A few days before, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was declared the prime ministerial candidate of BJP led NDA. I heard on television, intellectuals thinkers, analysts and opinion makers proclaiming how Modi does not represent their idea of India. Similar thoughts have been echoed by nobel laureate Prof. Amartya Sen, best selling author Amitabh Ghosh, and Kannada writer and critic Prof. U. R. Ananthamurthy. In a democracy we all have our right to project the person we think represent us. So i have no issue with someone not liking NDA’s choice of prime minister of India. If he is saavy enought to secure majority for his electoral alliance, he will rule India.
It, however, got me thinking. Why so many notable people wish and pray that Modi led NDA do not come to power. One reason, I believe is the fear that Modi may polarize India along religious lines. There may be discrimination against minorities. Minorities may be relegated to the status of second class citizens in their own country. In essence, pluralistic cultural fabric of india may be lost forever.
These are valid arguments. However, in Modi led Gujarat have we seen any riot for past ten years or more? Many claim minorities have been discriminated against and minorities have been bludgeoned to submission. In last assembly election, BJP has won from muslim dominated areas of Gujarat. In local body elections, many muslim candidates have contested and won under BJP ticked in Gujarat. Is this any indicator of discrimination against minorities? May be, truly muslims are afraid of BJP. Modi as leader of BJP led NDA has to work extra hard to remove fear among minority communities.
History of congress has been tainted with riots. We may recall, complicity of congress in anti-sikh violence post assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi. More recently, riots broke out in Muzaffarnagar, UP. Involvement of a senior member of ruling Samajwadi Party was allegedly captured in a TV sting operation. An elected representative of ruling party, made arrangement to get his own co-religionists massacred with the intention of coming out as saviour later. Strangely, not many people exhibited antipathy to ally with Congress in elections in the past, and not many are thinking now of making Samajwadi Party untouchable either. The mask of secularism has come off Samajwadi Party, a major prop to minority UPA government at the centre. I hope all parties, that swear by secularism, will now boycott Samajwadi Party, like they shunned BJP. Electoral alliance with Samajwadi Party must be as much taboo as it is with BJP.
Coming back to the idea of a pluralistic India, it is important to note that India has been practicing pluralistic democracy for last sixty five years. Of these sixty five years, congress had been in power for nearly fifty years. Yet communal fissures have not been bridged. Congress policy of giving dole helps keeping alive antagonism among communities by perpetuating poverty.
May be it is time to look for alternative ways.In a forward looking upwardly mobile India, communities may not expend energy to stoke communal violence. Development, jobs, prosperity without caste creed and religion may keep Indians busy for a better future. We learn how far behind we are compared to any developed or developing country, when we go abroad. Our infrastructure is poor, our cities are poorly managed, our public transport system decrepit, our lack basic sanitary infrastructure, list goes on. If we have not been able to fix these in sixty years, may be it is time to look at alternative. Yes vision of pluralistic India at peace within is important. However, what about prosperous India, clean India, disease free India, corruption free India? These are my ideas of India. Many young people probably subscribe to this idea of India. Finally, why we are so worried about Modi coming to power. If we can bring him to power, we can also dislodge him if he does not deliver.