Democracy was indeed in peril, Modi saved it

Democracy


Manish Tiwari | Chandigarh Many of those who oppose the present dispensation today say that democracy is in peril. But let’s pause to think. Had democracy been in peril, Mamata Banerjee would not have won the elections in the manner she did and never enjoyed such freedom to speak and react in the manner she does against the Centre as well as the Prime Minister. There is obviously no threat to the Indian democracy and there can never be, notwithstanding what a particular class of people says especially those who constantly seek to propagate that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decisions have dented “the idea of India” and there appears to be an “emergency-like situation”. On the contrary, Modi has unified this nation, made it inherently stronger, improved its image the world over by leading from the front and speaking the obvious…at times more than the obvious; and provided strong leadership in the hour of crisis when the country appeared to be drifting away and getting divided further on the basis of caste, creed and religion. There has been an overdose of “too much of democracy” in India for a long time that we can ill-afford at this hour. For almost 20 years before the Modi Government was formed at the Centre, the voter in this world’s largest democracy, had handed out a fractured mandate to political parties, resulting in the formation of the NDA and UPA governments and leading to “fractured decision-making and policy paralysis”. Take the case of Manmohan Singh, the earlier Prime Minister. His government often worked at the mercy of 10 Janpath and other coalition partners within the UPA regime. On many occasions, the then Prime Minister appeared to be losing control over his institutions, colleagues and even the States, including Jammu and Kashmir; especially those states which were governed by regional parties. The politics of “coalition and consensus” had led to a free-for-all-type of governance, especially in the last few years of Manmohan Singh’s second term, resulting in scam-after-scam tumbling out of the UPA cupboards. His government was weak and it could not take appropriate decisions for want of support from its coalition partners. The voter was fed up and in 2014 brought Modi to power, giving him a clear mandate to be much more “decisive and proactive”. The Modi government brought about several bold reforms. Needless to say many of which the Congress wanted but could not implement such as GST; resolved the contentious Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute that was for decades used by different political parties to create a big divide on communal lines; abrogated Article 370 and created UTs to have a better Central government’s control on Kashmir and run its writ. And last but not the least, the government has continuously worked on the processes and systems to check corruption and financial mismanagement, introduced the DBT scheme, one nation one ration card, besides effectively dealing with internal and external security threats. Pushed to a corner after Pakistan’s continuous efforts to destabilise India by aiding and abetting terror attacks in Kashmir, Modi’s strategy to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and economically, deal with separatist forces and order surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) did send a clear message to Pakistan. His government’s decision to stand up against China, first in Doklam and now in Ladakh, and also against the expansionist policy of the Dragon, has sent a strong message to our obdurate and unrelenting neighbour that India will not tolerate any aggression. In fact, there has been a clear shift in the government’s policy — which the National Security Adviser Ajit Doval would always like to pursue — from being defensive to ‘defensive-offensive’. In India, we like to see miracles happen. However, as one of the most populated countries in the world, India faces grave challenges from all around, and almost all the reforms and measures taken by Modi are in the right direction. In the past 30 years, I have not seen a leader as bold as Modi is. A leader who does not mind putting his political career at stake by taking tough decisions, including those of sending the Indian Army and air force across the border, knowing full well that a single mistake could lead to disastrous consequences. Ever since the Modi Government came to power, it has been facing the charge of “using and misusing” government machinery and institutions and also taking decisions, some of which may not be in the country’s economic and national interest. A sudden spurt in the use of the sedition law is also an issue of concern in India even as the courts have already been taking appropriate decisions. While any arbitrary use or misuse of the institutions such as the CBI, ED, NIA, etc, cannot be justified, successive governments have been blamed for the plight of these premier investigation agencies. Remember the Supreme Court’s comment on “the CBI being a caged parrot”! And this is for those who harp on the idea of federalism! The federal structure has only become stronger with the Central government today having better control over the union of states, allowing it to prepare its policies more effectively. How can a country function when states, run by different political parties, pull in different directions in the name of federalism, and not agree on evolving national policies? There are states such as Punjab, Orissa, etc. which despite being ruled by opposition parties have been following the principle of federalism and working in tandem with the Central government. Had Modi not been there at the helm, the Corona crisis would have been far more serious for our country than what it has been. One cannot blame the Centre for all the ills that plagued the states during the Corona crisis. He chaired a series of meetings with the CMs to find ways and means and build a consensus on dealing with the crisis, inspired people, gave them hope, and took swift decisions, including giving approval to India-made Covaxin for “emergency use” without bothering much for the consequences. Anything could have gone wrong! Today, there is no emergency-like situation except for those who thought there was no law in the country and that they could get away by doing any crime or indulging in illegal activities. Democracy is, therefore, now in peril for only those whose ambitions have been shattered and those who always liked to enjoy “too much of democracy.” I don’t know Modi and I may not like to know him, but I would want him as my ‘Prime Minister’. For, he has taken most of his decisions in public interest, not divided the country, but unified it and worked towards defeating the divisive forces! Email : Manish@dailyworld.in




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