After assuming office Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi lost no time to assert his authority and impose a strict disciplinary code of conduct on his colleagues. Recall his order to Ministers not to appoint private secretaries unless cleared by his office. Even Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh was not spared. He had to dump his first choice of private secretary. This style of functioning by the Prime Minister earned him bouquets and brickbats. Some welcomed stricter discipline, others feared dictatorial tendencies. Perhaps both views were premature. This government may have a bark much worse than its bite.
It may be recalled that on June 4 the Prime Minister issued stern orders to all Ministers in his government not to interact with the media and allow only authorized spokespersons of the government or the party to address journalists. A day later on June 5 a similar strict gag order was imposed on all BJP MPs. Whatever happened to that gag order? And if that order is broken, how does the Modi system react? Two recent incidents tell the tale.
First a BJP MP from Telangana, Mr. K Laxman, gave his personal assessment about tennis star Sania Mirza being made brand ambassador of Telangana state. He opposed the decision because she is married to a Pakistani and described her as a daughter-in-law of Pakistan. This provoked huge and widespread public criticism. Mr. Laxman’s lame clarification subsequently did nothing to reduce the damage.
How did Mr. Modi’s government react to this violation of the gag order?
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mr. Prakash Javedekar contradicted Mr. Laxman. He praised Sania Mirza and went on to say that she was the brand ambassador of all India. Is this response by the Modi government to violation of the gag order going to scare MPs from future indiscretions? Make your guess!
In another incident Mr. Deepak Dhavalikar, the State Cooperation Minister of the BJP government in Goa, said in the assembly that under Mr. Modi’s governance India will become fully a Hindu state. Mr. Dhavalikar is a member of BJP’s ally in the state, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party. But that cannot alter the fact that he was speaking for the government in the Goa assembly.
How did Mr. Modi’s government react?
The BJP could only distance itself from the comment by a response from party spokesman Mr. Rajiv Pratap Rudy who commented: “Might be his personal view, BJP believes in the Constitution, it does not give importance to one religion over another. “” Is that all what the Modi government could do brazen violation of the much publicized gag order?
There is a curious aspect about these indiscretions that the PM should note. Both violations of the gag order resulted in communal opinions while Mr. Modi is making every effort to shed the party’s narrow approach by making the system inclusive.
Could gag defiance be sabotage?