Modi has the mandate and time to engage in much needed course correction
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the mandate and time to engage in some much needed course correction. He has signalled in the interview that this is what he means to do. He should not let short-term political compulsions derail these effortsUpdated: Sep 04, 2016 21:33 IST
“Development is our only issue and it will remain so.” These words from Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a recent interview to a news channel suggest that he is clearly trying to put the focus back onto the main issue for which he got such a huge mandate — development. While these sentiments are welcome, the PM now has to act to curb trends of social discrimination and fundamentalism that have become are prevalent in many parts of the country. The PM may be right in saying that there is statistical evidence that communal violence and atrocities on tribals have gone down as opposed to during the terms of previous governments but he cannot escape the fact that the public perception is that there is some sort of political sanction for these now. This was the result of the PM’s long silence when cow vigilantes and other criminals were attacking Dalits and other minorities under guise of protecting Hindu sentiment.
The call to stop giving political overtones to social problems is a valid one but the BJP has also indulged in this. When he came to power, Modi proudly proclaimed his credentials as the ultimate outsider. Perhaps, in a way this insulated him from the Byzantine intrigue and machinations associated with politics in the Capital. His references to Deve Gowda being viewed by the privilegentsia in Delhi as a man who only slept, Morarji Desai as a man known for his partiality to a particular drink and Sardar Patel as an uninformed villager may be valid, but if he is serious about letting his work speak for him, he should not dwell too much on the views of the Lutyens zone elite on governance and who is best suited for it. There are many schemes which were begun with much fanfare that need to be seen through like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and the Namami Gange plan. Finding a solution to the Kashmir issue should be of prime concern. The initiative of sending the all-party delegation is affirmation that the way out is political. This is one issue on which the BJP and Modi cannot afford to take their eye off the ball.
The other thing that the PM must do a little more than halfway through his term is to rein in those within his party and government whose loose remarks have caused much embarrassment and damage to India both nationally and internationally. The lack of tolerance of dissent and bureaucratic red tape, commented on by US secretary of state John Kerry on his recent visit are perhaps an indication of how the outside world views India. Modi has the mandate and time to engage in some much needed course correction. He has signalled in the interview that this is what he means to do. He should not let short-term political compulsions derail these efforts.
First Published: Sep 04, 2016 21:33 IST