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Will India shed centrist mask under NaMo Sarkar?
Friday May 16, 2014 11:12 PM, Syed Ali Mujtaba,

With Narendra Modi on the hot seat being the Prime Minister of India, the beginning of the RSS rule seems to be on the anvil, notwithstanding BJP's effort to enlarge the NDA fold. Behind the velvet gloves it shall be the iron fist of the RSS rule that seems to be tilting India to the right of centre.

India for the past 65 years or so has held the centre of the centre position. There has been marginal tilt to its left and closer to socialism ideals given that India is a developing nation. The left in India had a fair chance to lead the country, but missed the opportunity, that is best known to all. Recall, when former Chief Minister of West Bengal Late Jyoti Basu had to turn down the offer of heading a United Front Government in 1996. His party blew away the opportunity, a "historic blunder".

It is a story of yore; the country has come a long way in its journey since 1947. As it traverses, the new found Asian economic power is trying to redefine the parameters of its ideological moorings. Though it is vehemently being denied, under Narendra Modi the country may undergo the sloughing process and may shed its centrist mask.

The efforts in this direction have been made since long. The success came with National Democratic Alliance rule let by Atal Behari Vajpayee from 1998 to 2004. However, there was an interregnum of ten years and the resurgence of right wing forces is once again on the fore with Modi taking up the charge.

With the final mandate being out, the incumbent Prime Minister is likely to hurl a veiled RSS rule and the emergence of right wing politics is very much on the cards. It appears that the contours of India polity are all set to make a gravitational shift. This may be a new chapter in Indian history and many Indians would be cagey about this development.

Some are arguing that it is the final journey that India is making since forming its national identity shored up with the revolt of 1857. When the British took over the direct control, India was jumble-mumble of societies, a graveyard of nationalities, there was no national identity, and the idea of Indian nationalism had just started taking shape.

Since then there have been three undercurrent forces at work in the course of India's freedom struggle. The right wing Hindu nationalism had dominant presence in the national movement. It wanted to take the country to the pristine Hindu glory of ancient India. The left forces that were swayed by the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 too had a major presence in the nationalist struggle. They wanted to take the country to the Marxist ideals of a Communist State. In between were the centrist, that tried to steer the country, on the 'madhyam marg' (middle path), resisting any tilt to either right or left positions.

In the end, it was the centrist that won the battle of Independence. In the process, it amalgamated both the left and right wing forces and carried forward the journey doing the precarious balancing acts.

This idea of India has continued for well over 65 years or so but now it seems to be crumbling under its own weight. The right wing forces that were desperate for power for long have gained enough ground and have crowned Modi to lead the country. This raises the big question whether India under NaMo Sarkar shall shed its ideological mask?

Notwithstanding, given the numbers in the Lok Sabha, such titanic shift looks improbable. However, if the RSS does have a sway over the national fabric for the next twenty years or so, such a hypothesis may appear feasible. At the moment this seems a tall order.

In a functional democracy a ruling majority is never permanent. Rotation of the governing elite is the thumb rule. Here the ruling majority stands on quicksand which can be sucked away anytime. This is the way a functional democracy plays itself out.

So there shouldn't be much of a dooms day scenario really painted over Modi's governance. When Indira Gandhi, with 500 plus MPs under her beck and call could not touch the basic foundation of the country (barring the aberration of Emergency, for which she paid a heavy price), can Modi with all the fire of Hindutva in its belly, thrust the RSS agenda on the country. Apparently, it looks improbable.

The 2014 election has seen the end of a decade–long Congress-led UPA rule. In these past ten years, both the UPA I and II can be credited with some good and bad decisions. It stands discredited for the economic mess, corruption in high places, populist approach in policies et al. The anti-incumbency factor over weighed all the factors and that alone necessitated a change. The change of guard is the mandate of the people.

The new regime obviously is being voted in with huge expectations. The expectations are growth and development, reducing hunger and poverty, fixing up a beleaguered economy, taking agriculture out of the ICU, ushering transparency in governance, ending corruption, upholding rule of law, peace and tranquility etc.

The euphoria for the new regime is to bring a perceptible change in the lives of the people of the country. The mandate undeniably is for good governance and not to tamper with the preamble of the Constitution.

India with all the diversity under its wings cannot hold any other position than being centrist. If this basic structure is touched upon the euphoria for 'NaMo Sarkar' may well be short lived.

The dark days of the emergency even now haunt the nation. However, such thoughts cannot override the mandate for change of guard. Let's give the new dispensation a chance to perform. If it fails to live up to the people's expectation, winds of change may brew a fresh storm.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

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