Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim
Video Producer: Sonal Gupta
Graphics: Aroop Mishra
Cameraperson: Shivkumar Maurya
Voiceover: Yash Jha
As 2018 draws to a close, Prime Minister Modi must be counting his losses. After an untrammeled run of 18 years over which he did not lose even once to the Congress party, he was trounced in three states, all together.
I am reminded of 2000, when Modi’s political guru, prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had logged in a similarly bad day at the office. Parliament was in turmoil, Kashmir spiraling out of control, Pakistan boorishly recalcitrant, and Ayodhya festering, with calls for a forcible construction of the Ram Temple. Yes, the more things change, the more they remain the same in our timeless land!
Vajpayee had retorted by penning his political “musings” from the Kumarakom resort in Kerala. I reckon the time is equally ripe for Prime Minister Modi’s “musings”.
He should pitch his tent at Kurukshetra on the midnight of 31 December, exactly at Ground Zero where Lord Krishna gave Arjun his updesh (sermon) in the Mahabharata.
Perhaps Modi will get equally lucky, and Lord Krishna will deliver him the following Ten Commandments from the New Bhagavad Gita Circa 2019.
First Commandment: Thou Shall Pivot to Moderate, Centrist Politics
Vajpayee mused that realising India’s potential “calls for a radical shift from contention to conciliation, from discord to concord, and from confrontation to consensus and cooperative action”.
Unfortunately, Modi’s BJP has broken that centrist consensus. Its instinct is Hindu-majoritarian. It morphs highly sensitive issues, from military strikes to the J&K insurgency, into a triumphal, bullying “nationalism”.
But in 2019, it must pivot back to Vajpayee’s conciliation, concord, consensus and cooperation.
Second Commandment: Thou Shall Concede That Pandit Nehru and Indira Gandhi are Not in the Fray
Modi’s Stormtroopers invent lies and half-truths to prove that all of India’s “failures” can be traced to four decades of “that family’s rule”.
Yet when he speaks of India’s greatness – whether in nuclear science, space, industry, or agriculture – his chest-thumping actually celebrates initiatives started under “that family”.
In any case, somebody needs to tell our prime minister that Pandit Nehru died in 1964 and Indira Gandhi in 1984, so hello, please get your opponents and battlefield right for 2019.
Third Commandment: Thou Shall Break Silence on the Ram Temple
Vajpayee mused that his government “will accept, and is Constitutionally bound to implement the judiciary’s verdict, whatever it might be”.
But under Modi, there is a gathering threat of an ordinance to nullify any judicial verdict. Modi should abandon any such politico-legal misadventure.
Fourth Commandment: Thou Shall Break Silence on Followers’ Violence
Modi must set up Special Investigative Teams (SITs) to bring the mob-lynchers to swift and visible justice. He must also “unfollow” hate mongers like @AmiteshSinghBJP, @samivarier and several of their ilk on Twitter.
Fifth Commandment: Thou Shall Allow Fair Discourse in the Republic Now
Modi should immediately halt the proxy political campaigns, run every evening, via incredibly acerbic spokesmen on complicit news channels.
Sixth Commandment: Thou Shall Stop Rewriting History With Falsehoods
Modi’s “intellectuals” should stop rewriting history; they need to concede that Maharana Pratap did not vanquish Akbar at Haldighaati in the 16th century.
Swami Vivekanand was never a Hindutva icon; and Sardar Patel was never a Sanghi (RSS activist).
Seventh Commandment: Thou Shall Stop Practising Voodoo Economics
No phantom disinvestments (one government entity buying another to give the illusion of a “real” sale), or spurious back-series of GDP data.
Modi should also stop dodging the jobs crisis by inventing “pakoda employment” numbers, or using unrelated Mudra and EPF data.
Modi should admit the grievous error in not fixing public sector banks at the peak of his political power in 2014/15.
Eighth Commandment: Thou Shall Quit Giving Lollipops to Farmers
Modi should not mislead distressed farmers with lollipops of doubling income and higher MSPs.
He should craft a bold policy of “one-time loan relief” followed by genuine agricultural reforms, including income transfers, rural infrastructure investments, contract farming, GM crops, and direct linkages with the food retail industry.
He should smash monopolistic mandi/market structures that create huge rents for middlemen.
Ninth Commandment: Thou Shall Show Genuine Faith in Free Markets
In 2019, Modi will abolish price controls, stop harassing taxpayers and angel investors, enforce international awards, respect the rights of foreign investors, appoint non-IAS regulators and heed the cries of small and medium enterprises reeling under the twin onslaught of Demonetisation and GST.
Tenth Commandment: Thou Shall Stop Hatchet Jobs by “Agencies” …
Finally, Lord Krishna finished his sermon thus: Go and get a sense of humour, all ye BJP rulers. A tiny smile goes a long way in disarming political opponents!