Act firmly against all who step out of line

The key, everyone recognises, is implementation of laws to deal with trouble makers

In the light of Hindu extremists making provocative statements for nearly a year, Prime Minister Modi has frequently been criticised for not bringing it on record in Parliament that he would not stand for disruption of inter-faith amity, or that he indeed stood for religious tolerance. On February 17, addressing a church forum, the PM had spoken quite magnificently on the subject. Doubts still remained, though, as he appeared hesitant to say the same things in Parliament.

Perhaps he had this in mind when last Friday, while replying to the debate on the President’s address, Mr Modi said that the religion of his government was “India First”, and that its holy book was the Constitution. There had been no need for any leader of government in this country to spell this out, but the PM’s silence had begun to create the wrong impression. “India First” can be read to mean “not Hindu first” while RSS thought is about privileging the Hindu.

Has the anxiety been quelled? The answer would lie in how effectively the government gives the lead in tackling those who get out of line and seek to disturb the atmosphere. The key, everyone recognises, is implementation of laws to deal with trouble makers. Perhaps, even an indirect reference to the issue in Parliament by the PM was a recognition of the fact that the ideology of the Sangh Parivar may, in fact, subvert the development agenda Mr Modi has publicly set himself although he is a former pracharak of the RSS.

A PM’s reply to the debate on the President’s address is meant not only to articulate policy but also to respond to points raised, especially by Opposition MPs. On these counts, Mr Modi can be said to have turned in a desultory performance, picking up issues in a discrete fashion, choosing to buttress his own points with political spin, rather than with substance. Possibly the best instance of this was his reference to his government’s bill that seeks to make drastic changes in the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 brought in by the UPA. The PM did not get to the nub of the subject but just made fun of the Congress for badly losing the last Lok Sabha election in site of bringing a supposedly pro-farmer law.

Criticism has also been directed at Mr Modi’s reference to MGNREGA — arguably the world’s largest rural employment programme — since he portrayed it as a memorial to the failure of Congress policies over 60 years. But the irony is that the Modi government is not scrapping it.

( Source : dc )
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