Hemant Soren booed: Dear PM Modi, can you please make your supporters behave?

Modi apologists would have us believe that the treatment that the chief ministers are subjected to is a sign of his popularity and of the public disapproval of the latter. But they seem to forget that he is the prime minister of the country now, not the party poll campaigner.

Chandrakant Naidu August 22, 2014 08:40:26 IST
Hemant Soren booed: Dear PM Modi, can you please make your supporters behave?

Bhopal: It is disturbing when respect for decency and decorum in official functions is equated with cowardice. The Congress’s decision restraining its chief ministers from attending meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to avoid being booed by his supporters, has been variously portrayed as a sign of weakness and churlish conduct. But how fair is this assessment?

Imagine a situation where the prime minister of the country is booed and not allowed to speak at function also attended by a chief minister of a rival political party. It would not be difficult for a chief minister to ‘arrange’ all this. Would this be a sign of boldness on his part or of cowardice? In normal times it would be a sign of grace if the trouble-makers were made to keep silent or politely thrown out of the venue by their leader, but these are not normal times. When leaders are in the election mode all the time, like Modi is, poor conduct of supporters becomes acceptable behaviour.

Hemant Soren booed Dear PM Modi can you please make your supporters behave

Narendra Modi speaks at a rally in Ranchi. PTI

Modi apologists would have us believe that the treatment that the chief ministers are subjected to is a sign of his popularity and of the public disapproval of the latter. But they seem to forget that he is the prime minister of the country now, not the party poll campaigner. Indeed, the chief ministers should be applauded for being dignified in their response. If the Congress wants them not to be part of the prime minister’s meeting, it is also proper response.

However, if the heckling continues, it would not take long for any chief minister, including that of Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana or Jammu and Kashmir to work up similar hysteria against anyone on the dais through hired crowd. Does it not occur to the BJP strategists that the people can see through the design? If they can’t they deserve what awaits them.

It is not just the leaders of the opposition who are being subjected to such ugly display of Modi mania. Bhopal witnessed it shortly after Modi was named the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was to have the first taste of his leader’s obsession for himself at a party jamboree way back in September last year. Modi, the mounteblank, dwarfed Chouhan at that rally. Chouhan who was perceived to be in the rival Advani camp was subjected to similar booing by hordes of Gujarati–speaking party worker apparently imported from Modi’s home state. For the sake of decency Modi continued to shower platitudes on Chouhan after he was silenced by his supporters. This happened in the presence of party patriarch LK Advani and other senior leaders. No one in the public was left in any doubt about Modi’s objective.

Would it have been wise if the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee had not fully supported Chavan's decision to skip the Nagpur Metro event with the PM on Thursday considering the manner in which chief ministers have been treated in PM's events over the past week? The MPCC president Manikrao Thakre said, "The post of CM of Maharashtra is a matter of pride, no matter to which party he belongs. Any behaviour which hurts his pride is an insult of Maharashtra."

Even Raj Thackarey and Uddhav Thackaray should agree to that. Maharashtra has the tradition of respecting even the opponents. The disturbance created by Modi supporters at the Solapur event was as much an insult to the state as to the chief minister. At Solapur where the prime minister inaugurated a National Highway, Chavan had to stop speaking midway as BJP supporters would not let him speak. "It is surprising that the PM kept mum when the incident happened in his presence," Thakre said.

Expectedly, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain criticised the Congress leadership's decision to back its chief ministers’ decision not to share the dais with Narendra Modi at public functions. Hussain proudly (or shamelessly) asked the chief ministers were running away from Modi but how far can they run? He also said such a thing had never happened before in the country. One has not seen any other prime minister allowing his rally to be taken over by goons to shout down the other leaders either.

At Ranchi where Jharkhand Chief Minister and JMM leader Hemant Soren, who shared the dais with prime minister, was subjected to similar humiliation Soren mildly said, "We must respect the significance of the stage." One would have expected this line to come from Modi.

No point telling Modi that it doesn’t behove his newly-earned post to ignore such cheap effort to prop him up. He could have stopped it long ago if had not been enjoying it.

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