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Between Scylla & Charybdis
It was May 16, 2014. The BJP-led NDA had won the general election and Shri Narendra Modi was to be the 16th Prime Minister of India. Congress was completely routed. Pompous roadshows, model Gujarat, multiple demands to bring back the black money piled overseas were some of the major highlights of Modi’s campaign.
It has now been 3 years and 7 months. Make in India, Start up India, UDAN, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Digital India, Skill India, Mission Indradhanush, Smart city mission and many more such programs have been launched and appreciated not only by the base of the nation , but also internationally. On the other hand, demonetization, implementation of GST and Aadhar bond, has also brought the Center to heavy criticism.
While the opposition, which here is the big old India-INC party, is not convinced that even one of the government’s plans and policies is pro-poor and accuses it of changing its name and credit strategies, the ruling BJP maintains that it is the government of the marginalized and that the two consecutive UPA regimes have been complete fallouts.
While we watch every day on the news channels the endless debates, the fulminations & the calumnies that these parties indulge in, and we read in the newspapers the scathing speeches of the politico-socio-economic columnists in the eyes of Argus on the Primature, we miss an important question. What are our options?
India is a democracy. The biggest in the world. And the essence of democracy is that it always offers choice. And sometimes too many of them. India had a choice in the summer of 2014. Bring to power a man, who had proven himself as Gujarat’s three-time chief minister but was also accused of Muslim carnage, OR vote for a party older than of a century. whose leadership was balanced. India chose the first. The question to consider here is what level of choice we were offered. Narendra Modida, intrepid, rhetorician, visionary, nationalist at heart but also a fervent follower of Hindutva ideology and therefore deemed anti-Muslim. Rahul Gandhi, who however was not the official face of Congress in the last general election but was an obvious candidate, was inexperienced, politically unremarkable, but free from any accusations of corruption or embezzlement. Neither NaMo nor RaGa can be considered the perfect fit for the country’s highest office. Both are positive and both are negative. Yet we chose. We have not chosen between a God and a Satan, nor between the virtuous and the debauched, we have chosen between Scylla and Charybdis.
Yes! Between Scylla and Charybdis. Because in a democracy we never have “the best” and rarely have “the good”, we can find “the best”, but what we have galore is the “worst”. It is this best that must be sought among the very worst. Democracy never gives us a choice between good and ugly. To quote George Orwell, politics is about choosing between the lesser of two evils. And for us Indians, that lesser evil turned out to be Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi.
Since acquiring the Prime Minister’s office, he has been assailed not only by Congress but also by many other small parties for his abnormal decision-making. While his DBT and Jan Dhan Yojna have garnered worldwide acclaim, demonetization and TPS have earned him equal rancor on his home turf. He was slandered, insulted, trolled, at the same time congratulated, hailed and applauded. But that was the case with the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. If the nationalization of banks, the liberation of Bangladesh (East Pakistan) and the Shimla agreement are to its credit, the state of emergency of 1975 and operation Blue Star (1984) are bitter reminders of the other side of his diet. Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary who ruled the archipelago for just over 5 decades as Prime Minister and later as President, broke American hegemony over its peoples. He set up free education and health systems, but the standard of living in Cuba remains low, until now.
The 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, who won the presidency but lost the popular vote, is known for leading America into the war in Iraq and using infamous counter-terrorism tactics, but served two full terms and passed the biggest tax cut in American history. Gamal Abdel Nasser, the revolutionary-turned-repressive dictator who died in 1970, is still revered by Egyptians, even the younger generation, as the greatest leader of all time, despite losing the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. Israel in the Six Day War. (1967). And in line with these, the latest example of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe being grilled in June 2017 for perjury and cronyism, then winning a landslide victory in the October polls of the same year, proves the belief that people well-behaved seldom create history.
Indira Gandhi, Fidel Castro, George W. Bush, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Shinzo Abe, Narendra Modi are all tainted. But yet are exalted. Because they did (and are doing) the right thing, at the right time for their respective countries. They passed the comparatively better litmus test of politics with distinction. And if there is one point in common between them, it is their prodigious ability to seduce the general public, who tolerate their shortcomings.
Maybe the Modi government failed in implementing the goods and services tax, maybe they crossed the line in their spiels, maybe demonetization wasn’t such a good idea, but the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code was, as was Ujjwala Yojna (PMUY), and the Sagarmala Project and Neem Coated Urea Program, and many others that have effectively reached and benefited hundreds and thousands of people. The opposition must realize that blindly criticizing the difficulties of the government and erecting obstacles for the government will only stagnate the country.
India is 70 years old, at an age when such maturity should seep into our socio-political system when politicization of trivial issues is replaced by bipartisanship, especially on key agendas, in Parliament.
As for us citizens, the choice has never been so hard and will be even more so in the future. Choosing the lesser of the two evils is always wrong. But a proactive devil is better than a sleeping saint who gets us nowhere.
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#Scylla #amp #Charybdis