By Sushil Kutty
There is some confusion on whether India should consider itself “Vishwaguru” or be wise and hold back on the boast? One view is why go the extra mile with the “present government’s exaggerated sense of the country’s global power and indigenous capability”, i.e., Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “macho manner” and muscular foreign policy, which has rubbed off on External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, too.
The brusque handling of India’s foreign affairs has of late become a matter of concern to the world. It is bandied about that Canada is the enemy and Pakistan is powerless in the face of India’s robust diplomacy. What follows is that a major portion of Indian citizens believe “Modi government’s tall talk” and when a Modi minister brags about the potential takeover of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “bhakts” need no more convincing.
Latest is the humiliation at the hands of the US state department over the US based Sikh Khalistani leader Pannu who was the target of assassination by the Indian agents, according to the US filing in New York Court. Further, the US foreign relations committee of the Congress will be holding a hearing on this Indian action. Such is the treatment mete out by USA to the country which it considers as strategic partner and main ally in South Asia against China.
One of the reasons why the Bharatiya Janata Party scored a brute majority in 2019 was the growing belief among voters of Modi’s invincibility and the grandiose claim “if there’s Modi, the sky’s the limit”. The fact is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political adversaries should disregard Modi’s reach among the average voters at their own peril.
So-called experts on “what’s happening” should refrain from dismissing talk of the feeling of “India rising” under Modi rule. Prime Narendra Modi waving from a Tejas LCA shouldn’t be swept aside with a snide sneer. “Modi the Pilot” is now embedded in the psyche of not just Modi “bhakts”; Tejas has become a national emblem after Prime Minister Narendra Modi “flew the Tejas” and took India’s “indigenous capabilities” sky-high.
Does that mean India will stop importing foreign made fighter aircraft? Nope. The point is making Indians take pride in “Made in India” never fetched negative points to any political party. Unless the product is a proven dud. Projecting India’s self-reliance is half the domestic political fight won, and it does not matter if India’s adversaries say it is false pride.
India is not about to go to war with them. No Indian government, this one or the next, should stop flaunting India’s economic and strategic power. India is not a minion, neither in the BRICS, nor in the QUAD. The point is at least now, whether the Congress notches a stellar performance in the 5-states elections or not, the opposition parties shouldn’t give the impression that the INDI-Alliance is “against India”.
The BJP and the lapdog media have been doing their best to lend currency to this impression. It is time to distinguish between Narendra Modi and Tejas, the two are not the same. The INDI-Alliance has less than six months to change the impression that opposition parties are against India. It is a tricky proposition, but it has to be done.
The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Modi government are clever foes. Nobody knows what December 3 will throw up, what surprises will be pulled out of the Election Commission hat? There are a plethora of varied apprehensions that there’s mischief afoot, especially considering that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the BJP’s “name and face” of the Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan elections and how can “Modi hai toh Mumkin” lose, impossible?
So, the reality of December 3 could be different, vastly different. There’s a feeling that the huge margins of victory/defeat established by the exit polls were to create a perception, for the perception to settle down that the “BJP victories” in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan were because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi alone.
The problem with the Opposition, for the Opposition, is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has built around himself a credibility of trust with the coating of pride in India, however false or untrue. The Opposition is seen as anti-India. The December results will also establish whether the mighty Muslim vote-bank was able to stand up to the BJP and Modi’s Hindutva redoubt?
Taking pride in India, and taking pride in being a Hindu were crucial to these elections. For 10 years the Opposition made sure to equate Prime Minister Narendra Modi with India. The opposition, especially the Congress, fed that narrative and wouldn’t stop. Today, the BJP is reaping what the Opposition had sown. The BJP fought the elections on Modi and Modi alone because the Congress struck up the conversation “Modi is India, India is Modi”. (IPA Service)