The day was 16th May, 2014. BJP led NDA had won the general elections and Shri Narendra Modi was going to be the 16th Prime Minister of India. Congress was completely routed. Pompous roadshows, Gujarat model, multiple claims to bring back the black money stacked abroad were some of the main highlights of the Modi led campaign.
It’s been 3 years and 7 months now. Make in India, Start up India, UDAN, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Digital India, Skill India, Mission Indradhanush, Smart city mission and many more such schemes have been launched which have won appraisal not only from the rank & file of the nation but also internationally. On the other hand, demonetisation, implementation of GST and Aadhar mandation, has also brought the Centre under strong criticism.
While the opposition, which here is the grand old party of India-INC, is unconvinced of even one of the plans & policies of the government being pro-poor and accuses it of name-changing and credit-hogging strategies, the ruling BJP maintains that it is the government of the marginalised and the two consecutive UPA regimes were a complete fallout.
While we watch everyday on news channels the inconclusive debates, fulminations & calumnies being pressed against each other by these parties, and read in the newspapers the scathing discourses of the Argus eyed politico-socio-economic columnists on the Prime Minister’s office, we miss an important question. What are our options?
India is a democracy. The largest in the world. And the essence of democracy lies in the fact that it always offers choice. And at times too many of them. India had a choice in the summer of 2014. To bring to power a man, who had proved his metal as the three-time Chief Minister of Gujarat, but was also alleged of Muslim carnage, OR to vote for more than a century old party whose leadership hung in balance. India chose the former. The matter to be looked into here is what level of choices were we offered. Narendra Modi- dauntless, rhetorician, visionary, a nationalist to the core but also a thorough believer of Hindutva ideology and thus deemed anti-Muslim. Rahul Gandhi, who was though, not the official face of the Congress in the last general elections but was an obvious contender, was inexperienced, politically humdrum, yet free of any corruption charges or malfeasance. Neither NaMo nor RaGa can be adjudged as the perfect fit for the highest office of the country. Both are positive and both are negative. Yet, we chose. We chose not between a God & a Satan, neither between the virtuous & the debauched, we chose between Scylla & Charybdis.
Yes! Between Scylla & Charybdis. Because in a democracy we never have ‘the best’ and seldom ‘good’, we may find ‘better’ but what we do have in galore is the ‘worse’. It is this better that we must look for among the many worse. Democracy never presents us with a choice between the good & the ugly. To quote George Orwell, politics is choosing between the lesser of the two evils. And for us Indians that lesser evil turned out to be Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi.
Ever since he acquired the PM’s office, he has been assailed not only by the Congress but also by many other minor parties for his anomalous decision-making. While his DBT and Jan Dhan Yojna were lauded globally, demonetisation and GST brought him equal rancour on the home turf. He has been aspersed, called names, trolled, at the same time commended, hailed and applauded. But so was the case with late PM Indira Gandhi. If nationalisation of banks, liberation of Bangladesh (East Pakistan) and Shimla Agreement stand to her credit, Emergency state of 1975 and Operation Blue Star (1984) are the sour reminders of the other side of her regime. Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary who ruled the archipelago for a little above 5 decades as Prime Minister and later as President, broke the US hegemony on his peoples. He did setup free education and healthcare systems but the standard of living in Cuba remains low, hitherto.
The 43rd President of the USA, George W. Bush, who won the presidency but lost the popular vote, is notorious for leading America into the Iraqi war and using nefarious anti-terror tactics, yet served full two terms and was able to pass the greatest tax cut in American history. Gamal Abdel Nasser, the revolutionary-turned-repressive-dictator, who died in 1970, is still revered by the Egyptians, even the young generation, as the greatest leader ever, though he lost the Sinai peninsula to Israel in the Six-day war (1967). And in line with these, the latest example of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe being grilled-up in the June of 2017 on charges of perjury & cronyism and then winning a landslide victory in the snap polls of October of the same year, proves the conviction that well behaved persons seldom create history.
Indira Gandhi, Fidel Castro, George W. Bush, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Shinzo Abe, Narendra Modi are all tainted. But yet are exalted. For they did (and are doing) the right thing, at the right time for their respective countries. They passed with distinction the comparatively better litmus test of politics. And if there is one thing common among all of them it is their prodigious ability to appeal to general public, which condones their foibles.
Modi government may have faltered in implementation of Goods & Service Tax, they may have crossed the line in their spiels, maybe demonetisation wasn’t such a great idea but, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code was and so was Ujjwala Yojna (PMUY), and the Sagarmala Project, and the Neem coated urea scheme, and numerous others which have actually reached and benefitted hundreds & thousands. The opposition must realise that blindly criticising the travails of and erecting hurdles for the government will only stagnate the country.
India is 70, at an age when such maturity should creep into our sociopolitical system when politicisation of trivial issues is replaced by bipartisanship, especially on key agendas, in the Parliament.
As for us citizens, the choice has evermore been tough and will be tougher in the future. Choosing the lesser of the two evils is still evil. But a pro-active devil is better than a sleeping saint who leads us nowhere.