This seems to be the season for all-party meetings since the Monsoon Session of Parliament kicks off today, but it remains unclear if the government has said anything so far that could give the country a sense of being purposive about tackling the range of issues confronting us. It is disappointing that at Sunday’s all-party gathering, Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to the subject of the so-called cow-protection brigades that have gone on a rampage lynching Muslims to death in different parts of India, but gave us no idea whether his warning to the Hindutva vigilantes just over a fortnight ago at Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram had yielded any results.
The PM made no mention of other crucial issues like the month-long standoff with Chinese troops, the dangerous security and political situation that has developed in Kashmir, where Pakistan and China appear to be coordinating their efforts, the frightening rural distress and police firing on farmers, and the raging problem of unemployment. He dealt only with cow-vigilantes, and urged state governments to crack down hard on them. But will they? Mostly these incidents pertain to BJP-ruled states. While law and order is a state subject, as Mr Modi reminds us, can the PM give us some assurance that he will pull up at least BJP chief ministers if they aren’t energetic about nabbing the cow-vigilantes? Or will the CMs be loathe to act as they are frightened of the myriad Hindutva bodies owing allegiance to the RSS?
The PM said the Centre had issued advisories to states to crack down on the “gau-rakshaks”. Is that all his government can do? He also urged Opposition parties not to give the lynching by “gau-rakshaks” a communal colour. It is only on the question of the standoff with China, which can assume a dangerous dimension, that a meeting chaired by Union home minister Rajnath Singh last week to brief the Opposition parties produced some clarity. Foremost, the country spoke in one voice. All the parties were unanimous that they will stand together with the government on the defence of the country’s borders. This was important. The government side clearly said that Chinese troops had disturbed the status quo through encroachment and significantly changed the strategic equation to India’s disadvantage. It is in the fitness of things that the PM, if necessary in a closed-door session, brief all parties on the steps taken and those planned to deal with the situation.