Because Modi doesn’t travel light

The question is if he will be able to control the Sangh Parivar fringe.

Written by Sudha Pai | Published:February 7, 2014 12:25 am
With such perceived alternatives, an increasing section of the educated middle class, according to Bhalla, finds itself gravitating towards Modi. With such perceived alternatives, an increasing section of the educated middle class, according to Bhalla, finds itself gravitating towards Modi.

In a recent article (‘Modi goes to Pakistan’, IE, February 1) Surjit Bhalla has succinctly laid before readers the various choices they have in selecting the next prime minister. He points out that India does not lack prime ministerial candidates, there being, according to him, at least 16 at last count. He then focuses on three major candidates: Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal. Discussing their strengths and weakness, he argues that Modi is the only candidate who going beyond mere discussion is capable of bold, non-traditional decisions, whether on foreign policy, second-generation economic reforms or decentralisation of state power. The other two are unable to rise above the narrow, outdated and inappropriate ideas in Indian politics: economic policies on the left, secularism as belief in appeasement of minorities and job reservations for all.

Large sections of the electorate are understandably disillusioned with the Congress-led UPA 2 and associate it with high corruption, policy paralysis, falling growth rates, inflation and poor governance. Rahul Gandhi, too, is perceived as lacking the capability to provide leadership to the Congress. Welcomed as a clean and fresh alternative, the AAP is increasingly being viewed as lacking ideological focus, and apart from removal of corruption and improving accountability, bereft of any programme. Its governance style, using vigilantism, stings and raids, and attitude to issues of race and gender have left many shocked and unhappy.

With such perceived alternatives, an increasing section of the educated middle class, according to Bhalla, finds itself gravitating towards Modi. However, those who advocate Modi do not realise that the problem is not so much the man himself, but his party, the BJP, and the ideological and social baggage he will bring with him as PM. Modi has signalled that he would moderate his Hindutva stand and concentrate on economic policy and improved governance as in Gujarat. Much of his campaign has been along these lines. But Modi’s appointment would immediately encourage the RSS and a host of extreme rightwing fringe organisations belonging to the Sangh Parivar, such as the VHP and Bajrang Dal among others, who would be more difficult to control than in the past.

The RSS, of which Modi has been a pracharak, has supported his candidature. It is doubtful he will be able to resist them if he wins— something that even Atal Bihari Vajpayee found difficult. The VHP has taken up sensitive issues such cow slaughter, converting Christian tribals to Hinduism, including some reports of forced conversion and violence in 2004 and 2008, and played a role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid. It has threatened to find and expose those involved in “Islamic terrorism” in the country. The VHP, in decline in Uttar Pradesh, received a new lease of life from the religious Chaurasi Parikrama Yatra it tried to organise in Ayodhya in August last year, which contributed to the growing polarisation between the Hindu and Muslim communities in the state, and the Muzaffarnagar riots.

The Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini constitute the youth wings of the VHP and claim large membership across many states. Their activists together with the Sri Ram Sene have indulged in numerous acts of moral policing leading to violence. The Bajrang Dal has invaded gift shops and restaurants on Valentine’s Day, and threatened young couples. In 2008, the Ram Sena vandalised an exhibition of M.F. Husain’s works, claiming that the nude depiction of gods and goddesses was “indecent” and offensive to Hindu culture; in January 2009, its workers barged into a pub in Mangalore and attacked young men and women, alleging that the latter were violating traditional Hindu values.

The question is whether Modi, heading a BJP-led coalition, will be able to control these various Hindu Right organisations and their leaders and withstand their pressures to introduce changes that could affect the secular fabric of Indian society and create dangerous polarisation among communities. Bhalla considers the economic and governance benefits that Modi as PM might provide, but does not take into account the social divisions and anarchy it might introduce. Sections of the party are still wedded to a fundamentalist Hindutva ideology and it is this danger that looms if Modi succeeds in becoming PM. The BJP today is facing a generational change, and is in a post-Vajpayee, post-Advani phase. It is not clear in which direction it will move.

The writer is professor at the Centre for Political Studies and rector, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

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    bhaskar
    Aug 4, 2016 at 7:25 pm
    Modi should seek funding from stan to curtail terrorism in India and also go to Myanmar to seek Bhiksha from Buddhists. It would be good if Modi carries begging bowl all along to which ever country he visits. lt;br/gt;BJP should open the corridors of Janpath to all the beggars present in India and seek their advice while preparing foreign Investments. Beggars can do world of good for creating new policy.
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    1. I
      Indus
      Feb 9, 2014 at 3:25 am
      My dear Sudha! All these elements of trouble you say is very much there in Gujarat also and Modi could strike a good balance between these elements and if necessary shown some their place. In nation politics also there is no sign that Modi will not repeat the same. Let us be optimistic as this man is honest , realistic and non corrupt
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        Girish
        Feb 9, 2014 at 3:25 am
        He has been ruling Gujarat for last 12 years. What kind of ideology or RSS intervention you can point out. In fact local VHP leadership been unhappy with him since 2004.
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          Girish
          Feb 9, 2014 at 3:25 am
          He has been ruling Gujarat for last 12 years. What kind of ideology or RSS intervention you can point out. In fact local VHP leadership been unhappy with him since 2004.
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            Aniket
            Feb 8, 2014 at 11:33 pm
            As rightly said by Vinu here..the JNU type..the paid intellectuals.. who have been enslaved by the grants by the familia and are loyalists of the familia for the peanuts that they throw at these JNU people..What baggage are we talking about Ms Pai here, the hindu's for long have been the pive , reform embracing type..what we need to ask , (finally have the guts to ask) is that whether the non-reforming Abrahamites would they change?what we need to finally say (have the balls to say so) is the familia which has been giving carrots to Minority and stick to the majority in the name of socialism can they get rid of the baggage..Or even better can india afford to bear the weight of that baggage for another term in Parliament.dia needs to decide and get rid off this folks who crippled a booming economy by these very policies in the last 2 terms. And Ms pai, you dont worry Modi wont stop your grants.you have too many faithfuls in the bureaucracy who would ensure JNU gets its alms..
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              Aniket
              Feb 8, 2014 at 11:33 pm
              As rightly said by Vinu here..the JNU type..the paid intellectuals.. who have been enslaved by the grants by the familia and are loyalists of the familia for the peanuts that they throw at these JNU people..What baggage are we talking about Ms Pai here, the hindu's for long have been the pive , reform embracing type..what we need to ask , (finally have the guts to ask) is that whether the non-reforming Abrahamites would they change?what we need to finally say (have the balls to say so) is the familia which has been giving carrots to Minority and stick to the majority in the name of socialism can they get rid of the baggage..Or even better can india afford to bear the weight of that baggage for another term in Parliament.dia needs to decide and get rid off this folks who crippled a booming economy by these very policies in the last 2 terms. And Ms pai, you dont worry Modi wont stop your grants.you have too many faithfuls in the bureaucracy who would ensure JNU gets its alms..
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                Guest
                Feb 7, 2014 at 10:01 am
                "Modi’s appointment would immediately encourage the RSS and a host of extreme rightwing fringe organisations belonging to the Sangh Parivar, such as the VHP and Bajrang Dal among others, who would be more difficult to control than in the past" Don't you have belief in democracy, in our judiciary madam?
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                  Guest
                  Feb 7, 2014 at 10:01 am
                  "Modi’s appointment would immediately encourage the RSS and a host of extreme rightwing fringe organisations belonging to the Sangh Parivar, such as the VHP and Bajrang Dal among others, who would be more difficult to control than in the past" Don't you have belief in democracy, in our judiciary madam?
                  Reply
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                    l k
                    Feb 7, 2014 at 10:34 am
                    Wish Modi becomes PM and kicks out commies and libtards from JNU
                    Reply
                    1. L
                      l k
                      Feb 7, 2014 at 10:34 am
                      Wish Modi becomes PM and kicks out commies and libtards from JNU
                      Reply
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                        Arun
                        Feb 7, 2014 at 2:06 pm
                        So what RSS agenda did Modi push in Gujarat for 12 years? We're talking three elections. Three times the RSS helped him win. And what did he give RSS? Nothing. Do you mean cow slaughter? Ban on drinking alcohol? If India had to give up those things for economic gain like in Gujarat, I'd take them any day.
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                          Arun
                          Feb 7, 2014 at 2:06 pm
                          So what RSS agenda did Modi push in Gujarat for 12 years? We're talking three elections. Three times the RSS helped him win. And what did he give RSS? Nothing. Do you mean cow slaughter? Ban on drinking alcohol? If India had to give up those things for economic gain like in Gujarat, I'd take them any day.
                          Reply
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                            Arun Murthy
                            Feb 7, 2014 at 8:25 am
                            The first thing Modi should do when he becomes PM is to close down JNU, the breeding centre of all communists and naxalites in the country. I have never seen any article by any JNU or ex-JNU person that is not leftist and suckular.
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                              Arun Murthy
                              Feb 7, 2014 at 8:25 am
                              The first thing Modi should do when he becomes PM is to close down JNU, the breeding centre of all communists and naxalites in the country. I have never seen any article by any JNU or ex-JNU person that is not leftist and suckular.
                              Reply
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                                Ashok Shah
                                Feb 7, 2014 at 11:30 am
                                What most of so- called intellectual critics of Modi have failed to notice is the way he decimated the influence of all fringe Hindu outfits in Gujarat. When he was made CM of Gujarat in October 2001, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajarang Dal, RSS and others wielded considerable influence and power. Over time, Modi has marginalised all these elements in Gujarat. So much so that angered with this marginisation, these outfits worked against him in 2008 and 2012 Gujarat embly elections preferring to throw their lot with the breakaway Keshubhai Patel. So there is every reason to believe that he will certainly be his own man even when he wins the Loksabha elections.
                                Reply
                                1. A
                                  Ashok Shah
                                  Feb 7, 2014 at 11:30 am
                                  What most of so- called intellectual critics of Modi have failed to notice is the way he decimated the influence of all fringe Hindu outfits in Gujarat. When he was made CM of Gujarat in October 2001, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajarang Dal, RSS and others wielded considerable influence and power. Over time, Modi has marginalised all these elements in Gujarat. So much so that angered with this marginisation, these outfits worked against him in 2008 and 2012 Gujarat embly elections preferring to throw their lot with the breakaway Keshubhai Patel. So there is every reason to believe that he will certainly be his own man even when he wins the Loksabha elections.
                                  Reply
                                  1. W
                                    Wellwisher
                                    Feb 7, 2014 at 9:21 am
                                    Issue is not whether he is able to control so called Hindu right wing; who at the most retaliate!Issue is whether he will be able to control; as perceived Jihadis?
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                                      Athul Athul
                                      Feb 9, 2014 at 1:55 am
                                      The VHP yatra contributed to the Muzaffarnagar riots? Your analysis are brilliant.I think you can even prove that India's economic reforms of 1991 was behind Sir Don Bradman's average of 99.94. You can,Yes you can!
                                      Reply
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                                        Athul Athul
                                        Feb 9, 2014 at 1:55 am
                                        The VHP yatra contributed to the Muzaffarnagar riots? Your analysis are brilliant.I think you can even prove that India's economic reforms of 1991 was behind Sir Don Bradman's average of 99.94. You can,Yes you can!
                                        Reply
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                                          Atul Sharma
                                          Feb 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm
                                          You are right. But trust me in the time to we find only one man who can lead our country i.e. NM. Rest is waste. Let us help NM/BJP overcome these types of issues. We definitely need a good leader right now for India otherwise we are heading towards a BIG disaster. Atul Sharma (Middle East)
                                          Reply
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                                            Atul Sharma
                                            Feb 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm
                                            You are right. But trust me in the time to we find only one man who can lead our country i.e. NM. Rest is waste. Let us help NM/BJP overcome these types of issues. We definitely need a good leader right now for India otherwise we are heading towards a BIG disaster. Atul Sharma (Middle East)
                                            Reply
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