Modi’s halo is disappearing
On 26th May 2014, Narendra Modi had taken oath of office as India’s 15th prime minister, ten days after a landslide election victory and heavy mandate in 30 years. But within nine months BJP’s unprecedented win, Narendra Modi’s halo is disappearing and his party has been routed in New Delhi elections. BJP’s humiliating defeat in New Delhi is not only a political setback but also given rise to doubts if it could be a prelude to weakening of the BJP. Extremist Hindu Organizations that were emboldened by BJP’s unprecedented win in 2014 elections are unhappy over Narendra Modi’s statements of protecting the rights of minorities. Addressing the inaugural session of Re-Invest 2015, the first Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet & Expo in New Delhi on February 15, 2015 Narendra Modi vowed to protect all religious groups to appease the US and the West.
However, BJP and Aam Admi Party (AAP) slogans of addressing common man’s problems and anti-bribery drive in the State brought unprecedented victory for the AAP in New Delhi elections. Disapproval for BJP and its slogans is reflective of public sentiments against the party’s support for communal agenda of RSS, taking roots in Indian polity and society. Media had been vehemently supporting BJP during the campaign days on the whims of Corporate network to create a “Modi Wave”. However, this superfluous projection did not pay at least in New Delhi election. Media hype in favour of BJP suggests that Corporate network and Modi government are following artificial and over-ambitious policies at home and on the external front. BJP will have to lower its pace and tone down its over-ambitious objectives of governance. Otherwise, it will create space for anti-BJP forces to come into play.
Moreover, BJP is unlikely to gain requisite majority in Rajya Sabha after defeat in New Delhi, and dwindling prospects in Bihar elections by the end of this year. After Delhi elections, BJP has no immediate milestone to achieve at internal front except Bihar State Assembly elections where it has no stakes. India has meanwhile shown its desire to hold Secretary Level talks in Islamabad next month, and there is a perception that it is because of President Obama’s nudging Narendra Modi to improve relations with Pakistan so that it does not oppose the move when the issue of India’s permanent membership of the UNSC comes up. Pakistan, however, will not support such move or proposal, as in the event of India gets a permanent seat in UNSC it will further strengthen India’s hands in extending hegemony over neighbouring countries.
But there is a downside of Modi’s appeasement of the US. If Indian media continues to facilitate Corporate interests, it will create unrest among wretched of the earth and great majority of the people living below the poverty line, as fruits of Indian growth rate are not reaching at grass root level. On the other hand, Hindu hardliners are wary of Modi’s statements to improve his tarnished image. “I condemn all incidents of violence where religious minorities were targeted,” Modi told an event organised by the Christian community to celebrate the beatification of two Indians by Pope Francis late last year. “No religious group can incite violence ... My government will ensure there is complete freedom of faith.” His decision to appear among Christians followed a drubbing for his party in elections to the Delhi local assembly last week, where it won just three out of 70 seats.
Religious conversions have become a sensitive issue in recent months after hardliners with links to the BJP said Hinduism was under threat, and started a campaign to coerce Christians and Muslims to change their faith. Last month, President Barack Obama during his visit to India had pointedly warned against religious intolerance and said the country’s success depended on its not splintering along religious lines. President Obama made no direct reference in his speech to Modi, who was banned from travelling to the United States for nearly a decade until last year after deadly Hindu-Muslim violence in a state he ruled in 2002. He was a persona non grata. But, the US gave overriding consideration to commercial considerations over the principles the US and the West claim to hold dear. They have eyes on the huge sums India has allocated for purchase of sophisticated armament.
After the BJP was routed in New Delhi elections, and also could not achieve the desired results in the Valley and Ladakh regions of IOK, BJP’s downward trail seems to continue. After embarrassment in New Delhi, BJP’s stakes in IOK have increased and all out efforts are being made to have prominent role in prospective government for perception management and damage control of the declining “Modi Wave”. BJP chief Amit Shah announced on Monday that his party will partner with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to form government in Jammu and Kashmir, two months after election results were declared. Sources say PDP chief Mufti Sayeed will take oath as chief minister on Sunday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to meet him soon and the two leaders will discuss modalities. The BJP is expected to get the deputy chief minister’s slot.
The two parties, ideological opposites, are expected to govern the state on the basis of a common minimum programme or CMP. They spent the last two months in attempts to bridge differences that have divided them for decades. Mehbooba Mufti said: “Government formation is not about power, it is about winning the hearts of the people of Jammu and Kashmir...For the first time an alliance has been forged keeping the good and interests of people of J&K in mind.” Sources said the BJP and PDP have agreed to maintain the state’s constitutional status - a key demand of Mr Mufti, who has firmly opposed any attempt to weaken Article 370, which grants special status to J&K. On the Armed Forces’ Special Powers’ Act or AFPSA, the two parties have agreed to the gradual replacement of the military with the local police and paramilitary forces in areas where situation is relatively under control.