If anyone ever had any doubt about the glaring inconsistencies in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches to win elections and his actions on the ground, then look no further. Just spend some time googling all his election speeches and you would know why one needs to exercise extreme caution in believing what our prime minister says particularly during elections.
Going by the focus of his speeches during the ongoing Bihar elections, there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that Modi’s slogans of vikaas(development) is only to extract electoral mileage and never meant to be taken seriously. My conclusion is not based on the BJP chief Amit Shah’s admission that Modi’s promise on black money was just an election jumla. It’s not even influenced by the recent explosive revelation by General Satbir Singh, who the Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley had apparently told that the BJP’s promise on One Rank One Pension was only meant to win elections.
“Not everything we promise in elections are meant to be executed,” Jaitley had allegedly told the General.
Modi is expected Biharis to buy into his promises of development from the same stage that he was using to rip apart his political foes with incredibly insulting comments. He did so even at the cost of lowering the dignity of prime minister’s office. Seldom does one see a prime minister in office indulge in such loose talk. I can’t think of any, not in India and certainly not in England where I covered at least three general elections. It just doesn’t suit the stature of a PM of any civilised country.
No body is exonerating Nitish and Lalu for using equally insulting words against Modi, but the difference lies in the offices they hold.
DNA jibe, three idiots comments and more recently taking a dig at his political foe Lalu Prasad Yadav involving his daughters are just few examples.
With the DNA slur, Modi set the tone for BJP’s real narrative, which was never meant to be development. Modi casting aspersion on Nitish Kumar’s DNA was also reminiscent of a similar gaffe by his party during the Delhi assembly elections when they desperately attempted to describe Arvind Kejriwal’s gotra or caste blaming it for his agitating behaviour.
DNA isn’t the only parallel one can draw with Delhi as far as Bihar elections are concerned. A lot of damage to the BJP in Delhi was caused by the party’s decision to project a severely incapable Kiran Bedi as its chief ministerial candidate. The saffron brigade may have been clever in not projecting any Kiran Bedi-like candidate for the CM’s post in Bihar. But, the absence of the former IPS officer’s shenanigans are being truly compensated by the collective leadership of the party through communally charged statements, attempts to polarise communities along the lines of castes and repeated offensive remarks often reflective of poor taste and decency.
How do you explain this blog by Sushil Modi questioning Lalu Yadav’s children’s ability to milk cows and make cow dung cakes? How is this a prerequisite to implement the agenda of development unless of course Modi’s intention was simply to lower the dignity of Lalu’s family. Little does he realise that by doing so he may have ended lowering his own dignity before his potential voters. I’ve found a marked change in how junior Modi has conducted himself in these elections. Contrary to his usually calm and dignified behaviour, Modi, it seems, has made it a mission to join the chorus of his senior leaders regardless of how stupid, irrational and indecent they may have been.
On Thursday, the BJP president, Amit Shah, took the election campaign to a new low by asserting that those who did not vote for Modi were essentially anti-national, Pakistani in particular. His comments reminded voters of anti-Muslim slogans of the 90s, when BJP supporters would be seen chanting ‘Musalmaano ke do sthaan, Pakistan yaa qabristaan (Muslims have only two places to go, Pakistan or graveyard).’
Often what causes you damage the most is not the comment itself but how you conduct yourself after you’ve made it. Shah desperately tried to defend his comment, but struggled to answer as to why BJP’s defeat in Bihar will make only Pakistan (a Muslim country) happy and not any other hostile country like China unless his real intention was to polarise the voters along communal lines.
A day after Shah’s unfortunate remarks, Sushil Modi also echoed the same sentiments. His tweet read, “If BJP wins in Bihar there will be Diwali in India & if UPA wins there will be celebration in Pak.”
So the natural question would be why Shah and his fellow leaders think that anything short of BJP rule in all Indian states would be tantamount to attempts to weaken the prime minister? Such arrogance in electoral politics will be catastrophic if not checked in time.
Bihar elections have essentially removed the cosmetic gloss off Narendra Modi’s development agenda and his future aspiration on how he intends to rule India. The picture of new India that Shah and Modi envisage has no place for federal values. We will have say good bye to multi-party democracy as not voting BJP to power will be construed as being an enemy to the State.
There’s very little evidence of Modi walking the talk after the electorates responded to his slogans of development hoping for better days for themselves. He went to Jharkhand, Haryana, Maharshtra and Jammu and Kashmir promising to make all these states as the number one state in the country. The current reality in these states paint appallingly different picture.
Religious intolerance under Devendra Fadnavis government is increasingly assuming alarming proportion. Beef ban, assault on Asif Shaikh for just being Muslim and growing incidents of farmers’ suicides are some of the menaces that have only worsened since the BJP came to power.
Bihar is crucial to BJP because a victory here will help the party consolidate its position in the Upper House of the Indian parliament, where it currently lacks majority. A majority in Rajya Sabha will enable them to pass any new legislation of its liking without having to bother about the backlash from the opposition parties. It was BJP’s this inability that forced it to opt for the ordinance route in the wake of growing protests on ‘anti-farmers’ Land Bill. Given its track record, the BJP could easily bring a new legislation to curb freedom of speech in future once it’s able to secure majority in both the houses of parliament? After all, one single element responsible for causing embarrassment to Modi both in India and abroad has been the people’s ability to express their outrage against his failures on multiple fronts.
International credit rating agency Moody’s on Friday slammed Modi asking him to reign in his communal group or risk losing credibility abroad. Moody’s rap may have been necessitated by the widespread protests by writers, intellectuals, scientists, historians or film-makers against the growing religious intolerance in India under Modi government.
There’s growing fear among the masses up and down the country that Modi has perhaps realised that he will fail on delivering most of his election promises of last year during his first term as prime minister. Knowing his ambition to rule India beyond 2019, he needs other tools to ensure voters don’t get conflicting messages, which may be detrimental to his electoral prospects in future. Perhaps the perceived control over Indian media is not enough, so going down the legislation route to curb voices of dissent may be the new alternative.
Shah would have us believe otherwise, but his and the other BJP leaders’ questionable comments intended to polarise voters along communal lines smack of the nervousness prevalent in the BJP camp. Just like Delhi, what started as a campaign meant to be fought on development, a possible defeat has forced the BJP to change its narrative to raising cow slaughter, reservation, religious polarisation and personal attacks against daughters.
The party had to pay a heavy price for its foolhardy approach in Delhi. We will see on 8 November if Bihari voters too have been able to recognise the double-speak of the BJP.
Rifat Jawaid is the editor-in-chief of jantakareporter.com