<b>Spy’s eye<b>: Politics of neo-liberals
Modi govt inherited a political environ where acknowledging the existence of Hindu population was condemned as ‘majoritarianism’ with a free run of communal politics in the name of minority
The advent of the Modi regime with its ringing call of ‘India First’ that denoted a strong nationalist framework for the economic and foreign policies of the country, has provoked an incessant campaign by certain forces within India and abroad to project the new dispensation as a threat to democratic freedom, secularism and inclusiveness. These critics are essentially a conglomeration of English-speaking armchair intellectuals, old influence brokers and desperate elements of the political opposition who did not know what hit them in the 2014 general election. They are still not reconciled to the reality that the transformation brought about by that election was the result of a consensus among the Indian voters that the earlier rule of corruption and misgovernance could be terminated as there was now a new national leader on the horizon, in Narendra Modi, whose personal integrity and no nonsense style of administration could pull them out of the quagmire. That is how BJP got votes in all parts of the country, mopping up support from residual sections outside of the committed followers of caste and community based opposition parties.
Modi has over the months only enhanced his credibility among the masses as a prime minister who could oversee even the smallest development-related schemes and maintain a direct connect with the people. This is what brought a phenomenal victory to BJP in UP assembly election – people saw in Narendra Modi the leader who would fulfill the promise of liberating the state from the perpetual misrule. Not projecting a face for chief ministership proved a great advantage for BJP. The thumping victory in UP has strengthened the hands of Prime Minister Modi at home and abroad – the congratulatory call he got from Donald Trump for winning the assembly elections was truly an extraordinary response from the American President.

The non-BJP parties had before 2014, pushed the identity politics to its extreme limits – all with their cold logic that amidst deep divides within the majority community on caste, linguistic and regional lines, the solid Minority of nearly one fifth of the population could easily play the king maker. They are hanging on to this communal thread even now in the name of upholding secularism. Modi government inherited a political environ in which even acknowledging the existence of Hindu population was condemned as ‘majoritarianism’ while there was a free run of communal politics in the name of minority community. The average Muslim was drawn to the call for ‘sabka sath sabka vikas’ raised by the prime minister but the leadership of the community would not give Modi any credit even for such a non- communal agenda of governance.
In a democratic state, development and law enforcement are the two main instruments for not only maintaining internal stability but also preserving a secular environ. The newly elected chief minister of UP – Yogi Adityanath – with his image of a strong Hindu leader, instantly evoked the wrath of self-proclaimed liberals and secularists in India as well as their cohorts in the Western media who predicted a disastrous time for UP under him. Forgetting that a five-term Lok Sabha member would know something about the responsibilities of chief ministership, they lambasted him on the day of his swearing in itself instead of saying that he will be judged from his actions as the chief minister. Yogi’s early move to close down illegal slaughter houses was projected as an anti-Muslim act and not as a part of law enforcement even when it was widely known that these slaughter houses were part of an illicit empire of crime syndicates. Of course the new UP government has to handle law and order in a manner that private citizens were not allowed to start dispensing ‘spot’ justice to violators. People will particularly watch a state like UP for this.

It is necessary and timely that the I&B ministry has decided to establish a 24X7 digital channel with globally spread correspondents to counter the anti-India chorus whipped up by anti-Modi forces. The channel would challenge the anti-India narrative being put out by sections of foreign media and present the ‘India story’ to the world. The progress being made by a most diverse and vibrant democracy like India under Modi is being supplanted by elements intrinsically hostile to the idea of a united and nationalist India. They are doing this through a contrived discourse of an ‘intolerant’ India and of a country mired in a constant conflict between Hindus and Muslims. The neo-liberals strangely parrot the plea for talks with Pakistan in spite of the fact that this hostile neighbour had stepped up terrorist violence against India and was now unabashedly using Sino-Pak axis to confront this country.
India’s national identity as the home of 1.3 billion people who ought to have a sense of convergence on ‘friends’ and ‘threats’ is being consistently denied by the critics of Modi on such specious grounds as lack of inclusiveness, intolerance and denial of personal freedoms. This is being done by them out of domestic politics at a time when there should be complete unity in the country on vital national security issues including India’s Pak policy.
Meanwhile, it is time minority community got a respite from the stranglehold of the Ulema and the elite who had a vested interest in giving a communal twist to every social and legal issue such as ‘triple talaq’ and compliance with the law of the land against cow slaughter. The neo-liberals become selectively communal in responding to matters like these where ‘faith’ was dragged in by the minority’s leadership. In the larger Indian context a major challenge for the Centre in the present times is to get the states to effectively handle law & order – a subject that came under the state government but affected the image of the national government in the eyes of the people. In any case, Modi government must continue to sternly deal with corruption, delivery of development projects and maintenance of internal order – ignoring the tinted criticism of frustrated opponents.

(The writer is a former Director Intelligence Bureau)
DC Pathak