DC Debate: Bogus or genuine caution?

Modi's warning to publicity-seekers' and rabble-rousers' is just an eyewash.

It is a calculated strategy

Pankaj Sharma

I don’t think that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had any intention of seriously warning the “publicity seekers” and “rabble rousers” of the BJP, RSS and other affiliates. His track record tells us that he never intended to, nor wishes to, seriously snub those who, from time to time, give the statements which he now believes are “publicity stunts”. Mr Modi knows the political benefit his party and government get from these well-planned outbursts. If he seriously means that “anyone who believes he is bigger than the system is wrong”, then he had all the opportunities to bridle the loose tongue of his colleague well in time and allow RBI governor Raghuram Rajan to continue. Praising Dr Rajan’s patriotism after creating the most humiliating situation for him to quit is something unbecoming for a person holding the highest position in the government.

The issuance of such warnings to loudmouths is also a calculated strategy of the BJP. It is not the first time when the formality of issuing warnings from the topmost level has been done. In the third week of October last year, BJP president Amit Shah had summoned half a dozen big leaders to warn them against making controversial statements. Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Union minister Mahesh Sharma, Sanjiv Baliyan, MLA Sangeet Som and MP Sakshi Maharaj were “scolded” for their “inappropriate” statements and Mr Shah said the Prime Minister was upset over their unnecessary outbursts during the past few weeks. But how meaningless was the warning could be assessed from the fact that all of them remained defiant.

It is hard to believe that any of them has the guts to defy Mr Modi or Mr Shah if they feel that the element of concern in the warning to them was actually serious.

Can anyone believe that if the warnings of a strong Prime Minister like Mr Modi are really serious, the RSS and its affiliates can afford to be in full hunting mode, head up and howling? Can activists and scholars be shot dead? Can a situation arise when India’s most distinguished writers return their awards in anguish and artists, scholars, filmmakers and scientists join the protests?

Unfortunately, Mr Modi believes that he is the only person who can bring well-deserved happiness and prosperity to our country. He thinks that Indians were feeling ashamed to be born in this country until he became Prime Minister. He is the first Indian Prime Minister who dragged domestic politics onto the international arena by launching a veiled attack on the previous UPA government. Using international platforms to attack his opponents has become Mr Modi’s strategy. After gifting the Bhagavad Gita to the Japanese emperor, Mr Modi said that it would “irk secular friends back home”. I still fail to understand that by labelling the Congress and other parties as “secular friends”, was he reducing himself and the BJP to a “non-secular entity”? Isn’t it too candid an admission about oneself while on foreign soil?

Mr Modi acknowledges that the only way he can maintain his “superstar image” is by playing tricks of a honey tongue and a heart of gall. Therefore, I have every reason to believe that his eyewash warnings will ultimately be ineffective.

Pankaj Sharma is editor of News Views India and a national office-bearer of the Congress Party.

PM Modi means business

Harish Khurana

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it clear on Monday that development will be the main issue for the BJP during the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

He also urged the media not to make heroes out of rabble-rousers who are trying to polarise the state on communal lines.

He clearly said, “Whether it is in my party or not, still I think such things are inappropriate. This fondness for publicity is never going

to do any good to the nation. People should conduct themselves with utmost responsibility. If anybody considers himself above the system, it is wrong.”

Unfortunately, today, the sure way to get back into the spotlight is to say something “outrageous”. Mr Modi’s comments assume significance in the context of Subramanian Swamy’s recent comments on Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan, chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian and economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das.

These days it has become the fashion to give negative statements and then these become news headlines and debate topics for prime-time news channels.

It is sad that a few people divert attention from development by giving such statements.

Today, when India is talking about Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana, building toilets, Start-Up India, Digital India, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and many other such schemes, these kind of statements come up.

Today, when the country needs to debate the development agenda, the reprimand to rabble-rousers was much needed.

I feel it is the duty of the media to see “what is good” and “what is bad”. After all the media is the fourth pillar of democracy.

It should be selective about who is giving the statement, and also whether it would affect societal harmony. For example, there was a lot of debate on intolerance and it became a major issue. People were giving up their awards. Debates were held on whether India was safe or not. But after the elections, nothing happened, the country was safe for everybody.

We should discuss and see these reality checks. We know these controversies start when some so-called leaders give some statements that hit prime-time news.

We as a party never uphold these statements and treat these as their personal remarks. Our party always believes that India has a great potential because 70 per cent of our people are below 30 years of age so we should talk of development.

To achieve double-digit growth we have to be focused and I believe talking about these non-important issues or communal issues will lead us nowhere.

The Opposition and some sections of the media complain that Mr Modi is always silent on such issues and the party doesn’t take action. By speaking on such issues, the PM thinks we are hyping such issues. Also, we as a party are the biggest in the world, so we can’t control each one of them. It is always advisable to ignore such people. If the media will stop taking note, then automatically these people will stop. That does not mean we will or will not take any action. In fact, Mr Modi speaking on this issue means that he is very serious on this and that he means business.

Harish Khurana is spokesperson, Delhi BJP.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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