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Maun Modi

Maun Modi

Silence is not golden for those who tweet and jabber all the time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had promised during the 2014 elections to bring back unaccounted wealth stashed away in foreign locales after he assumes power, is unusually silent about big businessmen who have defrauded national banks and have fled the country.

His promise to be the nation’s ‘security guard’ has become a joke but while it is natural to expect him to duck the issue, what is surprising is the inaction of so-called civil society activists.

Where are the Tri-colour waving people who flocked to Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, Ram Leela Grounds and Mumbai’s Tank Maidan in 2010-11? Where are the babas who assembled religious heads of different faiths to protest against the ‘corrupt’ Manmohan Singh Government? Where is the honey-sipping ‘fasting Gandhian’? I guess they are all too afraid to protest now.

Splurging Money

The amount of money that the BJP has been spending in three small North-Eastern states to win assembly elections is shocking.

Political observers say that the BJP must have spent nothing less than Rs 400 crore to capture power in Tripura alone. In the 2013 assembly polls, it secured less than 2% votes here. But Himanta Biswa Sarma, the man in charge of the BJP in North East, has already predicted victory for the BJP in Tripura.

Buying voters is not that easy though. The Left Front is confident of scraping through despite its complaint that the Election Commission did not replace several malfunctioning EVMs. The North East has always been away from media glare. Given the condition under which the media functions these days, such news is not expected to be reported anyway.

BJP’s splurging is seen in Nagaland too. Nagaland polls, anyway, have been notorious for decades. Locals have in the past alleged that they vote only because they are bribed. The PM has also tried to woo them by making the impractical promise to solve the Nagalim issue, India’s oldest insurgency problem, soon.

In Meghalaya, the BJP and Conrad Sangma’s party are trying to convince the Christian majority electorate that the BJP is not ‘anti-Christian’. It remains to be seen if money can win over determination of the people to keep a party that has questioned their faith and eating habits away from power.

But why is the BJP spending its energy in places that would hardly make a difference to its status as the ruling party at the Centre? The minority status of the ruling party in the Rajya Sabha is something Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot stand. He is used to riding roughshod over the Opposition in Gujarat and even in the current Lok Sabha. Having to depend on the Opposition and negotiating with it to pass legislation is unacceptable to him. This is behind his resolution to expand BJP ‘beyond its traditional base’, apart from the commitment given to the RSS to give it a free hand in areas where it has found it difficult to permeate because of governments led by non-BJP parties. But that doesn’t answer the question as to how BJP finds so much money.

General Disorder

General Bipin Rawat was made the Army chief after three seniors were side-lined. Rawat has demonstrated his ‘calibre’ as the Army chief by making foolish and unwarranted statements time and again.

And he crossed all limits when he compared the ‘growth charts’ of the Jan Sangh-BJP with that of the All-India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) of Assam. He alleged that illegal Muslim migration from Bangladesh was responsible for the faster pace at which the AIUDF has grown.

It’s the same Rawat who a few weeks earlier had said that the Army should not be politicised. It’s time that he listened to his own remark and kept away from politics. Never has any Indian General talked party politics while in uniform. If the BJP Government that gave him out of turn promotion is not encouraging Rawat to say such things, it better prove it by asking him to mind his business. That is unlikely to happen. Rawat is the latest example of how the Modi Government is destroying every institution carefully built in democratic India.

Hooligan Aadmis

There were some who found an anarchical streak in the anti-corruption stir that Arvind Kejriwal spearheaded in 2010-11. Youth recklessly sped on motorcycles with two pillions, without helmets, waving the Tricolour and shouting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. While these were RSS imports that lend support to the movement, Kejriwal said that he was not averse to bringing the country to a standstill if his ideas of a Janlokpal were not met.

Later as Chief Minister, he never realised that he was a constitutional authority and went on strike against the Centre. However, all this pales before his Aam Aadmi Party MLAs assaulting Delhi Government Chief Secretary after he was called to Kejriwal’s residence for official discussion.

The CS is an executive who has to discharge his duties as per rulebook and norms laid down. If legislators beat him up over disagreements, it is just not only about taking the law in one’s hands but a sign of constitutional breakdown. That is enough ground to dismiss a state government.

Is this what Kejriwal wants, now that he has discovered that his Delhi Government is going nowhere? Why else did he not stop his MLAs? Or does he think rowdy behaviour is part of democracy? After presiding over a new low in democracy, Kejriwal went to Chennai to participate in Kamal Haasan’s party-launch rally.

And guess what he told the people? “If you want corruption, vote for AIADMK or DMK, but if you want hospitals, like we have in Delhi, vote for Kamal Haasan’s party. That’s the kind of bluster that matches Narendra Modi’s.

Kejriwal who goes annually to Bengaluru for treating his breathing disorder seems to be unaware that Chennai is the hub of hospitals. And those living in Delhi would prefer to go to a private hospital because of the rush at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Kejriwal’s Delhi Government-run hospitals and clinics are the last resort only for those who cannot afford to go anywhere else.

Tailpiece

Someone familiar with A K Antony’s mild mannerisms congratulated the former defence minister after a national newspaper reported he “drew parallels between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US president Donald Trump,” by saying both  exhibited ‘perversity' and 'desperation'. Antony privately clarified he made no such remark but does not plan to officially deny the report by furnishing copies of Rajya Sabha records. I guess it’s natural not to disown an apt remark even if wrongly attributed.

(abey.kay@gmail.com)

(Published on 26th February 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 09)