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Issue No.: 572 | February 2015
 

Right-Wing Zealots Are Derailing Modi's Push for a Development Agenda

Bapu Satyanarayana
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Various RSS organisations as well as some BJP leaders including ministers are issuing statements almost daily that has started to create disenchantment not only among those who normally subscribe broadly to the BJP ideology but also amongst the recent converts who are favourably impressed by the way Modi is leading the party with his policy initiatives.

Ever since Narendra Modi assumed office as Prime Minister, he has been investing his time and efforts in streamlining the system to bring in accountability to deliver on his promise of good governance. 

Inherits a troubled legacy

The problem he faced from the beginning was that he inherited a legacy from his predecessor government where bureaucrats had become file pushers instead of being the main levers of power to ensure that once policy pronouncements are made they are implemented. In true bureaucratic style, the files went up and down repeatedly in the hierarchy of the babus. Added to this was the government where Ministers who had a pronounced proclivity of shying away from taking decisions were mostly dependent upon their bureaucrats who are subordinate to them. The 'Coalgate' and '2G' scam symbolised this syndrome where even our courts are hard put to punish the guilty and are taking unconscionably long time to punish the guilty. The plethora of laws that are mutually contradictory have only helped our advocates to thrive.

Spring cleaning

The next step was to attend to good house-keeping and initiate steps to weed out plethora of conflicting laws. At the same time he had to face multiple challenges of opposition particularly the Congress constantly targeting him to hold a mirror to his own statement during electoral campaign on bringing back black money in 100 days and on his ‘sub ka saath and subka vikas’, though the criticism is patently unfair knowing full well that the tremendous backlog of muck and ‘scorched earth’ policy followed by the predecessor government that needed to be cleared was time consuming. Even so Modi has gone on to win plaudits both at the national and the international level.

Electoral success continues

Under the leadership of Modi the BJP achieved striking electoral success in the assembly elections. While in Haryana it obtained absolute majority where it never had good representation, in Maharashtra with its ally Shiv Sena it has formed the government after a lapse of 15 years. Recently, it has formed a government with its ally in Jharkand for the first time. It managed impressive results in the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir with a tally of 25 seats coming second to PDP which scored a marginally better tally of 28 seats. According to a survey Modi appears to be very popular amongst the youths in UP which is expected to give the BJP a handsome win in the assembly elections in 2017. Even in West Bengal which is a stronghold of Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Communists, it is emerging as a threat to the TMC what with the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee embroiled in Saradha chit fund scam and the recent explosion in Burdwan which has unearthed the of presence Bangladeshi terrorists becoming an embarrassment to TMC.

Obstructionist tactics

Therefore, it is not surprising that the Congress, which ruled the country for nearly five decades has now been decimated, is indulging in obstructionist tactics. The result is that it is playing spoil sport in the Parliament holding it to ransom with its like-minded allies from passing important bills of economic importance for the progress of the country. The net result is that the NDA government has been constrained to adopt, much against its will, to follow the ordinance way to tide over the situation to push its economic goals.

Disturbing developments

Lately, very disturbing developments are taking place. Various RSS organisations as well as some BJP leaders including ministers are issuing statements almost daily that has started to create disenchantment not only among those who normally subscribe broadly to the BJP ideology but also amongst the recent converts who are favourably impressed by the way Modi is leading the party with his policy initiatives. Since these statements have a pronounced tilt in pushing Hindutva ideology, it is feared that it may have a negative impact to nullify whatever Modi has achieved till now and derail the momentum he has created to take his development agenda forward. Of course for the Opposition, particularly for the Congress, it has provided a ready fodder to take on Modi and his NDA government. 

For example the ill-conceived and crass comment of the Minister of State Sadhvi Niranjan Joshi who wanted people to choose between ‘Ramzaadas and Haramzaadas’ created  revulsion and pandemonium in the House and after prolonged demonstration the Prime Minister Modi was constrained to make a statement in the Parliament. Though the matter was tided over, other equally provocative actions and behaviour from other RSS organisations acted as a red rag to the Opposition. Some of the other instances are: Sakshi Maharaj calling Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a patriot. As if that was not enough there is proposal to build a temple for him. Rajasthan MLA threatening Chief Medical Officer and Health Officer. Ghar Wapsi (re-conversion to Hinduism) has seriously exercised the Opposition and the statement of RSS chief Mohan Bhagawat speaking in the same strain of furthering Hindutva ideology has kept the issue on the boil. Dharam Jagaran Sangh declares India becoming a Hindu Rashtra. VHP leader Ashok Singhal’s statement of  ‘Hindus’ having regained the ‘lost empire’ of Delhi after 800 years takes the cake. 

During his monthly address on ‘Man-ki-Baat’ relayed all across the nation, Modi struck a responsive chord showing his earnestness about bringing reformation in the realm of social ills that is afflicting  the society. These developments coupled with Modi’s other programmes like declaring ‘Good governance’ day to coincide with former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s birthday falling on the Christmas Day probably unwittingly emboldened the various RSS organisations to push their Hindutva Agenda to go overboard resulting in giving a free reign to indulge in queering the pitch. 

Probably, it is in this context the First Post reported in a local Marathi newspaper the unauthenticated news of Modi threatening to quit. However, it is not unlikely there may be some grain of truth for such news as apparently Modi must have felt that whatever good he has achieved single headedly to turn the affairs of the nation by his leadership was being undone by such right wing zealots in his party. Shushma Swaraj’s push to make Bhagavad Gita as a National Book or the recent controversy surrounding resignation of the Director of IIT Delhi that links the HRD Minister Smiriti Irani or the statement like claiming that Astrology is superior to science have added to the woes of Modi. 

Harbinger of Hope

Despite creating waves both nationally and internationally in the ultimate analysis, it is Modi’s domestic image that is the key to the popularity and stability of the government. Modi, therefore, faces a catch 22 situation. Having been nurtured in the ideology of RSS and risen in the ranks and finally become the prime minister of the country, he owes much to his parent organisation. This is the challenge he faces and how he overcomes it will be keenly watched both by the opposition who have no qualms to run him down and also the detractors in his own ministry who may be jealous of his meteoric rise in power including the zealots in the RSS eager to piggy ride on his popularity. 

BAPU SATYANARAYANA is a freelance writer based in Mysore.
 Email: what_option@yahoo.com
 
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