Friday, May 30, 2014


Jayalalithaa to Meet Narendra Modi on June 3 Amid Talk of Alliance

Jayalalithaa to Meet Narendra Modi on June 3 Amid Talk of Alliance
Sources said BJP leaders have been in touch with Ms Jayalalithaa, who swept Tamil Nadu in the general elections. (File photo)
New DelhiJ Jayalalithaa, Tamil Nadu chief minister, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on June 3, amid the buzz that she is in talks with the ruling BJP to join the central government.

The AIADMK leader had skipped Mr Modi's oath ceremony on Monday in protest against the presence of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Officially, Tamil Nadu has said that she will meet Mr Modi on Tuesday to discuss issues related to her state's growth. (Jayalalithaa to Boycott Narendra Modi's Swearing-In Ceremony: Sources)

Sources said BJP leaders have been in touch with Ms Jayalalithaa, who swept Tamil Nadu in the general elections, winning 37 of the state's 39 Lok Sabha seats.

That makes her party the third largest in Parliament, very close to the Congress, which has 44 MPs.

The BJP has a majority on its own in the Lok Sabha with 282 seats and is very comfortable placed at 336 along with its pre-election partners in the National Democratic Alliance or NDA.

But it needs to bolster its numbers in the upper house or the Rajya Sabha to be able to smoothly push through legislation. It currently has the 65 MPs of the national alliance it leads. The AIADMK has 11 Rajya Sabha MPs.

The BJP reportedly also wants to ensure that regional powerhouses like the AIADMK, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress and Naveen Patnaik's BJD, each of whom scored big wins in their states to be among the bigger parties in Parliament, do not emerge as a strong political force against the government. Ms Banerjee has 12 MPs and Mr Patnaik has 6.

Mr Modi has, sources said, instructed his ministers to make courtesy calls on the chief minister when they travel to Tamil Nadu.

Ms Jayalalithaa is said to share a good rapport with Mr Modi and was seen in the run-up to the general elections as a natural ally would the BJP have needed support to form government.

During the campaign, both leaders criticised each other as they addressed their voters. But after they emerged big winners on May 16 when votes were counted, they exchanged greetings and Mr Modi assured the state of the Centre's support. (Election Barbs Behind Them, Modi and Jayalalithaa Talk on Phone)

But Ms Jayalalithaa had sacked a party leader soon after for suggesting that the AIADMK would like "close ties" with the BJP. "Narendra Modi is great friend of Jayalalithaa, they may differ politically. If he becomes PM then Madam would like close ties," former AIADMK leader K Malaisamy had said. (Jayalalithaa Expels Partyman Who Suggested She Would Ally With Modi)

(Courtesy: NDTV) 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Boko Haram Extremism Unacceptable

The kidnapping of more than 270 schoolgirls in Nigeria and opening fire on a busy marketplace, killing hundreds, by the Boko Haram extremist network have triggered worldwide concern, shock and outrage. As many as 300 people were killed in the assault on the town of Gamboru Ngala on Nigeria’s border with Cameroon. Killing innocent persons and kidnapping young girls are un-Islamic and inhuman. But this extremist group admittedly captured the girls, saying they should never have been in school and should instead get married. The group has also threatened to sell the girls as slaves! This is highly unacceptable and strongly condemnable.
The Hausa word ‘boko’ figuratively means Western or non-Islamic education, and ‘haram’ means prohibited. Thus the group called Boko Haram, which has been active in Nigeria since 2009, is opposing Western or non-Islamic education for girls. No scripture, no sensible book or no sane person prohibits education for girls or learning any branch of knowledge. The Qur’ān does not limit education to males only, for education is the right of every human being. The fact remains that the very first word revealed in the Qur’ān is iqra meaning ‘read’. When Islam commands us to read from the cradle to the grave, the tone is general without restricting or excluding any gender, sect or group. And this commandment to read is not restricted to Islamic knowledge only but rather it covers acquiring all branches of knowledge and learning which can contribute to the progress and advancement of human society. It is this very wide Islamic concept of education that produced great Muslim scientists, mathematicians, geographers, astronomers, astrophysicists, biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, chemists, alchemists, economists, social scientists, earth scientists, political scientists, physicians, surgeons, physicists and engineers, who contributed significantly to science and civilization in the early period of Islam, and whom the post-modern age envies.
This deplorable act of kidnapping young girls has made local Muslim women feel the sting of another stereotype of women being forced into oppression and labelled as second-class citizens. They have launched a social media campaign under the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls to effect renewed world attention to Boko Haram’s campaign of violence. Muslim women are taking a stern stand against Boko Haram and are joining the movement #BringBackOurGirls.
There is no sense in rejecting the group as one created by the West. Muslim organisations must condemn this abominable act of the group which is doing great disservice to Islam. It is high time the group realised the futility and gravity of its extremism and release the girls with honour and dignity and thus save Nigeria from foreign intervention.
(Courtesy: Radiance, New Delhi) 


Hon'ble Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modiji, I saw your website and was very much impressed. I am happy like lakhs of other people that a knowledgeable scholar and a principled person like you have become the Prime Minister of India. We must be proud for that.I feel that India has got its dear son as PM. Your interest in giving scholarly discourses and writing poems is amazing. Your hard work in the political arena also impresses everyone. I don't know how to express my views. Congratulations and best wishes to you and your team. No doubt you will treat all people as one without any discrimination whatsoever and try your best to take India to progress and prosperity creating employment opportunities to the unemployed graduates and others.

The following is the link of the Hon'ble Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modiji.


Modi now India's 15th PM

President Pranab Mukherjee administers the oath of office to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday. Photo: Rashtrapati Bhavan
The HinduPresident Pranab Mukherjee administers the oath of office to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday. Photo: Rashtrapati Bhavan

Narendra Damodardas Modi took oath as India’s 15th Prime Minister, along with 44 members of his Council of Ministers, on Monday in a culmination of a Lok Sabha election campaign that he led for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, taking it to a stunning victory.
Dressed in a cream kurta and a fawn jacket, with a tricolour brooch on his lapel instead of the party’s Lotus symbol, Mr. Modi, overseen by President Pranab Mukherjee, took oath at a well-attended function in the decorated forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Mr. Modi received a standing ovation and was loudly cheered as he arrived for the swearing-in. Soon after he took oath, there was yet another round of resounding applause along with chants of Bharat Mata ki JaiModi, Modi; and a subdued Jai Shri Ram.
Minutes after he was sworn in a little past 6 p.m., he tweeted: “A big thank you to all friends who will be viewing the ceremony on TV and through social media. Your constant support & blessings mean a lot.”
As the sun went down over the dome of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the special invitees — Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaska, Prime Minister of Bhutan Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay, Bangladesh Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom — arrived to a loud applause.
They greeted the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and BJP patriarch L.K. Advani and joined the dignitaries in the front row, including Vice-President Hamid Ansari, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President Pratibha Patil and Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha. All eyes were on Mr. Sharif as he walked to greet the Indian leaders.
Among the very first to reach the venue was Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar who was followed by a stream of well-known faces from the world of business, sports and politics. Several MPs turned up in their traditional, colourful attires with elaborate headgears despite the oppressive heat.
This was the first time that the oath-taking ceremony was attended by not just over 5,000 guests but also dignitaries from eight SAARC nations and Mauritius. Also present were diplomats of various countries who were invited by the BJP to “participate in the culmination of the celebration of democracy.”
Mr. Modi’s swearing-in was followed by that of party president Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Uma Bharati, Najma Heptullah, Gopinath Munde, Ramvilas Paswan, Kalraj Mishra, Maneka Gandhi, H.N. Ananth Kumar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati, Anant Geete, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Narendra Singh Tomar, Jual Oram, Radha Mohan Singh, Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Smriti Irani and Harsh Vardhan as Cabinet Ministers.
Ten Ministers of State (Independent charge) and 12 Ministers of State were sworn in. Prime Minister Modi and several of his colleagues will assume office on Tuesday.
Seen among the audience were Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and his wife Nita and two sons. His younger brother, Anil Ambani, and his family and their mother, Kokilaben, were present. Other industrialists who attended the ceremony included Hinduja group chairman Ashok Hinduja, Essar group chief Shashi Ruia and its chief executive officer Prashant Ruia, the Mittal brothers Sunil, Rajan and Rakesh, and Gujarat industrialist Gautam Adani.
From the world of sports cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar and Indian cricket captain M.S. Dhoni were present.The new government did not immediately announce the portfolios for the new Ministers. But the allocations are likely to be as follows: Rajnath Singh Home; Arun Jaitley Finance, with additional charge of Defence; Sushma Swaraj External Affairs; Nitin Gadkari Surface Transport; Sadanand Gowda Railways; and Venkaiah Naidu Urban Development Ministry. Other portfolios being mentioned include Women and Child Development for Maneka Gandhi, Human Resource Development for Smriti Irani and Agriculture for Radha Mohan Singh. While Ravi Shankar Prasad may get Law and Justice along with Telecom, Ram Vilas Paswan is tipped for the Food and Civil Supplies portfolio. Nirmala Sitharaman is likely to get independent charge as Minister of State of the Commerce ministry. The lone Muslim face in the Modi Cabinet, Najma Heptullah, may get Minorities Affairs.
(Courtesy: The Hindu) 

Monday, May 26, 2014


Modi confirms lean Cabinet, merged Ministries

Preparations in full swing for the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Narendra Modi will be sworn in at 6 p.m. today.
The HinduPreparations in full swing for the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Narendra Modi will be sworn in at 6 p.m. today.

Focus on downsizing for smart governance; commitment to change work culture

In the first confirmation of Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi’s preference for small government, his office said on Sunday that an effort would be made to converge Ministries with one Cabinet Minister heading a cluster of Ministries in complementary sectors.
Mr. Modi will aim at “smart governance,” downsizing the top layers of the government and making an effort for expansion at the grassroots level, a statement from Gujarat Bhawan said.
Extending his idea of “minimum government and maximum governance,” the new Prime Minister will give an impetus to bringing about a change in the work culture and style of governance.
Mr. Modi held a series of meetings with BJP president Rajnath Singh and other leaders through the day. Senior leader Arun Jaitley met senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh functionary Suresh Soni.
Speculation was rife on who would be included in the Cabinet. The names doing the rounds include Mr. Jaitley for Finance, Mr. Rajnath Singh for Home, M. Venkaiah Naidu for Agriculture, Nitin Gadkari for an integrated infrastructure Ministry, Piyush Goel for Commerce and Ravi Shankar Prasad for Law and Justice. Arun Shourie is tipped for the post of Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission.
Senior leader Sushma Swaraj is likely to get External Affairs or Defence. Murli Manohar Joshi, Sumitra Mahajan or Karia Munda may be considered for the Speaker’s post. Party patriarch L.K. Advani may take over as NDA chairperson.
Among the allies, Lok Jan Shakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan and Shiv Sena leader Ananth Geete are likely to be in the Ministry. TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu met Mr. Modi and apprised him of the views of his party.
Sources said 30 to 40 Ministers are likely to be sworn in with Mr. Modi.
(Courtesy: The Hindu) 

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Backchannel talks with Pakistan likely


  • In response to an unprecedented invitation from Narendra Modi to leaders of SAARC states, Nawaz Sharif will travel to New Delhi for Mr. Modi's swearing-in. Photo: AP
    In response to an unprecedented invitation from Narendra Modi to leaders of SAARC states, Nawaz Sharif will travel to New Delhi for Mr. Modi's swearing-in. Photo: AP

Sharif decides to come after consulting powerful military

Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will discuss setting up a secret diplomatic channel to manage any crisis that may erupt between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, official sources have told The Hindu.
The two leaders, who are scheduled to meet for the first time on Tuesday, will also discuss using back-channel diplomacy to address sensitive issues such as cross-border terrorism.
Islamabad announced on Saturday that Mr. Sharif would travel to New Delhi for the swearing-in of India’s new Prime Minister, in response to an unprecedented invitation from Mr. Modi to leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation states. It also announced the release of 150 fishermen, held after straying into Pakistani waters, as a goodwill gesture.
The Pakistani Prime Minister is also expected to invite Mr. Modi to visit Pakistan.
Mr. Sharif’s acceptance of the invitation followed two days of discussion with his aides, as well as Pakistan’s powerful military. Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province and Mr. Sharif’s brother, also met with Pakistan’s military chief, General Raheel Sharif, to discuss the issue, an official source familiar with the talks said.
Friday’s attack on the Indian consulate in Herat in north-western Afghanistan strengthened Mr. Sharif’s belief that a personal meeting with Mr. Modi was important to pre-empt future terrorism-related crises, the source said.
Prime Minister Singh and President Pervez Musharraf had begun using secret diplomacy in 2005, using retired diplomats Satinder Lambah and Tariq Aziz to explore a resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The Hindu had first revealed that the two diplomats had come close to an agreement, but the mechanism fell into disuse after General Musharraf was swept out of power.
(Courtesy: The Hindu) 

Friday, May 23, 2014


                      Neighbourhood initiative

Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi’s surprise invitation to the leaders of India’s neighbours to attend his swearing-in ceremony on May 26 has the makings of a shock and awe tactic with three messages: the first to Pakistan, the second to the region and the third for domestic consumption. While dressed up as an outreach to all SAARC leaders, the invitation was clearly meant primarily for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan. To the extent that during his election campaign Mr. Modi’s references to Pakistan were all linked to cross-border terrorism, the invitation is rightly seen as an olive branch to that country. Less apparently, the invitation to witness Mr. Modi’s anointment is an assertion that Pakistan now has to deal with a powerful new leader in New Delhi with a decisive mandate, and that the onus is now on Pakistan to show that it wants friendly ties. The invitation has put Mr. Sharif in an awkward position even though he and an earlier Prime Minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party made bilateral relations look easy for a while. Mr. Modi’s image across the border is, however, different from that of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s; and, as well as being weighed down by anti-India hawks within his own party and Cabinet, the Pakistani leader, who has many a time articulated a vision of friendly ties with India, has an unsupportive and mostly hostile security establishment breathing down his neck. There are indications that Mr. Sharif might find a way out of this delicate corner by sending a representative. In any case, Mr. Modi and the new dispensation in Delhi would be better served avoiding conclusive judgments about Pakistan or Mr. Sharif on the basis of the response. Hopefully, they will find more nuanced ways of coming to grips with what is a layered, complex and difficult relationship.

The second clear message is to South Asia and the larger region, including China, that under the new leadership India intends to be proactively engaged with the region, and in contrast to the United Progressive Alliance government, will not let the initiative slip from New Delhi’s hands, whether in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or Nepal. The third message is meant for regional parties in Tamil Nadu and in West Bengal that, allies or not, they can no longer dictate terms on foreign policy. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the first to understand this; such a New Delhi-Tamil Nadu equation is exactly what he wants, and he readily accepted the invitation. The Ministry of External Affairs, which too appears to have been taken by surprise by Mr. Modi’s invitation, will need to adjust to the reality that the control desk of India’s foreign policy will be located in the new, more powerful Prime Minister’s Office.

(Courtesy: The Hindu) 

Thursday, May 22, 2014



NEW DELHI: The head of the India Islamic Cultural Centre, an elite Muslim address in the Capital, plans to host PM-designate Narendra Modi at a “grand reception” and offer him “full support”. “We have already sent a letter. I sincerely hope we can host him. We have some positive feedback that he would accept our invitation,” the centre’s president Sirajuddin Qureishi told HT. This is the first time a prominent Muslim outside Gujarat has pledged “full support” for Modi. Qureishi had earlier backed a front of Muslims, called the Vajpayee Himaayat Committee, which worked to connect sections of the community with the then NDA government, headed by AB Vajpayee. Asked why he has decided to invite Modi, Qureishi said: “Muslims should deal with Modi not as a BJP leader now, but as the prime minister of this country. They should end all hostilities in the larger interests of this country, Qureishi said. “Modi has vowed that he would work for all 1.2 billion people of this country. Muslims should also put faith in him as the prime minister of our country” Qureishi said.

(Courtesy: Hindustan Times, 22 May 2014) 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


By V.M. Khaleelur Rahman,
The Chief Justice of India, Mr. K. G. Balakrishnan has said that a uniform civil code is a highly sensitive issue in our country where people belonging to different castes, races and communities live and explained it in detail saying that “it took thirty years for Britishers to implement the Indian penal code after its codification in the beginning of 1830”. It is really welcome and appreciable. I feel that his opinion should have pleased the minorities here particularly Muslims and Christians.
In a plural society like India only plural laws can give a strong feeling of nationality. Ours is a country of people belonging to different faiths and cultures and of course they must have the laws of their respective choice. The different personal laws in vogue now should continue to exist for the purpose of unity and solidarity of the country. If a uniform civil code is imposed on the unwilling minorities, it will not only be of no use, but also weaken our country. The best way is to make the different personal laws uniform as much as possible. There is no attempt in this respect by any quarter just because the uncalled for obiter dicta of the Supreme Court is being exploited by communal parties to their selfish political ends and the Muslim intellectuals who have the interest of the community and country at heart have lost their grounds for reforms of the Muslim personal law in the midst of rampant communal atmosphere.

There is an urgent need for creating a right atmosphere in the country where people can feel free to think and decide their issues. Moreover there is mention of a uniform civil code in the Directive Principles of the Constitution and not of a common civil code. It is well known that the Hindu laws are not the same everywhere in the country. The tribals also enjoy their own laws and they continue to receive support from all politicians. As the first step let the Hindu laws be made uniform.
This writer asked many ulemas about this issue. They say in so many words that they cannot oppose a uniform civil code if it is within the framework of the Islamic laws but there is no possibility of this and hence their opposition. It is wrong to say that Muslims oppose a uniform civil code. They only oppose any imposition of unwanted laws on them because they feel and rightly so that Islam provides better laws which are not only for them but for all human beings of all times. On the contrary the laws found in the Indian personal laws are not perfect.
The Muslims should consider that the Holy Quran has given excellent laws about marriage, divorce, inheritance etc. which are indeed far better than the modern laws and so they should adopt them in spirit and letter.
A majority of Muslims oppose the unilateral and instant triple divorce system and prefer the rational Quranic laws. The Ulema (Islamic scholars) belonging to the Ahle-hadees school of thought simply consider this system un-Islamic and invalid. All other Ulema also consider the instant triple system an act of the days of ignorance (Ayyamul Jahiliyya) but "occured" if it is practised even though it is not an approved system in the light of the holy Quran and Ahadees. All Ulema say that divorce should only be as the last resort and there should not be any hasty decision. There are many books written on this subject. Moreover almost all Muslim intellectuals, including Justice V. Khalid, former judge of the Supreme court, disapprove this system and consider it un-Islamic.
Islam provides laws for all situations and it is our inability to make use of them properly. And it is this inability of ours which often lands us in trouble. If Muslims follow the Islamic laws in spirit and letter, not only they will be benefited, but even people belonging to other faiths will come forward to follow them because of their fairness.
The Muslim Personal Law should continue to be in existence in our country and of course we can and should make necessary changes in it as time demands.
(VMK in on 9th October 2009)

Monday, May 19, 2014


Narendra Modi: The man who made his own luck, all the way. 

Mahesh Langa, Hindustan Times   May 17, 2014
The ultimate outsider has been knocking at the doors of Lutyens’ Delhi for months now. On Friday, the people’s verdict came through loud and clear: Let him in. As triumphs go, a one-time tea seller winning the right to rule India is bigger than most. But Narendra Modi’s life has always been about squeezing out improbable victories, big and small.
He may be a relative stranger to Delhi, but it was from here that he pulled off an earlier, defining triumph. It was 2001, and Modi was the RSS pointsman in the BJP, living in one room next to the party headquarters in Ashoka Road, a far cry from the luxury of the Race Course Road bungalow now set to be his home.
A devastating earthquake struck Gujarat in the early hours of January 26. When the magnitude of the disaster became apparent, Modi, keen to get there before Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel, got on the phone to a tycoon.
“He said ‘you provide me your aircraft for one day only. I want to be the first to reach there tomorrow morning.’ I arranged the aircraft for him and he flew in early in the morning. When Keshubhai learnt that Modi was already in Bhuj, he was furious and told his bureaucrats that this man would now make his life miserable,” the businessman, who wishes not to be identified, said.
Keshubhai was right. Within a few months of the earthquake, which killed 20,000, Modi and his supporters hit out against the CM’s “failure to carry out proper relief and rehabilitation works” and by October, the BJP high command had replaced Keshubhai with Modi.
As CM, he empowered bureaucrats and dealt directly with them. Many who know him describe him as a rapt listener, who will give you his entire attention. He is also an adept gatherer of information.
“He uses multiple sources of information and that is also his strength because he knows in detail about individuals he is meeting or events,” a RSS leader in Ahmedabad said, adding, “Modi realised information is power very early in life and used information to advance his career.”
It had been a long journey from the dusty by-lanes of small-town Vadnagar, through the well-chronicled tea stall and RSS years. The manically hard-working but rough RSS pracharak turned into a high-flying CM with a fondness for glitzy watches and designer clothes. But the trappings of office did little to blunt his killer instinct.
Talk of Modi as PM was first mooted by industrialists in 2009. But it was when he was campaigning for his third term as CM in 2012 that it became clear he wanted the PM’s job. He won Gujarat again, and the state became one giant platform for a national bid.
Mentor LK Advani was ruthlessly sidelined, and others not in his camp sullenly made way. The stars did align themselves nicely, but Modi made his own luck so effectively that his rise to India’s top job had an eerie sense of inevitability about it.
His victory suggests that the ghosts of 2002 are consigned to an uneasy burial, for now. Some sort of reconciliation would be in order, setting apart Modi the PM from Modi the CM.

Whether that happens or not, it’s already clear that the new occupant of 7, RCR has at least three attributes that his predecessor Manmohan Singh lacked. He is his own man, he is a sharp political strategist and he is an ace communicator. That India’s new prime minister will make his presence felt is not in doubt.
(Courtesy: Hindustan Times) 


An open letter to Narendra Modi

Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Let this historic win be followed by a historic innings, which stuns the world by surprises your supporters may not want of you but many more would want to see you unfurl, writes Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Dear Prime Minister-designate,
This comes with my hearty felicitations. I mean and say that in utter sincerity, which is not very easy for me to summon, because I am not one of those who wanted to see you reach the high office that you have reached. You know better than anyone else, that while many millions are ecstatic that you will become Prime Minister, many more millions may, in fact, be disturbed, greatly disturbed by it.
Until recently I did not believe those who said you were headed there. But, there you are, seated at the desk at which Jawaharlal Nehru sat, Lal Bahadur Shastri did, and, after a historic struggle against Indira Gandhi’s Emergency, another Gujarati, Morarji Desai did, as did later, your own political mentor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Those who did not want you there have to accept the fact that you are there.
Despite all my huge misgivings about your deserving that rare privilege, I respect someone coming from so sharply disadvantaged a community and family as yours, becoming Prime Minister of India. That fulfils, very quintessentially, the vision of our egalitarian Constitution.
Revisting the idea of desh

When some spoke rashly and derisively of your having been a “chaiwala,” I felt sick to my stomach. What a wonderful thing it is, I said to myself, that one who has made and servedchai for a living should be able to head the government of India. Far better bearing a pyala to many than being a chamcha to one.
But, Mr. Modi, with that said, I must move to why your being at India’s helm disturbs millions of Indians. You know this more clearly than anyone else that in the 2014 election, voters voted, in the main, for Modi or against Modi. It was a case of “Is Narendra Modi the country’s best guardian — desh ka rakhvala — or is he not?” The BJP has won the seats it has because you captured the imagination of 31 per cent of our people (your vote share) as the nation’s best guardian, in fact, as its saviour. It has also to be noted that 69 per cent of the voters did not see you as their rakhvala. They also disagreed on what, actually, constitutes our desh. And this — the concept of desh — is where, Mr. Modi, the Constitution of India, upon the authority of which you are entering the office of Prime Minister, matters. I urge you to revisit the idea of desh.
Reassuring the minorities

In invoking unity and stability, you have regularly turned to the name and stature of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The Sardar, as you would know, chaired the Constituent Assembly’s Committee on Minorities. If the Constitution of India gives crucial guarantees — educational, cultural and religious — to India’s minorities, Sardar Patel has to be thanked, as do other members of that committee, in particular Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the Christian daughter of Sikh Kapurthala. Adopt, in toto, Mr. Modi, not adapt or modify, dilute or tinker with, the vision of the Constitution on the minorities. You may like to read what the indomitable Sardar said in that committee.
Why is there, in so many, so much fear, that they dare not voice their fears?
It is because when you address rallies, they want to hear a democrat who carries the Peoplehood of India with him, not an Emperor who issues decrees. Reassure the minorities,Mr. Modi, do not patronise them. “Development” is no substitute to security. You spoke of “the Koran in one hand, a laptop in the other,” or words to that effect. That visual did not quite reassure them because of a counter visual that scares them — of a thug masquerading as a Hindu holding a Hindu epic’s DVD in one hand and a minatory trishul in the other.
In the olden days, headmasters used to keep a salted cane in one corner of the classroom, visible and scary, as a reminder of his ability to lash the chosen skin. Memories, no more than a few months old, of the riots in Muzaffarnagar which left at least 42 Muslims and 20 Hindus dead and displaced over 50,000 persons, are that salted cane. “Beware, this is what will be done to you!” is not a threat that anyone in a democracy should fear. But that is the message that has entered the day’s fears and night’s terrors of millions.
It is in your hands, Mr. Modi, to dispel that. You have the authority and the power to do that, the right and the obligation as well. I would like to believe that, overcoming small-minded advice to the contrary, you will dispel that fear.
All religious minorities in India, not just the Muslim, bear scars in their psyche even as Hindus and Sikhs displaced from West Punjab, and Kashmiri Pandits do. There is the fear of a sudden riot caused with real or staged provocation, and then returned with multiplied retribution, targeted very specially on women. Dalits and Adivasis, especially the women, live and relive humiliation and exploitation every minute of their lives. The constant tug of unease because of slights, discrimination, victimisation is de-citizenising, demoralising, dehumanising. Address that tug, Mr. Modi, vocally and visibly and win their trust. You can, by assuring them that you will be the first spokesman for their interests.
No one should have the impudence to speak the monarchist language of uniformism to a republic of pluralism, the vocabulary of “oneness” to an imagination of many-nesses, the grammar of consolidation to a sensibility that thrives in and on its variations. India is a diverse forest. It wants you to nurture the humus that sustains its great variety, not place before it the monochromatic monoculturalism of a political monotheism.
What has been taken as your stand on Article 370 of the Constitution, the old and hackneyed demand for a Uniform Civil Code, the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, and what the media have reported as your statements about “Hindu refugees” in our North and North-West and “Muslim refugees” in our East and North-East, strikes fear, not trust. Mass fear, Mr. Modi, cannot be an attribute of the Republic of India. And, as Prime Minister of India, you are the Republic’s alter ego.
India’s minorities are not a segment of India, they are an infusion in the main. Anyone can burn rope to cinder, no one can take the twist out of it. Bharat mata ki jai, sure, Mr. Modi, but not superseding the compelling urgency of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s clarion — Jai Hind!
A historic win it has been for you, Mr. Modi, for which, once again, congratulations. Let it be followed by a historic innings, which stuns the world by surprises your supporters may not want of you but many more would want to see you unfurl. You are hugely intelligent and will not mind unsolicited but disinterested advice of one from an earlier generation. Requite the applause of your support-base but, equally, redeem the trust of those who have not supported you. When you reconstitute the Minorities Commission, ask the Opposition to give you all the names and accept them without change. And do the same for the panels on Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and Linguistic Minorities. And when it comes to choosing the next Chief Information Commissioner, the next CAG, CVC, go sportingly by the recommendation of the non-government members on the selection committee, as long as it is not partisan. You are strong and can afford such risks.
Addressing the southern deficit

Mr. Modi, there is a southern deficit in your India calculus. The Hindi-belt image of your victory should not tighten itself into a North-South divide. Please appoint a deputy prime minister from the South, who is not a politician at all, but an expert social scientist, ecologist, economist or a demographer. Nehru had Shanmukham Chetty, John Mathai, C.D. Deshmukh and K.L. Rao in his cabinet. They were not Congressmen, not even politicians. Indira Gandhi had S. Chandrashekhar, V.K.R.V. Rao. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the UPA did not make Professor M.S. Swaminathan and Shyam Benegal, both nominated members in the Rajya Sabha, ministers. There is a convention, one may even say, a healthy convention, that nominated members should not be made ministers. But exigencies are exigencies. Professor Nurul Hasan, a nominated member, was one of the best Ministers of Education we have had.
Imperial and ideological exemplars appeal to you. So, be Maharana Pratap in your struggle as you conceive it, but be an Akbar in your repose. Be a Savarkar in your heart, if you must, but be an Ambedkar in your mind. Be an RSS-trained believer in Hindutva in your DNA, if you need to be, but be the Wazir-e-Azam of Hindostan that the 69 per cent who did not vote for you, would want you to be.
With every good wish as you take your place at the helm of our desh,
I am, your fellow-citizen,
Gopalkrishna Gandhi
(The writer is a former administrator and diplomat. He was Governor of West Bengal, 2004-2009, and officiating Governor of Bihar, 2005-2006.)
(Courtesy: The Hindu) 

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Preserve the Idea of India

With the BJP winning a majority on its own, a remarkable paradigm shift has clearly taken place in the trajectory of India’s parliamentary politics.

The sensational sweep and scale of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral victory was unquestionably the direct result of the strong upsurge in the popularity of its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi. The Gujarat Chief Minister was clearly the star campaigner and the massive “Modi wave” that has clearly caught the imagination of large sections of India’s voters has given the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance an unprecedented and historic mandate. With the BJP winning a majority on its own, a remarkable paradigm shift has clearly taken place in the trajectory of India’s parliamentary politics. Breaking the trend of the last few decades in which no party was able to pull off a runaway victory of this kind, the BJP will come to power, free from the pressures of coalition politics, giving it unfettered space and scope to govern. This election marked the entry of 100 million new voters, young Indians impatient for change and extremely aspirational in their focus. The voter turnout — 66.38 per cent — was the highest ever in India’s post-Independence electoral history, beating the record of 1984 when 64.01 per cent of Indians voted in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
This landmark election has also seen the incumbent United Progressive Alliance crash to an ignominious defeat with the Congress party, already on a downward spiral in several elections, now humiliatingly reduced to a double-digit figure in Parliament, its worst electoral tally since Independence. An indefensibly uninspiring campaign led by Rahul Gandhi failed to rally a young and impatient electorate. The BJP’s landslide victory, almost entirely attributable to the sweeping effect of the Modi wave across India, reflects the intensity of the desire for more effective governance. The rising public anger as a result of the UPA’s policy paralysis, stalled economic growth and worst of all, the series of corruption scandals, created a hunger for change especially among young Indians who see Mr. Modi as a leader symbolising their expectations of fast economic growth unshackled from red tape and corruption. It is indeed an ironic twist of history that the Gujarat Chief Minister whose governing record is shadowed by the disquieting facts that have not really gone away — relating to his moral and political responsibility for the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 — has adroitly become the beneficiary of the increasing eagerness for a higher growth trajectory. It is also discomfiting that the election campaign that Mr. Modi conducted in the Hindi heartland States, especially Uttar Pradesh, drew heavily upon Hindu cultural nationalism, invoking as he did Hindu sacred geography in Varanasi and using Hindu cultural idioms, not really imagery suitable to the public space in democratic India.
Mr. Modi emphatically asserts that his agenda is all about governance and economic change. We welcome his assertion and wish him well in his efforts in this regard. But the reality remains that there is a huge trust deficit with the minorities, especially the Muslim community, which must be addressed. He is still regarded as a deeply polarising figure not really reaching out to minorities unlike many of his senior colleagues in the BJP or even the RSS who have made some political attempts to bridge the divide. In order to close the credibility gap that persists as regards his acceptability to govern all Indians, Mr. Modi must ensure that the idea of India as a pluralist and inclusive landscape in which all citizens have equality before the law as constitutionally decreed, is upheld consistently and transparently, while he is in office as Prime Minister. He tweeted exuberantly upon hearing the election results that “India has won!” Indeed the task ahead is to ensure that all Indians share that sense of belonging and participation in the national governing agenda. With these cautionary notes, we offer our congratulations to Narendra Modi, India’s next Prime Minister, and wish him all success, for his own sake and India’s too.