Narendra Modi is not an ordinary politician, something which he demonstrated during the run up to the Parliamentary polls last year. He is also not a rigid leader, who insists on having his way when he knows that there could be better options before him. Weeks from completing one year in office, the Prime Minister has spelt out certain reassuring measures in an interview to Time Magazine. Many of his critics would be surprised that he has taken it upon himself to ensure the “complete and total protection” of the minorities. He has in the same breath also made it abundantly clear that his government would not accept any discrimination based on caste, creed and religion.
Modi has, in fact, decided to renew his pledge of bringing better times for the country even though he realises that things have been not too good for his government and the party in the last eleven and a half months. He is aware that there were four more years to go and the time had perhaps come to give a new direction to the government, with emphasis on policy making rather than playing to the gallery. The Prime Minister is certainly conscious that there were huge expectations from him. Many of his admirers are disappointed that his government has not been able to generate more jobs, curtail corruption and lay greater emphasis on national security. It is also obvious to political analysts that he is not getting as much support from many in his own party as he would have wanted, given that he single-handedly got the BJP a majority of its own in the Lok Sabha for the first time in 2014. Modi is a shrewd player and understands grassroots politics much better than most in his own party. He has spent the first year trying to fully comprehend the levers of power in the national capital and how the systems operate. It is evident that he has had the services of his most trusted lieutenant, Arun Jaitley, who has helped him to decipher many difficult codes surrounding the corridors of power. Jaitley has proved himself to be a great organiser and equally good trouble shooter. He has in fact contributed in insulating Modi from many problematic areas and has instead taken it upon himself to set things right, naturally with the Prime Minister’s approval. It is not surprising that Jaitley has been targeted by some of the government’s critics. This is because most of these critics lack either courage or guts to attack Modi directly or they feel that their opposition to the policies would lack credibility.
It is understandable when opposition leaders take a dig at the Prime Minister or his colleagues, but it is certainly quite another thing if those considered to be friends or fellow travellers in the same party decide to come out openly and tear the government and its policies apart. When your own attack you publicly, it is certainly time to worry or ascertain whether the criticism was valid or was being made just for the heck of it. Arun Shourie’s interview on what he thought of the present regime has been the talk of political circles as well as the Sangh Parivar. And those who know Shourie also know that the journalist, economist and politician, all rolled into one would not have ordinarily said what he ended up saying. He has a point of view and it should not be brushed under the carpet, since it involves the three most powerful men in this country. This would be a folly as dissent is a part of democracy and coming from a former colleague is all the more reason for it to be taken seriously.
Modi has many virtues and one of it is that he absorbs criticism very well and if after processing it finds that there are lessons to be learnt, he does not hesitate to take corrective measures. But Modi the politician is a very pragmatic person as well. He would rather reward or utilise someone who is of use to him, even if he has been a critic in the past instead of going along with someone who has been with him for many years but has not added value to his plans for the country. This approach explains why so many aspirants for various positions in the government are getting frustrated as they have got nothing or at least what they thought they should be getting. Modi is in no hurry to oblige them as he has kept so many positions of importance vacant to perhaps actually test their patience or to make his own assessment on whether they were worthy of what they have been aspiring for.
Unlike the previous UPA regime, where the controls were elsewhere and the Prime Minister was a mere puppet on a string, Modi is adamant to demonstrate that the buck stops with him. Between us.