The troubles looming for the BJP/NDA coalition are already on the surface.
The high level of expectations about the government has somewhat subsided. The Budget gave the impression of a government settling down for a Test match, not a T20. The controversies are going to be on peripheral matters where the government may find it hard to keep the same degree of control that it keeps on its ministers and MPs. Justice Markandey Katju has already stirred up a hornet’s nest on what happened in the previous regime. The issue of judicial accountability will, no doubt, be raised as much as the culpability of the coalition which governed at the time.
But the troubles looming for the BJP/NDA coalition are already on the surface. The Shiv Sena is itching for a fight. This is no doubt to bargain for a larger share of seats in the forthcoming Maharashtra elections. It has been most vocal in differing from the government on many issues. Even the trivial issue of Ved Pratap Vaidik has been blown up, as is any Pakistan-related matter. The Shiv Sena may yet prove to be what the TMC was for the UPA. Luckily, the BJP has its own majority, so they can stop playing along with such troublesome partners.
But there is also the self-inflicted controversy of celebrating Sanskrit in schools. This raises some serious questions about the ideology of the BJP. Quite clearly, many in the BJP think Sanskrit is the great mother language of Indian culture and of Hinduism. To announce the arrival of a new regime, the highlighting of Sanskrit seems normal. But as the government has seen, there is unhappiness among its Tamil Nadu allies and erstwhile friends such as the AIADMK. The issue is that Tamil is just as old as Sanskrit and it is the oldest living language in India.
The ideologues of Hindu Rashtra/Hindutva have a very North India-centred vision of India’s past. They think that Aryavarta or Bharatvarsha is all India. But that is a sort of Delhi Sultanate view of Indian history. The Prime Minister, in one of his early speeches, had said that India had been enslaved for 1,200 years. At the time, few noticed this, even among the secularist watchmen. The assertion is that India became ‘unfree’ with Muslim incursions of Mohammad bin Qasim.
But that is what happened in the North, not in South India. Even in the North, the Muslim conquest of North India remained partial until the Mughals came on the scene. Mohammad bin Qasim’s incursion into Sindh is hardly an all-India conquest any more than the victory at Plassey is British domination of all India. It took continued…