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Modi’s strongman image losing its lustre

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The head of state showing concerns over deteriorating condition of the country twice is quite unusual especially if he holds a largely ceremonial position.

Because of his stature, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will not be able to brush aside his views as those of a “Nehruvian” or a “Leftist”, as it has done with regard to the protests by the 40-odd writers who are also upset, like the president, about the signs of intolerance.

The BJP’s other ploy of saying that the vandals are being arrested will not be convincing since, as the Shiv Sena’s acts of criminal intimidation show, a few hours’ detention followed by a release on bail are not a sufficient deterrent.

What is needed if the Narendra Modi government is serious about restoring order is a harsh step against the offenders such as the clamping of sedition charges on Hardik Patel in Gujarat.

Yet, similar threats by saffron storm-troopers, including BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, who said that unless leaders change their mindset, they can be beaten up “in full public view”, have gone unpunished.

All that the BJP has done is to ask such purveyors of hate in the Hindutva camp to be more restrained. It doesn’t take much political insight to see that such demonstrations of “minimum governance” will do little to bring the law-breakers into line.

The latter are also probably encouraged by the description of the various tragic incidents as “small” by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat.

It is obvious that the BJP is caught in a bind. It is one thing to use a law redolent of colonial rule against a pesky political adversary, or let the Central Bureau of Investigation lose against an activist like Teesta Setalvad for having stood by the riot victims in 2002, and quite another to discipline the party’s ideological brethren.

Even if the BJP succeeds in reining in the hate-mongers in its own ranks, it is virtually helpless where the rowdies of an ally like the Shiv Sena are concerned.

Although the BJP knows that the Sena’s long-standing tactic of blackening faces will besmirch its own image, Maharashtra’s political arithmetic makes it practically impossible to break the ties with the champions of Marathi manoos, whose leader, Uddhav Thackeray, has insolently pointed out that the Dadri lynching brought more shame to the country than the spraying of ink.

The government cannot be unaware that the disregard for law shown by the worshippers of cows, killers of rationalists, opponents of India-Pakistan cricketing ties and others with such limited, violence-prone agendas will spread the feeling of unease among the average law-abiding citizens and of terror among the minorities.

Moreover, the virtually daily litany of shocking incidents, including the rape of children and burning alive of Dalit infants by upper caste men, will tarnish India’s reputation abroad and make prospective investors think twice before sinking their money into a country where the police appear unable to control the rampaging hoodlums.

There is little doubt that because of these “sad” and “unfortunate” incidents, as Modi said about the Shiv Sena’s hooliganism in Mumbai, his strongman image is losing its lustre.

He had built it up and sustained it within the limited confines of Gujarat, but is evidently unable to do so in the much larger national arena.

His challengers are undoubtedly aware that the geographical spread of their lawlessness – lynchings in UP and Himachal Pradesh, killings of rationalists in Karnataka and Maharashtra, blackening of faces in Mumbai and Delhi – can make the task of imposing order difficult.

As a result, what must be worrying for the prime minister is that his efforts of modernization and economic growth cannot succeed in an atmosphere of tension and uncertainty.

It is not only the prime minister and a small pro-reforms group around him that find the present situation “extremely disturbing”, as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said, but large segments of the 31 percent of voters who supported Modi last year are also disheartened by the government’s failures on several fronts – economic and now administrative.

It has to be remembered that a good percentage of these voters are not traditional BJP supporters, but are largely apolitical who have been impressed by Modi’s energy and commitment to development.

But if they see no positive development in the economic and administrative fields in the near future, they will slowly drift away to other parties.

Their first priority will be to see the government crack down on the wild elements so that the confidence of the ordinary people as well as the investors can be restored.

India lost the chance of taking the path of development under Manmohan Singh because of the roadblocks put up by the socialistic inclinations of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Now, the pro-Hindu rashtra objectives of the Sangh Parivar extremists and the narrow parochial ambitions of outfits like the Shiv Sena are hampering Modi’s endeavours to move ahead with his pro-market policies.

Needless to say, both these groups have a blinkered outlook which is cut off from the modern world and have no idea of the vision of a 21st century nation which guides Modi.

(Amulya Ganguly, IANS)

 

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Waves of black as Modi visits Chennai

Tamil Nadu has been in turmoil since the six-week period for setting up the Board expired, with opposition parties and a host of fringe Tamil groups attacking the Centre

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi (FILE PHOTO)

Black flags and balloons and activists in black shirts and trousers greeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he paid a whirlwind visit to Chennai with helicopter as the chosen mode of transport in the wake of statewide agitation demanding constitution of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB).

Protests were also held with black flags and placards throughout Tamil Nadu in cities like Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Coimbatore and Tuticorin against the Prime Minister’s brief visit to the state and the Centre’s failure to constitute the CMB despite a Supreme Court order. Black flags were hoisted on homes and business establishments across the state.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi stressed on the importance of service to others in his last Mann Ki Baat edition for 2017.
Narendra Modi welcomed with black flags in chennai.

In a bid to avoid protesters, Modi, who arrived here by a special aircraft in the morning, chose a helicopter to reach Tiruvidanthai, in neighbouring Kanchipuram district where he opened the 10th DefExpo organised by the Defence Ministry. From there he took another chopper to come to IIT Madras, in the heart of the city. From there, he took a one-kilometre ride by car to the neighbouring Adyar Cancer Institute for an event.

The Prime Minister walked a few steps from the helicopter to the car that ferried him to the Cancer Institute. As he did so, he encountered some 30 students from IIT Madras who stood silently but held posters demanding a Cauvery Management Board as ordered by the Supreme Court — an issue which has whipped up emotions in Tamil Nadu. Modi then left by helicopter to the airport before returning to Delhi.

Also Read: Modi is anti-Dalit, will defeat BJP in 2019: Rahul Gandhi

#Go back Modi trended on top as netizens took to the cyberspace to register their protest against the Central government’s failure to set up the CMB as directed by the Supreme Court to ensure proper sharing of Cauvery waters between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and other states.

DMK leader M.K. Stalin, who was on a padayatra of the Cauvery delta areas, wore black shirt and trousers as he protested along with state Congress President Thirunavukkarasar and CPI-M state unit chief Mutharasan. “The Prime Minister may be flying in the air today but he has to come down when the elections come,” he said taking a dig at Modi.

A black flag was hoisted at DMK chief M. Karunanidhi’s residence. The ailing leader wore a black shirt. DMK MP Tiruchi Siva and leaders of DMK allies wore black dress and marched on the road near the Chennai airport.

In the morning outside the Chennai airport, activists of the Federation for protection of Tamil Art and Culture, led by noted film director Bharatiraja and other film personalities like Amir, Gautaman and Vetrimaran protested against Modi’s visit. They were arrested.

will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community. Wikimedia Commons
Cauvery River Dispute is going on for a while now. Wikimedia Commons

While MDMK chief Vaiko held a black flag protest in Velachery, Naam Thamizhar Katch convenor Seeman, a film director, was arrested elsewhere. Vaiko called Modi a “coward” for choosing to fly. Political leaders Velmurugan and P. Nedumaran were arrested from Alandur metro station in Chennai for holding black flag protests.

Tamil Nadu has been in turmoil since the six-week period for setting up the Board expired, with opposition parties and a host of fringe Tamil groups attacking the Centre, saying the BJP was interested only in winning the Assembly elections in Karnataka. Even the hugely-popular IPL cricket matches have been shifted out of Chennai to Pune in view of the disturbances on Tuesday. IANS