BJP’s Online Supporters Have An Instant Gratification Problem, Need To Realise Governance May Be More Complex Than Imagined
The job of a government is to govern and not to demolish the opposition.
The aim of the government now is to push ahead with the farm laws, and coming down heavily on protesters will not help.
Even as two Gujaratis deployed non-violence to defuse a chaotic mob intent on causing maximum disruption in the national capital, the ruling party's supporters were having a meltdown on social media early this week.
Seeing flags being hoisted at the Red Fort, watching protesters assaulting policemen and listening to incendiary comments from farmer leaders were clearly too much.
A large section of supporters were up in arms against the government even as the farmers’ march into Delhi was turning into a violent spiral. Their complaint was simple: how could the government allow so much disturbance and violence? Why not lathi charge the crowd? Why not shoot?
For many supporters, it was particularly galling that Hindus could be attacked seemingly without consequences during festivals or Hindu sadhus could be targetted openly in places like Palghar. And here was a large, openly violent mob running amok in the national capital, and yet the government wasn't swinging the stick against them.
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were mocked and attacked for their alleged inaction. After all, only 12 months ago Delhi was engulfed in another round of violence against a law that provided refuge and citizenship to Dharmic communities in the subcontinent and Afghanistan. For the angry support base, a riot every December and January was indication of a government that had lost control.
Defending the government during such a time from being attacked by its own supporters is fraught with risks of being labelled a mouthpiece and such. Nevertheless, some of us do have to suffer the burden of patience and perseverance.
The angry crowd needs to realise a few things.
First, accept that there will be opposition to change, many times it will even be well organised and intransigent. Any government can promulgate ordinances and pass laws, it is only the strong ones that can sustain the momentum and overcome opposition.
There will always be protests and some sort of violence being instigated against the government's action. India is a large country with a seemingly endless number of vested interests seeking to somehow stall every attempt of any government's agenda. There really is no point being annoyed that there are protests — you should be surprised if there are no protests.
Second, in the case of large protests and dealing with street opposition, there will always be a degree of hypocrisy. Some people who can cause more trouble will be treated with kid gloves, allowed to do some degree of violence and generally tolerated a lot more than an ordinary crowd.
The outrage against such apparent hypocrisy stems from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter's expectation that the world is a fair place and that everyone should play by the rules. It is best to overcome such naivete. There will always be people who can get away with more nonsense than your own — it is best to transcend such transactional jealousy and remain focussed on a larger agenda.
Third, the job of a government is to govern. The government's job is not demolishing the opposition — that's an electoral and political task left for the ruling party. It is the stated aim of this government now to push ahead with farm laws. Shooting at protests is a bad way to fulfill its aim.
Being patient solves the protests problem and takes the government closer to its goal. Shooting or unleashing violence has the possibility of whipping up even more opposition. What would supporters want? More opposition or farm laws?
Once angry supporters reconcile to the existence of opposition and the need to handle them carefully, then there is only one thing left to do and that is to think about how best to defuse the situation. In this instance, the best way to defuse the situation and get on with the government's agenda was not to shoot.
Sam Govindarajan is a textile entrepreneur from western Tamil Nadu.
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