Pratap Bhanu Mehta: "NaMo is taking India down the road to ruin"

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Pratap Bhanu Mehta: "NaMo is taking India down the road to ruin"

Post by Rashmun on Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:27 pm

The conduct of the Prime Minister of India during the Gujarat election should set alarm bells ringing. Narendra Modi’s innuendo in an election speech in Banaskantha, in which he strung together communal canards and conspiracy theories, marks a new and dangerous low in Indian politics.

It is perhaps a sign of the times, the new normal, that the demeaning of the office of the prime minister, low level demagoguery or even communal canards will not bother many citizens. In fact, these are now the central elements of the PM’s mystique, eclipsing whatever other promises he might have made about development. But these innuendos also show a prime minister creating the wildest conspiracy theories, not because they serve the national interest, but because they satiate his need for claiming monopoly over patriotism, perpetual scapegoating and playing the politics of victimhood. God help the country whose prime minister is now in such a frame of mind....

But more seriously, Modi is increasingly showing a combination of qualities that should worry even his supporters. The more his power has grown, the more his speeches exude insecurity. A combination of great power and a deep sense of insecurity does not bode well. Even after the people of India have reposed power in him, his need to constantly play up a sense of personal and national victimhood, his need to perpetually play into stereotypes about minorities, has grown rather than diminished with his time in office. Paranoia is replacing confidence. Whatever Modi’s own political experiences, nothing in them justifies him playing a “Congress-Muslim-Pakistan conspiracy” card in the manner in which he has done in the election.

Perhaps Modi will win the Gujarat election. The personal identification with him is perhaps too far gone for his supporters to divest of him easily. More ominously, Indian democracy is at a crossroads where all its inner demons and repressed ugliness are playing out in the open. This is a time that requires statesmanship, not nauseating divisiveness.

The prime minister, instead of navigating constitutional values, ordinary decencies of discourse and civility, to safe harbour, is now bent on creating new storms. Whether he wins or loses in Gujarat, he is spreading a poison from which Indian politics will find it hard to recover for quite some time. In shoring his power through conflict he is taking India down the road to ruin.


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