The price of arrogance: How Amit Shah damaged PM Modi's governance agenda
The larger message for Narendra Modi and Amit Shah is they are also products of the same political system which thrives on black money driven electoral politics.
It remains a subject of speculation whether BJP President Amit Shah had consulted Prime Minister Narendra Modi before making a pointed accusation that a Trinamool Congress supported Chit Fund had financed the alleged terror operations exposed in Burdwan. It may be presumed that in normal circumstances Amit Shah, regarded as Modi’s alter ego, would not make such a serious allegation without consulting the BJP high command. Though Prime Minister has publicly distanced himself from Amit Shah’s charge against Mamata Banerjee’s party, the damage seems to have been done already.
The BJP’s unnecessary aggression toward Mamata Banerjee has largely resulted in Parliament getting paralysed the way it has these past few days, especially at a time when the ruling party was planning to bring a substantive legislative agenda to the fore. The TMC’s retaliatory aggression against the BJP, whether on the black money issue or on the utterly communal statement by Sadhvi Niranan Jyoti, is in some ways also galvanizing the rest of the opposition. A new momentum is now building, both in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, where the opposition has a majority, to forge a common front against the BJP.
Unfortunately, this vigorously united opposition to BJP is happening rather early in the life of the NDA government, thus jeopardizing much of the legislative reforms that PM Modi wants to execute. Why is this happening? In my view. this is happening because the BJP is becoming ever more arrogant after its recent victories in the assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana. In fact, Amit Shah’s aggressive body language in public meetings in Bengal appears like Modi’s during the Lok Sabha campaign. The tone, tenor and cadence of Shah’s speeches in Bengal seemed to suggest that the BJP was arriving with its electoral bulldozer to wipe out all other parties in that state. Of course, Shah has every right to do what he does best but then Modi must remember his pledge when he took over as Prime Minister in June—that he will work in a constructive manner with the Chief Ministers to evolve a new, cooperative development model. Is Modi following this pledge in spirit? The answer is no.
The more Amit Shah makes accusatory statements against regional leaders, the more the opposition will get inspired to come together to thwart Modi’s reforms agenda in Parliament. Besides, Modi is giving the opposition a fresh handle to rake up many issues which are currently on the back burner. For instance, Amit Shah is totally the wrong guy to be making accusations of criminal nature against other regional leaders like Mamata Banerjee. Shah himself is a subject of serious criminal investigations and has been chargesheeted in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter killing case in Gujarat. That case was conducted by the CBI under the monitoring of the Supreme Court, which had asked for the trial to be conducted outside Gujarat for obvious reasons. Shah barely escaped being chargesheeted in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case early this year.
The point is even if the BJP, which often described itself as a party with a difference, has Shah as its President, it is best advised not to let Shah make criminal accusations against others. And not least against a firebrand leader like Mamata Banerjee. One commentator on television suggested Mamata Banerjee must show political decency, like Naveen Patnaik of Orissa, whose party is also being investigated for a chit fund scam. Well, Mamata Banerjee is not Navin Patnaik, and that is what makes Indian politics what it is. Besides, it is also not correct to assume that Navin Patnaik is happy about the way the Central Bureau of Investigation is going about questioning and arresting his partymen. Patnaik is generally a man of few words and he speaks in different ways at appropriate junctures.
The larger message for Narendra Modi and Amit Shah is they are also products of the same political system which thrives on black money driven electoral politics. It won’t wash beyond a point if the BJP leadership acts holier than thou and appears to let loose central investigators against the regional parties and then use incomplete evidence to make political charges. This is precisely what Amit Shah has done while accusing Trinamool Congress of being part of the Sharada Chit Fund’s alleged link to the Burdawan terror case.
Though the PMO has specifically rejected Shah’s statement on the floor of Parliament, it is unfortunate that some BJP spokespersons still go about hinting that “at present there may not be concrete evidence but soon it may come out.” Such statements by the ruling party members also show the BJP’s electoral victories have indeed created growing arrogance which is seeping right through the party cadres. Modi needs to temper this sooner rather than later if he wants cooperation from the opposition parties on his developmental reforms agenda. This might be tough act for Modi considering that the signal he has sent to the party cadres so far is that of rewarding those who are good at promoting politically aggressive and communally divisive discourse.
Author is Executive Editor at Amar Ujala Publications
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