Analysis: Breaching Boundaries, Confident PM Aims To Revive Listless Cadres

Analysis: Breaching Boundaries, Confident PM Aims To Revive Listless Cadres

One may criticise him, Western powers may express their discomfort discreetly, but no one can puncture his confidence at the moment

Neelu VyasUpdated: Tuesday, April 23, 2024, 11:21 PM IST
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PM Modi at the rally in Rajasthan's Banswara | X/ANI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a fiery election speech in Rajasthan dared to cross those boundaries of inhibition which no PM has done in the past. Referring to Muslims by name in an open rally, calling them “infiltrators” with “more children” who would get India’s wealth if his opponents took power — it is a glaring example of the prime minister’s brazenness and the confidence in his self-nurtured administrative apparatus which is devoid of any checks and balances. This could be hotly debated but politically it could reap big dividends to Modi because by doing so he has addressed his core voters directly, injecting in them the much-required energy in the cadres which looked silent and listless. Because of caste identities playing out vigorously on the ground, the “muddas” (issues) dominating the narrative, BJP cadre doesnt seem to be so enthused in 2024 as compared to 2019 or 2014. So it is this section of the BJP voters that Modi was trying to address

Modi’s naysayers will certainly say this is a sign of anxiety, and a reflection that his voters have drifted away from him; but Modi knows that he is one is one of the world’s most skilled and experienced politicians, and he would not make such a brazen comment on Muslims unless he believed that he could get away with it. It is this impunity which he uses to overawe and unnerve his opponents who can’t do much by way of response. What many call a blunder is seen by the right wingers as a calculated move to project himself as the builder of new and modern India, fully laced and couched in the ideology of the Hindu Hriday Samrat. Modi is equally mindful of the legacy he wants to leave.

Modi wears the “M” remark proudly on his sleeve because when it comes to providing benefits he says there is zero discrimination. He chest-thumps that even Muslims have received the robust welfare offerings of toilets, of roofs over heads, of monthly rations and while he projects this dichotomy deliberately he ensures that he establishes himself as a generous head of the country but also defines a second class of citizens which the secular liberals often criticise him about. Modi in his own peculiar style has redefined that which, according to him, means that no religion will be allowed to deny Hindus their dominance as the country’s majority. BJP spokesperson Tom Vadakkan says PM Modi’s comments on Muslims had been misinterpreted and that he was referring to “intruders” or “illegal migrants”. The job of defending may be left to the spokespersons but Modi has taken a plunge which is a risk and a hallowed call for a glorified Hindu agenda. This confidence rides even higher because of a pliant Election Commision which is not willing to raise its head. Can the Opposition lodge a collective coordinated FIR against Modi? Well, yes; but they cannot take chances because of being chased by the enforcement agencies of the CBI, ED or IT.

In every election rally nothing prevents Modi from listing out his achievements, the primary of which is the abrogation of Article 370 which in the eyes of Muslims is nothing but abolishing the semi-autonomy of Jammu & Kashmir. He makes no bones about the enactment of the Citizenship Law, widely viewed as prejudiced against Muslims. And most of all, the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on a plot long disputed between Hindus and Muslims. And this is what forces Modi again and again to become an icon of Hindu assertiveness. In a way Modi is trying to achieve the broader goals of a Hindu state not by tinkering with the Constitution per se but by silencing the institutions before the agenda of the government.

So if one looks at the administrative and the political setup of the Modi government, right-wing officials promote conversion to Hinduism, which is described as a “return home”, and that’s why they have introduced laws within many of the states they govern that criminalise conversion from Hinduism. Hindu extremists have lynched Muslim men accused of transporting cows or beef and hounded them over charges of “love jihad” or luring Hindu women. Vigilantes have frequently barged into churches and accosted priests they believe have engaged in proselytising or conversion. But all this is part of valourising the hate agenda and bringing the politics of Hindutva on the central beam which of course is the core agenda of the BJP. So politically PM Modi is spot on — he is a hero for his core constituency, there is no alternative to him, the Opposition can squirm and cringe within their own confines but Modi’s confidence on donning this agenda is matchless and not without a purpose. Hence one may criticise him, Western powers may express their discomfort discreetly, but no one can puncture his confidence at the moment. Will this narrative help him cross the 400-plus seats mark is anybody’s guess at the moment. There is a fear that his own voter is fatigued with too much of Modi-ism, secular Hindus might assert themselves this time in 2024, BJP cadres feel isolated from the central leadership and these factors could prove to be the BJP’s undoing, but the jury is still out on that with another six phases of polling to go.

Neelu Vyas is an independent journalist. Twitter: @neeluopines

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