Many years ago, I had read a line in an episode of the BBC series Yes Prime Minister : Politicians are paranoiac. Higher the political office, higher the degree of paranoia.
This is what Prime Minister Modi is experiencing. He is seeing conspiracies where probably none exist. When he says “…conspiracies were being hatched to destabilise his government” he just
comes across as petulant and naïve. Petulant he may be, naïve he is not. What did he really expect? That the opposing political parties would abandon their opposition and work tirelessly to support him? Just like he spent his life in supporting the policies of the UPA government?
- The sad truth is that the Prime Minister is realising that running the government in India is not as easy as coining slogans and electioneering. Actually even the electioneering has gone a bit awry in recent times. Acche din (the good days) that he promised and which the country expects him to deliver on, don’t seem to be coming.
The economy is not growing as fast as he would like it to; even massaging the numbers has not helped to show higher growth. After all some of the indices like foreign exchange rates (which he has boasted would come to INR 40 to a US $) are going further south. Ease of doing business ratings have not improved significantly, 4 ranks over one year. There is inflation and there is no evidence of increased jobs being created or the economy showing revival prospects.
- His allies and friends are not helping. Stupid statements, ham handed actions by lunatics in his party and allies, are just detracting from his ‘development agenda politics’ and he has proven to be unequal to the task of reigning them in, either by commission or omission. With friends like Rajnath Singh, Smriti Irani, the assorted sadhvis and gurus – who needs enemies?
- Ham handed actions and over the top reactions to matters that should never have been allowed to fester are not helping. Think FTII. Think JNU. Think Dadri. Think Haramzade. A stern word from the powerful PM at the right time would have done wonders. He stayed silent, so unbelievable for a man otherwise so eloquent.
All in all the Prime Minister is in the danger of losing the plot. All the gains he is making on the world stage are going to matter little if he loses confidence of the people in India. This is his karmabhoomi not the Wembley Stadium. When this happens, he has to find scapegoats. For some strange reason he is unable to take his own partymen and allies to task. So he lashes out at NGOs. (I am not even going to bother talking about the ‘black marketeers’ he referred to. Black-marketeers are no friends of any government. They are unnamed and easy to blame. No one can really defend them.)
Who are these NGOs that he is lashing out against? Those
- that are standing between his friends in the corporate sector destroying the lives of tribals in search of mineral wealth.
- that are opposing ‘development at any cost’
- whose ideologies are opposed to his.
He says that all he asked was for more accountability. Sure. That is good and essential. But does the PM really think that there are no accountability mechanisms for NGOs? Anyone working with and in NGOs will tell you that the number of documents that the NGOs have to file to account for every penny they receive are enough to destroy a few hectares of forest. The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976 and subsequent amendments were brought in precisely to control NGOs and they work. The Act works. Every penny coming into the country is accounted for. Of course there are corrupt officials & NGOs who manage to find their way round this accountability. Those are exceptions, not the rule. I am sure that there are many fraudulent agencies just out there to make a fast buck. Just as there are fraudulent agencies in all walks of life – not strange since those running these come from society and mirror the society.
No. The Prime Minister, blaming NGOs like Green Peace India and Ford Foundation will not wash. They are not powerful enough to block a truly powerful government in a large country like India. They can, at best, be voices of conscience raising issues that the PM may not like to hear.
The fact is that the PM is now finding the going to be anything but easy and he is now fully realising that delivering on poll slogans is well nigh impossible in the timeframe that has been mentioned in those same polls. So he is desperately trying to find scapegoats who enable him to deliver a good soundbite but matter not the least when it comes to finding solutions.
To conclude, when someone wants to get over an addiction, the first step is to accept that there is a problem. May be the PM also needs to accept that there is a problem with his allies, his party men, the lunatic fringe that he has failed to control. That there is a problem in the way in which his administration has over-reacted / stayed silent. Accept that and only then change can happen. There is still time to the 2019 elections and those too can be won on the continued development plank. If only he wants to.