There was a time when I admired Mr. Narendra Modi for his seemingly 56 inch chest, his combustible gift of the gab, his inexhaustible energy. His vociferous tone, his overpowering mega voice, his enthralling charm of crowd-pulling charism, his roar like the lion of Gujarat’s Gir at public appearances and the thundering applause he was greeted with – all these and more were the thrills of a street theatre.
As his public utterances began to be embellished with the unction of Mark Antony and the diction of Brutus, I had a second thought. It was because his diction looked like uncomfortable prickly heat bubbles. Matters took a drastic turn when his diction transformed into barbs and poison-coated arrows against his political opponents and even well-meaning critics. His lackey admirers swallowed him verbatim while the fair-minded critics kept a safe distance. And, my admiration for this man went down the drain.
The Congress Party has always been like a thorn in his flesh. In order to advertise the Sangh Parivar wares, this Parivar hatchet-man has been using all his poison-tipped arrows to wipe out any trace of the opposition Party’s good performance for the welfare of the nation. The smear campaign has been interspersed with vitriol, unfounded facts and fictitious arguments. PM Modi’s pet question has been, ‘What has the Congress done in the last 60 years after independence?’ He expected a negative answer from his cheerleaders.
I too have been asking myself what was this Congress performance all about. One does not have to be a Congress spokesperson to know what this Congress is all about and what its performance has been during its rule since independence. History bears witness to the fact that the Congress leadership built up the nation’s economy from the scratch and put on the track a nation derailed by foreign domination. In the pre-independent India, its parent organisation, the Indian National Congress, was in the forefront for fighting for the liberation of India. That was when Modi’s parent organisation, the RSS, had reservation about fighting the British. Even its veteran Savarkar, father of the BJP’s Hindutva ideology, apologised unconditionally to the British for his opposition to the British and submitted a mercy petition, dated November 14, 1913, for getting released from the Andaman’s Cellular Jail. It only shows that the RSS was subservient to the British. It was against participation in mass movements. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Ashfaqullah were genuine in their patriotism. They refused to beg the British Raj for mercy even at the cost of their lives. Not Savarkar, who loved his life more than the freedom of India.
The Narendra Modi (Namo) government has not spared any ammunition to attack the previous UPA government for ‘non-performance.’ The BJP opposed the FDI when UPA attempted it. Now it is rolling out the red carpet to Foreign Direct investment. Modi’s Davos announcement is supreme example. Wasn’t it Modi who attempted a denigration technique by questioning the validity and viability of UPA programmes? The nation is becoming more and more aware of such ongoing denigration as Modi and his storm-troopers keep on throwing slush and mud at the Congress rule in sheer hatred. Unlike the Modi government, the Congress government did not sneak into our drawing rooms to dictate to us what dress to don and what not to don. Modi’s government did. Nor did the UPA invade our kitchen to see whether we are cooking beef or ladies finger. Modi’s government did. UPA did not facilitate transporting body bags of soldiers from the Indo-Pak border. NDA is at it. Nor did UPA wrap any criminal’s corpse with the national flag in order to honour him for lynching Muslims on mere suspicion of keeping beef at home.
The doublespeak is being exposed. Here is Modi at his best: ‘I want to ask the Congress General Secretary. ‘Answer the nation: Has not the Aadhar Yojana drowned crores of rupees of the nation?’ Then the U-turn: ‘We all know why in our Parliament this Aadhar Act has been passed. On the basis of this Act, whether it is subsidy or any other benefits, facilities for cash transfer have been obtained.’
Before he donned the cap of the Prime Minister, Modi criticized India’s handling of Indo-Pak issues as if he had a magic solution up his sleeve. ‘Pakistan should be given tit for tat,’ thundered Namo. ‘Stop all this love letter business. Pranab Mukherjee sends daily a letter, and they reply with questions and our government keeps on replying. They commit all the atrocities and the Indian government has to answer. Pakistan hit us, attacked us in Mumbai and fled. Our Minister went to America and shed tears, crying Obama, Obama!’ Next Came Modi’s turn. When he became the Prime Minster of India he demonstrated his love affair with Pakistan not with love letters but by celebrating with Nawaz Sharif on Sharif’s birthday. Desi delicacies, palak paneer and Kashmiri tea must have tickled his palates and massaged his nerves. The Chinese dragon was a threat to the Gujarat lion. ‘The (UPA) government should have protested against the actions of China. With our red hot eyes China should have been made to understand,’ roared the lion of Gujarat taking the UPA government to task. Such red hot words went down the Narmada when Modi and the Chinese Premier enjoyed the chit chat moments on the swing in Gujarat.
In order to let down the UPA he thundered: ‘GST can never be successful.’ But, when Modi became the Prime Minster of India, he defended his government’s introduction of GST: ‘GST is an example of cooperative federalism which will always give us more strength to walk together.’ Modi wanted to show himself to be the messiah of small business entrepreneurs by tarnishing the image of Manmohan Singh: ‘I am astonished at what the PM (Manmohan Singh) is doing. The small business here will understand what I am saying. The government has decided to shut down our grocers and small business, and hand over to the foreigners through FDI for retail.’ But, as the Prime Minister of India, Modi found foreign currency too tempting to resist. So, he allowed 100% FDI in Single-Brand Retail and thus opened the door to Global players: ‘We need foreign currency in India in large quantities.’
Then Namo’s diatribe went against Manmohan Singh and his government. He saw Manmohan Singh’s performance as the Prime Minister of India dismal. Singh’s welfare programs were described as non-developmental and not progressive enough. But, then, look at the doublespeak and hypocrisy. 23 of the Congress Government’s welfare schemes were taken over by Modi and put in different bottles with eye-popping labels.
UPA’s ‘Soil health Cards by States’ has been repackaged by NDA as ‘Soil health Card Scheme.’ ‘Indira Awas Yojana’ got transformed into ‘Prime Minsiter Awas Yojana (G).’ ‘Rajiv Awas Yojana’ became ‘Prime Minister Awas Yojana (U.)’ ‘Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan’ got rechristened into ‘Swacchh Bharat Abhiyan Mission.’ ‘Swavalamban Scheme’ became ‘Atal Pension Yojana.’ ‘No-Frills Accounts as per RBI Notification’ was relabelled as ‘Jan Dhan Yojana.’ ‘Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana’ got a new name as ‘Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana.’ ‘National Skill Development Mission through NSDC’ became Skill India (PMKVY), ‘JNNURM’ became ‘AMRUT.’ ‘Direct Benefit Transfer-LPG’ metamorphosed as ‘Pahal.’ ‘Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme’ became ‘Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, – AIBP Sub-scheme.’ ‘Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana’ was repackaged as ‘Paramparagath Krishi Vikas Yojana.’ ‘National Agricultural Insurance Schme/ Modified NAIS’ became ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.’ ‘National Manufacturing Policy’ got a new label as ‘Make in India.’ ‘National Maritime Development Programme’ became ‘Sagarmala.’ ‘Fortified Urea Policy’ changed into ‘Neem-coated Urea Policy.’ ‘Jan Aushadhi Scheme’ was relabelled as ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana.’ ‘National e-Governance Plan’ came rebottled as ‘Digital India.’ ‘Universal Immunisation Programme’ became ‘Mission Indradhanush.’ ‘National Optical Fibre Network’ came out as a new brand, ‘BharatNet.’ ‘National Rural Livelihood Mission’ became ‘Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushalya Yojana.’ ‘National Girl Child Day Programme’ came gilt-wrapped as ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao,’ and ‘Indira Gandhi Sahayog Yojana’ transformed into ‘Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana.’
Hurrah! Nothing short of a similar claim by self-styled Yoga Guru-turned business tycoon Ram Dev that most of his products are like ‘Ram Bann’ as they are relabelled with understanding from producers. The NDA government is daring to minimise the role of the Congress-led government’s achievements, while it is baring its nakedness of incapacity and consorting with business tycoons who get easy escape routes.
The latest of P M Modi’s gimmick is an attempt to pulverise India’s first Prime Minister Nehru and to tarnish his image. That Nehru had zero contribution towards India’s independence and did nothing to build up India into a democratic republic, blah, blah, blah!
If Mr. Modi, who rose from being a tea vendor to become the Prime Minister of the largest parliamentary democracy, had a modicum of decency and intelligence, he would have restrained himself from the petty behaviour of casting aspersions on Nehru. Nehru, like any of us, was an ordinary mortal. But he was educated; he hailed from a freedom fighter family; he had the nobility of character; he stood side by side with Gandhiji and other tall national leaders not only for demonstrating against the British but even undergoing imprisonment. The nation trusted him and entrusted him with a steamroller majority for steering the independent nation as the Prime Minister of free India from 1947 to 1964. It was no mean achievement. Nor was the sacrifice of the man for the national cause a silly morning jaunt. Nehru had to get the country on the road to development from the scratch as the British had impoverished India with their 200 years of company manipulations and political manoeuvring. What was left was a resource-deprived nation after the foreign rulers had drained India of its wealth and devalued our native human resources. India was tottering with its decimated production centres and devalued human resources. Nehru, as the Prime Minister of India, was also made to sit on a volcano spewing its communal lava following the great Indo-Pak divide. After the majority of Indian Muslims had taken refuge in the then newly formed Pakistan, the rest of the Muslims, who opted to remain in India, lived in fear of and opprobrium from the Hindu majority community. It wasn’t easy for Nehru to steer the nation through that communal frenzy. The Father of the Nation, who advocated communal harmony, had already been silenced by the bullet of an RSS man. Nehru’s advocacy for the ‘Panchsheel,’ his laying the foundation for the temples of development, his opening myriads of development portals such as radio, TV network, irrigation dams, power sources, communication technology, banks, universities, IITs, IIMs, nuclear energy, military build-up, airports, submarines, warships, employment opportunities, social legislation, non-alignment membership etc. are no small achievements.
For a man who has ascended the throne of the Prime Minister of India for a period less than 4 years, to make fun of Nehru’s achievements and dub them as non-issues is sheer pettiness, to say the least. Someone has described this more aptly as Modi’s feeling of inferiority complex, a psychological defence of his smallness before the mighty towering figure of Nehru. Whatever that be, one thing is very clear. Whatever Modi and the Sang Parivar may harp on with their loudmouthed attack against previous governments and personalities, the balloon of their incapacity is beginning to burst. Their promise of a corruption- free administration has been hollow as is supremely demonstrated. The most recent example is the PNB ghotala. The Chief Vigilance Commissioner, K M Chowdary, not only gave a clean chit to the Punjab National Bank but even crowned it with two awards for vigilance in 2017. Nimo’s (Nirav Modi) ghotala in connivance with the PNB officials and their 293 Letters of Undertaking to him and his family were swept under the carpet during the current regime of Namo. And, to crown it all, PM Modi thunders from Mumbai: ‘Previous governments only knew ‘latkana, atkana, bhatkana.’ What a masterstroke, Mr. Prime Minister! Another doublespeak! The street theatrical comes to a full circle!
(Published on 19th March 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 12)