BJP Will Win If It Chooses The Right Battlefield: The Fight Is For Dharma, Not Secular Bunkum

BJP Will Win If It Chooses The Right Battlefield: The Fight Is For Dharma, Not Secular BunkumHome Minister Amit Shah (right) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Snapshot
  • Protection of dharma and dharmic people is the first duty of India that is Bharat.

    The pursuit of political power is meaningless without a commitment to dharma.

Karma comes back to bite you just when you least expect it.

In many ways, the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP’s) stunning defeat in West Bengal is karmic retribution for failing its dharma. The BJP had no plan for Bengal, no understanding of what the people wanted, no sensitivity to local feelings.

It came with a sense of entitlement to victory based on the gains made in 2019, Narendra Modi’s popularity and an inclination to shout Jai Shri Ram just to provoke Didi.

Mamata Banerjee, on the other hand, learnt from her mistakes of 2019. That’s why she won. And her defeat in Nandigram is again a warning to her that time is limited, and if she does not perform, she will lose popularity in double-quick time.

Today, the BJP’s failure to pursue the path of dharma is manifesting itself in multiple ways. Two years after a decisive win, it is on the ropes, attacked by the courts in intemperate language, under siege from rich farmers, Islamists and “secularists”. In general, no segment of people is rooting for it.

Even though it has goofed up in failing to anticipate the second Covid wave, due to which we are seeing healthcare chaos over oxygen, beds and even vaccines, this writer does not see this as being entirely the fault of the Modi government.

The states and even the scientific community did not exactly come through smelling of roses. What is karmic is the sticking of the “incompetence” and “callous” labels on the BJP and Modi in particular.

These labels may not be fully deserved, but they ought to serve as a goad to the government to come back to the path of dharma by doing everything possible to fix the problem, and not the blame.

The BJP would be far better off shouldering the entire blame for the fiasco for it would then be entitled to the benefits of any positive outcome in future.

It should not worry about the nonsense being pouted by critics, and even the courts, which are using words like “murder” and “genocide” against the Election Commission or the government for failures in dealing with Covid. If the judiciary is going to be driven by arrogance and hubris, it too will face karmic comeuppance. That is not Modi’s concern.

Seven years after coming to power riding a popular wave, and two years after repeating the feat by riding an even bigger wave, the BJP needs to look back at what it did wrong, what it did right, and how to return to the path of dharma even while making amends for directly or indirectly propping up adharma.

Here is my, entirely subjective and partial, list of the Modi government’s acts and omissions, of dharma and adharma.

In its first tenure, the major Modi government initiatives were streamlining of the subsidy system (through Aadhaar), demonetisation, the drive against black money, goods and services tax, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, and the Uri and Balakot strikes against Pakistan-based terror groups.

Most of them would qualify as acts in the right direction, and thus in line with dharma, barring two: the drive against black money turned out to be closer to tax terrorism, and demonetisation was a very, very bad move.

You don’t inconvenience millions of people to catch a few crooks. In the end, only the inconvenience will matter for karmic accounting, not the handful of crooks who may have been snared by demonetisation.

Adharma won, and by the time the mistake was realised by the government, thousands of high net worth individuals had left the country and business confidence was shattered.

At the tail end of the first term, Modi started reversing this trend, but it was too late.

Even today we have an Adar Poonawalla of Serum Institute rushing to Britain to avoid pressure from politicians demanding vaccines, and this is because even under Modi businessmen were initially seen as undeserving of respect and support.

Modi may have had nothing to do with the threats to Poonawalla, but the climate he failed to reverse in his first term cannot escape blame. This is now being corrected, but the wages of adharma cannot be repaid in one day.

Dharma demands that government should treat business with respect, but should equally subject them to the law using fair means like the insolvency code. Fair treatment should include the businesses it chooses to run on its own, and public sector bankers or units should not be seen with suspicion all the time. That way lies disaster, and we have already gotten close to that situation.

In the current term, the signature themes of the Modi government are the nullification of article 370, the Citizenship Amendment Act, and the farm and labour reforms. All are directionally dharmic.

But what is adharmic is to announce a CAA and then not have the courage to explain and implement it even one-and-a-half years later. If you do not have the courage of your own convictions, you are essentially Arjuna at Kurukshetra running away from battle, filled with confusion and fear.

Faced with protests at Shaheen Bagh and later at Singhu and Tikri (the former against CAA, and the latter against farm reforms), Modi appears to have been cowed down. He needs to talk to his inner Shri Krishna and come to the right decision. He has to fight these battles, even if there is a probability of loss and defeat.

This means even if he faces defeat in 2024, the message will gain ground after that and his successors will benefit from his decision to follow dharma.

Remember Mikhail Gorbachev? He never got to benefit from his decision to make Russia more democratic. Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin as those who benefited ultimately.

The path of dharma tells us what Modi and his government must do next.

One, get ahead of the curve on Covid, and prepare for the next wave as if it will be even worse than the current one. This means treating 2021-22 as the year in which huge investments are made in healthcare facilities of a long-term nature. This means not just in our cities, but at every district level.

It does not matter if we have to divert resources from roads or ports, but health facilities must be treated as long-term infrastructure that will always be needed.

As for vaccination, we need to recentralise it, and as production rises, states can get their doses for half the cost, and the public for free. A small portion of fully-priced vaccines can be left for corporates and the rich to finance their own vaccinations.

Two, get ahead of the curve on China. Remember, it was just when we were fighting our first battle against Covid that China chose to confront us in Ladakh and elsewhere. This time, we must be even more prepared to risk war to make them change their minds forever.

The Covid fight should not weaken our resolve on the border. atmanirbharta must begin in defence strategy and production.

Three, the fight against internal enemies must be fought in three ways: through better communication for those who are merely misled by anti-India propaganda, through an investment in the tools with which to fight them, and through a mobilisation of the people against the mischief-mongers.

For far too long, Modi has chosen to fight on battlefields chosen by his enemies, who include the Left-liberal caucus, the Western deep states, and assorted evangelical and jihadi groups. The conversion mafia must be confronted and defeated, especially by choking their fund sources.

The battlefield on which Modi is fighting them is called “secularism” or “liberalism”. The battlefield he must shift the fight to is dharma and pluralism. And he should not be apologetic about it. And dharma is not about targeting the so-called minorities, nor it is about religion.

It is about levelling the playing field for the forces that fight for dharma. This means ending the discrimination against Hindus baked into the Constitution through articles 25-30, freedom to temples, and autonomy for all Hindu institutions.

It is a pity that the Ram mandir will almost be state-run, when it should have been seen as an opportunity to try out a fundamentally new form of devotee-led governance structures. There is still time to get that done once the temple is built.

And yes, the CAA should be repealed, and converted into a right to return for all dharmic people facing discrimination and persecution not only in the neighbourhood, but anywhere in the world.

India has to say clearly that we stand for dharma, and as the only country where Hindus are a majority, we have a right to retain it as one, by privileging the entry of dharmics over the rest. The rest are welcome to become dharmics, by abandoning false ideas about god, and embracing the spirit of truth and seeking a higher spirituality that only India can offer.

The bottomline for the Modi government is simple: secularism is adharma, pluralism is dharma. Dharmo rakshati rakshitah. Protection of dharma and dharmic people is the first duty of India that is Bharat. The pursuit of political power is meaningless without a commitment to dharma.

(This is a corrected version where earlier we mentioned Dharmo rakshati dharmah, instead of Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah. The error is regretted).

Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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