What is Modi’s Message?

By the time this article reaches you, Prime Minister Narendra Modi must have been in his new office for around a month. The 100-day agenda he talked about within less than a week of his taking charge as the new prime minister has yet to be accomplished.

Understandably, Modi is not gifted with any magic wand to sort out problems facing this country within 100 days or perhaps even several years. What is astonishing is that by spelling out his stand on 100-day agenda, Modi actually extended this further. The situation would have been different had he said that within 100 days of his assuming charge, he would be claiming success in these areas. Instead, he asked various ministries to chart out their 100-day agenda by June 6. Howsoever ambitious may Modi sound about his 100-day agenda, by June 6, around a week had passed with nothing substantial having been achieved.

Perhaps, it would have been practical of Modi to identify basic priorities of common Indians and set a time agenda to achieve them. Spending more time on identifying priorities is equivalent to running away from actually resolving the same.

It is indeed a shame that despite Modi carrying with him the image of a doer, the first and second weeks of June have sent a totally different message for residents of Delhi. They were faced with severe power-cuts, lasting several hours. A few nights passed for many residents without any electricity supply at all. It is not as if Delhi has never ever faced this problem. But over the past few years, it was not so severe. A scarce commodity like water too is out of the reach of most of Dehites most of the time.

Not surprisingly, common Indians are questioning: can’t Modi handle such minor problems? If he cannot assure adequate power and water supply to residents of the capital city, who are paying hefty electricity bills and buying water from private operators, to receive the same, what can be expected of him? Yes, Modi is probably well aware that this is not a problem that with his attention cannot be dealt with easily. In fact, rather than talk of a 100-day agenda, it would be appropriate to set out 10-hour or at the most two-day agenda to solve basic problems such as these being faced by common citizens.

After all, Modi has been elected democratically. His first priority should be to address problems faced by ordinary citizens. Yes, he has talked of his vision of progress and development. But, how does he expect common Indians to make their contribution when they are deprived in the hot summer heat of basic electricity and water supply? However computer-savvy and Internet-friendly they may be, invertors, UPS and batteries cannot help them for too long. If Modi has still not had the time to address these issues, it is time that he did. Once the monsoon rains are here, the problem may get aggravated.

Comparatively, the power-cuts being faced by Delhi-residents are a minor problem when looked against the background of a far more serious issue threatening minorities across the country. Yes, this refers to brutal murder of Mohsin Sheikh in Pune. To date, Modi failed to condemn this incident. Has he expressed his sympathy and support for Indian Muslims with the same “secular” thrust that he used during his campaigning to convince them of his “secularism” and to win their votes? Or does putting forward a “secular” face has little importance for Modi now? Is it so? Well, then he may be reminded that he is heading the government of a secular, democratic, socialist republic.

Considering the hype that he raised about his “secular” intentions and that Muslims in Gujarat are better-off than Muslims in other states, now it is Modi’s responsibility to ensure them at least security in the country.

Mohsin Sheikh was not victim of any communal riot. He was brutally killed by Hindu, communal extremists, who should be labelled as terrorists. This naturally raises a question: have communal extremists associated with BJP and Sangh Parivar decided to display their anti-Muslim bias more brutally simply because now their man heads the government? Well, it is high time that Modi outlined a “secular” agenda for them too and all communal, extremist elements.

Whatever be the vision of Modi’s development agenda, it bears little importance for common Indians if it is going to spell communal tension, disturbance, aggravated by communal designs of extremist groups.

Undeniably, Mohsin Sheikh’s murder has prompted Muslims across the country and world to wonder what could be plans of communal activists linked with Sangh Parivar regarding them. One murder, at the hands of a group of communal elements, carries a horrific message. The murder did not take place spontaneously over a sudden fight between two individuals or groups of different communities. A group of communal elements together targeted Mohsin Sheikh. In other words, it was backed by certain planning and probably a green signal from one of the key leaders of the Parivar. They “celebrated” his murder by tweeting that “first wicket had fallen”. So what is their message? And what is Modi’s message for them and us?

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 June 2014 on page no. 11

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