Na tired, na retired, March forward behind Modi
Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi completes today three years in office as India’s 14th Prime Minister bringing to an end two thirds of the five year term of the 16th Lok Sabha.
In these three years, Modi has achieved a lot for his party the BJP and his alma mater the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), no doubt. The saffron colour spreads across the country from Kashmir to Andhra Pradesh and from Gujarat and to Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with full Ghar Wapsi of the Hindi heartland we otherwise call the cow belt, including Delhi now. And the rate at which he is going, it may not surprise many that by the next general elections in 2019 a few non saffron patches still visible on Mother India’s map, may also change colour, specially the few states, Congress continues to govern. Only Rashtrapati Bhawan is left to be saffronised but that too may happen in the next couple of months when the new incumbent to the Presidential office is elected.
But what has he achieved for the people of this country or rather how has he redeemed the many big promises he made while campaigning for the 2014 general elections, ever since he was reelected as the chief minister of Gujarat for the third term in December, 2012.
Let us first examine his latest conquest of the Municipal Corporations of Delhi, trifurcated into three by the then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit of the Congress party in 2012. The BJP has swept all three corporations not just defeating the Congress party which lost steam long ago, but even the new, assertive Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
This is the third term the BJP has been ruling in all three corporations. The state of filth not just in some slum areas like Sangam Vihar, Tigri or Devli gaon, but in the high end South Delhi colonies like Saket is deplorable. There is a place close to Saket Metro station called the Garden of Five Senses or Saidul Ajaib, where the hoi polloi go in the evenings to dine at some high end restaurants and bars. Adjoining the garden is the Saidul ajaib village, which is no more a village because smart flats have come up there to offer paying guest accommodation to young boys and girls joining numerous tuition centres sprung all around. Just next to the garden is an open giant size garbage bin. Every morning a herd of our much revered Gau Matas saunter upto the garbage mound, feed on that filth all day, get sick and spread the muck all around because of which the whole lane stinks even in mild winters leave alone this blistering summer. The dogs, cats, monkeys, who abound in large numbers and humans all suffer from scabies. There is acute water shortage. You can’t pull through the summer months without paying regularly and getting water from private water tankers who make a pile each day.
The roads are so bad that the slightest rain leads to puddles all along the road to Garden of Five Senses and in fact the entire two kilometer stretch traversing right upto Saket Metro station. In effect there is virtually nothing in the name of civic services in that area inhabited and frequented not by some slum dwellers. Yet remarkably the BJP candidate won hands down in Saidul Ajaib.
Many in Delhi are not aware of the responsibilities of the municipalities in an urban centre, more so in a cosmopolitan place least of all, the prized Capital of India. Governance in Delhi is very confusing. It is simultaneously governed by the Central Government, the Delhi government and the now trifurcated three municipal corporations with three Mayors, three Commisisoners and a host of other paraphernalia to fatten politicians and bureaucrats. This was BJP’s objection when Sheila Dikshit foolishly trifurcated the Municipal Corporation of Delhi into three entities. But then the idea was to limit the jurisdiction of each municipality to secure better and more efficient governance. But what have we witnessed since the much maligned Commonwealth Games? The Delhi Government put up benches at different spots on the footpath for the pedestrians to rest a while their tired limbs from a long walk. One with fancy Jindal steel pipes was put outside our Gulmohar Park. Within no time first those pipes were stolen, then the bare skeleton as well with neither the Corporation nor the Delhi Police accepting their responsibility of protecting public property.
Sheila Dikshit embarked upon the project to decongest Delhi by getting to build multi storeyed parking lots at several vantage spots. I’ll mention here only three, one at Baba Kharak Singh Marg, next to Hanuman Mandir. It is fully automatic and the charges are a pittance, just 10 rupees. It is hardly used while hordes of visitors to the Hanuman Mandir next door leave their cars right in the middle of that busy road. The Connaught Place Police station wedges between the Hanuman Mandir and the fancy parking lot. But who has the guts to penalize the Hanuman Bhakts and fine them or tow away their vehicles for not parking in the parking lot?
In Sarojini Nagar there is not even a religious sentiment involved. But the chaotic parking on the road continues while a fancy automatic parking lot is experiencing the same fate because the Municipal Corporation continues to auction the unauthorized roadside parking lots to the contractors for huge amounts and the traffic police takes no interest in decongesting roads. Its a nitghmare visiting a friend or relative living in those Sarojini Nagar government quarters.
In Hauz Khas market the underground parking lot completed in 2011 and since then is lying virtually unused with the Municipal corporation notice board bang opposite the parking lot announcing Rs 30 parking fees for parking on the road. The Hauz Khas Traffic Police Deputy Commissioner’s office is at a stone’s throw. But while their tow trucks keep lifting irregularly parked vehicles all day from all around, they dare not disturb Hauz Khas market because that is permitted by the South
Delhi Municipal Corporation. All the high brows keep grumbling about the chaos and cursing the municipal services. Yet they did not think twice and voted the BJP.
I would be repeating ad nauseam the many promises Modi made or the biting criticism of the previous UPA government led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi that he spewed out against their so called corruption ineptness and incompetence, day after day, at each public meeting, tickling and amusing his fan following consisting mostly of the educated upwardly mobile youth.
Notwithstanding the fact that most of it has been stated by others as well it is worth recalling at what has Modi done in these past three years that people have been voting overwhelmingly for him election after election, for there is no respite in price rise; no respite in farmers’ suicides, nor from corruption, or lawlessness, the bureaucracy has become more obtrusive in our everyday private life through Aadhar, situation in Kashmir today looks hopelessly irretrievable, says of all the people, the newly appointed vice chancellor of Ashoka University Pratap Bhanu Mehta, one time big admirer of Modi.
Modi did not tire of mocking what he described the pusillanimity of Manmohan Singh government against an aggressive Pakistan, crossing our borders with impunity and spreading Jihadi terror across the country. Three years down the line with all the macho talk and chest thumping, what is the net result? Can any Modi Bhakt put his hand to his heart and say, these three years of Modi rule have made any difference to Pakistan’s designs?
Forget about the fans, Modi himself announced from the public podium that the Pakistani terrorists have now become so impudent as to enter deep countryside in UP and Madhya Pradesh and derail our trains. So much for the big talk of talking down to Pakistan! When Manmohan Singh was invited by Pakistan to visit his home village Gah in Pakistani Punjab, Modi and his party the BJP kicked up such a storm after Manmohan Singh’s meeting with the then Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at Sharm el Sheikh that the Congress party advised him against going to Gah and the poor man developed cold feet. On the other hand Modi flew to Lahore directly to attend Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s birthday and family wedding almost uninvited. But that by BJP/RSS standards was commendable diplomacy. The people of India would never get to know the most jealousy guarded state secret whether Nawaz order Modi’s favourite Dhoklas specially from Ahmedabad, or did Modi bring along his tiffin or he enjoyed the delectable beef kabas at Nawaz Sharif dining table.
This man had announced with great fanfare upon being elected as India’s Prime Minister that he will not be the chief administrator of the country but the chief servant, a la Saharashri style.( Saharashri Subrat Roy, whom the Supreme Court has bailed out for the most specious reason and is reluctant to lock him back in Tihar jail) called himself chief servant but would sack anyone who would not rise and say Good Sahara 20 times a day as long as he was in the office and interacting with another Sahara employee. Modi, or even his factotum BJP president Amit Shah, has not allowed even one opportunity to the media to freely throw questions and seek answers from him about what he has done in these five years. He gives out his Man ki Baat but has no time to hear Janata ke Man ki Baat.
For all the criticism of rival political leaders and their alleged corruption which now also includes Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, apart from Sonia Gandhi, Lalu Prasad, P Chidambaram, Maran brothers of DMK, Mamata Banerjee and even Naveen Patnaik, this man who never appointed a Lokayukta in Gujarat in his 12 year rule, has also forgotten how his trumpet blowers Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar brought the sky down against his predecessor insisting on a Lokpal And how could he? Our man arrived in the national Capital from home state Gujarat for his swearing in in Gautam Adani’s private plane, with not a trace of remorse or embarrassment on his face.
Yes he is an unapologetic friend of the big business. If the non-performing assets of the top banks of India have exceeded six lakh crore, never mind. He did demonetitsation of the currency to force the poorest to deposit his cash in the banks and thereby provide more capital to the tottering banks to disburse more money to the big business houses and in turn further pile up their NPAs without feeling in the least contrite.
His most ardent admirers like the Sunday Express columnist and a Lutyen Bungalow zone hoi polloi Tavleen Singh too has started tiring of Modi, criticizing Modi and his team’s priorities of targeting Muslims in the name of beef eating, love jihad et al rather than attacking the Congress legacy of “socialist economic policies” including welfare schemes like MNREGA. Just shows a degree of exhaustion and exasperation on the part of Modi fan club.
But will it make a difference to his rising popularity, to his ability to win comfortably more elections in the days and months to come, right upto and perhaps even beyond 2019? I believe not, for the following reasons.
One, there is virtually no Opposition worth the name and so the voter seems to be left with no choice but to wily nily go and vote Modi. Second for all the whining of the likes of Tavleen Singh, Modi is extending an unapologetic support to the corporate sector in India and is ready to open further almost all the doors for the corporate sector, both Indian and foreign, to do business in India and abroad.
Even Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram were game to this in spite of some reservations that Sonia Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee had in respect of this policy. But that in the eyes of Modi bhakts including some judges of the higher judiciary, was corruption.
Since the BJP victory in UP in February this year and the takeover of the state by that Uttarakhandi Thakur Ajay Mohan Bisht, the Mahant of Gorakhnath Math, going by the pseudonym of Yogi Adityanath, the Thakurs of UP suddenly feel unleashed and vindicated. As one of them remarked recently, for the first time after independence the Thakurs, the rightful rulers of India, have got an opportunity to rule the state and “We shall put an end forever to this Yadav-Muslim and Jatav raj, ruining Uttar Pradesh for a quarter of a century now.” Yes, that is the reason the Savarnas will come out next elections in even greater numbers to press the lotus button on the evm machines in UP.
The RSS is the backbone of the BJP and it is the Sangh karyakartas who do almost all the leg work on the ground. The Sangh has never had it so good even in the Vajpayee era, in spite of a Murli Manohar Joshi as HRD minister and LK Advani as Home Minister. In these three years every institution has been completely taken over by the RSS. So in spite of some rumblings here and there, by and large the Sangh will continue supporting this regime whole heartedly, in the sense that it will do its best, through foul means or fair to ensure return of the BJP in each successive election.
There are some occasional minor hiccups and irritants like the recent agitation of the Dalits of Saharanpur or earlier of Una in Gujarat or Hardik Patel or the Jats of Haryana or Marathas of Maharashtra. But these can be taken care of by charging the political atmosphere with an anti-Muslim sentiment. Earlier Love Jihad worked for two successive elections in UP and elsewhere. This time a brief war with Pakistan may heat up the political atmosphere to the same temperature.