This is the rejoinder to the article, The Modi government’s Hindu agenda ?, by Koenraad Elst in the Swarajya Magazine.
Let me begin by saying that not all the allegations leveled against the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is perceived to be the sole political representative of Hindus, are baseless. The party of course has failed to deliver what it has been promising thus far, i.e. abolition of the article 370, uniform civil code, and the construction of Ram Mandir. But is this what the Hindu agenda is all about? Which Hindu agenda will be furthered by calling BJP a B-team of Congress? Is it necessary to stoop to the level of Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party to criticize BJP or Narendra Modi, because calling BJP a B-team of the Congress will infer that Narendra Modi is a STOOGE of the very Nehru-Gandhi dynasty he’s so vehemently opposed to and Nehruvian consensus which he’s determined to dismantle?
One of the most important slogans which, I think, helped the BJP immensely to secure as many as 282 Lok Sabha seats was- सब का साथ सब का विकास (Cooperation of all, development for all). Besides, “Development for all and appeasement for none” has been the stated position of the BJP so far as secularism and appeasement politics is concerned. And if this is not enough to convince you, let’s discuss symbolism which the opposition often blames BJP and especially Narendra Modi to indulge in. Despite being his home constituency, Modi relinquished the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat and continued being the representative of the Varanasi, which he often calls the spiritual capital of India, in the Lok Sabha.
Soon after winning the General Elections with a thumping majority, one of the first things that Narendra Modi did was to attend the Ganga Aarti. That was, I believe, a strong signal to the core constituency of BJP that his government will not be cowed down by the secular rants and will do everything to uphold and restore the lost glory of India’s Hindu heritage. The sister-city agreement between Varanasi and Kyoto, during his Japan visit, reflects that the Hindutva constituency can rely upon Modi as a doer. Besides, Modi government has flagged the cleaning of Ganga as an issue of top priority.
Narendra Modi, as the Prime Minister of India, did not host any Iftar party in his official residence. One should not forget that hosting Iftar parties was a precedent which even Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee deemed fit to follow. Moreover, Prime Minister Modi did not attend the Iftar Party hosted by the President of India.
Do you recall a Prime Minister of India, other than Narendra Modi, paying a visit to the Pashupatinath Mandir and flaunting the Tilak of Sandalwood on his forehead with pride? So what was that- a face saving gesture? It was the Congress to demand a debate on communal violence and BJP deployed one of its senior most MPs, Yogi Adityanath, as the principal speaker from the BJP. What’s so face saving gesture in this? Yeah, the Modi government did announce to allocate some resources to the Madrassas and while in the wake of rise of global Jihadist activities, one may tend to criticize it, is the criticism really justified? Did Modi not make it amply clear during the campaign trail itself when he said that let Muslims hold Koran in one hand and Computer in the other? So what is this fuss really all about? I do accept that the RTE on is a blatantly communal legislation and the Modi government must get rid of it as early as possible. I would go one step ahead and say that the government needs to do away with the article 30. But should I pass the judgment in mere three months, or say hundred days of the new government assuming the office?
I’m sure that people must have paid keen attention to the appointments approved by the Modi government so far. Be it the post of ICHR, or governors, or the chief of NCW; the appointments themselves are self-explanatory. What’s the use of speaking to people disgruntled for one or the other reason? It is the people of India, and not those individuals, who have elected Modi with such a thumping majority and Modi is answerable to them. The first thing Modi needs to focus on is the economy, because everything but the empty stomach can wait. Do I even need to explain why it is so important to create as many jobs as possible in a very short span of time? Unemployment first shakes the self-confidence and later on lures one to indulge in criminal and sometimes anti-national activities. In order to save the society from becoming a hub of the criminals, Modi has to prioritize the revival of economy and job creation.
While the op-ed space is full of content which amply shows that the work-culture under the Modi-regime has tremendously been improved, to call the BJP under Modi-Shah duo uninspiring one has to either belong to the opposition or disgruntled for whatever reason. From the presence of all ministries in the social media to the feedback mechanism in terms of MyGov portal, everything is exceptionally creative and inspiring.
I do believe that the Hindu temples must be freed from the clutches of the government. And the BJP must devise some way to ensure that the temple committees, while being autonomous bodies, consist of individuals of the highest integrity. But the demand that the government should simply handover the control of temples into the hands of a select people seems impractical and if that happens, the government of the day will be put in the fix over allegations of all kind. This is a serious issue which needs to be deal with extreme care. After all, it is about the wealth worth billions.
It will be an insult to the wisdom of the Indian electorate, who rose beyond caste, creed, language, and perhaps religion, to suggest that he did not vote for development which was the central theme of the entire election campaign spearheaded by Narendra Modi. Yes, Hindutva undercurrent was there, and no one is denying its contribution. But would the voters have voted in BJP by such an overwhelming majority had Hindutva been the central theme of the election campaign? I guess not.
I cannot resist laughing when someone talks about a Hindu lobby and that too to pressurize BJP to push for the Hindutva agenda. Unlike others, I do believe that RSS is quite competent to push for the Hindu agenda and VHP to provide the muscle necessary to pressurize at least the BJP government to push for the Hindutva agenda. Had it been that easy, I don’t think there was any reason for not penetrating the Congress through such a Hindu lobby; pressurize it to abandon its anti-Hindu policies. Let’s not talk about time till 1998; what stopped committed and influential group of Hindus to form a Hindu lobby and pressurize Congress during 2004 to 2014, i.e. during UPA-I or UPA-II regime? Please don’t tell me that no one could think of it before.
To sum up, the mandate that Modi government has secured is massive, and so are the expectations from the government. The first thing that even a devout Hindu would want the Prime Minister to mend is the economy. Moreover, one shouldn’t forget that the mandate is for 5 years, i.e. 1800 days; it’s hardly been 150 days, not even the 10 per cent of the time-span BJP has been authorized by the people of India to rule them.
PS: While I was about to blog this rejoinder, I came across the news that Rajasthan is undoing the RTE.