Focus

Modi’s first year as PM

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By Justice Rajinder Sachar

Every new Central government in India is judged after a semi-honey moon period of one year by the public and the press. Partisan critics normally pose questions on their own so as to deliberately embarrass the government, because it is possible that government on its own may never have claimed success on those counts. So, let us be extra fair to Modi government and judge it only by its own claims, its principles and politics.

As per press reports Modi recently warned BJP members from spreading communal hatred, acknowledging that provocative comments made by some of his party colleagues were totally uncalled for and declaring that constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and non discrimination were non-negotiable. As a theoretical proposition, no one can disagree. This is consistent with accepted wisdom, namely “that in any country the faith and the confidence of the minorities in the impartial and even functioning of the state is the acid test of being a civilised state”. But how different is the ground reality.

This principle was grossly breached by a Muslim minister of Modi government when justifying beef ban on TV he felt bold enough to make an atrocious statement advising Muslims to go to Pakistan if they wished to eat beef. This should have resulted in summary dismissal, but one has not even read of a public rebuke of him by Modi. Not only that, but BJP seems to justify this policy by putting forward the farce of an excuse that since a large number of the population (meaning Hindus) are against it, banning it is justified. But on this curious reasoning, as at least 14 crore Muslims are in India (a population exceeding almost every country of Europe), why not then ban pork/ham? Eating habits of population of various religions cannot be a matter of government policies, unless of course the real purpose is to hit at the economy of these communities who may be living by that business.

Personal safety and equal treatment by state is another test by which minorities would judge Modi. Following recent happenings in village Atali (Ballabhgarh, Haryana), a team of Socialist Party (India) and PUCL recently visited Atali. It disclosed the partisan and communal face of Haryana BJP government. It was on 25 May, 2015 that a mob of Hindus attacked Muslim houses and destroyed a part of a mosque which was being built by Muslims on admittedly Waqf land. Muslims in panic had to flee from the village and take refuge in Ballabhgarh police station and could only return on 3 June, 2015. There is still panic and state of uncertainty. But Haryanas BJP chief minister has not deemed it necessary to visit the village and assure Muslims that justice will be done to them. Rather his callousness in the matter is frightening.

The chief minister went on official tour to Faridabad on 7 June, 2015, a distance of about 15 - 20 km from the village which is in news throughout India for the last three weeks. But such is his shamefully indifferent conduct that he does not consider it necessary to visit Atali and say (leave apart solid, concrete assurance of police protection and compensation for damage done to Muslim properties) even some consoling words to Muslims. I am told the chief minister’s eligibility was not his political abilities and work, but his exclusive RSS work over the last two decades. It seems his anti-Muslim bias - a trade mark of RSS training - continues to still guide him in his duties as a chief minister.

In that context, is it any surprise if the claim of Modi’s concern for the minorities is treated only as empty verbosity.  Would not Modi then consider in the interest of his own credibility to publically admonish and remind CM Haryana of the obligations and principle of Raj Dharma, so expounded by Hindu shashtras.

Amit Shah, who is running the party, is a deep, quiet, conspiratorial personality. He very innocently seeks to avoid entering into arguments on building a Ram temple and abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution by pleading that BJP has not been given its mandate on these issues. And yet, lesser BJP minions indulge in provocative sloganeering about completing the project of Ram Mandir and abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution. Modi keeps conspiratorially silent. That is why when Modi stresses that his sole agenda is development for all it does not cut ice with the minorities, apart from the fact that in reality Modi’s development programme is corporate-friendly and anti-labour.  

Modi’s visit to Israel is being projected as a big event, but surprisingly, he is not combining it with visit to Palestine. In my view this decision, apart from reflecting anti-Muslim bias, is bad for the reason that Israel is by overwhelming majority of UN members and even by US government, being criticised for over decades for not vacating its illegal occupation of Palestine territory, which is recognised as an independent nation by UN. This is also a breach of India’s own consistent policy right from the beginning, which has been demanding vacation of Palestine territory. Is it any surprise that if Muslims in India (and for that matter, overwhelmingly even Hindus) would consider such a limited visit as an anti-Muslim bias of Modi government.   

Modi is making all efforts to assure the army that he is committed to One Rank, One Pension in army, like civilians already enjoy it. So, what is holding him back? The jugglery of civilian bureaucrats that it will mean an additional expense of Rs. 8,000 crore but then let the civilian bureaucrats also tell us what is the cost in equal past pension already being enjoyed by civilians since 1986. And pray, let Modi find out what relief is being given in Minimum Alternative Tax already due from Corporate Sector, mostly foreign (which at the minimum is said to be Rs. 30,000 crore). Any wonder if this unsympathetic approach by Modi government has made the army ranks uneasy and feeling discriminated against. I hope Modi realises the consequences of delaying justice to the army and pandering to civilians and corporate sector. I am sorry, the review above is certainly not complimentary to Modi’s claimed impartial governance.

The writer is a former chief justice of Delhi high court and has headed various national and international panels

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 July 2015 on page no. 1

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