Modi should have focused less on Nehru and more on his own government

DailyBiteFeb 07, 2018 | 16:59

Modi should have focused less on Nehru and more on his own government

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that bashing the Nehru-Gandhis and the Indian National Congress is the biggest pastime, vocation, strategy and shield of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwarts, ever since its inception. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in Lok Sabha today, his first in the ongoing Union Budget session, while replying to the motion of thanks on the President’s address, was all about that, and little else.  


While asking the now fifth generation Nehru-Gandhi-led Congress to “not give sermons on democracy”, and reducing the grand old party to “serving and singing paeans to one family instead of taking the country forward”, to declaring that “had Sardar Patel been the first Prime Minister, a part of Kashmir would not have been under control of Pakistan”, Modi launched many an attack at the “dynasty”, while keeping mum on the pressing issues of the moment. Issues such the stock market crash after the Union Budget, the looming questions over Rafale deal, the disappearing jobs and the emergence of “Pakodanomics”, the rather dubious declarations over healthcare, MSP of crops, the falling investment scenario, the debunked world rankings in ease of doing business, among innumerable others plaguing the country at present.  



Calling Congress as the “party that divided India”, to saying that “India did not get democracy due to Pandit Nehru”, to contrasting the creation of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2000 to the politics of Telangana during Manmohan Singh-led UPA, eventually leading to its official formation on June 2, 2014, under his own regime in the Centre, PM Modi’s tirade was a one-sided attack on the largest Opposition party.

It’s disturbing, but hardly unexpected, that PM Modi has taken the easy route to brazen his way in Parliament, delivering what many have already called an “election speech” to sound the poll bugle for 2019 Lok Sabha. Yet, skirting the biggest headlines of the day to perform a quick extempore on historical revisionism, asking the “if questions” about events that date back to seven decades, while floundering spectacularly on most of the major issues of the day, is hardly very prime minister-like.


From recounting late Rajiv Gandhi’s “humiliation” of T Anjaiah in 1980s (intensifying the Telangana agitation), to dismissing Congress’ stance in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, where the party faced tremendous opposition from regional parties or the Left Front, PM Modi gave a lecture in selective history that has absolutely no bearing on the current state of the socio-economic realities. PM Modi was careful to omit any reference to Bofors scam that toppled the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1989 since the parallels with the alleged Rafale “scam” have been discussed threadbare in national discourse, even as defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman tried hiding behind a 2008 secrecy clause.


While PM Modi questioned if Rahul Gandhi’s election as Congress president in December 2017 was a “coronation”, he also asserted that the Opposition stalling UIDAI’s Aadhaar project was about political motives since Aadhaar has been made “more effective in terms of enabling better and effective service delivery”. This in the face of the tremendous public sentiment against his government’s coercive and unconstitutional techniques to force-feed the leak-prone, insecure and dubious surveillance scheme that’s Aadhaar, which is witnessing a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court hear its very validity in the court of law.


This waxing eloquent on his own government’s performance which is nearing the end of its tenure, and is mired in as many controversies, if not more, as the UPA, is being read as both a betrayal of anxiety and a disdain towards Parliament as the highest law-making institution in the country. Modi carefully omitted the mention of the recent by-poll results that saw a BJP rout in Rajasthan’s Alwar and Ajmer, a clear indication of rising anti-incumbency. While Rajasthan and Karnataka were mentioned given the Assembly elections that are coming up in these two states, along with five others in 2018, they were about the supposed misgovernance during the Congress era.   

Of course, the Opposition, chiefly the Congress, the main target of PM Modi’s much-practiced weaponised indictment, didn’t lose the opportunity to deplore the speech. While former Congress president and head of the UPA coalition, Sonia Gnadhi, dismissed the speech as old and hackneyed, Rahul Gandhi underlined the lack of any concrete rebuttal of the grave allegations against the Modi government of tanking the economy, crony capitalism at the expense of national security, as well as the lack of jobs. Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor even used the word “farrago” to describe Modi’s speech today. 

Similarly, prominent mediapersons and others deplored the artificial and belated engineering of a fake Nehru-Patel conflict, the lack of accountability over the biggest issues of the day. However, many sounded excited that his “roaring speech” showed PM Modi was still on a strong footing and was confident about 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Though, the question remains: Did PM Modi really say anything worthwhile that could be added or subtracted from his government’s own report card? We don’t think so. 

Last updated: February 07, 2018 | 16:59
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