Between Scylla and Charybdis
The day was May 16, 2014. The BJP led NDA had won the general election and Shri Narendra Modi was to be the 16th Prime Minister of India. Congress was completely defeated. The pompous roadshows, the Gujarat model, the multiple claims to recover black money stacked abroad were some of the highlights of the Modified campaign.
It’s been 3 years and 7 months. Make in India, Start up India, UDAN, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Digital India, Skill India, Mission Indradhanush, Smart city mission and many more such schemes have been launched which have gained appraisal not only from the grassroots of the nation but also internationally. On the other hand, demonetization, the implementation of the GST and the Aadhar mandate have also provoked strong criticism of the Center.
While the opposition, which here is the big India-INC party, is not convinced that not even one of the government’s plans and policies is pro-poor and accuses it of name-change strategies and credit hoarding, the ruling BJP maintains that it is the government of the marginalized and the two consecutive UPA regimes were a complete downfall.
While we watch every day on the news channels the inconclusive debates, criticisms and slanders that these parties press against each other, and read in the newspapers the scathing speeches of the Argus-eyed political-socio-economic columnists in the office of the Prime Minister, we are missing an important question. What are our options?
India is a democracy. The biggest in the world. And the essence of democracy lies in the fact that it always offers options. And sometimes too many of them. India had a choice in the summer of 2014. Bring to power a man, who had proven his metal as the three-time Chief Minister of Gujarat, but was also accused of Muslim massacre, OR vote for a party of more than a century of antiquity. whose leadership hung by a thread. India first. The issue here is what level of options we were offered. Narendra Modidas certainly a rhetorician, visionary, nationalist to the core, but also a firm believer in Hindutva ideology and therefore considered anti-Muslim. Rahul Gandhi, who was not the official face of Congress in the last general election but an obvious candidate, was inexperienced, politically drab, but free from charges of corruption or embezzlement. Neither NaMo nor RaGa can be adjudged as the perfect choice for the highest office in the country. Both are positive and both are negative. However, we think. We do not choose between a God and a Satan, nor between the virtuous and the libertines, we choose between Scylla and Charybdis.
Yes! Between Scylla and Charybdis. Because in a democracy we never have ‘the best’ and rarely ‘good’, we can find ‘better’ but what we have in abundance is the ‘worst’. It is this best that we must look for among the many worst. Democracy never presents us with a choice between the good and the ugly. To quote George Orwell, politics is choosing between the lesser of two evils. And for us Indians that lesser evil turned out to be Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi.
Since taking office as prime minister, he has been attacked not only by Congress but also by many other minor parties for his anomalous decision-making. While his and Jan Dhan Yojna’s DBT were praised globally, demonetization and GST brought him the same rancor at home. He has been criticized, insulted, trolled, at the same time praised, acclaimed and applauded. But it was also the case for the late PM Indira Gandhi. If the nationalization of the banks, the liberation of Bangladesh (East Pakistan) and the Shimla Agreement support it, the State of Emergency of 1975 and Operation Blue Star (1984) are the bitter reminders of the other side of the regime of him. Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary who ruled the archipelago for just over 5 decades as Prime Minister and later as President, broke the US hegemony over his people. He established free education and health systems, but the standard of living in Cuba remains low to this day.
The 43rd President of the US, George W. Bush, who won the presidency but lost the popular vote, is known for leading the United States into the Iraq war and using nefarious counterterrorism tactics, but he served two full terms and was able to pass the largest tax cut in US history. Gamal Abdel Nasser, the repressive revolutionary-turned-dictator, who died in 1970, is still revered by Egyptians, even by the young generation, as the greatest leader of all time, even though he lost the Sinai Peninsula to Israel in the war. of the Six Days. (1967). And in line with this, the latest example of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was questioned in June 2017 on charges of perjury and cronyism and then won a landslide victory in early polls in October of the same year, demonstrates the conviction of that well-educated people seldom believe history.
Indira Gandhi, Fidel Castro, George W. Bush, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Shinzo Abe, Narendra Modi are all contaminated. But still they are exalted. Because they did (and are doing) the right thing, at the right time for their respective countries. They passed the comparatively best litmus test of politics with distinction. And if there is something in common between all of them, it is their prodigious ability to attract the general public, which condones their weaknesses.
The Modi government may have wavered in implementing the goods and services tax, they may have crossed the line in their rants, maybe demonetization wasn’t a great idea, but the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code was and so was it was Ujjwala Yojna (PMUY), and the Sagarmala Project, and the Neem Coated Urea scheme, and many others that have really reached and benefited hundreds and thousands. The opposition must realize that blindly criticizing the government’s work and hampering the government will only stall the country.
India is 70 years old, an age when such maturity should creep into our sociopolitical system when politicization of trivial issues is replaced by bipartisanship, especially on key agendas, in Parliament.
As for us citizens, the choice has been increasingly difficult and will be even more so in the future. Choosing the lesser of two evils is still wrong. But a proactive devil is better than a sleeping saint who gets us nowhere.