Until 1 PM on Monday, 9 April, INC president Rahul Gandhi had not arrived at any of the venues of fasting by the leaders and workers of his party whereas the fast was supposed to end at 4 PM. However, the farce of a brief fast is not the issue. The demands, to press which the party’s rank and file are fasting, are. They are purportedly ‘starving’ to “promote communal harmony and peace across the country”. Statistics from authoritative bodies such as the NCRB would suggest there has been no spike in the number of cases of strife observed in the country since the 2014 ascension of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power or since any of the BJP governments in the States have assumed office. At worst, several fringe outfits, with little or no connection with the BJP or RSS, went berserk in the intervening four years. But then, in equal or greater measure, incidents have been misreported. That does not mean though that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre has been doing everything with clockwork precision or textbook perfection. The problem with the opposition is that it cannot push any of the agendas that Modi had promised the nation during the last Lok Sabha campaign. These promises range from “minimum government, maximum governance” to “government has no business to do business” to the figurative or fictional statement of “Rs 15 lakh in every Indian’s bank account”, which no less than BJP president Amit Shah turned into a stick in the hands of the opposition to beat the ruling party with, by using the ill-advised term “jumla” to refer to the particular speech. From the INC to the CPM, from the TMC to the DMK, from the BSP to the NCP… none can afford to ask the government why it is not opening up the market and freeing people’s lives enough.
For example, no opposition party will ask why the banks are not being privatised so that any fraud in the sector in the future would affect the erring bank’s stakeholders alone rather than putting an additional burden on the entire population of taxpayers whose money is used for restructuring of the bad loans and recapitalisation of the banks. The opposition is so hypocritical that it is scared even to raise issues that are otherwise dear to leftists: They will not press for, say, the scrapping of Section 377 in fear of a backlash from the influential section of society that still subscribes to Victorian Puritanism. They would not ask for a scrapping of the Soviet Union’s ITAR-TASS-style Press Information Bureau either. They are already outraged by the proposal of selling off Air India. They want the government to continue running hotels, too. The bureaucrat-laden system suited their style of operation for more than 70 years, and they would certainly not want the government to usher in an era of freedom, which will make their feudalism difficult if, as or when they return to government. An essential aspect of the socialist parties’ feudalism entails making daily governance such an impossible proposition for the ordinary citizen that he is left with no choice other than approaching the local municipal councillor, legislator or minister for a personal, out-of-turn favour. When a hapless commoner knocks at the door of a ‘leader’, it gives the latter a sense that he remains the privileged arbiter of people’s destiny. The vicious cycle of having to approach the very state that failed the people is how the feudalism of netas thrives.
They would also not like Modi to dump their DTAA route to tracing the whereabouts of Indian money stashed abroad. For, in all probability, several of them hold illegal accounts overseas, which would get exposed if the government were to emulate Germany or the United States to extract the information from tax havens and extricate the Indian money from those sinister destinations of Indian money. Finally, the unjust, unequal laws for different religions, castes and States cannot be the opposition’s headache. Therefore, why the Modi government has conveniently forgotten Article 370 and a uniform civil code will never be asked. At the end of the day, if the opposition wants the government to return to the regime, the dysfunctional nature of which unseated the Manmohan Singh dispensation, why should the citizens of the country be impressed?