The Year 2019 has been historic by any measure. During the course of the year, the ruling dispensation at the Center fundamentally altered the nature of the Indian state. During its latter half, after Narendra Modi was re-elected as Prime Minister with an even greater mandate than in 2014, a chain of events was set in motion that would have implications for the country for years to come, if not decades.
It was, again, during the latter half of the year that Narendra Modi came into his own with his trusted Lieutenant Amit Shah as the Home Minister of the country. Together, they embarked upon a mission that has changed India forever. In these six months, we got some glimpse into the manner in which the Top 2 Ministers in the government function and from their conduct, we can draw some inferences into, what we can call, The Modi-Shah Doctrine of Governance.
In this article, we shall make an effort to deduce how Narendra Modi brought the liberal establishment to kneel, of which the mainstream media is the most prominent part, and dealt with the threat of Muslim mob violence. We shall also attempt to gain some understanding of the duo’s approach towards governance.
The Liberal Establishment brought to Kneel
The year can be divided into two halves for gaining a better understanding of how the Liberal Establishment was made to kneel. The first half, of course, revolves around the campaigning phase for the General Elections and the second, the six months blitzkrieg that changed India definitively.
The Liberal Establishment maintains its power in a Democracy through the use of its propaganda arm: The Mainstream Media. In a democracy, a political party lives and dies at the mercy of public opinion. If the mood of the public goes against the government, they will have to pay for it in the next elections. As such, the mainstream media as an institution is very much a political player, at par with the three other arms of the State.
That the mainstream media is referred to as the ‘Fourth Pillar of Democracy’ is enough indication of its political nature, however, that seems to elude our understanding at times. Therefore, if one has to bring the Liberal Establishment to kneel, it is essential that its propaganda wing is managed first. Fortunately enough, the advent of Social Media has been a huge gamechanger and it has vastly undermined the authority of the mainstream media over the narrative. And Narendra Modi rode that storm to power once in 2014 and then again, in 2019.
The fundamental reason, however, why Narendra Modi was able to defeat the media propaganda lies in his past. Due to his humble beginnings, he was perfectly aware of the pulse of the masses. He knew that the masses did not care much about the propaganda being run by the mainstream media and for people in Urban India, there was social media that could be utilized effectively to counter the propaganda of the mainstream media.
Therefore, the most important thing for Narendra Modi as Prime Minister was to secure for himself another term in power. And he could not have found a better person to take care of that than Amit Shah. While Narendra Modi was the face, Amit Shah worked with others behind the scenes to work out complicated political equations. While the mainstream media was busy with its relentless propaganda, the Modi-Shah due tamed the beast by focusing themselves entirely on the implementation of schemes on the ground and setting political scores.
Thus, in essence, what Narendra Modi and Amit Shah did was really very simple. They did not make their decisions based on the hysteria and wisdom of the mainstream media. They trusted their political instincts and backed them to accomplish the tasks they set. They knew the masses didn’t care much about the Rafale deal. Instead of going on the defensive, the BJP’s strategy on Rafale was a counter-attack. Ultimately, it came down to which leader had more credibility and the answer was simple: Narendra Damodardas Modi.
If the Modi government’s strategy during its first term was ignoring the mass hysteria generated by the media and put faith instead in their political instincts and knowledge, in the second term, the Modi government’s strategy with regards to the media could only be described as a giant middle finger. The media, with great help from their foreign counterpart, screamed and wailed as the Modi government abrogated Article 370 but the ruling dispensation marketed it as the fulfilment of an old promise and a great victory.
There are fundamental characteristics about their personality that make, both, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah so lethal. They are scarily comfortable in their own skin. They know they will never be loved by the mainstream media, it doesn’t matter what they did. Therefore, they just stopped bothering about their opinion. The mainstream media gave it their all in 2019 and yet, they managed to win over 300 seats. The people loved them, they could afford to be hated by the media.
And time after time, repeatedly, the Modi-Shah duo demonstrated that governance will no longer be held hostage by propaganda outlets. The mainstream media was wielded by the Liberal Establishment for one, and only one, purpose. To ensure that liberal policies continued to be implemented regardless of who was in power. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah walked in and upended the entire arrangement.
While the media whined about alleged human rights violations in Jammu & Kashmir, the Modi-Shah duo ignored it, knowing fully well that the actions of the government had massive support among the Indian electorate. The media continued its cantankerous outrage but the government paid no heed, insisting that the government will do what needs to be done in order to integrate Jammu & Kashmir completely with the Indian Union.
The Modi-Shah went several steps further than that. They went out of their way to show the media and the intellectual elite their place. Aatish Taseer, the son of Salman Taseer, who was going around spreading hysteria against the government, the Home Ministry revoked his OCI card and ever since that fateful evening, the poor man hasn’t stopped crying on social media. Aatish Taseer can still be found crying on social media at odd moments during the day.
It was Amit Shah sending a message: We don’t care what you think, what are you going to do about it? And once the intimidation of the mainstream media does not work, there’s very little that the liberal establishment has worked in its favour. Because propaganda is its biggest asset.
The Muslim Mob Violence: Consequence of the Liberal Establishment’s Defeat
The utter defeat of the Liberal Establishment and the relentless pursuit of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah towards accomplishing their ideological objective meant that the Opposition had to play the final card in their hand: The Threat of Muslim Mob Violence. In a matter of months, Triple Talaq was banned, Article 370 was abrogated, the Ram Mandir verdict was delivered and then, the CAA was passed through both Houses of the Parliament and there was nothing the Opposition could do to thwart the Modi-Shah juggernaut.
Thus, we had the entire opposition combine with media propaganda instigate and whitewash violent protests by Islamic extremists across the country in order to halt the march of the Modi-Shah juggernaut. OpIndia exposed the manner in which the Congress party was instigating protests across Universities. Barkha Dutt was caught glorifying a Jamia student who had given a call for Jihad right before the anti-CAA protests turned violent.
At one point, there was the feeling that things were getting out of hand. But the Home Minister and the BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka stepped in to quell the ensuing riots. The methods that were used were ‘unorthodox’, to put it mildly, but none could doubt their effectiveness. Once again, the media was hysterical about the methods used but the government was aware that it had complete support among the masses and that’s all that mattered in a Democracy. That is all that should matter in a Democracy.
In the end, let’s just put it this way: The slogans of “Ladhke lenge Azadi” and “Chheen ke lenge Azadi” along with other more virulent slogans did not end very well for the protesters. And in the aftermath of the Police crackdown, the much-hyped ‘revolution’ just fizzled out. One man who deserves a special mention here is Mahant Yogi Adityanath, another individual along the same ideological bend as the Modi-Shah duo. By the end of it all, leaders of the Muslim community were begging for forgiveness.
The Liberal Establishment believed it could piggy-back on the threat of Muslim Mob Violence and rise to relevance once again but unfortunately for them, the country was in no mood for it. Worse, the Government’s crackdown on the rioters further consolidated the BJP’s support among the electorate. They played their trump card and the Modi-Shah duo succeeded in using even that to their advantage. What else do they have left in their tank? Not much, really.
The Modi-Shah Doctrine of Governance
During the course of events that transpired, there were certain events that provided a glimpse into how the Modi-Shah duo think and function. The choice of Jamia Milia Islamia for the crackdown by Delhi Police and the Aligarh Muslim University by Uttar Pradesh was not made at random. These places were selected precisely for the reason that the crackdown in these Universities will receive maximum coverage by the media and consequently, provide the opportunity for the government to inculcate more fear in the hearts of the rioters.
It ought to be remembered that at least in Delhi, the violence started declining following the crackdown at Jamia. The violence at Seelampur occurred after but then, the protests started fading decisively. In Uttar Pradesh, the violence escalated following the crackdown at AMU but the government responded by enforcing an even harsher crackdown. The message from the BJP was clear. The rioters could afford to rampage through the streets but the ruling dispensation had six ways from Sunday at getting back at them. And the government had infinitely more resources at its disposal than the rioters. More importantly, every time rioters engaged in mob violence, public opinion consolidated that much more in favour of the government.
It ought to be remembered here that all of this did not happen in a day. For five years, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah worked hard towards consolidating their power. And when the results of the General Elections demonstrated that they had succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations, they decided to push several buttons in a very short span of time. Narendra Modi is the proverbial King and he certainly acted like one.
I had said in an article in September, “While many Modi supporters would like it very much if he treated the media the same way as Donald Trump treats them, Narendra Modi’s goal is to fundamentally alter the system. Therefore, he cannot act in the same manner as Donald Trump. He has to carefully navigate the system so that he can supplant it with one that is sympathetic to his own interests.”
In the same article, I had said, “Narendra Modi understood that as a King, he had a lot of time in his hands. And even if he could not accomplish all that he wished to during his own tenure as Prime Minister, his successor will. Therefore, he worked incrementally towards his goal. And the first major decision he took after being reelected was the abrogation of Article 370 which marked the death of Nehruvianism. And going forward, there are sufficient indications that 2024 will be won on the basis of Hindutva.”
The Core Principle: Play By The Rules Until The Very End
A King cannot afford to destroy institutions because he runs a very serious risk of undermining the very structural integrity of his Kingdom. Therefore, it’s essential that a King makes the existing institutions bend to his will and work with him rather than destroy them entirely. The reason is simple, the destruction of the institutions would lead to anarchy which would further undermine the King’s authority over his own territory.
Thus, the Government did not take unilateral action on any controversial matter, it always involved the Parliament in the process. Be it Kashmir, anti-Triple Talaq Bill or the Citizenship Amendment Act. At every juncture, it had support from significant sections of the Opposition camp.
If the government wanted, it could have passed an ordinance to begin the construction of the Ram Mandir. Maybe it could have brought a law in the Parliament and it’s likely that it would have passed as well. However, it would have given the opportunity to the Opposition to spread anarchy across the country. Therefore, the government waited, for more than five years, but ultimately it paid off.
The Supreme Court delivered a decisive verdict in favour of the Hindu community. The BJP could not take credit for it but that wasn’t necessary. Their contribution towards the Ram Janmabhoomi is well known and well documented. Therefore, although the BJP could not claim credit for the verdict in any manner, the goal was accomplished. It was a huge victory for the Hindu community and the victory was earned during Narendra Modi’s tenure as Prime Minister. And the Opposition could not say anything because all this time, they had used the same Court to put obstacles in the BJP’s path.
What we witnessed in 2019 was truly emphatic and one that happens rarely in any major country if ever. And all of this was accomplished without much violence at all. The Liberal Conception of the Indian State was thrown into the garbage dump and Hindutva entrenched itself firmly in the corridors of power. There’s a long way to go yet but the 2019 General Elections marked the end of the Battle. The second half of 2019 marked the Dawn of a New Age, the Reign of a New King.
Thus, what can be said definitively about the Modi-Shah Doctrine of Governance is the fact that the duo will strictly play by the rules on every single occasion. They will not attempt to undermine the institutions of the country in any manner. A King needs strong institutions for his reign to be effective and smooth. To ensure that, it’s absolutely crucial that a King plays by the rules. And when a King has consolidated enough power, the institutions of the country will begin to fall in the line of their own accord because they have their own interests as well.
Therefore, if ever there was a simple answer to the question of how the Modi-Shah duo brought the Liberal Establishment and the threat of Muslim Mob Violence to kneel, it is thus: They brought them to kneel by strictly adhering to the rules of the game while at the same time, continuously consolidating their political power. And when their political power had crossed a certain threshold, it allowed them to be more flexible in the manner in which they exerted their power in order to maintain their hold over the country they ruled and preventing the outbreak of massive anarchy.