Modi’s poll campaign had recklessly promised everyone the moon. Price rise, unemployment, corruption, rape – ‘Modi Sarkar’ was the answer for every woe. As Modi Raj makes itself felt, however, there are misgivings all around. The initial symptoms are pretty ominous.
Even as Modi calls himself the ‘Mazdoor No.1’, the most powerful ‘maaliks’ – corporate biggies Ambani, Adani and Hinduja – were prominent at his swearing-in ceremony. And the Rajasthan Government of the BJP has already shown the way in introducing anti-worker ‘reforms’ in labour laws. Abandoning any pretence of tripartite mediation, the Rajasthan Government weighed in on behalf of the industrialists, without even any consultation with trade unions.
Modi’s ‘minimum government’ mantra seems to mean concentration of key Ministries and decision-making in the PM and a coterie of Ministers – effectively a super-PMO and super-Cabinet. The clubbing of Finance and Corporate Affairs ministries indicates that economic policy priorities of the Government will be led by corporate interests. The pruning back of the Planning Commission is also to make sure that there is no room for any parallel authority to the centralised Modi PMO.
Modi’s decision to give a Ministerial berth to Muzaffarnagar riot-accused Sanjeev Baliyan is a deliberate step, intended to display majoritarian arrogance and impunity for the riot-accused. We can recall that Modi had likewise patronised Maya Kodnani in his Gujarat Government, until a Court convicted her for her role in the 2002 communal violence.
The choice of retired Army General VK Singh for Minister of State (Independent charge) for North East Affairs is also significant. The Modi Government is indicating quite brazenly that it will view the North East from a military prism, mocking the demands for scrapping the discriminatory and draconian AFSPA.
The statements of various newly appointed Ministers are cause for concern. Najma Heptullah, Minister for Minority Affairs, has declared that Muslims are too large in number to qualify as a genuine minority, and that Parsis – a genuine ‘miniscule minority’ in her view – will instead be a priority for the Government. The fact is that Muslim and Christian minorities in India are the ones at the receiving end of the maximum violence and discrimination, while Muslims are the minority community that is economically and socially most deprived and stigmatised. To pit the Parsi minority against other minorities, and to declare that Muslim minorities are not really deserving of the Government’s protection, is another early display of brutal majoritarianism by the Modi Government.