micro-managing the JNU issue. It sees in this hyped patriotic fervour traces of what we witnessed during the Mandir movement.
The optimism of the RSS/BJP leadership is pegged on the theory that Lutyens' Delhi had under-estimated the mass support that the movement received then just as it is misreading the patriotic debate through an elitist prism. Friendly channels have swung into action and are stopping at nothing. Look at the deviousness in the topics of debates - #IndiaWithForces. Those who question the government automatically get slotted as those against the forces.
The fact that Parkash Singh Badal had once burnt the copy of the Indian Constitution and is now an ally of the BJP; that Mehbooba Mufti's PDP has spoken out against the hanging of Afzal Guru and the BJP is now desperately waiting for her nod for the renewal of an alliance to form a government in Jammu and Kashmir do not have to figure in any of these debates.
The prime time footsoldiers of this pseudo-patriotic army will not question the government's flip-flop Pakistan policy when our brave jawans die in Kashmir or Pathankot, but will question the patriotism of those who talk about upholding rule of law and the right of our campuses to dissent and debate and, through some convoluted logic, hold those of us who question the high-handed approach of the government in dealing with student unrest responsible for the killing of jawans.
This government has run out of excuses on the abysmal state of the economy. The allegations of corruption in land allotment to companies close to the daughter of the chief minister of Gujarat came to the doorstep of the prime minister as he was the chief minister at the time of these dubious allotments. The bombastic rhetoric of the prime minister on UPA's alleged failure in dealing with the neighbours is now haunting him with a vengeance. JNU-type debates are excellent hideouts for a beleaguered government. But only for the time being.
A pracharak prime minister with 282 seats under his belt was one of those impossible dreams for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The cadres who helped whip up votes for Narendra Modi as the Hindu Hriday Samrat of the 2002 fame are desperate for the abrogation of Article 370, a grand temple at Ayodhya, Uniform Civil Code, and of course a Hindu Rashtra. Those who voted for Narendra Modi - the so-called Vikas Purush of the much touted "Gujarat model" fame - are waiting for the promised Midas touch.
Does Narendra Modi know who he owes this mandate to?