A lot has been and will continue to be said as to why one should not vote for Mr Modi or Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) in next general elections in 2019. Part of media and some die hard anti Modi critics of all denominations are mainly responsible for spreading extreme negativity about the current government. They deliberately overlook the creditable and sustained work being done for long term interests of the nation and focus mainly on inconsequential issues that relate mainly to a section of BJP fringe that has nothing to do with the government. However the critics are certainly right when they pin the blame for these fringe elements on BJP. There can be no two opinions on this. But what irks one is that by doing this they hope that the public will not see the woods for the trees. A small isolated incident is projected as a national outrage causing damage that far exceeds the incident itself. They resort to such machinations in a planned and deliberate manner with the hope of sending anti government signals to voters. While their success within the country is marginal, it does show the nation in poor light to people across the shores who are far removed from the realities in a vast and diverse country like India.
Why should an isolated case of eve teasing in a university in the country become a national issue? It is a local issue and best left to be dealt by local authorities. Where is the need for the centre or the Prime Minister to answer for the same? Starting from university authorities, local Collector and Superintendent of Police there are scores of other functionaries as one goes up the chain who should act and resolve the matter. But today it seems to have become a norm to bypass all these and seek Prime Minister’s intervention. Sorry that does not cut much ice since it is not Prime Minister’s job to do so. All those who feel otherwise can go climb a tree. If the government starts a movement called ‘Beti Bachao’ it does not imply that Prime Minister alone is responsible for millions of daughters in the country. Surely all these learned men and women who want to hold the Prime Minister responsible for a stray case of an atrocity against a girl know better. The scheme is launched to make people aware of the problem, make authorities more concerned and above all to educate citizens so that the misguided among them try and correct themselves. The last part about correction is perhaps the more important part since that is where the problem starts. This is where all well meaning organisations and individuals have to chip in to make the scheme a success in the long run. They can do this by spreading the message, educating people, interacting with authorities and other similar measures but certainly not by blowing up an incident beyond proportion and laying the responsibility on the Prime Minister – even if it happens in his constituency. No scheme is a digital button where one day there is a problem and next day after launch of the scheme the problem vanishes. It is high time for people get real and understand things in their correct perspective.
India has and is still undergoing a major political and social change over the last three years. Often it becomes difficult for any society to accept a drastic change that may occur in the way its government works or what it stands for. It is more so when the change sidelines a lot of leaders who were at the helm for decades and using their power and position for their own ends, often at the cost of the society itself. The current government and its leadership are very different in their approach than the earlier governments led mainly by Congress. In fact the current government is also vastly different from the previous BJP government under Mr Vajpayee in 1999. The differences relate mainly to understanding of nationalism, non-appeasement of minorities, stress on Indian heritage, focus on long term development strategies, belief in a strong defence infrastructure for the nation and commitment to bring Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) in main stream India. Needless to say that the government has very stringent views on these subjects and can even be uncompromising in its stance at times. This near arrogance does not go well with those who have found themselves out of work or out of favour with the arrival of Mr Modi and therefore the acrimony.
One can debate till cows come home whether past governments were right or the present government is right. Different governments will have divergent views and styles of functioning and rightly so too. Success of a government’s policies and initiatives is measured by how well they are executed and accepted by the citizens. The commitment and integrity of the current leadership does put it in a different league as compared to its predecessors. What lets them down is their inability to show some flexibility when dealing with those who do not subscribe to their views or ideas. This becomes even more pronounced when some fringe elements of the ruling party resort to acts aimed at provocating those who are already sceptical of the government and its intentions. BJP leadership has been found wanting in dealing with such situations which could also be seen as indirectly encouraging such misguided elements. Despite their obvious smallness the fallout from such senseless acts could cost BJP dear in the run up to next general elections. It is time BJP leadership ponders over this issue and makes an urgent and visible course correction. This will also ensure that its critics and opponents would not even be left with the proverbial straw in their efforts to show the government in poor light.
BJP has been often accused of tampering with heritage of India. The fact is that all political parties, Congress included, are guilty of using India’s heritage selectively to achieve their selfish ends. No party has been sincere in projecting the real heritage of India. The history that children learn in schools is very shallow and superficial that keeps bulk of rich Indian heritage miles away. Part of the blame for this must rest with minority appeasement policies of past governments who succumbed easily to minority pressure and followed a flawed model of secularism. Indian heritage is common to all Indians irrespective of their current faith and beliefs. Vedas from 1500-1800 BC and Upanishads from around 500 – 700 BC are sources of knowledge that have no parallels in the world. These are not religious texts as many myopic and ill informed people would like us to believe. Yet no school in the country even introduces the same to its students. While British and Mughal history spanning about 450 years is taught in detail, past history of India of over 5000 years hardly gets a mention. Indian greats like Sushruta the earliest known surgeon – physician in 500 BC, Aryabhata who studied the solar system among other things around 476 AD, Brahmagupta who invented the Zero in 598 AD and Bhaskara who invented the decimal system in 12 century AD are some of the more notable figures about whom hardly any Indian child has any knowledge. Indian civilisation in 5000 BC was possibly the most advanced civilisation of its time. Yet barring a passing reference not much is taught about it. Surely there is a need to correct this and disseminate our rich heritage in schools so that future generations are proud of the legacy left by their fore fathers.
As far as J&K is concerned no right thinking Indian would differ with the current government’s stance that the state needs to be merged within the Indian Union in totality. It is no secret that for too long the separatists and politicians from the state have taken the government for a ride for selfish reasons. If these leaders were genuine and sincere a workable solution would certainly have been found by now. The truth they were never keen to do so for obvious reasons. It will not be an easy decision for the government but sometimes governments have to take hard decisions. A sincere ground level outreach programme must be initiated for a couple of years and if done well chances are that majority of the locals would understand where their future lies. The fact that it will upset Pakistan and its protégés in India is a given. But that cannot limit government’s actions in the interest of the nation as a whole. In the mean time country’s defence preparedness and stature of the military too has to undergo a major change so that there is no compromise in either the gun or the man behind it.
As things stand today BJP is likely to win a second term in 2019 under Mr Modi’s leadership. In his book ‘Something of Value’ noted author Robert Ruark says ‘before you change anything in your life, make sure you have something of value to replace it with’. That is possibly true for India today. Frankly there is no leader in opposition ranks who offers even a fraction of the value that Mr Modi brings with him and the voter knows this. Therefore a second innings for Mr Modi and BJP is more or less a foregone conclusion unless Gods will it otherwise. However BJP should remember that if they come with fewer seats in the parliament then in all fairness it would be a loss for them even if they form a government. BJP’s win would only be commendable if it secures more than 282 seats in the Lok Sabha in 2019. To do that BJP will need to do some course correction that includes increasing its acceptability with minorities, reining in its fringe elements, being more pragmatic in pushing its brand of nationalism and treating heritage in an unbiased manner.
Saroj Chadha, an engineering professional, is a successful entrepreneur. Having retired from the Indian Army after having served for over 23 years, he has also been a consultant for leading Indian and Multinational electrical companies. He lives in New Delhi.