Desperate bid to regain lost ground

Arun Srivastava

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made two important statements on a single day, that too within a couple of hours; he accused the Congress of killing democracy by not allowing parliament to function even for a day and second, he accused the Opposition, especially the Congress of disintegrating the society by fanning communal tension.
On a day the BJP government was trying to invoke the Gandhian message, curiously Modi was being projected as the new Gandhi of modern India, striving to resuscitate as the New India. When he snatched the power from Congress in 2014 he had promised to provide a new dimension to the growth of the country. But his statement amounts to admitting that he has failed miserably and trying hard to pass the buck. What is implicit from the statement is that the people must not expect a miracle from him in view of the Congress’s divisive politics.
Indian parliament has been witness to disruption of the house proceedings for more than 10 years. It would not be out of place to say that the BJP patriarch L K Advani invented and institutionalised the method. After he lost the race to become the prime minister in 2009, Advani had invented this mechanism to insinuate and defame Dr Manmohan Singh. He resorted to boycotting the house almost every day. Now the Congress has been following in the footsteps of Advani.
Citing this, of course, is not intended to justify the Congress action. But behind the façade of blaming Congress the BJP cannot absolve itself of the present mess. It is quite surprising how Modi could resort to fasting for absolving himself of the sin he has been responsible for. As the prime minister, he should have ensured, as was alleged by Advani when Dr Singh was the prime minister, that the opposition would not have got the opportunity to create ruckus in the house. It reflected his lack of political acumen to meet the challenges. Modi began the day-long fast on Thursday in protest against the washout of parliament proceedings during both legs of the budget session. BJP president Amit Shah fasted in poll-bound Karnataka.
Probably Modi must not have resorted to the Gandhian method if Congress president Rahul Gandhi had not gone on hunger strike on 9 April. Gandhi had sat on fast to protest against Dalit atrocities and acts of communal violence that have seen a flare up across the country. Though Gandhi cited the Unnao rape incident as the better case for the prime minister to observe a fast “over atrocities against women, failed law and order and increasing anarchy under the BJP’s watch”, Modi projected his fast to be against the Congress attempt to disrupt the functioning of the house. He accused Congress of resorting to divisive politics and announced BJP's hunger strike as a protest.
Notwithstanding the fact that the entire second leg of the budget session was a complete washout without discussion due to protests by the opposition parties on various issues, Modi resorted to the fast simply for countering the Congress move. It obviously implied that Modi is not sure of his moves and actions and has come to realise that his popularity was on the wane. It is beyond comprehension why a prime minister, who claims to enjoy overwhelming support of the people, should opt for such action. The only plausible reason is down the line he has come to comprehend that he was losing the ground.
To be fair to the Congress, the charges of Congress engineering communalisms or fanning communal passion is a blatant lie. BJP taking recourse to worst type of communalism is clearly visible in West Bengal. A party committed to Hindutva and Hinduism was seen depicting revolver and pistol at the Ram Navami rallies on March 25. These rallies are held to propagate the ideals of Hinduism. But the BJP leaders used the occasion to demonstrate the communal strength of the Hindus. And this was done on the pretext that chief minister Mamata Banerjee was pampering Muslims.
Rahul said, "The atmosphere that has been created in the country, it is due to the ideology of BJP. BJP's ideology is to divide the country, crush the Dalits, tribals, minorities... We are against the ideology of the BJP. And we will defeat them in the 2019 elections". Already on a down swing, notwithstanding winning the Tripura assembly election, the party cannot fully rely on the charisma of Modi. The RSS has already started finding fault with him and his style of functioning. The primary reason for the RSS turning his critic is the inability of Modi to provide cover to the RSS violent actions against minorities. The RSS leaders were hopeful that Modi government would facilitate them with congenial atmosphere to spread and expand and accomplish their task of turning India into a Hindu Rashtra.
Though the saffron leaders outrightly deny that the coming together of the opposition parties was a challenge to their dominance, the fact remains that they feel quite shaken. Amit Shah using abusive language against the opposition leaders is the indicator of his nervousness. Shah compared the coming together of the opposition leaders to a bunch of animals who come together to save their lives when flood hits their abode.
The saffron leaders were mistaken in assuming that once violence is perpetrated on the Dalits and minorities, they will fall in line. This assumption of the BJP backfired. They never expected that they would assert their identity and retaliate. Ever since the April 2 all-India strike called by Dalit outfits, politics has taken a turn, political system has been talking about atrocities and discriminations against Dalits and minorities. The BJP leaders have even been accusing the opposition parties of instigating the Dalits and inciting violence. With 2019 elections coming closer, this kind of clashes will escalate. (IPA)

Sunday, 22 April, 2018