Modi Sarkar and Kashmir

Dear Editor,

It’s worthwhile to spare a few moments to dwell on the euphoria surrounding the just-concluded Indian parliamentary elections. While there can be no denying that a Modi wave swept across most of India, it is also unquestionable that the ab ki baar modi sarkar balloon was inflated by the corporate-media-politician nexus. And the gullible Indian masses got carried away. What worked in favour of the NDA was that the tenure of the UPA government was ridden with ministerial-level corruption, joblessness, lack of women’s safety, inflation etc. But what ultimately proved to be the last nail in the UPA coffin was the negative campaigning by the Congress party, which worked wonders for Modi and his team. Instead of focusing on the UPA’s achievements and future agenda, key campaigners of the Congress-led alliance made Modi their prime target. They harped on him as if they had nothing better to talk about to win the people’s mandate and confidence.

Certainly, the Gujarat CM, and now the PM-designate, was ‘an issue,’ but he was not ‘the only issue’. He certainly ought not to have been a CM, much less the PM. The fateful Gujarat 2002 pogrom cannot be washed away even by Modi Sarkar’s yet-to-be-seen positive endeavours at the centre. The much-hyped Gujarat model of development is not his doing alone: any other person in his place could have taken that credit. How can a person, under whose watch the region witnessed its worst communal riots in contemporary memory, be claimed as having dealt a death blow to India’s divisive forces? He still has not redressed the wrongs committed on the minority community in his state, and even today breaks into a sweat when questioned on Gujarat. (Remember his interview with CNN-IBN’s Karan Thapar?)

It’s interesting to see how some western countries, which would not accord him a visa in the past because of the 2002 pogrom, are now eager to roll out the red carpet for him. It will be even more interesting to see what course India’s relations with its neighbours will take, especially with Pakistan. While in the opposition, NDA leaders would corner the UPA over the latter’s so-called soft stance with Islamabad. It’s worth a mention that Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif has been among the first world leaders to send a congratulatory message to Narendra Modi, India’s PM-designate.

As regards the BJP’s take on Kashmir, the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution (which accords special status to J&K) has been its chief election plank. J&K is a case still on the agenda of the United Nations. Talk of abrogating the Article would be inviting trouble. The people of J&K know it, the Indians know it, and the whole world knows it. The newly elected dispensation in India ought rather to pay heed to the problems people in this region face. The economy is tottering, the job market severely lean, leading to frustration among youth. Severe power shortage despite abundant generation capacity is another major issue. These are but a few among the umpteen problems which need immediate redress, but first and foremost, peace and calm must prevail in the state and in the heads of the politicians at the helm of affairs both in India and Pakistan.

Sheikh Anjum Husain,