Never has one man thrown away so much in such a short time. I speak of Shri Narendra Modi, the no longer respected Prime Minister of India. I have been his greatest supporter in the dark years of UPA II which used all their might of state power to assassinate him politically, and also his trusted aide Amit Shah.
The people of India showered him with their trust that he was the great Messiah, who would retrieve India’s lost pride after a decade of the Congress led plunder of India and communal divisive politics aimed at the majority community. They gave the BJP an unprecedented majority, and then expected him to start delivering his election promises to improve the lot of the common man. As Chief Minister of Gujarat for fifteen years, they expected a sage statesman, who had conquered all tendencies of megalomania, narcissism and arrogance, who would carry the country with him – Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikaas.
But what they saw were some hitherto unknown facets of his personality, which well informed citizens are aware of and comment about quite openly now. And I’ m not just talking about his sartorial obsessions, which the world is seeing with some amusement, but about something more fundamental. And that is, his great capacity of amnesia towards all his well wishers who stood by him, who supported and helped him overcome his own dark days, when the entire might of the Government of India was baying for his blood, by every possible device.
Let me assure my readers that I am not speaking about myself. I speak of the thousands of BJP workers of Bihar who worked tirelessly during the 2014 elections, and enabled the BJP to win 22, and the NDA to win 31 of the 40 Parliamentary seats from Bihar. Many of them were side lined and felt terribly hurt about it. In the recent elections, BJP candidates were given tickets according to the wishes of the coterie controlled by Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley. Does it seems surprising then that the cadre based B.J.P with a committed vote bank was sent to such shameful oblivion. This is just a repeat of Delhi when the BJP workers at ground level decided to teach the BJP satraps a lesson. How else does one account for the reduction of Bihar’s BJP’s 29.4% vote share in the 2014 general elections to 24.8% in the recent assembly elections?
This article is a very polite and almost friendly criticism and advice, both of which you hardly deserve. I will wait for a while for how you respond not personally to me but the people of India and in particular your own colleagues in B.J.P. I have a long charge sheet against you and your favourite cabinet ministers and bureaucrats. You are entitled to dismiss this as an empty threat; but you have been warned. I have done my duty. I hope you have known of Tunku Varadrajan a distinguished writer and scholar from the United States who has been writing his weekly column for the Indian Express. In the last week’s issue he wrote “India needed a leader of the nation; instead, it got the leader of a party”. Even he went wrong in the second half of this revelation. If the BJP leaders had courage of their convictions they would have long ago publicly shared this conclusion; ” Increasingly it seems that we were swindled”. I admire his unnecessary politeness.
I was invited to speak in Bihar. I spoke twice for a few minutes only. I made a public confession of my stupidity despite all my education and seventy five years standing at the Bar. The BJP President Amit Shah, a Modi nominee has publicly confessed that all the off repeated promises of Modi of getting back the stolen wealth of India and even putting fifteen lakhs into the poor man’s kitty was an election gimmick (Jumla). “I have without meaning it, helped Modi to cheat you; do accept my apology and grant me your forgiveness that I seek”. I hope Tunkuji has already forgiven me.
The first thing you Modiji should have done is to make essential commodities like cereals, dal, cooking oil, and vegetables affordable for the common people. Do you know their current prices in the markets? What was the point of raiding hoarders or importing dal just a week before the elections? Your government should have known long ago the distress it is causing to the common man. Do you need to be educated that rising prices of essential commodities are a result of hoarding by middle men and traders made so much easier by the digital revolution that you keep harping about. Why can’t you set up a Cell in the PMO to monitor prices of cereals, pulses and vegetables across the country, and ensure that they are not manipulated through hoarding and profiteering. Indira Gandhi did it in her 20 Point programme and succeeded. If the BJP really wanted to woo the common man in the immediate term, all they had to do was reduce the prices of food items, and they would have earned their electoral gratitude.
The BJP Government and Modiji were seen at their clumsiest worst while mishandling the One Rank One Pension issue, which was an election promise. The dithering Prime Minister disgraced himself by breaking his word, and humiliated our loyal armed forces, by forcing them into a long dharna, that brought ignominy and disaffection to his government throughout the country.
I would next publish the two letters that I have written to you Modiji. One on the night immediately after my meeting the Jawans and a fragile old one who on hunger strike unto death was almost dead, and second after your most corrupt and illegal actions in appointing a new C.V.C. which may well end up in court action against you and your conspirators.
Mr Prime Minister, you must realize that you must carry the people of India with you, the people who placed so much love and trust in you in 2014. Silence and aloofness do not add to political, philosophic or bollywood stature. Remember, the country criticised Manmohan Singh on this same count. But he at least had an alibi, that he was being remote controlled. You have none. Your silence towards critical issues and controversies that are destructive of the nation is seen at best as lack of concern, and at worst as approval. Agriculture is a mess, farmers are committing suicide because of indebtedness and poor harvests. Have you met with any of the Chief Ministers regarding this or visited any rural areas to talk to farmers? No wonder, the perception is growing that you are only a friend of rich industrialists and not of the common man of India. When so called artists and intellectuals defamed our country by calling it ‘intolerant’ , (orchestrated by the Congress Party, as it may have been), did you take any steps to protect our country’ s reputation by addressing them frontally? Rather you preferred to outsource it to respected civil society members. But even that came too late to counter the perceptional accusations against your government and our country. When certain irrational, anti-national and bigoted BJP parliamentarians made hate comments about the Muslim community in our country, or lynched a man to death, why did you not sternly condemn them and control them immediately? Instead, you have made the cow and beef your agenda for 21st century India, while we see India as a world power.
Ancient Rishis recommended beef as remedy for many ailments. You are too educated not to know this. Now dear Modiji, I hope Bihar has hit you hard, and you are introspecting seriously about your shortcomings. As an elder and not long ago a great supporter of yours, I can only advice that you must change your style of functioning. Get rid of coteries and yes men, and establish a direct contact with the people of India. Bihar should teach you that you are not infallible and are no Pied Piper or have solo magical powers that make people vote for you.
And lastly, Remember that the last year elections do not make you an infallible all knowing intellectual scholar. Do not convert all your well wishers into ill wishers. You have a few weeks to mend your ways, and if you want to regain the people’s trust and confidence, you must make the right statements to them, make yourself more accessible to them, hear their problems and listen to their Man Ki Baat. Or else, you will become just another foot note in our history, who betrayed the trust of the people of India.
Ram Jethmalani is a renowned Supreme Court lawyer and a BJP MP