This writer had limited involvement with direct politics and negligible, indeed no, achievement to speak of. As general secretary, election publicity in charge, of the Janata Party in the 1977 poll which dethroned Indira Gandhi, he had little to contribute to her defeat given the strong anti-Emergency wave. Nevertheless despite limited experience the absence of initiative displayed by the current opposition parties appalls him. BJP supporters assume that this writer is an opponent of Prime Minister Mr. Modi. The opposite is true. Ever since his swearing-in to which all SAARC Heads of State were invited suggesting the emergence of a future South Asian Union, which has been a longstanding cherished goal of this writer, this writer has supported Mr. Modi. That is why he criticizes the government on every possible occasion. That is why he wants a credible national alternative to emerge. A government without critics can face eventual doom. Mr. Modi realizes this and has publicly encouraged constructive criticism. In the absence of an opposition it is left to individuals to fill the breach and criticize the government whenever required. Mr. Modi’s worst enemies are that segment of supporters who believe he can do no wrong and think that pro-Modi chants suffice. Sycophancy is the deadliest trap for leaders.
Mr. Modi superbly motivated the public to inculcate discipline and civic sense. His foreign policy and foreign investment initiatives are praiseworthy. But issues of governance in the domestic sphere merit criticism. And despite his glaring errors the opposition has remained mute. One does not know if the opposition is totally demoralized or whether the new TV culture has deprived it of political instinct.
Consider Mr. Modi’s following error.
In the heat of the general election campaign in order to appease Mr. Udhav Thackeray who is strongly committed to a united Maharashtra, Mr. Modi made a solemn pledge that no power on earth could divide Maharashtra state. This assertion rubbished the BJP’s longstanding policy firmly committed to the creation of smaller states. Vidharbha, supported by BJP, tops demands for new states. Recently the BJP opposed the manner of creating a new Telangana state but not its emergence. This is not a trivial issue but a basic policy issue that determines the future structure of the Indian Republic. Immediately after Mr. Modi’s pledge the BJP was constrained to reiterate its commitment to the creation of smaller states. Therefore which assertion will be respected? That made by the Prime Minister or by his party?
It remains to be seen how this issue gets resolved. Currently in Maharashtra the largest number of legislators was elected from the Vidharbha region. It remains to be seen how the public of the region will react if separate Vidharbha is abandoned. It remains to be seen how BJP MLAs from the region will react if the party abandons its commitment. What does not remain to be seen is the opposition’s failure to exploit the issue, or Mr. Modi’s sycophantic supporters to question their infallible hero.