The Biggest Challenge Facing The Modi 3.0 Government Is...

K Balakumar

Jun 11, 2024, 07:23 PM | Updated 07:23 PM IST

Narendra Modi takes oath as Prime Minister for the third time.
Narendra Modi takes oath as Prime Minister for the third time.
  • Motivated rumours and fake news, especially emanating from south India, looks to set the agenda and distract the ruling dispensation.
  • They say bad news travels faster than good news. 

    Nobody understands this better than the political class. All through the most vitiated election campaign over the last two months we saw that, as all manner of news was floated to distract and divert public attention to a chosen narrow narrative.

    But now that the results are out and the government has taken charge, one thought that the motivated canards would abate.

    If anything, it seems to have gotten worse.

    Even before the coalition government got assembled, we have heard reports that the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is demanding the Home Ministry and the post of Speaker. Nitish Kumar's Janatal Dal (United) is demanding plum cabinet posts and is also holding talks with Mamata Di. K Annamalai to be made a minister.

    To be sure, the alliance partners would attempt to drive a hard bargain. It is in the nature of coalition arrangements. But nothing has actually come out in the open to suggest that things are that extreme.

    Most of these stories around allies seeking their pound of flesh are based on what the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and others pulled off under the disastrous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regimes in which the Congress was the lame duck leader. It allowed itself to be pushed over while the DMK and other allies ran riot.

    Anyway, coming to the fake news, the biggest one to do the rounds was that the actor and first-time Member of Parliament (MP) Suresh Gopi had resigned his ministerial post, for which he had taken oath only a day before.

    Nobody asked why would a first-ever Lok Sabha MP for the BJP from Kerala would want to give up a post that has been offered to him on a platter?

    Not surprisingly, the report spread with the nonchalance of a forest fire, and the beleaguered MP had to put out an official statement that he was not quitting, and it was an honour to be bestowed with the job of the minister. (Later in the day, it was announced that he was the Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism). 

    It is impossible to figure out who sets off such stories. But many of these calculated spins emerge from South India, especially Tamil Nadu.

    Even after Suresh Gopi had formally clarified on his social media handles, there were many Tamil YouTube channels still flogging the story that there was trouble fermenting in the inchoate Modi ministry with the likes of Suresh Gopi openly revolting.

    Seriously, these YouTube channels were hammering such reports with nary a thought for facts and principles.

    YouTube Channels That Carry The Distorted Dravidian Narrative

    There are over 50 YouTube channels, openly owing allegiance to Dravidian masters, which are actively involved in propagating misleading ideas and opinions. Many mainstream news outlets too are openly toeing the line of the Dravidian dispensation in the state.

    A few journos have also quietly switched over to the IT cell of the state ruling party (or accommodated in some sinecure in some convenient department) and set a twisted agenda on social media forums.

    While Surersh Gopi's story was given a quiet burial, these channels and many social media handles made a jump to Nirmala Sitaraman and S Jaishankar retaining their portfolios in the Modi 3.0 ministry. The open suggestion in Tamil Nadu media circles is that they have been given their respective posts thanks to the fact they are, well, Brahmins.

    The fact that many of the old-timers have been kept in their same post has somehow not mattered to Dravidologists.

    But only the Finance and Foreign ministers being allowed to hold on to their ministries from Modi 2.0 has irked the Dravidian bigots. Because it allows them to spread the narrative that Brahmins call the shots in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.

    Dravidologists Are Setting A Bigoted Agenda 

    For the record, the Modi cabinet has 27 Other Backward Class, 15 Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) ministers — a total of 42 out of the 72 ministers. This is the highest ever representation for such categories in independent India.

    Again, for the record, compare it with the current DMK team in Tamil Nadu — it has just 2 SC/ST ministers. For a population that represents 21 per cent, there should be at least 6-7 SC/ST ministers. 

    But these media manipulators would have nothing to do with real facts or figures. They just want to muddy the reality and push their poisoned polemics.

    They call Brahmins as Noolibans (nool in Tamil refers to thread, which of course is a reference to the Brahmins' poonal or janeuNooliban is a jibe to rhyme with fundamentalism of Taliban). Listen here to the DMK official spokesperson drop the N-word in a public debate on a news channel. This is how flagrant they have gone with their boundless bigotry.

    It is just not Nooliban derogatory diatribe alone. The Dravidian sections are also going to town with the suggestion that Tamil Nadu Bharatiya Janata Party leader K Annamalai has not been made a minister because he is not, well, a Brahmin.

    Firstly, they let loose the fake idea that Annamalai was to get a ministerial post. When that has been proved mendacious, they are now doubling down with the idea that he hasn't been accommodated because of caste considerations.

    But if he had been given a ministerial chair, the narrative would be that it is immoral to make a man, who has just lost the election, a minister. There are more spins in the Tamil Nadu media scene than a revolving top would see in its lifetime.

    The coming days will see more frenzied and fermented ideas doing their rounds as news. South India, with the Dravidians leading the charge, will mostly be the fount of these dubious reports.

    Allies would forever have their daggers drawn. Ministers would all the time be sulking. The entire ministry would be perched on the edge at any given point. In other words, the vicious gameplay will never stop. 

    In the event, the biggest challenge for the Modi 3.0 dispensation would be to not get sucked into these diversionary battles. But that may be easier said than done.

    If you remain silent, these fanciful stories may be treated as true. If you respond, these gossipy ideas are deigned a dignity that they don’t deserve.

    A classic case of heads I win, tails you lose.    

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