By Anupriya Singh
Edited by Michelle Cherian, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
Unquestionably and undeniably, it was Modi-magic that bewitched the nation and resulted in the historic Lok Sabha results, with all solely in favor of the BJP. From the day that marred Congress’s glorious reign to the kickoff of the Budget session at Parliament, from Advani to Joshi, deputy leaders of Lok Sabha to Rajya Sabha, Smriti Irani to Rajnath Singh’s PS; from time to time Mr. Modi has proved that he is the ultimate and sole boss of the circuit. Crowning his bosom brother, Amit Shah as BJP’s party president is the recent and most boisterous page of this saffron colored file. Shah, riding high on the newly earned collar of efficient election strategist, post the party’s eye-popping victory over 71 out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, was chosen over general secretary, Jagat P Nadda. Along with the successful election role, Amit Shah has quite a few irresponsible public statements and criminal cases to his credit as well. This move has sent an entirely wrong message of BJP’s undisputed acceptance of a tainted figure as their flag bearer. With state elections and pertaining alliance issues, the Modi-Shah team will face their litmus test very soon.
Drawing a comparison between the supreme heads, prior and post the Lok Sabha elections 2014, I don’t see many drastic differences when it comes to party leadership. What we had before was a sailboat with all passengers under a strong superstitious belief that only a particular ‘pure-blood family’ is capable of navigating them safely to the coasts. Though the boat sank and all aboard drowned, the superstition remains static in the naïve minds, the captains remain unchanged. We had a couple of other casualties as well during this great Indian boat race, like the third front boat with non-uniform edges and inferior quality built, that crumbled at the starting line. And there was a brand new freshly painted one, competing for the first time; it momentarily aced above all like a jet but fell apart in no time, mirroring an old, over-used broomstick. The sailboat with its captain as Narendra Modi reached the finishing line before all, taming the rogue sea, riding the tides and gloriously winning. But now that the mast has been lowered after the victory and the fog has cleared, the deck is visible to us. We see a captain who follows his own intuition for directions and uses no compass; he decides who all are privileged to sit in the executive class and who all are to be shoved in the ‘cattle classes’. The captain passes decree regarding how many stewardesses are to be aboard. The question arising is, with one man taking every decision that has the three alphabets ‘B.J.P.’ attached to it, how far will this boat sail? Will everyone eventually get tired of this tyranny and gradually give up rowing the sailboat to the foyer of success that Mr. Modi splendidly showed us all?
It isn’t the newly earned seat of immense power that has awakened this side of Narendra Modi. His tenure as Gujarat’s Chief Minister also had glimpses of autocratic governance. Ideally, political system, assisted by the highest level bureaucrats, takes major decisions, which the bureaucracy implements (this leads to the ‘red tape’ issue). The bureaucrats prepare notes from the lowest office level on the issues pertaining to successful implementation which gradually progresses up the hierarchy after being analyzed by each stratum. Times before Modi, with Mr. Chimanbhai Patel as the head, saw free exchange of ideas before implementation of decisions. Under Modi-raj, this process of consultation came to an abrupt end for Gujarat’s policy making corridors. Narendra Modi took decisions and instructed the bureaucrats to implement. No questions asked, no questions answered. This resulted to one-man rule in the state. Files moved faster from one office desk to another, agreed, but at the cost of nil consultation. The bureaucracy regularly whimpered over being totally disregarded and their opinions being blindly ignored. Throughout, the dangers associated with dismissing opposition views stood tall. Along with a long list of IAS officers, Modi’s Gujarat regime saw his own ministers like Haren Pandya, turning rebellious. His preferences and inclination towards a certain set of bureaucratic faces during his days as the CM and today as the PM of the nation has also drawn flak, far and wide.
So, is Mr. Narendra Modi a tyrannical boss? It is too early to say yes. This approach unquestionably is against the essence of democratic spirit. All in all, if this form of leadership does lead us to a global dais of a progressed nation in the holistic aspect, via myriad of successes (as is his vision), then surely I will not be the one complaining when it comes to Mr. Modi and his ways of functioning.
Anupriya is a second year undergraduate student in Economics at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi. An avid reader, she wants to travel across India to comprehend the varied façade of the Indian culture and traditions. Apart from academics, Anupriya has also dabbled in extracurricular activities like debate and documentary making. She has won numerous awards for her documentaries on social issues. Sports, primarily football, and painting constitute her main interests.