New Delhi, Nov 28
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he all round praise Prime Minister Narendra Modi has received for his maiden outreach to the Opposition both inside parliament and over `chai pe charcha’ with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has raised pertinent questions: Will Modi finally get rid of the `coterie and ‘fringe’ and himself take charge of engaging the Opposition parties over key issues?
For long, the PM left it to the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu to hold parleys with Opposition on every issue under the sun for the smooth functioning of the parliament. Both the Gentlemen have never won an election and lack the “desired” flexibility to carry the critics together. If Jaitley gives the impression that he is the most intelligent person ever born on the terra firma then Naidu thinks he can get everything done with his punchy one-liners. Sadly, both have come a cropper in dealing with the Opposition even on simple issues. Jaitley’s `arrogance’ has widened the divide between the two sides, and Naidu’s `barbs’ have made the Opposition hostile.
Now that the PM has himself taken charge of the situation, overnight the mood of political intolerance that dogged the country for months has undergone a major transformation. From opinion makers to industry captains, everyone has welcomed the initiative. Suddenly, there is a genuine belief that the country can be taken forward in a spirit of reconciliation where the ‘hate mongers’ will not be allowed to manipulate the agenda of nation-building by raising divisive issues.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he PM’s outreach to the opposition has twin advantages: First, the ire of the public opinion could turn against the Opposition if it failed to respond positively to the PM’s hand of friendship; secondly, it would go a long way in ending an era of political hostility that saw the BJP not allowing the UPA Government to function for nearly five years in Manmohan Singh’s second term as PM. Many of the Bills which the BJP now wants to desperately pass could have been legislated years ago had the nation not been hostage to such political intolerance.
There is a buzz in the political circles that senior BJP leaders raised some controversial issues before the parliament session to instigate the Congress to go all out against the Modi government during the winter session of parliament. But the PM did not fall in the trap. It seems, Modi has finally come to terms with the Machiavellian Delhi politics and is able to find his way through its treacherous twists and turns.
The rout of the BJP is Bihar seemed to have opened the eyes of the Prime Minister. After all, people like Arun Jaitley and his trusted lieutenants who supervised the campaign along with BJP chief Amit Shah never told the PM that he should not put on stake his pride and esteem in a battle where the results were a foregone conclusion. If the PM was told beforehand that BJP was losing so badly in Bihar, he might have cut down his forays and changed the ‘communal’ and `hostile’ campaign run in his name in Bihar.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he rout in Bihar also shows the disconnect between the PM and nation. Modi may think that his foreign jaunts are making him an international leader, but back home people are frowning at his prolonged absence. Somewhere, Modi has become a hostage of the ‘coterie” which does not let him hear the voice from the ground — a voice which carries the despair and anger of the people who have waited long enough for the arrival of the promised ‘acche din’.
Modi had his own compulsions to rely on the `coterie’ in the initial phase of his stay in Delhi. After all, he was in Gujarat for 15 years and needed the ‘coterie’ to survive in Delhi. But now that he has become familiar with the political mechanism of the national capital, he does not need ‘the coterie’ to manipulate his decision-making.
It’s time Modi also realizes that section of the ‘fringe’ outfit of the larger Sangh Parivar, not the RSS itself, and a section of the maverick elements within his own party, have played a big role in creating an atmosphere of intolerance within the country. These elements thrive on dubbing every dissenter as Pakistani and anti-nationals and tarnish India’s image internationally and create a domestic divide.
Just like he has reached out to the Opposition, Modi will do well to reach out to even those writers, filmmakers, historians, and others who are returning their awards to protest the so-called growing cases of ‘intolerance” in the country. The hate–mongers will continue to tell him that these protestors are paid agents of the Congress, but the facts remain that the likes of Kalburgi, Dabholkar and Pansare were indeed gunned down for their critical views of the `fringe’ ideology, and faces of several ‘dissenters’ blackened’ in the country. If you’ve to see intolerance do not go anywhere Mr. PM, but see the speech of your minister who called those not voting for BJP “haramjadas” in the Delhi polls.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]t is time the PM realizes that the time has come to get rid of both the ‘coterie’ and the `fringe’ and assert his own self as a powerful personality who can shape the future of India.