Morning Shows the Day by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (June 26, 2014)
The NDA government under Narendra Modi completed a month in office a couple of days ago. For some this was a moment to sit back and reckon what the government had been able to achieve in that small period of four weeks and two days. To be fair, that is a very inadequate length of time to judge the performance of a government whose prime minister has told Parliament in his motion of thanks speech that he would show his report card to the people and their representatives in 2019.
These are only the initial days of the NDA government and it is still too early to judge it, but the English say, “morning shows the day.” And this morning has not been particularly bright. At this point, for all practical purposes, this looks like a presidential government like the American or French system rather than the Westminster model established by the Constitution and the tradition. These could be the early days of transition to a presidential system advocated by the Sangh.
This one-month period has been marked by a certain triumphalism that seeks to sweep every unpleasant truth under the carpet. The President has called it hope, and his prime minister has echoed it in his speech. There is a clear distinction between hope and triumphalism as the latter creates a state of euphoria that prevents one from taking note of unpleasant reality. And there is a lot of such reality that is being ignored in the prolonged celebration.
This government came on the strength of promises to the people, one of which was to bring down prices and provide relief to people groaning under the weight of kamartod mehngai. What has actually happened is just the opposite of it: prices have steadily risen and shot through the roof.
A large hoarding with a stylised portrait of Narendra Modi in designer clothing said: Bahut hua naari per war, ab ki bar Modi sarkar (enough atrocities against women, next time Modi government). Modi government is very much here, but end to atrocities on women is nowhere in sight. In fact, the incidence of such atrocities has grown as shown by frequent reports in newspapers.
The rape and hanging of two young Dalit women in Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh in this period did not figure in the prime minister’s speeches. Sadly, Badaun rape and murder of the young women was only the more widely known cases of rape and murder in this period. There has been a rash of such cases in UP and elsewhere during this period, and very little is visible by way of action on the part of governments. The Centre could have taken a stern stance vis-à-vis states where such atrocities are perpetuated. It could have called for updates on action taken against perpetuators. In the same way, effective steps could have been taken against the murderers of a young Muslim techie in Pune, but it does not seem to be a priority for the government.
The sad fact is that there is very little or no scope for justice in the euphoric environment created over NDA’s triumph. There is no mention of punishment to rapists and rioters, compensation to victims and their complete rehabilitation and restoration of their dignity.
The prime minister’s speech in the motion of thanks was one of the best in its style, craft and crispness. His reference to the economic backwardness of Muslims in Gujarat and elsewhere was touching. Everybody was moved when he said a Gujarati Muslim family had been repairing cycle tyre puncture for three generations. He said he had seen it. The question that came to mind was what did he do to improve this situation over nearly one and a half decade of his chief ministership.
What the government has been saying and doing is important, but no less important are things which have been left unsaid. The results of both will be clear in weeks and months ahead. One of the more ominous unsaid aspects could still be the politics of vendetta. The proceedings against the Gandhi family in a Delhi court would be a highly significant pointer to the shape of things to come.