October 29th, 2015
There is no second opinion that elections are fought to be won. It is well known people talk and behave different before and after elections. The oratory could be safely classified as rhetoric during pre-election and statesmanship post-election. Prime Minster Mr Modi without a doubt shed his badge as a statesman besides crossing the thin red line which separates rhetoric from bigotry. However all is not gloom for Mr Modi, he has enough fire power, good work and a strong start to his Prime Minister-ship at his disposal to re-invent his lost statesmanship.
The recent Bihar election pitch featuring two tall figures Mr Modi and Mr Nitish Kumar who both were the poster boys of “vikas”, the former best known for the famed “Gujarat Model of Development” while the later known for clocking record growth rates in Bihar. While everyone expected it be a “development” centric election pitch soon snowballed into a ugly sugar coated religion and caste based election rhetoric. Every stakeholder had their respective share of loose statements which were condemn-able however Mr Modi’s statement’s never the less went a step beyond rhetoric and vindicated the criticism of academics, writers and filmmakers (all who have protested against growing intolerance by returning their awards) .
An Illogical allegation
Mr Modi had alleged a conspiracy by “Grand Alliance” to snatch away reservations meant for SC/ST to be given to “other” community (Muslim’s). This is despite religion based reservation is not possible by the existing provisions and judgment’s in different cases related to reservation. Given Mr Modi’s experience as an administrator and political activist, this allegation could be considered as bizarre at best and an intentional attempt to pit communities against each other to reap electoral benefits at the least. Not only the allegation went against the very Idea of Mr Modi who famously quoted “India First” as a definition for secularism but also against basic tenets of pre-electoral conduct. Not to mention Mr Modi went on to become the dragon he wanted to tame ie caste. Mr Modi’s criticism of Grand Alliance as being casteist fell flat on the back of this jaw dropping allegation. Mr Modi’s pre 2014 campaign symbolized positivity, unity and togetherness something which Mr Modi chose to shed during the Bihar election campaign.
Mr Modi should build on his strong start
Mr Modi has been lauded all along for his relentless efforts in bring about a sea change in the way India sees the world and the way the world sees India, the bullish attitude in projecting India as an attractive destination for investment and many more laudable initiatives such as Swach Bharat & Jan Dhan Yojana. All said it would have been more re-assuring for the Indian electorate if loose statements are avoided and critics handled better.
At the end of the day, it is about Democracy
The spirit of democracy lies in nurturing debate and responding to critics and opponents not by condescending phrases but by factual retaliation. Narendra Modi led BJP could and should do more to revive the art of meaningful discussion, re-start the habit of informative debate and restore the spirit of a vibrant Democracy.