The BJP’s ideological push | HT Editorial
Modi 2.0 is fulfilling its stated goals. But there are clear risksUpdated: Dec 12, 2019 21:03 IST
The Narendra Modi-led government in its first term had an incremental approach to its core ideological issues. It did take radical, disruptive economic decisions — be it demonetisation, which was flawed in conception and design, and the roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax regime, which was much-needed but could have been better implemented. But for most part, its domestic governance stayed focused on the task of improving and expanding India’s welfare delivery schemes. On foreign policy, it navigated a changing international system, deepening ties with all major powers. The big difference externally, where its older ideological principles were in play, was its approach to Pakistan and the strong response to terror incidents.
But in its second term, riding on a second consecutive majority, the Modi government is firmly focused on fulfilling its domestic ideological agenda. In the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, it passed the triple talaq legislation; it strengthened the legal framework governing the National Investigative Agency, and widened the scope of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. It, most significantly, effectively abrogated Article 370 and reorganised Jammu and Kashmir. In this session, the government has pushed through the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Home minister Amit Shah, who has piloted all these legislations, has now promised a nationwide National Register of Citizens. There is also speculation about a possible Uniform Civil Code.
Put it all together and it is clear that Mr Modi and Mr Shah have interpreted the 2019 mandate as a mandate to fulfil their key ideological goals. These issues are not new — and can be found in both Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh resolutions as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party manifestos. Two features of this project are apparent. The first is a clear focus in ensuring that the Indian State reflects the priorities and concerns of the Hindu majority as represented by the BJP. And the second is a national security push, where the government believes a strong security-centric approach relying on the State’s coercive arms will lead to order. It is, however, time for the government to reflect on the consequences of this push. It runs the risk of alienating minorities, creating unrest in regions, such as Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, where India has already witnessed strife, and taking away attention from core economic and development concerns.