A coup by another name

A coup by another name

By THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN | 27 February, 2016

It has been nearly two years that Narendra Modi has swept to victory, and it was a sweep, with a large swathe of people voting for the current government in the hope that he would be able to untie the Gordian knot of poor administration which prevents effective delivery of governance to the grassroots. The Prime Minister has the mandate, of a scale not seen in the last three decades. He has also the capability. In any evolved democracy, those opposed to the head of a government would have respected the mandate and allowed him/her ample room to function, while opposing moves and decisions it thinks are not in the interest of the country—and even suggesting corrective action. But, even after 21 months, the ecosystem generated and nurtured by previous governments—comprising political parties, opinion makers, ideologues of different shades, non transparent non-governmental organisations, corrupt bureaucrats and plain opportunists—is yet to come to terms with that victory. Such is the hatred that these sections have for the Prime Minister, whose arrival has destroyed the Lutyens’ status quo to a large extent, that they would rather cripple the country and turn a blind eye to anti India forces than let Narendra Modi function. It is not just in Parliament, but an obvious attempt is also being made to paralyse governance by using the street. As this newspaper has been reporting consistently, this effort will intensify, with at least one of this country’s neighbours making use of the cacophony that has come to dominate the public space to foment trouble and destroy the Indian growth story through unending turmoil, the way it has happened in Bangladesh. In that country, a belligerent opposition has derailed growth through street violence over a period of 15 years, an abyss from where it’s finding it difficult to emerge. Democratic forces need to be alert about sabotage and infiltration of their “movements” by interests inimical to the country. They need to realise that they will do immense disservice to the people if they hijack the narrative and divert attention from the real issues by creating a farrago of noise in their bid to show the government as losing control. At the same time, while the lunatic fringe of the right is not helping the government by talking, even though much less now than earlier, mention must also be made of the unending “illiberalism” of the so-called liberals. It is sad that sheer malevolence towards the PM seems to be the dominant sentiment in the “liberal” space. This is attracting an equally noxious response from the opposite end of the spectrum. The venom that has infected the political and intellectual space is having an adverse effect on society in general, as obvious from the toxic “debates” on several social media and media platforms. This virulence is a symptom of the malignance within. Divisions are becoming more pronounced and positions are hardening on both sides of the divide, in almost all spheres of life. India cannot afford a second partition, this time of the heart and the mind. The country needs truce and that should come foremost at the level of the government and the opposition. While the government must refine its strategy and be more agile in handling the opposition, the latter too cannot possibly hold the nation hostage for three more years. Any attempt to derail governance can only be described as a coup by another name.

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