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From modi to shah ... Change for future

COMMENT NDA ANNIVERSARY By PREM CHANDRAN IT NEEDS no reassertion that Brand Modi has taken a big hit and is .....




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COMMENT NDA ANNIVERSARY

By PREM CHANDRAN

IT NEEDS no reassertion that Brand Modi has taken a big hit and is set on a downhill ride. This is as clear as sunlight. Modi?s failures today are more pronounced or glaring than the few good things he did in his governance since this day seven years ago. He?s today seen with skepticism; his lengthy bhashans have not only become boring, but also unbearable -- and some chief ministers listening to his soliloquies at Covid video interfaces have already announced this loudly. They have only stated the unalloyed truth.

A season of seven years is a brief term in the history of a nation. Yet, it's a long spell for a leader governing a nation. Modi completed seven years on May 26, this day, and three more "long" years are guaranteed to him to govern or misgovern this hapless nation. Those who watched him hold forth at an event on Wednesday recollect the day he held much of India spell-bound -- when he took office with great fanfare at an event watched also by leaders of other SAARC nations at the Rashtrapati Bhavan lawns. Seven years, and what a fall!

That Modi as the chief executive of the nation let the people down on the Covid front needs no elaboration. He locked down the entire nation when only a guarded response was needed in March last year. The pandemic had not reached most states in any significant way, except for the north and the west, and certainly not the east. Delhi and Mumbai make up only a small part of India. A year later, we are in a worse plight. Almost the entire India is in lockdown mode with the pandemic playing havoc with lives everywhere. In other words, Modi as the leader of the nation wasted a full year without making serious efforts to rein in the virus spread. He rather added to the grim plight of the nation by his election jamborees.

Elections, though, were not the only reason for the present critical situation. There was laxity of a massive scale across the administrative set-up. Caution was thrown to the winds in gay abandon. Alerts from the scientific community about a more deadly second wave of the pandemic or the need to equip the nation with the most-needed oxygen in such an eventuality were ignored with criminal neglect. Thousands died like flies drawn to the fire -- due to lack of ICU beds and liquid oxygen support. India is holding on by the sheer perseverance of its millions-strong health care staff ? doctors to nurses to support staff, all struggling with the unstoppable mad rush of Covid patients for over a year. Added to this has come about the black fungus and other invasions.

In sum, Modi wasted precious time. He was found wanting in situations when extreme care was the need of the hour. The tears welling up in his eyes, evident at a public event the other day, were tears induced by a sense of remorse. He failed to act at the precise hour when India rose as one and sought care and security from the pandemic.

Modi had famously let the nation down in the past too. The Demonetization, for one. People let go of that. The ordinary massed had less of a stake in it though they too suffered due to an abrupt stop in money circulation. In effect, what Modi did unwittingly was that he created new conditions for hoarding of black money. The job was made easier with the introduction of Rs 2000 notes. What a stupid act! Poor planning and poor execution! Modi and then finance minister Arun Jaitley virtually messed up with the national economy by such thoughtless actions and half-baked solutions. Yet, Modi won the 2019 elections by default, by the aura of military expedition to Balakot, Pakistan, where too it was no final gain for the nation -- except for the fact that the Pakistani generals ran for cover, they were shamed to their bones, and forever stopped their anti-India bluff and blusters. Have you heard any general opening his mouth after that?

On the other hand, reaching up close to Rawalpindi, raining some bombs on a hillock, and returning smartly without being challenged, the Indian Air Force did a great job. But, Indian establishment's surprising lack of alert in its aftermath meant that, in a day?s time, the Pakistani military came calling with its fighter jets and downed an Indian fighter aircraft or two, and caught hold of Abhinandan, the fighter jet pilot who dared to fly into the Pakistani territory during the engagement in the air. Had India maintained extreme alert against an immediate counter-offensive from the Pakistani side, the scenario would have been Advantage India. Even the pride arising out of the little gain we made in Balakot got washed away in a matter of a day or two. Yet, Modi could make political capital out of it in the 2019 elections. Note the fact it was the more nationalistic north-Indian states that gave a full-throated support to Modi and the BJP in this polls.

When it came to facing China, later, there was some gain though there was more pain vis-a-vis the Galwan Valley engagements lasting several months. The last of it is not heard. Nor was there a proper stock-taking yet. Perceptions are that India could give a strong warning to China that we will not be a silent spectator if more such incursions took place. The arrival of Rafale jets well in time added to India's air power.

The high point of Modi's seven-year rule was the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir. The successive generations of the Nehrus who ruled India made a mess of Kashmir and did too little to set things right. The smart act of ending the special status for Kashmir by the Modi government in its second term will be written in letters of gold. The credit must go less to Modi and more to Amit Shah. Why? It was easy to abrogate a law by a push of a pen and end the special status. The problem lay in its implementation. Amit Shah as home minister ensured that the ground situation remained well under control. All the worry was on that front. Not a fly could move without the permission of the security forces guarding every nook and corner of Kashmir 24x7. Give them and Shah the credit.

We as an enlightened society do not approve of the anti-Muslim stands of the BJP or the RSS. Kashmir, though, was a different ballgame. Pakistan played its games from the other side of the border for a full three decades. It was time to act decisively. Modi dragged matters during his first term. Now, with Shah around, it was time for action on the Kashmir front. Rajnath Singh as Defence Minister helped put the pieces together. The overriding Question is, why a Special Status for anyone or any state in this country? Instead, why not give fair and equal opportunities to one and all to struggle and come up the hard way in this land of nepotism and favouritism? Could Modi change any of India's pernicious and antiquated pro-elitist systems, including the scenario of skyrocketing corruption, a little bit for the better? Would it be enough to say he does not eat a dirty pie? Or, what of his promise to not allow anyone else too to eat a corrupt pie?

No file moves from one table to another in the Central Secretariat without bagfuls of money being used to grease the bureaucrats' palms. The bureaucracy is progressively riddled with corruption. They make money and go abroad and lead a lavish life at post-retirement stage. So much so, state governments are reportedly rushing to Delhi to pay up and move files of important projects forward. Else, it will gather dust there and the projects will die a natural death in course of time. What of anti-corruption agencies? They are more corrupt than the rest. Even grants for cultural institutions are guaranteed only if you pay up through the agents on the prowl, running around across states, I learn. These are the talk of the town.

What change has Modi made to India's fate when even a new nation like Bangladesh has set its house in order and is progressing faster?
The difference is in the matter of 'who' leads a nation. Mahathir Mohammad, Lee Kuan Yew, Sheikh Mohammad, Sheikh Hasina, President Xi Jinping. Look around and you see men (or women) with mettle. Narendra Modi with his 56-inch chest can still be a good wrestler, set against the likes of Rahul Gandhi with his judo skills. Both will let us, the nation, down. The seven years have proven that Modi is not the one who can lead India to better times. India is progressing, yes, at the pace of a snail.

So, what next? To put it simply, this is time for change. Regional satraps are sensing an opportunity. It is important that these corrupt dynasts are kept away from Delhi. They have a tendency to group together, grope around, and mess up with the power edifice in Delhi. Their egos run two miles ahead of them. Sharad Pawar is trying to break up the Congress sooner or later and take the centre-stage. He's working in multiple ways, though time is short for him. The 100-crore a month extortion scam has shades of Pawar himself, not just his NCP minister. This rhymes well with his party?s past history of money-minting as a political obsession.

The less said the better about other satraps, to the litany of which is added new forces like Muthuvelu Karunanidhi Stalin from Tamil Nadu. More of 2G scams can virtually kill this nation. Beware. It's already happening in the banking sector. Mehul Choksy has disappeared into thin air. What of Modi's hugely touted international connections when it came to fixing such sharks who looted the Indian banks and took refuge abroad? Another reason why Narendra Modi is not the answer to India. He will go round and round. Or the systems will take him round and round. He has no panacea to cure the nation's ills. The first five years he wasted by his penchant to rub shoulders with international figures. Covid halted him on his tracks. Modi cannot carry this obsession forward for now at least. Else, he would have wasted more of India's resources on that front.

Modi MUST GO. A fair reckoning is that the BJP still has a future and can be depended on to lead this nation to better times. There's life after Covid. The growth trajectory has to be pursued with better inputs in terms of leadership skills. Who fits the bill? This is time for Modi to start unwinding. Rather than the BJP fighting the polls under Modi in 2024, this is time to start the process of shaping of a new leader to take the leadership of the nation from Modi. The process of change can start now; which will mean the new leader will have nearly two years to prove his credentials in the PM's chair, by the time the next Lok Sabha polls come. Modi had himself asked for two terms, and he got it. He himself might not be keen on a third term. Modi fooled the nation for a long seven years and through two parliament polls. With his oratorical skills he can return to being a pracharak and leave the fate of the nation in safe hands.

Amit Shah should be the man for the future. He's a storehouse of energy. He means business. He has the courage and conviction to get things done. India needs a leader who can bulldoze his way through the rotten, antiquated establishment and its systems and produce results. India needs to move forward and in more energetic ways. Shah is the man to be counted on to bring about a positive and dynamic transformation to India and its systems. Modi can power the process from behind Shah. The RSS must take the lead yet again. No entity in this country can claim more of credit than the RSS for upholding national interests in the post-Nehru era. From where Sonia Gandhi and her team left, the RSS brought about a change through careful social engineering. Modi was fine for a while. He was the right choice too. People gave a full-throated ovation to him in two successive parliamentary polls. It's time for change and it's time for Modi to start the process of retreat.
premcee@gmail.com

INDIA HERE AND NOW www.indiahereandnow com

Last edited by Premchandran; at 12:06 AM
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