Advantage Modi 18-2015 30 April, 2015
Beef Up Governance
BJP’s social engineering bids can derail Modi government’s development promise
Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power promising minimum government, maximum governance. This was a liberal promise that appealed to India’s burgeoning and globally networked young, driving the electoral wave that gave BJP its historic mandate. Now, almost a year later, now BJP state governments from Maharashtra to Haryana appear to be upending Modi’s original promise with divisive social engineering bids. They seem more bothered about regulating what we eat, wear, watch ad think than what they were voted in for : to make everybody’s lives easier.
After Devendra Fadnavis’s Maharashtra government banned beef, Manohar Lal Khattar’s Haryana government followed suit. Then Maharashtra’s advocate general Sunil Manohar tried to cover up the patently communal aspect of the beef ban by claiming that the ban on cow or bullock slaughter would be extended to other animals-before the government clarified, of course, it wasn’t banning mutton too. Now, even as NDA at the Centre wants to examine how to make it easier doing business, state culture affairs minister Vinod Tawde offers a textbook example of how not to do this by decreeing that multiplexes compulsorily screen at least one Marathi film during prime time every evening. Promoting Marathi films is a worthy cause. But it’s inexplicable why the political class is generally of the view that in order to promote x you need to ban y or bludgeon z.
While these are state government, technically outside the purview of the PM’s administrative domain, they were voted into power on the back of his personal campaigning. Muscle flexing by central BJP ministers such as Giriraj Singh and Smriti Irani and state ministers in Maharashtra and Goa-where one minister said the his wife has never been teased because she wore a sari- add up to the impression that BJP has forgotten about its governance promises and is trying to implement its old hindutva agenda. Already India Inc is fretting that the sheen is falling off the Modi government-as Marico chairman Harsh Mariwala has argued-even as BJP’s washout in Delhi elections sent a message about its cultural disconnect.
The spirit of today’s youth demands ‘thou shalt not discriminate’; a spirit captured well in Modi’s own slogan of ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’. The PM should now lead a course correction, clamping down on erring ministers and party members and refocusing on governance and development.