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Mainstream, VOL LII No 27, June 28, 2014

Illusion and Reality

Saturday 28 June 2014, by SC


Today marks one month in office of the Nareindra Modi-led NDA Government at the Centre.

One of the major reasons for the BJP’s success at the hustings was the effect of the backbreaking economic problems, particularly runaway prices, on the aam aadmi or the common man, the same person who had solidly stood by the UPA not only in 2004 but in 2009 as well. And the Modi Goverment, instead of alleviating the conditions of this person (as the persent PM had promised to do during his election campaign), has decided to prescribe medicines which will only aggravate the situation on this score. Thus there has been a steep hike in railway fares—by 14.2 per cent for passengers and 6.5 per cent for freight. This is being justified as being part of the “tough decisions” he had declared a week ago before announcement of the fare hike. There has been no effort to rein in food inflation which is on a steady rise. And now, it is learnt, LPG and kerosene subsidies are going to be removed to hit the ordinary consumers. Talk of market pricing of as and coal denationalisation is also in the air. After all, the corporates, who played such a key role in funding Modi’s election propa-ganda and guaranteeing his historic victory in the Hindi heartland in particular, have every right to demand their pound of flesh. But they and those they have helped to wrest power should be ready for the mass protests that are bound to follow the public resentment over the failway fare hike.

But besides these, it is the idea of India that has come under considerable stress in this one month. The brutal killing of a Pune-based Muslim techie apart, in Kerala innocent bloggers have been rounded up for posting harmless blogs reflecting a sense of humour that the powers that be are determined to stamp out. Isn‘t this an attack on freedom of expression just what the Emergency regime could not countenance 39 years ago? (The Emergency was clamped on this very day, that is, June 26, 1975.)

And keeping pace with these developments the communal menace too is growing fast. Even NCP chief Sharad Pawar recently attributed the growing incidents of communal violence in Maharashtra to the assumption of power by the Modi-led BJP, generously assisted by that socio-cultural body called the RSS which had once given an undertaking to Sardar Patel that it would not indulge in any political activity. Pawar was, predictably, taken to task by none other than the BJP‘s comrade-in-arms, the Shiv Sena head now seeking to be enthroned as the Maharashtra CM once the BJP-SS combination is able to win the forthcoming State Assembly elections.

After securing majority in the polls Narendra Modi had said; “Good days have come.” He has lately changed his tone to inform the public: “Good days are coming.” That confession is in itself an indication of the gulf between illusion and reality. As the Modi Government completes one month in office it is that gulf which, more than anything else, is coming out in sharp relief.

June 26 S.C.