Since when did the government become synonymous with the nation? Any critique of the policy of the government is today transformed into a debate on nationalism, or on being who the ‘true Indian’ is. Any criticism of government policies clearly questions your ‘Indianness’. You become less Indian and an ‘anti-national’.
Your love for your country does not mean the unquestioned acceptance of the diktats of the ruling party, but unfortunately, that’s how many people see it today. Any policy debate is craftily, mostly unsuccessfully, turned into a discourse on morality and nationalism. The ministers justify their policy decisions not on facts and figures, but on rhetoric and sycophancy. And the saddest part is, even when people are asked the same – anyone who is tired of the demonetisation drive is questioned about their nationalism; their spirits are not equivalent to those soldiers in Siachen and hence, unworthy of, as an Indian. If you are skipping meals for lack of liquidity, you are doing a service to Mother India, for the greater good to come. You need not bother thinking when we are there to think for you; a king can never be wrong, and nor can PM Modi. How can a modest, rooted, chaiwala turned Prime Minister not care for his people? If you are a true Indian, trust your government and chant Bharat Mata ki jai, and that’s all you need to do. What is more worrying is that there are a big number of Indians, even among the highly educated, who now subscribe to this enigma of patrimonialism.
All the responses that the honourable Prime Minister gives for the pressing issues in the country are centred on him and him alone. When Dalits got killed in the name of cow, he said, “Kill me, not them,” on demonetisation, he said, “They would destroy me, but I wouldn’t go back,” and on another occasion said, “Come mothers and fathers, throughout the land, and don’t criticise, what you can’t understand.” This was said by the man of all virtues.
In the name of connecting with the common people, and acting like the godfather of the Indian masses, the honourable Prime Minister is presupposing that the country and its people are ignorant and illiterate. At the same time, the Prime Minister is refraining from owning up and justifying his policy decisions in the Parliament, where he would be answerable to the questions raised by the Opposition, and through them, to the people of India.
The winter session of the Parliament has seen a complete washout this time; while the ruling party complains about the behaviour of the Opposition for non-functioning of the Parliament. Yet, the ruling party does not show the will to bring the Opposition in confidence, so as to make the Parliament function. The criticism made by the senior member of the Parliament, as well as the member of Margdarshak Mandal against the government clearly points towards defiance of the government.
Debates and discourse are not integral to Indian democracy anymore; its leaders are more comfortable delivering Mann ki Baat on the radio and taking part in mild television interviews. In both the cases, there is no scope for cross-questioning. This is a dangerous trend that India is witnessing today. There is a need to revive the role of discourse in democracy; the accountability to the people by the elected representatives in a democracy would mean accountability in the real sense. When we seek answers, we need answers which are logical, supported by facts and figures; and not rhetoric plated with false emotions.