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Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Opinion | Modi fulfilled BJP’s agenda but is yet to win trust of all

Along with political victory, the BJP will also have to take care of social harmony

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to participate in the auspicious ceremony to begin Ram temple construction in Ayodhya on 5 August. Is it just a coincidence that exactly one year ago, on this day, with the abrogation of Article 370, a special provision for Jammu and Kashmir, the basic changes in the constitutional and geographical situation of the state were made? Are these decisions going to have an effect on the interaction of society and politics?

It was never a secret that since the inception of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the construction of the ‘grand’ Ram temple in Ayodhya and removal of Article 370 were always the main agenda of the saffron party. But, it was Modi who proved his mettle by carrying out this agenda to its final culmination. Not only this, on issues such as triple talaq and Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), he always pushed the agenda and ideology of his party. Being a politician, he knows that his decisions attract a majority of India’s population. He is hell-bent on capturing 51% of the votes for the BJP, a long-cherished dream of the Rashtriya Swanyamsevak Sangh.

Is this possible? We will discuss this later. Let’s first talk about the risks behind these decisions.

After the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, and Operation Bluestar, Indian prime ministers had to give clarifications about these incidents in almost every foreign trip. Liberal leaders of the West feared that the interests of minorities might not be safe in India. The biggest problem in resolving the issues of Article 370, the Citizenship Law and Ram temple was international public opinion, which needed to be taken care of. The Prime Minister had started to hone his strategy right from his first term.

In his first term he coined the slogan “sabka saath, sabka vikas" (collective efforts, inclusive growth), after winning the next general election, he added another ‘sabka’ in this slogan—“sabka vishvas" (trust of everyone). Obviously, here ‘sabka’ means both the minority and majority. He actually was giving a clear message within and outside the country before taking some tough decisions. The result was that when Pakistan tried to rake up the issue of Article 370 and the partition of Kashmir, along with China at the UN it had to face the odds. Almost all the major countries treated it as India’s internal issue. Modi had successfully persuaded the West, as well as the Arab countries, in this matter.

Before this decision, a lot of preparation was done on the internal front. The Amarnath Yatra was halted with the deployment of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir before deciding to remove Article 370. Tourists were being sent back. Everyone understood that something big was going to happen, but no one expected this. All major political leaders were arrested or put under house arrest as soon as the decision was taken. Barring Omar Abdullah, all top Kashmiri leaders, including Mehbooba Mufti, are still under house arrest. But this was not the first time for Kashmiri leaders. Sheikh Abdullah, the tallest leader of Jammu and Kashmir so far, was placed under house arrest on 8 August 1953. He remained in jail till 1964. Later, the separatists of Hurriyat Conference, terrorist sympathizers or other political figures, have been in and out of jail as the situation required. That is why they were no longer in a position to resist such a huge intervention by Delhi. Those who thought that there would be great resistance in J&K have been proven wrong in the last one year.

Ayodhya is a completely different case. India’s Supreme Court gave its decision after a long debate. The 162-year-old dispute had become too tedious for the country. So people accepted the decision of the court as destiny. The Prime Minister is going to give a direct message to Hindu believers by attending the programme on 5 August. This is surely going to help the BJP in the coming days. Elections are on the cards in Bihar in November and then in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry by next May.

As I said at the beginning of this article, along with political victory, the BJP will also have to take care of social harmony. Those who maintained silence on the issues of triple talaq and Ram temple, suddenly erupted on the issue of the CAA. More than two dozen people were killed in the violence. Opponents of CAA sat on long dharnas, which were not dispersed by the government’s efforts, but by the coronavirus outbreak. There is apprehension in this section that after Ayodhya, there may be similar efforts for Kashi and Mathura. The development in Kashmir also prompted China to raise the pitch along the Sino-Indian border. Beijing may now try to use it on different diplomatic levels. That means the government’s job is still not complete. In terms of popularity, Modi has left all BJP leaders, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee, far behind. But the real test will be to win the trust of everyone.

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan. His Twitter handle is @shekarkahin

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