Loss of face: PM Modi must assert credibility of his government

Suddenly an innocuous question has started making rounds in the political circles of Bihar, which has been causing consternation in the BJP circle. The question is: who is running the BJP government? Is it Narendra Modi or Amit Shah?

While a section of the BJP leaders outright rejects this, describing it as simply a rumour, some leaders find reasons for it. Their argument is that without fire inside there should not be smoke. The argument finds strength from the style of functioning of Shah and his sustained emphasis that CAA, NRC and NPR would be implemented and no force on earth could stop it.

Though Modi has been systematically castigating his opponents, Shah has been more aggressive and unsparing. These leaders even confide that Modi desires to dilute the legal provisions of these rules, but Shah is not at all willing to concede any ground.

It is in the backdrop of this development that Modi-Shah intend to have a detailed discussion with the RSS leadership. Some top BJP leaders keeping away from the exercise or showing lukewarm response has been a matter of concern.

In fact, women actively participating in the movement and resorting to satyagraha across the country has unnerved Modi as well some national leaders. There is a lurking fear that the way political developments are taking shape even a section of bureaucracy may adopt a passive attitude. Initially the police in Uttar Pradesh was quite responsive to political directives, but they too in recent days have developed a passive attitude after women turned the vanguard of the protest.

With protesting taking a pan India character, it is interesting to note that the allies of the Modi government have started deserting the BJP. With a brute majority in Lok Sabha, the BJP may not be bothered by their dissent but it would certainly erode the base of public confidence in the Modi government. Two strong BJP allies, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), have already strongly opposed the government’s design to thrust the citizen matrix. While Akali Dal refused to contest the Delhi assembly election in alliance as a protest, they have now voiced openly the demand to roll back the proposal, much to the dislike of Modi-Shah combination.

Had they been fully subscribing to Modi’s accusation about the protest movement against the CAA and NRC, then they should have appreciated him slamming the opposition for “spreading lies” and his allegation against media for being biased. SAD has deplored the Modi government for its machination to force the citizens to stand in queues to prove their citizenship.

The BJP has lost its most important ally, Shiv Sena. Another ally, Nitish Kumar, has refused to follow its line on CAA and NRC. Their distancing from Modi’s action makes it explicit that Sikhs and Biharis are not willing to toe his line. Their stand would invariably impact the Delhi polls. Akali Dal MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa is already on record: “Our leader Sukhbir Singh Badal has always maintained that all religions should be included in the CAA and that Muslims should not be left out. During our meeting with the BJP, we were asked to reconsider our stand on the CAA but we declined to do so. The Shiromani Akali Dal is of the firm stand that Muslims cannot be left out of the CAA”.

In a significant statement, Paswan quipped: “The government thinks it has the majority, so it can do whatever it wants. They can bring any law.” He criticised the insertion of new queries in the NPR and the manner in which the government was dealing with the student protests. He also raised the issue of date of birth. He said large number of the people do not have any record of their birth and it was beyond the power of any political party to take away the citizenship of people belonging to any religion.

Police forcefully taking away water bottles, biscuits and blankets has been met with severe criticism from this section of the BJP leaders. They allege these brutal actions of police would erode the party base in UP and for this Yogi must be held responsible. Yogi’s goons sneaking into protest camps with the aim to give it a bad name is also being criticised.

The worst incident that has to happen with Amit Shah is the denial of his own ministry that no ‘tukde-tukde’ gang ever existed in the country. Gokhale had filed the RTI application after Shah told a rally in Delhi that the “tukde-tukde gang” needed to be taught a lesson. Gokhale has also sought to know whether the ministry had drawn up a list of the leaders and members of this “gang”, and under which penal provisions action was being planned against them. For the last four years Shah has been systematically harping on the phrase. But ultimately this has proved to be a smear campaign against Leftist student leaders, specially Kanhaiya Kumar by Shah. Unfortunately for Shah it came out in one crisp and simple reply for all the queries: it had no information concerning the “tukde-tukde gang”.

This is the most ridiculous development. How could the Union Home Minister speak such blatant lies? He made the imaginary tukde-tukde gang the biggest threat to India and its democracy.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

Views are personal.