Herald View: Good luck Prime Minister, but do leopards change their spots?

We wish the Prime Minister luck. We hope he behaves more responsibly. And we fear that leopards do not change their spots

Herald View: Good luck Prime Minister, but do leopards change their spots?

Herald View

The unexpected results of the Indian General Election have rightly been described as triumph of chemistry by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. More than anything else, it was his ability to convince the electorate that he alone can provide a strong, stable and decisive leadership which led to the emphatic victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He also succeeded spectacularly in building up both paranoia and nationalistic fervour against Pakistan among the people. The mixed or, as some would say, disappointing results of the Indian air strike within Pakistan, was marketed well by the ruling party and the Prime Minister. So much so that facts that not only was one of our planes shot down in Pakistan and the Indian Air Force itself shot down an Indian helicopter carrying six Air Force personnel, were glossed over.

The Court of Inquiry looking into the ‘friendly fire’ obliged by withholding its findings till after the election. Aided by a friendly media and an ever obliging Election Commission, the Prime Minister campaigned on nationalism, sought votes in the name of martyrs and unethically but successfully used defence services to serve a political cause. Belated doubts expressed by various opposition parties were also effectively utilised to paint the entire opposition as unpatriotic and even treasonous. The volatile ‘chemistry’ worked up by the ruling party has yielded rich political dividend to him and ensured yet another decisive mandate to rule. It is another matter that the chemistry helped overshadow the many failures of his government and cavalier policy decisions for which the country continues to pay the price.

In his second term, it is hoped, Prime Minister Modi and his ministerial colleagues will behave more responsibly and as democrats. One would expect them to take Parliament more seriously and listen to the Opposition more carefully than they had done during the last five years. They would also be expected to stop discrediting Opposition leaders and treat the Constitution as sacrosanct. Nation building is a work in progress and the first term in office would hopefully have made the PM realise that too much of centralisation is not good for a country as complex and as vast as India.

The consultative process, both with the opposition and with stakeholders and the civil society, need to be restored. Notwithstanding Mr Modi’s flowery rhetoric, India faces multiple crises and has a long way to go before it can ensure basic minimum income, health, education and security to its people. It is nice to hear of India breaking into the big league on TV channels but the fact is that our delivery mechanism is broken. Administrative and police reforms, etc. have been put on the back burner. With rising unemployment, with oil prices rising internationally, consumption and manufacturing failing to pick up, India can no longer afford to fritter its energy in political grandstanding. We wish the Prime Minister luck. We hope he behaves more responsibly. But we fear leopards do not change their spots.

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