Modi’s Reference to Parliament as Temple of Democracy Significant
Long used to speaking at a high decibel, today’s speech was an attempt to turn statesman; clearly, on display was not a PM candidate but a PM designate
Narendra Modi’s speech is the first indicative statement of the policy thrust of the government he is to form in a matter of days. In his acceptance speech Modi has naturally not given clear indication about precise programmes he intends to steer soon, but has made it plain that the policy thrust of his government would be pro-poor.
This assertion can be perceived in twoways.Firstly,thosewhoexpected a swift scaling down of social subsideswillfindacauseforalarm,especially because he does not negate positive programmes initiated by previous regimes. Secondly, pragmatists would hope that pro-poor thrust does not necessarily mean continuation of politics of entitlements.
Modi stressed on two facts to stress the watershed nature of this verdict. Hesaidthefactthatsomeonefroman impoverished background could stand at the altar of greatness in India celebrated the inclusive nature of its democracy. Secondly, he emphasisedhewasbornafterindependence and this marked the emergence of post-1947 political leadership. Modi cannot be faulted for his analysis of the verdict. This is not a negative vote for UPA but is a personal endorsement of Modi, and thereby his supporters would justify the ‘I, me, myself ’ strand in his speeches. But missing from Modi’s explanation of the result is unstated sense of elation among his core Hindu supporters and a corresponding feeling of anxiety among Muslims and those Hindus who did not endorse his candidature. Modi would surely be aware of this but is yet to accept it. His failure to communicate to his MPs that there are large social groups who remain sceptical of them and they must make conscious efforts to win them over will increase sense of unease among critics and non-supporters. Had this element been part of his acceptance, Modi’s Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas (with all, development for all) refrain would have sounded more genuine. His failure to elaborate risks the sentiment of being dismissed as one that is solely for the record. Thankfully, the Modi-Modi refrain was not there in this acceptance and indicates a conscious decision to roll back on the enthusiasm so evident in his victory speeches in Vadodara and Ahmedabad.
The announcement of observing Deendayal Upadhyaya’s birth centenary is a significant step and will satisfy the RSS fraternity. Its significance can be put on a par with the HedgewarCentenarycelebrationsin 1988-89, which catapulted the politics of RSS into national prominence.
The Modi-moment of the acceptance speech was the dramatic manner in which he choked on his words and tears welled in his eyes. People asked if this was genuine. A more pertinent question would be to ask why he got emotionally swayed by Advani’s appreciation and not by the kaleidoscopeof sufferingthathesaw during campaign. In December 2013 he was questioned for only mentioning his suffering since 2002 (at being attacked for complicity in riots) in the blog piece he wrote after a local court dismissed Zakia Jafri’s petition. Why does Modi still get moved emotionally by a personal moment and not a bigger social occurrence?
Modi’s reference to Parliament as temple of democracy is significant. Hemakesacorrectbeginningbyemphasising to his MPs that they have a huge responsibility. Long used to speaking at a high decibel, today’s was an attempt to turn statesman. Modi is not yet hurtling down this track yet but has made a beginning. The start could have been more positivebutthereisasenseof hopewhich he said as the cornerstone of this verdict. Clearly, on display was not a PM candidate but a PM designate.