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'Doubts About Longevity Of Modi Govt'

By SHOBHA WARRIER
June 24, 2024 09:29 IST
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'I have serious doubts about the longevity of the NDA government and the longevity of the 18th Lok Sabha itself.'

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra D Modi being felicitated by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during the PM Kisan Samman Sammelan, in Varanasi, June 18, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Political economist Parakala Prabhakar was one of the few commentators in India who had predicted before the elections that the Bharatiya Janata Party would not get more than 240 seats! And he was bang on!

In his interview to Rediff.com, Prabhakar -- who is married to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman -- had said, "Modi fatigue has set in, and the BJP is in for huge punishment by the electorate."

"There is no point in pretending that things are what they were before. No, they have changed. The sooner the government and people in power recognise the shift in the ground, the better for them," Prabhakar tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier in the concluding segment of a two-part interview:

 

You know Chandrababu Naidu very well having worked with him for many years. Do you think he will continue to support Narendra Modi?

Remember the TDP (Telugu Desam Party) walked out of the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government in 2018. That was done because the Centre was not ready to give special category status to Andhra Pradesh.

Now, in order for Mr Naidu to continue with the NDA and support the government, he will have to tell the people, 'This is what I got in lieu of support', and that cannot be anything other than special category status.

So, there will be enough pressure on him from the people of the state to get the special category status.

If Andhra Pradesh is given special category status, Bihar will ask. And many other people also will ask.

So, you need to have a sensible Union government which accommodates all these demands.

They have taken a very strong stand against giving special category status in 2018. Now, they have to go back on that.

Now that you spoke about going back on the stand taken earlier, do you think we will not hear about Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan or Hindu Rashtra for some time?

Times are different now. They might make some noises here and there, but you have to remember that none of their allies are ideological allies.

I have my doubts about them going along with the BJP on such issues and issues like Gyanvapi or Mathura.

Will the BJP have the courage to go ahead with Gyanvapi or Mathura now that they have lost Faizabad where the Ayodhya Ram temple is?
Is it not symbolic of people speaking against the kind of politics they were indulging in?

Yes, there is a very clear message from the verdict; that no more of the Hindu-Muslim, Musalman, Mangalasutra kind of politics, and concentrate on the issues that affect people.

If the BJP and the government do not recognise that mandate, and move as though nothing has changed, I think they are going to get a huge backlash.

IMAGE: Modi offers prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, June 18, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

What will happen to the Electoral Bond scam, the PM Cares controversy and the latest stock market controversy now that they are back in power?

The reason why they want to stick to power is that if an Opposition government comes into power, all these things will be unearthed.

They will be probed, and they will be in a deep soup.

There are scams starting from the Rafale deal to Pegasus to Electoral Bonds to PM Cares to the stock exchange.

People have calculated that the discrepancy in the difference between the official income of the BJP and the expenditure in terms of building so many swanky offices all over the country, is close to Rs 60,000 crores (Rs 600 billion).

Do you feel the scams were not discussed or debated in the country because the mainstream media did not perform its duty?

The so-called mainstream media have become another department of the information and broadcasting ministry.

It's like the DAVP (Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity).

That's the reason why a lot of people's pent-up anger came through the independent media.

I have always maintained that in this election, the fight was between Narendra Modi and the people of India, the BJP and the people of India and the NDA and the people of India.

The people of India have spoken very loudly, and they have totally dejected this kind of politics in spite of the control of the media, in spite of no level playing field, in spite of the control of the Election Commission, in spite of jailing chief ministers, in spite of freezing the accounts of the main Opposition party...

Imagine for a while, if it were a level playing field, things would have been very, very drastically different.

IMAGE: Modi arrives at BJP headquarters in New Delhi, June 4, 2024. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Looking at the results, do you feel the people of India are basically secular in nature?

If you want to draw an analogy from economics and markets, you see when the markets get over heated, they get corrected.

Similarly, the Indian polity has undergone a process of correction.

The people have pulled the BJP back into the political centre from when it was trying to change the trajectory to far right.

IMAGE: Parakala Prabhakar

Your final thoughts?

The first message of the election is, Indian people have very clearly said, 'We do not want to go down the road of Hindutva, Hindi, Hindu, Hindu Rashtra kind of politics. We want a life where we live together with everybody. And India belongs to everybody. Don't drag us down the road of majoritarian, fascist and dictatorial kind of politics.'

The second message is that people want the government to focus on livelihood issues, employment, price rise, rural distress, farmers' issues, etc.

The third message is, the Modi magic has vanished.

The fourth message is, there is no point in pretending that things are what they were before. No, they have changed.

The sooner the government and people in power recognise the shift in the ground, the better for them.

Finally, my forecast is, I have serious doubts about the longevity of the Modi government, longevity of the NDA government and the longevity of the 18th Lok Sabha itself.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024