Myth of impartial governance
Minorities see the Modi government as biased
Every new Central Government in India is judged after the honeymoon period of one year or so by the public and the Press. Partisan critics normally pose questions on their own so as to deliberately embarrass the government because it is possible that the government on its own may never have claimed success on those counts. So let us be extra fair to the Modi government — judge it only by its own claims, its principles and politics.
According to media reports, Modi recently cautioned BJP members against spreading communal hatred, acknowledging that provocative comments made by some of his party colleagues were totally uncalled for and declaring that the constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and non-discrimination were non-negotiable. As a theoretical proposition, no one can disagree. This is consistent with the accepted wisdom, namely, “that in any country the faith and the confidence of the minorities in the impartial and even functioning of the State is the acid test of being a civilized State”. But how different the ground reality is!
This principle was grossly breached by a Muslim minister of the Modi government when, justifying the ban on beef on TV, he felt bold enough to make an atrocious statement advising Muslims to go to Pakistan if they wished to eat beef. This should have resulted in the summary dismissal of the minister, but one has not even read a public rebuke of him by Modi. Not only that, the BJP seems to justify this policy on the excuse that since a large number of people (meaning Hindus) are against it, the ban is justified. This is a curious reasoning. Since there are at least 14 crore Muslims in India (a population exceeding almost every country of Europe), then why not ban pork and ham? The eating habits of people of various religions cannot be a matter of government policies unless, of course, the real purpose is to hit the economy of these communities who may be living by that business.
Personal safety and equal treatment by the State is another test by which the minorities will judge the Modi government. Take the recent happenings at Atali village (Ballabhgarh, Haryana). A team of the Socialist Party (India) and the PUCL that visited Atali village revealed the partisan and communal face of the BJP government in Haryana. It was on 25th May, 2015, that a mob of Hindus attacked Muslim houses and destroyed a part of the mosque which was being built by Muslims on admittedly the wakf land. Muslims in panic had to flee from the village and take refuge in Ballabhgarh police station and could only return on 3rd June, 2015. There is still panic and a state of uncertainty. But Haryana’s BJP Chief Minister has not deemed it necessary to visit the village and assure the Muslims that justice will be done to them. Rather his callousness in the matter is frightening. The Chief Minister went on an official tour to Faridabad on 7th June, 2015, a distance of about 15-20 km from the village which has been in news throughout India for the last three weeks. But such is his shameful indifferent conduct that he does not consider it necessary to visit Atali village and offer (leave apart a solid concrete assurance of police protection and compensation for the damage done to Muslim properties) some consoling words to the minorities. But then, I am told, the Chief Minister’s eligibility for the post was not his political ability and work but his exclusive RSS work over the last two decades. It seems his anti-Muslim bias, a trade feature of RSS training, continues to still guide him in his duties as the Chief Minister. In that context is it any surprise if the claims of Modi’s concern for the minorities are treated only as empty verbosity. Should not Modi consider in the interest of his own credibility to publicly admonish the C.M. of Haryana and remind him of the obligations and principles of “Raj Dharma” so expounded by Hindu ‘shashtras’.
BJP leader Amit Shah, who is really running the party, is a quiet conspiratorial personality. He very innocently seeks to avoid entering into arguments on building a Ram temple and the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution by pleading that the BJP has not been given the mandate on these issues. And yet surprisingly lesser BJP minions indulge in the provocative slogan of completing the project of “Ram Mandir” and abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution. Modi keeps conspiratorially silent.
Modi’s visit to Israel is being projected as a big event, but surprisingly he is not combining it with a visit to the Palestine. In my view this decision, apart from reflecting anti-Muslim bias, is bad for the reason that Israel has been criticised by an overwhelming majority of U.N. members and even by the U.S. government (Modi’s close ally President Obama) for over decades for not vacating its illegal occupation of Palestine territory which is recognised as an independent nation by the U.N. This is also a breach of India’s own consistent policy right from the beginning which has been demanding the vacation of the Palestine territory. Is it any surprise if Muslims in India (and for that matter an overwhelming number of Hindus even) consider such a limited visit as an indication of the anti-Muslim bias of the Modi government?
That is why when Modi stresses that his sole agenda is development for all it does not cut ice with the minorities apart from the fact that in reality Modi’s development programme is corporate friendly and anti-labour. I am sorry the review above is certainly not complimentary to Modi’s claimed impartial governance.
The writer is a retired Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court.
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