Modi should fast, but to atone for the million fires his reign has lit
Political parties need events to survive. Every event gives politicians an opportunity to give their local network of political workers some work.
Party machinery gets into action, coffers are opened, crowds are paid to attend, hoardings, posters and banners are printed, stages are set up and all other trappings necessary for making an event look successful are ordered.
The key ingredient, however, is an issue. For events to be successful, they must have an issue at their core – either a demand to be made or an act of protest. Demands help politicians in rallying behind their cause while protests give them visibility.
Another USP of successful political events is that the organising party/individual must be seen to be genuinely involved with the issue. If it is a demand, public interest must be proved and if it is a protest, then the organiser must not carry the impression of having been accused of the same ill at any point of time.
Only the aggrieved can successfully protest against aggressor. Protests against corruption will be taken seriously only if the organisers are seen to be honest. Going by this yardstick, the BJP's one-day nationwide fast against disruption of Parliament appears to be nothing short of farce.
The country has been told that the party, led from the front by reigning mascot Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is hurt by the way Congress and other opposition parties disrupted the just-concluded budget session of Parliament.
The session was almost a washout, with demands and counter-demands by the opposition and treasury benches not allowing either of the two Houses to run without disruption for even a single day.
Most of the opposition parties were riled at the way diamantaires Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi fled the country after duping several banks, most notably the public sector giant Punjab National Bank. The Opposition wanted the government to respond in Parliament, but the government appeared scared of the issue getting more limelight.
The union government's failure to grant special status to Andhra Pradesh in spite of BJP's electoral promise to that effect also led to huge protests by Telugu Desam Party and Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP). TDP quit the BJP-led NDA midway through the session and YSRCP's MPs resigned from the Parliament by the end of the session.
Both parties also brought no-confidence motions against the union government but the Speaker never took the motions up for debate. The AIADMK also contributed to this melee by protesting on the Cauvery issue.
With this symbolic protest-fast, the BJP is trying to tell the country that the Opposition is responsible for the session's washout. For which of the issues enumerated above is the Opposition responsible? Isn't the government answerable when people accused of massive corruption suddenly leave the country?
Shouldn't the ruling party be asked why is it reneging on its electoral promises? Is it fair then to lay the blame for the disruption in Parliament only at the Opposition's doorstep?
If that indeed be made the yardstick to measure commitment to Parliament, the BJP is a front-runner of sorts on that count. During the Congress-led UPA's second tenure, the BJP didn't allow the Parliament to function right from 2010 to 2014. The then leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, had then described parliamentary disruption as a legitimate tool to apply pressure on the government.
If Modi wants to fast, there is no dearth of issues to repent for. On the policy front, he could fast for his failure to revive the economy and create jobs, for his damaging decision of demonetisation and for implementing a faulty GST system.
He could fast for the continuing saga of suicides by farmers and for the failure of his government in improving their condition. Apart from governance failure, the BJP and its sister organisations operating under the aegis of the Sangh Parivar, have ignited a million fires across the country, in pursuit of their agenda of radical Hindutva.
Dalits are being tortured and their constitutional protections threatened. Muslim men are being killed in the name of the cow and Muslim girls are being raped to serve a communal agenda. Saffron processionists are triggering communal passions in towns and villages across the country.
If Modi and BJP want to fast, they must fast to repent for these ruptures their poisonous ideology has inflicting on the country's social fabric.