For the past few days, government agencies and the ruling BJP have been spending a great deal of time and energy in sending the message that there is no link between the National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). They are also stressing that these are not the creation of the Modi 2.0 government, but that this regime is merely taking forward the policies and actions devised by the erstwhile Congress-led UPA dispensation.
The government is correct, at least for the second part, that the NPR was devised and put in place as an exercise that will occur every 10 years, along with the census. As for the NPR being linked with the NRC, that debate will continue, but it is true that they were spoken about in the same breath during the UPA era, and, until some time ago, in this regime.
The issue here is not to debate the link between the two, or lack thereof, but to highlight the realisation within the government and Sangh Parivar that the situation on the ground needs to be contained and tackled urgently. This approach is slightly different from the initial thinking which sought to entirely dismiss the unrest.
While the forces inimical to the government will find some sort of a push back, there’s another question at play in closed-door meetings that the party and its ideological pater familias, the RSS, has held: Did the government really need to hasten in bringing ideological issues to their conclusion? Couldn’t it have spaced out implementation of ideological issues, particularly when the Modi government 2.0 has a brute majority in Lok Sabha and is comfortably positioned in Rajya Sabha till 2024?
This stems from the fact that protests in several parts of the country, including in the National Capital, and stray and sporadic incidents of violence, have disrupted the daily lives of ordinary citizens. The concern for safety and security among common people is growing at a time when economic slowdown is causing other concerns even among the social segments which have been supportive of Modi and his government. In marketing terms, even the best of ideas need to be spaced out, both for brand building and for intended reach to the people.
Contrast the first six months of Modi government 1.0 and Modi government 2.0. In 2014, from May till December, Modi made his mark in terms of governance and his “out of the box ideas” Some of these, rolled out in the first six months of NDA rule, include: Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, Swachh Bharat, building of toilets, Ujjwala Yojna, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, demographic dividend, skill India, Digital India, Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, and the like.
At the organisation level, with Amit Shah as BJP president, the party was putting unprecedented focus and energy on expansion: both geographically and in terms of number of its cadre, officially becoming biggest political party on earth. It snatched three states from Congress and its allies: Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand.
Since the beginning of his second term, the prime minister has been talking about his vision of New India, and even the schemes that have been rolled out — for example drinking water for every household — have been drowned by the speed and aggression with which his government has acted on ideological issues.
Between the Monsoon Session and Winter Session. the Modi government had its way: Passing the triple talaq bill; abrogating Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution concerning Kashmir and bifurcation of state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, the Ram Mandir verdict delivered by the Supreme Court ( the government's position had an important role), passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill to “correct a historic wrong committed due to partition of India on religious lines” and now the National Population Register. The only ideological issue left is Uniform Civil Code.
Sources within the ruling dispensation told Firstpost that the speed shown by the government to resolve the ideological issues in one go, during its first six months, was perhaps guided by the idea that all these ought to be concluded early as they were promises made in the manifesto and have been long-standing demands relating to core ideological issues. Sources said the remainder of the term — the next four-and-a-half-years— would be spent focussing on issues of development. The current disturbance, howsoever misplaced, is not sending right message both internationally and domestically.
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Updated Date: Dec 27, 2019 18:32:16 IST