Analysis

Exposed: Political Agenda of Hazare & Modi

The political credentials of two leaders are facing a strong socio-political test. One is Anna Hazare and the other is Narendra Modi. Since last year, through hunger strikes, demonstrations and other means of protest, Hazare had succeeded in drawing attention to his own team and issues they are most concerned about, that is the need of a strong anti-corruption bill. Hazare’s latest decision to disband his team that was involved actively for the past 16 months in this movement and consider floating a political party for 2014 parliamentary elections in India has taken the nation by a shock. Hazare’s decision to take the political plunge has raised questions as to whether his agitation was an anti-corruption drive or was it simply a political drama deliberately enacted to tarnish the image of the Congress Party and improve prospects of those supporting him.

Hazare’s anti-corruption drive began before assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh. Team Anna failed to influence voters in this state. There is nothing surprising about this. Corruption may be labeled as just one of the major problems faced by Indians. Attention is needed for more issues, which include inflation, communalism and terrorism among others. Politically, socially, constitutionally and even statistically, Hazare is not representative of any segment or institution of the country to have the authority to raise voice on their behalf. Certainly, he is entitled to raise his voice on issues concerning him and his supporters. But they don’t represent the entire populace.

 Quite a substantial number of Hazare’s supporters and associates fall in the bracket of those shying away from making noise on certain social, including communal and terroristic issues. They have apparently played a greater role in promoting the same than talking of multi-religious secularism. In this context, the socio-political fire and media hype raised over Hazare’s anti-corruption hunger strike had apparently a deliberate motive. That is to divert people and media’s attention from more sensitive issues, including saffron brigade associates’ communal as well as terroristic designs and activities. Hazare’s decision to float a political party only suggests that his 16-month drama was politically motivated with an eye on helping the saffron brigade in 2014 polls.  

The U-turn taken by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in his political rhetoric suggests the same with one difference. Modi is keen to be considered as a prime ministerial candidate. Modi has created waves in media and political circles by stating that he is prepared to be hung if he is held guilty for 2002 Gujarat-carnage. Clearly, it has taken around a decade for Modi to accept that his communal-card has helped him politically only in his own state. His declaring himself as not responsible for Gujarat-carnage is equivalent to his donning a secular mask so that he is considered for the big office in Delhi. Here lies a major communication lapse that Modi apparently is not ready to give considerable importance. True, his words have created significant waves in media world and also politically. But these do not suggest that his words have been accepted as the ultimate truth, that he was not responsible for 2002-riots. Members of his own party and alliance are not willing to be guided by what Modi has declared. They still cannot forget the hard fact that had 2002-carnage not tarnished BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s image, this coalition may not have lost the subsequent parliamentary elections. The Indian voter did not want the Gujarat-carnage to be repeated elsewhere.  

The defeat of NDA helped in the return of Congress to the Centre. Against this backdrop, Modi’s own party and alliance members are against projecting him as their prime ministerial candidate. They are literally scared that this may prove damaging for their prospects in Lok Sabha elections. Not surprisingly, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced his opposition to supporting Modi as NDA’s prime ministerial candidate.  It may be recalled that Nitish did not allow Modi to campaign for NDA in Bihar for assembly elections. The message was simple: Nitish did not want his political credentials to be damaged by Modi stepping into Bihar and antagonizing his secular and Muslim supporters. Nitish’s opposition to him as NDA’s prime ministerial candidate is a mild symbol of politico-media bubble floated by Modi beginning to burst.  

True, it has been fairly easy for Hazare and Modi to earn media and political attention by creating news, through hunger strikes, demonstrations or expressing willingness to be hung. But their own moves have prevented people from accepting credibility and legitimacy of their “news.” Regarding Modi, when Muslims were mercilessly being killed and burnt alive in Gujarat, he was the chief minister. Why did he fail then to control those riots? The degree to which his political image has been tarnished by that dark chapter in India’s secular history cannot be cleansed by noises he makes today about his “secular” credentials. “News” manufactured by him about his being “not guilty” is not being accepted as the truth by his own political colleagues and rest of the country. The news-value of Hazare’s anti-corruption drive has fallen flat by his new political agenda!

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 August 2012 on page no. 11

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