The euphoria and sense of celebration that has come to surround Narendra Modi’s elevation within his own party is worrying. It is shortsighted. All of India seems to have breathlessly latched on to NaMo as the savior who will put aright, all that ails our country.
Expectations are huge but unrealistic and they fail to take into account many of the inherent problems of this situation. Political analysts, the media and the common man on the streets have all joined the clamour of voices that have hailed Modi as a possible future PM; this is unwise. That enthusiasm should be tempered and reexamined for several reasons.
Advani’s Resignation Was Just A Sulk
Lal Krishna Advani, the most visible face of the BJP after Atal Bihari Vajpayee and its “tallest leader” as BJP calls him, delivered quite a bombshell by tendering his resignation. He first signaled his displeasure with the Modi situation by staying away from the party meet in Goa while at the same time writing cryptic posts on his blog about dictators such as Mussolini and Hitler and mythological characters such as Bhishma Pitamaha (the post in question is ostensibly his review of the film Vishwaroop, which he says he enjoyed greatly). His meek withdrawal of the resignation subsequently is neither here nor there – it is not an endorsement of Modi and shouldn’t be viewed as such.
Advani’s resignation may have much to do with feeling hurt at having been sidelined by his own party and perhaps a stymieing of his own long unfulfilled political ambitions. However, there is also a cautionary tale there for all of us. Advani may or may not be right in feeling resentment at his views being overruled by other leaders of this party but the reasons for his misgivings about Modi need to be examined closely… India’s gung ho welcome of a possible future PM needs to be reexamined.
Why Is Nitish Kumar So Anti NaMo
If Modi is a bulwark in Gujarat, Nitish Kumar is just such an icon in Bihar. He is responsible for his lawless, backward and undeveloped state making huge strides during the past 10 or so years with him as its Chief Minister. In his third term now as Bihar Chief Minister, he is also seen as an excellent administrator, as decisive, effective and pro-development.
But he is so very anti Modi that he has finally severed the connection with the BJP by pulling out of the National Democratic Alliance. This has ended a 17 year association between Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (U) and the BJP. This may be political expediency – Bihar’s Chief Minister is savvy enough take steps against the erosion of his own vote banks. But we do have to ask ourselves, does this man see Modi as such a liability as to erode his voter base? Is he so very unpopular with significant segments of the electorate? The answer is, unfortunately, yes.
If seasoned, experienced leaders such as L K Advani and Nitish Kumar are this anti-Modi, we have to ask why! And we cannot be so shortsighted that we dismiss the reasons as being only the thwarting of personal ambitions or political expediency.
WHAT WE THE PEOPLE NEED TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT
Firstly we need to keep in mind that while Modi has done a first rate job in Gujarat, being at the helm of affairs at the centre is a whole other kettle of fish. The complexity of governing a country beset with gargantuan problems such as terror, Naxalism, porous borders and hostile neighbours is very, very different than governing a prosperous, relatively orderly and developed state such as Gujarat. So his inexperience at the national level is one reason to keep expectations modest.
Secondly we cannot, cannot, cannot afford to forget the aftermath of Godhra, 2002. Even if Modi’s sympathizers insist that he was not complicit in the pogrom, he presided over it; he was ultimately responsible for it. He never acknowledged the historic injustice perpetrated at the time; he never apologised. It speaks of a mindset and a set of values that should continue to ring alarm bells for us; even 11 years on.
Thirdly Modi has dictatorial tendencies; people who have worked with or observed him closely will say as much. If one were to visit Gujarat today, one would be forgiven for thinking that the state is his own personal fiefdom. Modi in his various avatars – son of Gujarat, Hindu savior, nationalist, progressive businessman, able administrator, NRI wooer – are much in evidence. There seems to be no room for any other political leader there. Ominous? A least a little bit!
Fourthly what do we make of the fact that the RSS – long criticised as a paramilitary group with extremist agendas – has always backed his candidature and has hailed BJP’s decision to appoint him as Chairman of the Election Campaign Committee for the 2014 Loksabha elections? The RSS’s backing of Modi has to be viewed in light of the fact that Modi himself has risen from the RSS cadres and prescribes to some of their more radical views; many of which could be inimical to society. Should secular India be comfortable with this? I humbly suggest that we should not.
And lastly, if you discount the general mood of Modi-worship in the media and elsewhere, you can see that the man is a divisive figure. He engenders feelings of mistrust and aversion in large segments of society. There are very large swathes of India where he is irrelevant; yet others where his name is anathema.
We cannot disregard these very real concerns just because of the seductive promise of a supposedly prosperous and progressive India – this is a chimera that bases itself only partly on reality and more on expectation. It comes from the Indian habit of latching on to someone, hailing them as a savior and expecting the world of them – it is an attitude doomed to disappointment.
Image Source : IANS