When the Narendra Modi led NDA came to power in 2014, a common refrain I heard was that unlike the outgoing Prime Minister, Narendra Modi would be a ‘strong leader’.
I have had my misgivings about this since I believe that in a democracy a government should be weak and constantly at the mercy of the electorate. I am not saying that a government should be inefficient or corrupt or not prompt in dealing with any law or order situation – but simply that it should be subservient to the majority of the people.
If Narendra Modi was indeed ‘strong’, he would not have faced the opposition and open defiance he is seeing internationally or at home – be it the WTO vetoing India’s interest regarding the domestic content requirements for solar panels, or the brazenness of the Pathankot attack, or the united attacks from the opposition benches – or even from within the ranks of the BJP (the Margdarshak Mandal, Shatrughan Sinha, Kirti Azad anyone?)
Or, more disturbing, why have the BJP MPs with extremist views not heeded the advice and vision of their own ‘Dear Leader’?
No – I am now starting to see Narendra Modi is not a strong leader, for he inspires neither respect and not even fear, but a just stubborn one.
Like a child who starts crying loudly, if he or she does not get what he wants, the current government’s leader and ministers resort to hysterics and cries of victimhood when faced with any adversity.
How is that, by any measure, a sign of ‘strength’?
The stubbornness displayed by NDA government around Lalitgate, Vyapam, the FTII or the JNU issue (to name a few) is not going to earn them any labels of strength. Short term strategies like labeling any criticism or dissent as illegal which were tried by the erstwhile UPA government, including the misapplication of IPC Section 66A, only made the dissent and criticism stronger.
The NDA government is trying to continue this stifling through sedition charges, selectively slapping defamation suites, a buyout of the media – and hooliganism on the ground.
Much like a child who thinks wailing louder and louder to drown out all other sounds will get him what he wants – and if that fails, resorting to physical tantrums like holding his breath and failing his arms…
These aren’t signs of strength, but immaturity.