By Aditya Aamir
Is Prime Minister Narendra Modi isolated in his own government? A prominent Dalit intellectual says PM Modi’s writ does not run and that his ministers do not listen to him; that they follow RSS diktats. According to Kancha Illiah, the Brahman-Bania-Rajput cabal call the shots in the Modi government and that ministers like Ravi Shankar Prasad answer to RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat.
This is a new one. Going by what we saw on Friday evening, it was Modi who got Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to back-off on the Unnao gang-rape case and let the investigating agencies do their job. Again, it was Modi who is said to have forced the two BJP ministers in the Mehbooba Mufti government to put in their papers for their roles in communalising the brutal rape and killing of an eight-year-old in Kathua in Jammu.
The Prime Minister in his address on Friday, while dedicating the Ambedkar Centre in New Delhi to the nation, said that those behind the Unnao and Kathua outrages would not be spared. It was after the PM’s statement that actions followed. Kancha Illiah must surely be talking through his hat, maybe wanting to prod Modi to do more for the Dalit.
Illiah’s “reminder” to the PM that his government was voted to power not by the upper castes but by the Dalit and the OBC, and therefore the PM, who being an OBC himself, had made several promises to the oppressed classes, those promises should be honoured. And ASAP as there was very little time left to Modi before the 2019 general elections would be on his head.
Saturday (April 14) was Ambedkar Jayanti and the PM was without doubt cranking up the BJP’s election machine with the Ambedkar Centre, like Mayawati’s “elephants” and Ambedkar statues in Lucknow. Dalit voices like Kancha Illiah are not impressed by Ambedkar centres and elephants, they want policy changes that spell change in the oppressed lives of the Dalit.
Right now they are bothered about the Supreme Court ruling on the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, adamant that no matter how many innocents get caught in the Act’s ambit, for a variety of reasons (personal to professional), the centuries of injustice done to the Dalit should be addressed and the very stringent SC/ST Protection Act, as it was fashioned by Parliament in 1989, should not be amended.
Till Unnao and Kathua suddenly became ‘breaking news’ for TV channels, after the news of the brutal crimes were in the first instance dismissed in a matter of seconds and a few words, the entire focus of the Opposition campaign centred on Modi’s “anti-Dalit” policies. The SC ruling on the SC/S (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was the inflexion point.
Now, we hear that the government may go the ordinance way to correct the apex court’s “mistake”. Will that satisfy the Dalit and the political parties arrayed behind/alongside him? Hardly likely. For, if for one party/alliance, politics is all about keeping the caste cauldron boiling, for the other, it is about keeping the communal fires flaring.
Both tactics are being honed out in states going to polls in 2018. And an India Today TV opinion poll results telecast the other day pointed to caste deciding the outcome in a majority of seats in Karnataka which goes to polls on May 12. The remaining seats will be decided by the Lingayats, who were recently categorised as a distinct religious group and accorded minority status by the state’s Congress government.
The big winner, according to the channel’s opinion polls, will be current Congress Chief Minister Siddaramiah, who will return to power with overwhelming popularity. That is not the moot point, the significant fact emerging out of the opinion polls is that the biggest beneficiaries of the cranked up caste divisions and the religious reconfiguration will be the Congress.
That is not an accolade that sits pretty on any political party but in politics niceties do not matter. What matters is victory at any and all costs. And the chaos and the blatant “games” we see being played out in the country are all to win at any cost. Suddenly, things are falling in place for the opposition parties and the government is under attack from all sides.
Nothing is more exhilarating than to see a government in flight. That is depending the context in which ‘flight’ is taken – ‘flight’ as in successfully taking off or ‘flight’ as in running scared, grounded! It looks like Narendra Modi has cut it too close to D-Day. He should have kept the country updated regularly on what he was up to on all the fronts he promised to make changes in 2014. Now, 2019 is on his head and he is running around the country, report card in hand. (IPA Service)