ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Two Down, Three to Go?

Two years of a non-performing government.

A few days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi could celebrate the completion of two years of his five-year term, the party he leads bloodied its nose. By seeking to topple the Uttarakhand government in a crude, unethical and illegal manner, the right-wing, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya ­Janata Party (BJP) revealed its arrogant demeanour. This was hardly the first occasion the ruling party had sought to ride roughshod over constitutional norms and parliamentary niceties. Two months after President’s rule was imposed in Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP thought it would be able to get away with its utterly cynical attempts at toppling state governments ruled by opposition parties. Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and party President Amit Shah, arguably the three most powerful individuals in the country at present, were wrong. In their desperation to usher in a Congress-mukt Bharat, the troika has been acting in such unseemly haste that they have ended up strengthening the hands of their political opponents.

What was once seen as the BJP’s strength is today perceived as its weakness—its dependence on one person. When politics in India gets excessively personalised, it becomes a double-edged sword. The BJP won handsomely in 2014 when the contest was between Modi and Rahul Gandhi. Thanks greatly to the party’s ill-advised decision to nominate Kiran Bedi as its chief ministerial candidate, the Aam Aadmi Party led by Arvind Kejriwal swept to power in Delhi in February 2015. In October, despite Modi’s best efforts, he and his party could not dislodge incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Bihar. Has the Prime Minister learnt any lessons from his political misadventures? We are not sure. Despite a lot of tall talk of cooperative federalism, never since the mid-1970s has so much power been concentrated in the hands of so few as it has been in India at present.

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