Mr Modi must take a step no politician has taken before

  • Karan Thapar, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 16, 2015 07:40 IST

I have a novel suggestion and the more I think about it the more I’m convinced of it.

But then I’d say that, wouldn’t I? It’s for others to decide whether I’m right. First, the politicians I’m directing my advice at but then, and more importantly, you, my fellow citizens.

The disruption of our Parliament has gone on for too long and been justified by both sides, using each other’s precedents and arguments, far too many times for us to shrug our shoulders and resign ourselves to the situation on the grounds this is how things happen in India.

We must find a way of putting an end to this. If we don’t it will recur in the winter session and the one after that and on and on. That cannot be permitted.

Someone has to do something dramatic that captures the attention of politicians as well as the imagination and, hopefully, the approval of the country.

Only then will the message go home and only then is there a credible chance it will be heard, heeded and honoured.

That someone has to be the prime minister.

No one else has the stature and, certainly, no one else has the popular mandate. Mr Modi is in a unique position. It’s now time to put his unprecedented powers to good use.

My suggestion is that Mr Modi must rise above partisan politics — and that includes his party’s interests — and take the moral high ground and, from that unaccustomed location, speak to all MPs but with his focus firmly fixed on the Indian people, who I’m convinced will be watching and listening intently.

Now this is what Mr Modi should say. I’ll offer him my version but I know, if he agrees, he’ll find his own words to express himself and they’ll prove far superior:

“My countrymen, I speak to you today from the heart and with an honesty you may not have heard in the recent past from many politicians. It’s a sad fact that we have not shared the truth with you or even, at times, admitted it to ourselves.

But, today, I recognise the need to put the past behind us and change our ways. I, therefore, ask not just for your attention but also your understanding.

When the UPA was in power my party, the BJP, would often hold up the functioning of Parliament because we saw it in our political interest to do so and put that partisan preference ahead of the nation’s concerns. After 2014, the Congress has done the same to us.
As a result Parliament has suffered, reform floundered and, now, our country is paying the price. This cannot and must not continue.

We need to change and to do so we need to accept we have been wrong.

Today I accept the BJP was wrong in 2010 and 2011 when we held up Parliament. I say so readily and unreservedly. Equally, I appeal to the Congress not to repeat the same mistake. They say two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s time for both of us to accept that.”

I wager that if Mr Modi does this he will not only win the approval of his countrymen and swing public opinion behind him but also persuade his opponents to heed his appeal.

Thus he will gain. More importantly, Parliament will gain.

But above all else, India will gain.

But is Narendra Modi ready to take a step no politician has taken before?

The views expressed by the author are personal

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