Our Prime Minister Mr. Modi and his apparatchiks are fond of citing historical references in a twisted way to justify their political style. But it is also past of recent history that the BJP’s campaign promises have been belied, and there is a marked shift from development to emotive issues. The ringing tones of the campaign promises of bringing back black money stashed abroad have ended without a whimper.
Why did not Mr. Modi visit Switzerland and other foreign countries to talk tough with the government and bankers there about the hoard by Indian businessmen in foreign banks? On this major issue, even BJP insiders are disgruntled and are wary of facing the ire of the electorate.
During the 18-month performance of the BJP in India, except for some sops for business and firming up governance issues, important legislations such as the land bill and the General Sales Tax law have yet to be passed. It is also true that it takes time for a government to rev up and implement changed policies.
A significant portion of Modi’s term has been spent on foreign visits, but what have the people of India gained on the ground? Have the tax burden on the poor been reduced? Have farmer suicides come down? He has even been described as a non-resident Indian by Congress leaders.
The dark clouds of the dismal showing of the NDA in the Bihar elections are casting long shadows and even pursued him in the UK.
India’s earlier PMs were men of caliber but they rarely talked of national issues on the world stage. They mainly dealt with bilateral or international issues without bringing petty partisan politics in the picture. The ambivalence of Mr. Modi becomes clear when he speaks softly about hate campaigns in the country but speaks strongly of justice and fairness for all, in foreign countries. He wooed Gulf money in UAE and spoke about the common ties between Hindus and Muslims and also strongly denounced intolerance at his Wembley speech. But why does he not speak strongly on these issues at home?
Mr. Modi’s visits abroad are me-tooism personified. This is unbecoming of a PM who is only the first among equals.
It is an accepted fact that Mr. Modi vowed crowds, mainly NRI’s nursing a tinge of nostalgia for their home country, at Madison Square Garden and Wembley Stadium in USA and the UK. The down side of these visits was that he faced vociferous protests from crowds abroad too.
This shows that Modi arouses visceral reactions of both hate and adulation from crowds in foreign shores, one cancelling out the other.
Mr. Modi’s recent trip to the UK has been overshadowed by protests by activist groups that accused him of “unleashing of a violent authoritarian agenda” in the country. Activists projected an image of Modi along with the words “Not Welcome” and a swastika-style “om” symbol on the Palace of Westminster. Later, over 200 writers signed an open letter that urged Cameron to address free speech concerns and the “rising climate of fear” in India.
The political torsion that began with BJP’s emasculating defeat in the Delhi elections continued to hound it in the recent polls, with no face-saving takeaway from the Bihar poll debacle. In the words of Santosh Desai in the TOI: “It had used its trump card Narendra Modi extensively and had used the Amit Shah brand of the detail oriented tactical campaign mounted with granular finesse, it had thrown the cow and the politics of religious polarization in for good measure, and it has come up spectacularly short”.
To add to the misery of the people, with rising prices of onions, dal and tomatoes, rampant corruption, is the trampling on the fundamental rights of the people. More importantly, the people’s social woes are compounded by the hurdy-gurdy of hate speeches and campaigns from love jihad to ghar wapsi, to ‘Go to Pakistan”, by the cohorts of the Modi brigade.
Today, we live in a country in which, when the thugs and apparatchiks of the New Order talk of “illegal slaughter”, they mean the imaginary cow that was killed — not the real man who was murdered. When they talk of taking “evidence for forensic examination” from the scene of the crime, they mean the food in the fridge, not the body of the lynched man.”
Unless the atmospherics improve, foreign investment may not materialize, and people will remain where they were, despite Mr. Modi stomping on the world stage in bespoke pinstripe suits.