By Vijay Darda | 10-11-2014
First as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and then as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has been working on an inclusive and developmental agenda. One of his first gestures even before taking office was to invite all the SAARC leaders for his swearing-in ceremony. The fact that even Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan responded positively to this invite is a symbol of the expectations from Modi as the Prime Minister.
Indeed, the global response to Modi from all the countries — Japan, United States of America and even China — has been extremely encouraging and the outlook has been positive. There is hope in the air and it is expected that Modi would live up to his promise as the leader who would turn a new leaf in the well poised India growth story.
Even otherwise, India does have all the elements that can firmly propel it onto the global stage as a strong economic and strategic power — a resilient economy, a strong human resource base, a huge demographic dividend, and a well entrenched democratic structure. Compared with its immediate neighbour Pakistan created as an independent state at the same time as India from the colonial rule, and now finds trapped into a position where it is always looked upon as a failed terror state, this is a major achievement. The primary difference being that India’s founding fathers envisaged it as a secular multi-religious multi-lingual country with a deepening democracy as its basic structure. Contrast this with the single religion-Islam and single-language-Urdu basis for Pakistan chosen by its founding fathers and the result that it could not even stay together as one country and broke up within 25 years.
In the last few months that he has been in office, Prime Minister Modi has focused on a growth agenda and picked up themes like, “Make in India” and “Swacch Bharat Abhiyan” with the objective of creating a much more improved global image for the country. His actions have brought endorsement from different sections of the society, but especially in the context of the cleanliness drive we find that there is a tendency among the leaders down the line to reduce it to merely as a photo op. The wider symbolic value of an event involving the Prime Minister is largely confused by these lower rung leaders as yet another opportunity for them to emulate him and in the process they do grab media attention. But then in this enthusiasm they end up committing acts like stage managing these events and converting them into mere photo ops and somehow end up derailing the Prime Minister’s agenda.
The same tendency is witnessed in the anti-democratic responses of leaders like Giriraj Singh ( recently sworn-in as minister of state) who tend to equate even any opposition to Modi as an inimical act that should be penalised by deportation to Pakistan. There are a lot of problems with such mindsets, and these can be condoned only at a huge cost to the national interest. BJP leaders like Giriraj Singh or yogi Adityanath can surely make speeches that appeal to that sections of the society that are swayed by the political agenda of the RSS as well as the BJP. But these elements forget that now Prime Minister Modi is not just a partisan leader but represents the entire country and has an inclusive agenda.
For decades since independence the country has been living with these two streams of thought. The first one represented by the Congress and other secular parties and the other by the RSS and the BJP/BJS. In the days of non-Congressism, the BJP/BJS was always a part of these forces and it is through that process of assimilation that it has become the ruling party at the Centre. But the mandate that it has procured in these elections has not been on the strength of the divisive agenda, but an inclusive agenda that serves the developmental prerogatives. These forces like the RSS have definitely provided the organisational bulwark, but then these did not come out of the closet and openly demand that their agenda (positive Hindutva) be implemented in terms of the ideas enunciated by their forefathers like Madhav Sadashivrao Golwalkar. Indeed, even after becoming the Prime Minister, Modi is championing the cause of an icon Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who had actually banned the RSS after Mahatma Gandhi’s murder. He is not reproaching Nehru with an RSS icon like Golwalkar but going in for Patel. The message cannot be lost on anyone, and those who misread it do an immense amount of damage to the project that he has undertaken in the context of the 21st century,-
There is no way for a modern democratic India to grow other than to follow a path of multi-lingual and multi-religion pluralistic society in which the aspirations of every section are fulfilled. The minorities that the champions of “positive Hindutva” like to ignore or deport to Pakistan are numerically so huge that these can be neglected only at the peril of the unity to the country. Nor can the way of thinking be imposed on any section like the Batras of the RSS wish to transplant in the education system. We can also not rewrite histories in the Soviet style so that we can obliterate all the past and replace it by our wishful thinking. The RSS does dream of such projects, but then these are ideas that do not find favour among the most ardent of the non-RSS fans of Narendra Modi. The RSS can certainly fancy these ideas or create its own history writing cells but then to put such things on top of the government’s agenda is a sure way to derail the development project that engages Modi’s priorities.
Modi retains the trust and confidence of the masses that have elected him, and the people have not seen a reason so far to dilute the faith they reposed in him. But then it is equally certain that the same kind of trust and faith has not been reposed by the people in the RSS and its affiliates. The people are also at ease with people trained in RSS way of thinking if they work within the democratic norms and institutions. But then if there are any violations or obstructions in this vital aspect of national life, then it marks the beginning of several problems. As the Prime Minister, he would surely intervene at the right moment to prevent any abuse of the democratic processes, but then it is also the responsibility of these forces and organisations to realign their changed role in the new set of circumstances and discharge it accordingly.
The essence of democracy lies in the majority respecting the sensitivities of the minorities and in the latter not creating any obstruction in the implementation of the legitimate ideas and goals of the government. This is the approach that has stood us in good stead so far, and it can be hoped that it shall continue in the future as well.