Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on the Independence Day from the ramparts of Red Fort was akin to an election speech. He recounted the achievements of his government during the last three years like implementation of GST, the positive impact of demonetization (how many income tax payers have been added to the historically slender direct tax base of India and how many fake shell companies existed and how many have been shut down), crop insurance for farmers etc. The figures presented by the PM are subject to verification.
The opposition party Congress has asked how the PM got the figures regarding the amount of black money unearthed. “The PM Modi said Rs. 3 lakh crore are back in the banking system post-demonetization. The RBI has not finished counting yet, how did the Prime Minister get this figure?” asked senior Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad.
On April 7, Minister of State for Finance, Santhosh Kumar Gangwar told the Lok Sabha, “There is no official estimation of the amount of black money in the form of old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 that have not been deposited during the course of demonetization drive”. The political leaders who are in the government have a natural tendency to exaggerate their achievements and reluctance to acknowledge their failures.
The second part of PM’s speech was a series of promises or dreams. PM Modi has proved to be adept in selling dreams to the people of India. Most of the promises made by Modi at the time of 2014 election remain unfulfilled; still he is able to prolong the period of expectation of the people.
On Kashmir, the PM gave a new hope: “Na gaali se, na goli se, parivartan hoga gale lagane se (Kashmir must be addressed by embracing its people, not through abuse or violence)”. But the crucial question is will RSS and his party listen to him. As the Indian Express editorial on August 16 stated, “the reopening of debate on Article 35 A, which empowers the J&K legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide them special rights and privileges, is both misguided and dangerous, but there is little indication so far that the Centre recognizes the damage it can potentially wreak”. Even though the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has been pleading for a dialogue with the Hurriyat, there has been no positive response from the part of the central government. So far the focus of the Modi government has been on a military solution: the elimination of the separatists. The promise of the PM regarding Kashmir does not match with the ground realities.
The second important promise of PM Modi is “the path of violence in the name of faith can never succeed in this country” because India is “the land of Gandhi and Buddha”. Who are those indulging in violence in the name of faith?
The PM knows very well that the culprits belong to the SanghParivar. The gaurakshaks and Yogi Adityanath’s Hindu YuvaVahini know for sure that they will not be touched as long as the BJP government is in power and they can evade the warning from the ramparts of Red Fort. NDTV News reported o n August 19 that seven Muslim men were beaten up by a mob of self-appointed cow protectors in a village in the West Champaran district of Bihar over rumours that they were eating beef. The police arrested not the attackers but the men who were targeted. The incident clearly indicates that cow vigilantes are least bothered about the warning of the PM because they know that the PM has made the statement for public consumption.
Neither the BJP nor the government has sent out firm or unequivocal signals to the goons that the hounding of Muslims will not be tolerated. Unless and until the BJP governments both at the centre and the states take firm steps to curb violence on the minorities by the Sangh Parivar outfits under the guise of cow protection and nationalism, the warning of the PM will remain an eye wash. Since polarizing the Hindus on the issue of cow has been a significant and successful strategy adopted by the SanghParivar, it is highly doubtful whether the BJP will give it up in the near future. Amit Shah’s ‘Mission 350 +’ for 2019 will require the blessings of ‘mother cow’ also.
Another promise of the PM is incentivizing honesty in the citizens and ensuring a corruption free India. He said that a festival of honesty ( imandarikamohotsav) had commenced in India. It is a fact that no great scam at the top layers of the Central government in Delhi was brought to light during the Modi regime. But the corruption at the lower level continues unabated. The Vyapam scandal in MP is the best example. How were the Congress MLAs purchased before the Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat? Who paid for it?
Uniting India (Bharath Jodo) is another promise of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has to ask himself whether the hate filled statements of his ministers, MPs and other members of the SanghParivar are uniting India or breaking India. Why did he not stop them from vomiting the venom of hatred against the minorities? The SanghParivar has adopted strategies for polarizing the people of India by focusing on divisive issues like Babri Masjid, Article 370, Cow protection, Beef ban, Anti-conversion laws etc. It is reported that among the various strategies to be adopted for realizing the ‘Mission 350 +’ for 2019 election includes expanding the footprint of BJP in West Bengal and Kerala by relying heavily on its tried and tested communal agenda, inciting or exacerbating Hindu-Muslim unrest with pro-BJP media. How can the divisive tactics go with the dream of uniting India? Let the Prime Minister realize that those who break India are within his camp.
On the occasion of bidding farewell to the former Vice-President, Hamid Ansari the Prime Minister expressed his displeasure against Ansari saying that he was “free to return to his core ideas”. He did not even wait for the reply speech by Mr. Ansari because Ansari had expressed his view in a TV interview that the Muslims in India have a feeling of insecurity. Later at a press conference on August 12, senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar was asked about Ansari’s observation that the Muslims in the country were not feeling secure. The following was the shocking reply of Indresh Kumar. “He (Ansari) was Bharatiya, now he has become communal. He was a leader of all parties, but he has now become a Congressman. For all these 10 years, he didn’t feel insecure. He should point out any country in the world where Muslims are secure. I don’t feel Ansari should remain in trouble (taklif). So he should head for any country where he feels he will be secure,” Is this way to unite India? Mr. Ansari was expressing his views based on his observations on what has been happening in the country. He stated a fact without accusing anyone. Uniting India by suppressing the basic freedoms of people is a fascist method.
The governments of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh issued order to the madrasas to give videographed proof of Independence Day celebration. It was a discriminatory order, suspecting the patriotism of the Muslims. The two governments could have sent the order to all schools instead of targeting only the madrasas. This kind of discriminatory policies towards the minorities will not contribute to national unity.
It is in the DNA of the Sangh Parivar to speak in different voices. The very purpose of floating various organizations by RSS is to adopt various strategies in order to achieve one and the same goal of establishing a Hindu Rashtra. NarendraModi, being the Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world, wants to be counted as one of the top leaders of the world. Hence he has to use a language befitting a world class leader. At the same time he is compelled to allow the other organizations of the SanghParivar to pursue specific tasks allotted to them by the ideological head of the Parivar.
NarendraModi came to power promising development of all with the cooperation of all ( Sabka sath sabka vikas). So far the Modi government has failed to show that it is a government for all. There is widespread fear among the minorities and the underprivileged groups, as the vigilante groups enjoy unfettered freedom to target individuals and communities whom they have marked as anti-national. The policies and actions of the BJP governments at the centre and in the states prove that they are taking the country towards majoritarian rule based on a theocratic state. Against this backdrop it is difficult to believe that the promises made by the PM will be actualized.(Published on 28th August 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 35)