July 05, 2015

Narendra Modi: The Chief of Misgovernance

CP Bhambhri

ON May 26, 2014, Narendra Modi had shouted from the rooftops that he believed in “minimum government and maximum governance”. He had also boasted that unlike the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government which had been involved in deep acts of corruption in public life, he would provide a clean government because “he would himself be above corruption and he would not tolerate any act of corruption by his government functionaries.” Arun Jaitley, not to be left behind, spoke in his master’s voice that the BJP would ensure “probity in public life”. The BJP propaganda machine went overtime by spreading a message among the voters that “Modi is clean and strong” while “Manmohan was clean and weak” and hence the UPA government led by Manmohan could indulge in loot of public resources. These tall claims of ‘Modi model of governance’ have collapsed like a pack of cards just after completion of one year of Modi in-government. First, Sushma Swaraj, the minister of external affairs, helped Lalit Modi, a fugitive and absconder. A few salient features of Sushma Swaraj-Lalit Modi “inappropriate” dealings may be mentioned to substantiate the argument that it is for the first time in the history of post-Independence India that an external affairs minister has brought a national disgrace by using the authority of her office to help a criminal who has escaped from the clutches of the investigating and prosecuting agencies of the country. This task was performed by the external affairs minister and the dealing with the functionaries of British government was done without consulting and informing anyone including the bureaucracy of her own ministry. Swaraj as the external affairs minister had facilitated the procurement of documents by Lalit Modi because “she herself and her husband and her daughter” have close family and professional relations with Modi and in the process “public and private” actions of the cabinet minister ceased to matter at all with the minister. The ‘doctrine of conflict of interest’ and “impropriety” on the part of the minister to help a family friend, a criminal, were all thrown in the wind. Prime Minister Modi has to explain the misconduct of such a grave nature by his cabinet minister. A so called “strong” prime minister should have known about the alleged acts of omission and commission of his colleague. Modi’s phoney claim of “strong prime minister” was meant to be an empty rhetoric for public consumption. Modi has to explain to the whole country about his own lapses while performing the duties of prime minister under whose leadership the external affairs minister had indulged in gross act of impropriety by “secretly” influencing the British government to extend favour to her ‘family friend’. The story of Modi’s incapacity to govern with probity and BJP’s failure to maintain highest levels of honesty in public life do not end with Sushma. Vasundhara Raje, BJP chief minister of Rajasthan, while in London, as a guest of Lalit Modi, “was a witness in favour of Lalit Modi's immigration case”. Vasundhara “signed an affidavit” which was required by the British authorities to grant immigration to Lalit Modi, Vasundhara like Sushma did acts of extremely doubtful and immoral character by ensuring that “Indian public should not know anything about it”. HOT PURSUIT It is a well-known saying that “secrecy” is always maintained to perform an act of “sin” or cross the boundaries of law and propriety. If on one hand, BJP and Modi in government, have been caught for serious acts of misuse and abuse of power, on the other, the Modi government undertook a highly secretive “military operation” into Myanmar, a neighbouring country, on a ‘hot pursuit’ to confront well-equipped armed insurgents who were hiding in Myanmar after committing acts of violence against Indian security forces in North-East India. Such exceptional and extraordinary acts of hot pursuit are undertaken by defence forces after informal parleys between the government of India and the country concerned. However, the BJP propaganda machine and BJP ministers at the centre went out of their way to publicly proclaim that Modi unlike the previous Congress-led UPA government, practiced ‘hard’ and not ‘soft’ policy while defending the nation’s territorial interests. One minister of the Modi government thought it wise to tell Pakistan that India can repeat its Myanmar act in that country while dealing with “terrorist camps” in Pakistan. Pakistan, on expected lines, reacted very promptly and strongly. The defence forces of India also quietly protested against public celebrations by BJP and Modi’s ministers on a highly sensitive military operation. The manner in which the Modi government handled the issue of “hot pursuit” into Myanmar clearly shows complete incompetence of Modi as prime minister and has exposed his capacities to pursue a sober and well thought-out foreign policy of India. The upshot of above analytical narrative is that irrespective of the fact that whether these “two government functionaries” continue in office or are forced to resign, Modi and the BJP get fully exposed and all these moral claims have collapsed. Modi has been handed over power by the defeated Congress-led UPA on the promise that Modi is a “doer”, a performer. But the way he has managed public affairs during the last one year in office clearly shows that his rhetoric is at variance with the ‘reality as it has been clearly seen by the Indian public’. It is extremely doubtful that the country’s defence, security and foreign policies can be pursued in the style of Modi's governance as shown by the above narrative based on the acts of omission and commission in the field of foreign policy and defence and security pursued by Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and the prime minister himself who completely mishandled the army's hot pursuit into Myanmar’s territories. The story does not end here. If BJP, Sangh Parivaar and Prime Minister Modi are unfit to govern a complex modern state of India, they are all successfully pursuing their basic agenda of ‘Hinduisation’ and ‘polarisation’ of society and the Modi government is pursuing the Hindutva programme with extra energy and commitment. The best illustration of such a facet of a Hindutva-vadi party’s governance programme has been publicly exposed by the special public prosecutor in the Malegaon blast case Rohini Salian on June 25, 2015. The ongoing trial of violent Hindu extremists involved in Malegaon blast killing many innocent Muslims has been interfered by the BJP government of Maharashtra and Rohini was pressurised by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) to “go slow” in the case because the “higher-ups” (BJP’s Maharashtra government) did not want her to “pursue” the prosecution of real culprits. Hindu criminals involved in the killing of Muslims have to be treated on the basis of yardsticks contrary to the principles of “rule of law” and “equality before law”, which are enshrined in the Constitution of India. They enjoy immunity from legal actions. Can there be any justice for the victims of Malegaon, or Mecca masjid, Hyderabad or Ajmer blasts which were directed against Muslims by violent Hindu extremist outfits.