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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2788

Blimey! Modi Misses ‘Honeymoon’

By Atul Cowshish - Syndicate Features

The ‘acche din’ harbinger, Narendra Modi, has lamented that the pleasure of a ‘honeymoon’ has been unjustly denied to him since he occupied the prime ministerial office and heralded a government that is ‘decisive’, ‘transparent’ and morally upright. He does not state it, but obviously it is the sporadic critical bit in the media that he blames for his misfortune because the political opposition is still recovering from the licking he gave them in the Lok Sabha polls to be able to bite him.

The Modi brigade was thrilled by the encomiums showered on him on the day he took the oath of office at a spectacular ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan, watched by an admiring crowd of 4,000 that included leaders from the Saarc nations and Mauritius. The invitation to the foreign heads of state and government drew ecstatic comments, immediately catapulting Modi to the status of a world statesman. It looked like the perfect start of a prolonged ‘honeymoon’ which will last well beyond 100 days.

Undeniably, good neighbourly relation is a sine qua non for India’s march on the path of speedy development and growth. But foreign policy is not conducted in the style of a circus show or by maintaining silence when a crisis develops. The macho government that Modi heads is as clueless as the previous government about stopping border incursions, attacks on Indian targets by terrorists, the internal threat from insurgents and the consequences of the strife in West Asia.

Modi did not appoint an exclusive defence minister but expects to be seen as firmly committed to providing sinews to the defence forces that he had said was missing for years. His government sees nothing wrong if the immediate past chief of army staff, a minister now, openly abuses the COAS designate.

‘Less government’ concept is fine but not the tokenism of reducing the strength of parliamentary or official committees and panels by one or two, as Modi has done. Not everyone is convinced that Modi’s attempt to take direct control of the decision making process with the help of a band of trusted tyro ministers and bureaucrats is the right way of governance in a democracy.

Despite his groan, most of the so-called mainstream media still remains smitten with Modi. There has been only muted criticism of the Modi-led NDA government on issues that affect the ‘aam admi’ (common man) like price rise and inflation. The problem is casually explained as a carryover from the previous UPA. The readers are reminded that the prime minister has appointed committees and ordered this and that measure to curb price rise. In the meanwhile, Modi says that controlling price is the job of the state governments!

Modi’s spin doctors and the army of his fans on the social media may have to work overtime to continue to hold on to the myth that he is a superman. But this image can be sustained only as long as the bulk of the ‘mainstream’ media remains enamoured of him. What the Modi brigade needs to notice is that the fawning media of today was his uncompromising critic till the other day. Another U-turn by the media is only to be expected. If Modi does not think so, he only need have a brief chat with a man called Arvind Kejriwal, the man who was hailed as India’s biggest hope only to be discarded soon enough as a bogus politician.

There is a safety clause that can be expected to protect the Modi ‘sarkar’ (government) from criticism on the price front. The weatherman has spoken ominously of El Nino which will bring less rain this year than the normal and which, in turn, will mean a poor harvest. If prices remain beyond control after the monsoon, you know who to blame.

Modi wrote his ‘honeymoon’ complaint in a blog, which is not very surprising since he has within a month of coming to power shown that he is even more ‘maun’ (silent) than his predecessor but definitely more communicative via the Facebook, Twitter and similar other new age devices. But wait. There was a surprise, one that justifies criticism.

After stirring a (needless) controversy by calling his ministerial colleagues and senior officials to communicate in Hindi, Modi’s blog was written in English! At least, the news items that prominently carried his lament did not mention that his blog was written in Hindi and that his sorrow was translated from the original Hindi (or was it Gujarati?) into the forbidden language of the former colonial masters. Has Modi gone back on a dictate he himself had issued on the use of Hindi? And speaking of stirring controversy, did it help matters when a minister spoke against Article 370 that bestows special status to Jammu and Kashmir?
There have been many instances of the Modi ‘sarkar’ speaking in different tongues. Recall the vehemence with which Modi and his party (in Opposition) used to lambast the government whenever cases of rape and ‘hate’ crimes were reported from anywhere in the country. A component of the Modi poll campaign was a message on TV highlighting the plight of women in India and a promise was made that everything will be alright once Modi came to power.

As prime minister, Modi maintains a ‘deafening silence’ on crimes against women. Is it because one of his ministers faces a rape charge and a pro-Hindutva outfit was said to be behind the brutal murder of Muslim techie in Pune because of his religion?

Was Modi serious in condemning the previous government for hiking fares before presenting the budget? Has he changed his views now to support the ordinance route rather than taking the matter to the elected body? The institution of Governor may be anachronistic in the opinion of many, but is it morally justified to remove them for political reasons and by defying a judgement of the Supreme Court?

The matter may be serious but it sounds amusing that certain government agencies are invariably lambasted by the Opposition for doing a hatchet job for the party in power and when the critics come to power they face the same charge from the former ruling party. Were these agencies used to block the appointment of a senior lawyer to the Supreme Court? Or, is it Modi’s way of reviving the deplorable practice of having a ‘committed judiciary’?

Modi’s government is no different from any other previous government in treating government agencies and institutions in the interest of the party in power. A key aide of Modi was being probed for ‘snoopgate’ when the previous government was in power. Now the matter is to be dropped, according to media reports. Is it a prelude to the resurrection of old chestnuts like the Bofors and similar other cases?

The country heard spellbound that corruption and profligacy by the ruling party will end the day Modi takes over as the prime minister. All accusations of corruption and extravagancy (as in Goa) by the BJP-run state governments are henceforth to be seen as a bundle of lies. No need for any probe by an impartial body—because there are no ‘impartial’ bodies.

- Asian Tribune -

 Blimey! Modi Misses ‘Honeymoon’
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