Friday, April 16, 2021

Silent Modi

Some say these past few days have probably been the most embarrassing ones for Narendra Modi. Well, it may have been so. And looking at it from terra firma, it seems a fair comment too. But if you say it to a bhakt and are an “outsider”, your personal embarrassment would be the greater: “hogwash”, that would be the answer to any suggestion of embarrassment of the leader the comment invites. Everything about Modi is nice and dandy, including the “Modi Jacket” which seems to have become a favourite among the international elite, including the South Korean President. Looking up from the ground below at the gravity-defying heights of the world’s tallest statue inaugurated last week by Modi himself, dwarfing the pride of the Americas, the statue of Liberty in New York, and that great art work Jesus Christ in Argentina. The whole of 189 metres tall Sardar Patel statue, costing approximately just Rs 3,000 crores and put together by our ‘skilled’ friend to the north, China, as if in gratitude to India for having blessed their land with message of Buddha, a memorial to which is also in the offing, both in atheistic China as well as in Buddhist pilgrimage centres like Gaya in Bihar. Unfortunately local Hindu priests in Gaya aren’t too keen to welcome the Buddhist. But Sangh culture vulture believes that Gaya and its neighbourhood must remain closely associated with the Buddha story, as much as the Nepalese want the birthplace of Siddhartha who became the Buddha to be an inseparable part history. But then Sardar Patel, for whom the BJP has often tried to show a soft corner – overlooking the fact that with Gandhi, Nehru and Azad, Patel formed the backbone of the late Congress party and the freedom movement launched by it. Indeed Modi looked quite the monarch of all when he inaugurated that sky-licking statue of the Sardar, never allowing room for any misunderstanding over what all this was about – yes, with all those helicopters and assorted flying machines showering flower petals on the statue, a dramatic prelude to the predictable Modi-hyperbole worthy of such occasions; he expounded exaggeratedly on the achievements of the Sardar, suggesting along the way that he himself was not lagging behind in his quest to make Bharat Mahan. Sadly for the ruling party and the Prime Minister, the Patel show seemed to have coincided with the most embarrassing times the Modi government has faced in a long time. Not just because the highest intelligence and crime-busting outfit in the country was involved in a not so private dog fight. With top dogs publicly tearing each other apart, enacting a midnight drama that brings no credit to Modi or his picked points men for select jobs. The CBI, rarely known for probity, outdid itself to an extent that another major watchdog appeared to have opted rather willingly to get embroiled in a ruckus; the upshot – he diminished the esteem in which the office of the CVC should normally be held. If this was not bad enough dog-fight turned into cat-fight as assorted senior bureau officials sought to settle score, moving various courts, not to mention the unseemly manoeuvring that followed. The Supreme Court too has gotten into the act, nothing unnatural in a situation like this. And mind you Modi government has barely escaped, at least for the moment, the indignity of forcing an unprecedented discord with the Reserve Bank of India – an institution which no government has thus far tried to tangle with, aware as they are that RBI should continue to function without interference. If Modi believes that by remaining silent and letting his Ministers do the talking on his behalf he remains untouched by controversy, he is wrong. Neither can he disown the crisis in the CBI. The worry is that Modi may continue to keep mum for the moment and let the hounds of hate ram every nook and cranny of India, bringing Ram Temple centre-stage even as his satraps continue howl their guts out on issues like National Register of Citizens, the temple issue in Kerala and the anti-Muslim rhetoric in the cow-belt.