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Political diagnostics will have to continue post 2019 if India is to ever realise its ambitions of stability

For the betterment of the 1.3 billion people, let these harsh but beneficial tests continue. Cliché as it may sound, the first step to solving a problem is to see and accept it in its entirety

Anyone who voted for Modi in 2014 imagined they are doing it for the betterment of the country. Economic growth was expected to grow multi-fold, the income distribution was to become even between various economic classes, corruption was to come to an end and so on. In a nutshell, all our problems were to come to an end as soon as the lotus lit up on the EVM machines (few non-“rigged” ones included).

Many promises have been fulfilled and some, undoubtedly, haven’t.

So, will this change depending on which way the elections go in 2019? Will the pace of the country’s growth and quality of common man’s life improve drastically? Unfortunately, no. If a non-BJP coalition government comes to power in 2019, which would obviously be with the sole agenda to keep Modi away, things will get worse. But that is well-known, so the real question is why will the country not progress faster even if Modi returns in 2019?

One recurring thing we have seen since Prime Minister Modi took the reigns in 2014 is while people voted Congress out from direct governance, it is far from eradicating their ideology and more importantly, their influence over institutions.

Starting with bureaucrats, they were almost addicted to the free reign they had earlier. Right from their budgets, freebies, even the quid pro quo arrangements with various stakeholders, to them practically running the country. That is until the scams started making headlines at which point they decided to just excuse themselves from any decision-making and hence the virtual standstill in governance which we witnessed for most of UPA 2.

Enough has been said and heard about how Prime Minister Modi has tried to change the ‘chalta hai’ attitude within the bureaucracy of various ministries and how some of them have revolted quietly by ensuring many of the government’s measures do not see light of the day and even when they do, the impact is not as far-reaching as it ideally should have been.

Then came the media houses. Never in the country’s history has the blatant bias of most of the media houses come to the fore as it has since 2014. Even though the game is getting a little more balanced recently, overall the media is still a lot more critical of any shortcoming by anyone related to BJP then they are with their counterparts across the aisle.

Most recently, the media was reporting and debating the ‘hate’ politics practiced by UP government by renaming Allahabad. While renaming cities might not be the most logical thing, it is surely not more illogical then it was when Madras was renamed Chennai or Bangalore was renamed Bengaluru. Such was the dishonesty of the Media, that they spoke as if Yogi Adityanath was the first to ever rename a city, forgetting, that most cities were renamed by Congress itself.

While the advent of social media has made it difficult for media houses to peddle outright lies, we need to be mindful of the power the news still holds in our country where even today a decent portion of our population is not as tech-savvy to be using social media.

The traditional news outlets still shape their views of the country and national politics. So, while one expects the government to take tough decisions for the betterment of the country, a lot of their time and effort is spent on perception management.

Another recurring nuisance we witnessed in the last 4 years was the forced holidays because of strikes, agitations, bandhs, etc. The minorities, be it based on religion, caste or anything at all apparently felt more unsafe in the last 4 years than since 1947. The narrative was so carefully crafted that even some Bollywood celebrities chanted the same tune.

While the bandhs and the occasional mob violence might not be new for the country, one chain of incidents exposed a bone-chilling conspiracy and shed light on how Naxalites thrive in the country.

The ultra-left wingers disguised as journalists, professors and in other respected professions were exposed to be responsible for hatching the violence which the country suffered in the first two weeks of 2018 starting with Bhima Koregaon violence in Pune. Supporting the Naxalite movement to weaken the country from within was the main job description of these elites from our society. And while even this might not be an earth-shattering news for some as the red corridor and their urban sympathizers have been infamous for a while now, what was really alarming was the next conspiracy they were working on – to assassinate none other than the alleged poster boy of all the problems and nuisance we have looked at so far, PM Modi.

In any democratic country, a plan to assassinate the leader of the government would be nothing short of treason and will be dealt with accordingly by the country’s law enforcement agencies and the courts. But in our country, while the agencies did their job in exposing this conspiracy and arresting the culprits, the courts were unhappy with the idea of these “distinguished” people of the society being in police custody. Thus, they only agreed to keep the individuals within the luxury of their homes in the form of house arrest initially. While for some of them they have now agreed to grant judicial custody, one of them has already walked out free and one other still remains arrested within the luxury of their house.

At best, Modi’s tenure can be described as a nationwide diagnostic test since we do not even know the extent to which our institutions have been compromised. And until that is completed, initiating the correct treatment is a far-fetched dream. Make no mistake, this effort has not been limited to just some non-invasive minor scans and cuts but includes a major shot of radiation/chemotherapy in the form of demonetization. And what did that show us? The backbone of our economy, the banks (some of their employees) were working against the country’s immune system by helping the culprits launder their illicit wealth and camouflage them as healthy cells.

Another pillar of democracy which has raised eyebrows over its conduct during Modi’s tenure is, unfortunately, the judiciary. It all started with the efforts of the Modi government in its very first year to bring in transparency in the process of appointment and promotion of judges, which despite being cleared in both the houses of Parliament was shot down by the Supreme Court. Apparently, they did not see any issue with the opaque method of the collegium. This led to the initiation of the tug of war between the government and the court over the appointment of various judges in the last 4 years.

Congress also attempt to impeach the CJI. This brazen attempt was shot down by the Vice President, and rightly so.

Irrespective of how objectively one tries to look at this, two issues stand out. Firstly, the fact that the trust in the Judiciary is certainly wavering especially after some of the decisions that concerned Hindu tradition Sabarimala decision, Ayodhya postponement and the Diwali cracker verdict to name the most prominent ones.

Secondly, and probably more appalling thing is the statement from the CJI stating there are more important matters for the Supreme Court to look at other than Ayodhya. And if anyone is wondering what can be more important than an issue which has been lingering for more than a century, is associated with the religious beliefs of close to a billion people and has led to riots in the past, the very next day the SC dwelled into the pricing of the Rafale jets. Something which just a week earlier they had said they won’t get into.

If one is looking for any common links between the two issues, look no further than the ultimate beneficiary in both these instances – Congress. Such instances make Harish Salve’s video from 2014 seem prophetic wherein he warned of situations where Congress would use the judiciary to intervene in the governance. And while none of this might really be happening for the first time, what is really worrying is the possible intention and the final outcome of these moves.

The government and the billion people, it seems are being told in virtually no uncertain terms to look for a different solution if a temple is to be constructed in its rightful place. Already the demand for an ordinance in this regard was being made as many felt the solution to this historic issue needs to be found outside the court, such voices have only got louder since the CJI’s 5-minute-long hearing.

Now, if the government goes down the ordinance route, it risks creating a political storm. On the other hand, if they don’t bring an ordinance and wait for the Supreme Court which is now all but certain to not happen before the 2019 elections, they risk alienation from RSS and other supporters, allies and some part of the Hindu voter base. What this has essentially done is create a state of conflict where there ideally should have been none.

This has been the Congress’ modus operandi all along. Create conflict where there should be none through beneficiaries it has inoculated for decades. Congress is a disruptive force which is more lethal when out of power than when in power.

While all of this will unfold in the next few months before the 2019 elections, it leads us to one logical conclusion for now, irrespective of what and how hard the government tries, the influence and ideology inculcated by the Congress rule since independence will not allow India to realize its true potential. However, it took a Modi and his diagnostic tests for us to even just realize this, and as mentioned before, even now we are probably unaware of the extent to which our institutions are compromised. Thus, for the betterment of the 1.3 billion people, let these harsh but beneficial tests continue. Cliché as it may sound, the first step to solving a problem is to see and accept it in its entirety.

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Neeraj Ashok
Neeraj Ashok is the pseudonym under which I have published an ebook version of the first of my political thrillers from the Kabir Sood series - The Linchpin. As cliche as it may sound, but the most important ingredient for writing fiction is to keep it as close to the real world as possible. This is where my curiosity to stay updated with political current events about India and other countries comes in handy. Please do share your reviews on this article and for my book as well, if you are one of those few who really like reading political thrillers.

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