Modi’s Silence...!

Silence is not always golden and perhaps never in Indian politics, particularly when the politician at the helm is expected to make his stand clear on controversial issues in the news.

Not surprisingly, questions are being raised on Prime Minister Narendra Modi having so far refrained from commenting on Sangh Parivar activists having gone overboard in promoting their communal designs. Modi’s silence may be equated with his tacit approval of their activities. It may also be viewed as his playing a politically cautious role towards Sangh Parivar for several reasons. One of these is his political background being closely linked with this organisation. Secondly, Modi probably counts strongly on their support at the grassroots to promote his own political image. In this context, Modi does not want to take the risk of angering them and thus losing their support. And this demands analysis of how strong should Sangh Parivar’s position in Indian politics be viewed as?
If Modi was confident of their communal agenda’s political impact, it is indeed surprising that he preferred promoting his secular mask and development plans during his campaign for Lok Sabha elections. This also implies that Modi was and probably still is well aware of the political risk linked with supporting Sangh Parivar’s communal agenda. Nevertheless, with Sangh Parivar having played a key role in promoting and advertising his political image, Modi does not want to alienate them by taking any strong action against their communal activities, including commenting against the same. But for how long can Modi really afford to remain silent against their communal activities?

The situation would have been different if Sangh Parivar and BJP were well spread across the country. If they were, questions would not have probably been raised regarding Modi’s silence against their communal activities. Perhaps, it is time Modi gave some importance to their numerical standing in India. Certainly, BJP has been faring well in Indian politics and its membership is stated to have crossed three crore mark recently. There is no specific record of the membership strength of Sangh Parivar or of its key organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Accepting that BJP’s strength has really reached the stated figure, what does this really indicate about its standing in India? The Indian population has 121 crore people. A strength of three crore constitutes less than three percent of the country’s population.

Statistically speaking, BJP’s strength constitutes less than three percent of even the country’s Hindu population. The Indian population is stated to include more than 80 percent Hindus. Interestingly, BJP’s membership strength is less than that of the population of Muslims in this country. India’s population includes 13.8 percent Muslims.

The message is simple. By remaining silent on communal, anti-Muslim activities being indulged by Sangh Parivar activists, Modi is trying not to offend less than five percent of this country’s population. At the same time, the communal activities of the same organisation have invited criticism from strong secular voices, politicians, Muslims as well as media-persons.

In his bid to appease Sangh Parivar, Modi has allowed questions to be raised about his political as well as secular stature among a much larger percentage of the country’s population.

This also raises questions about the leadership credentials of Modi. However strong may his background from the ranks of Sangh Parivar be, at present, the members of this organisation are expected to respect him as an important leader who heads the country as the Prime Minister. They are expected to give substantial importance to ensure that his image as the country’s Prime Minister is not damaged by their activities. So far, as has been noted, Sangh Parivar activists appear to have given greater importance to their communal activities. They are apparently guided by the belief that with Modi as the country’s Prime Minister they can afford to indulge in their communal activities. Modi’s silence has probably encouraged them to pursue this line. And this raises the question on whether Modi has allowed them to take the “lead” in communally-sensitive matters by choosing to remain silent, which is equivalent to his turning a blind eye to their activities. Is a strong leader expected to pursue such a policy? Is a strong leader expected to ignore activities that can prove politically damaging for his own image and his party? And if a leader deliberately chooses to remain quiet towards pursuit of such communal activities, would it be appropriate to rank him as a strong leader? The only answer to these questions is: certainly not.    

Considering that Modi has only recently joined national politics, perhaps it is as yet too early to expect him break away from  a stream of politics that guided him when he headed Gujarat politics. Yet, as the country’s premier, it is time he gave greater importance to his leadership credentials being questioned on his remaining silent about Sangh Parivar’s communal agenda. If nothing else, at least statistics regarding Sangh Parivar’s standing in India against that of secular Hindus and Muslims should prompt him to take a firm stand on this issue.   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 January 2015 on page no. 11

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