My response is inserted in the appropriate places. His original piece appears in quotes and in italics.
An open letter to Narendra Modi
By Gopalkrishna Gandhi
The BJP has won the seats it has because you captured the imagination of 31 per cent of our people (your vote share) as the nation’s best guardian, in fact, as its saviour. It has also to be noted that 69 per cent of the voters did not see you as their rakhvala . They also disagreed on what, actually, constitutes our Desh. And this — the concept of desh — is where, Mr. Modi, the Constitution of India, upon the authority of which you are entering the office of Prime Minister, matters. I urge you to revisit the idea of Desh .
This comment about the vote share is disingenuous because it is not a phenomenon peculiar to the 2014 elections. With too many parties contesting elections, votes get scattered. This reminds me of an email I received two days ago.
A friend sent me a statement of seats that BJP would have been entitled to, under proportional representation. Apparently, it is 169. All this ingenious statistical analyses were probably discovered only after Mr. Modi won the elections. Had ‘proportional representation’ been applied to elections in 2004 and in 2009, the Congress and the UPA would not have come to office at all and we would have been spared ten years of incompetence, inaction and inglorious plunder and loot of the nation.
Let me get more specific with numbers:
In the 2004 elections UPA (a post-poll alliance) vote share was 35.4% and the Congress vote share was 26.53%. We had the Prime Minister of the country chosen form a party that three in four Indians did not vote for! Even more painful is the fact that, in the seats contested, both the BJP and the Congress had received 34.4% of the votes. The Congress won 145 of 400 seats contested and the BJP won 138 of 364 seats contested. BJP had done better. Yet, the Nation was subjected to the ignominy of a UPA government with Prakash Karat and the NAC holding the country to ransom.
In the 2009 elections, which was supposed to be a positive vote for UPA-I, the UPA (this time, a pre-poll alliance) vote share was 37.2%. About 63% of the country did not vote for them. That did not stop them for running everything to ground in the country or Ms. Mamata Banerjee from holding the government and the nation to ransom with her opposition to policies.
I did not recall Shri. GKG writing open letters either to the NAC, Ms. Sonia Gandhi or to Prakash Karat about more than 60% of the country not having voted for their loot-and-scoot policies. I will be happy to be proven wrong.
In the 2014 elections, in the 427 seats it contested, the BJP is supposed to have won a 38% vote share. I do not have the exact figure. (Happy to be corrected here too). But, the fact is that NDA had 22 parties in its fold. Hence, the vote share of the NDA has to be considered. Naturally, vote for a NDA ally was a vote for the NDA PM Candidate. Hence, saying that 69% did not vote for him is plain wrong. It is a serious error.
Here is a news-item that Mr. GKG could read at leisure and draw his own conclusions on Modi’s and BJP’s mandate.
Reassuring the minorities
Why is there, in so many, so much fear, that they dare not voice their fears?
It is because when you address rallies, they want to hear a democrat who carries the Peoplehood of India with him, not an Emperor who issues decrees. Reassure the minorities, Mr. Modi, do not patronise them.
Patronising the minorities has been the problem or the prerogative of the Congress party and the so-called secularists. Asking them to pull up their socks and fight poverty and not fight Hindus is not a patronising statement but a sincere call to make them choose their priorities. Mr. GKG is addressing the wrong person here.
“Development” is no substitute to security. You spoke of “the Koran in one hand, a laptop in the other,” or words to that effect. That visual did not quite reassure them because of a counter visual that scares them — of a thug masquerading as a Hindu holding a Hindu epic’s DVD in one hand and a minatory trishul in the other.
This country has revelled in symbolism for the last several decades – politicians attending Iftaar parties, visiting mosques, etc. The key is to ask what has been done in substance.
This morning, I read good friend Andy Mukherjee’s incisive column in Business Standard. He mentions a fact that I did not know until then. It was the Congress Party that had introduced free power to farmers in 1977 in Andhra Pradesh. The rest of the political parties followed suit. For nearly four decades. The rest is (disastrous) history.
How much damage has it caused – In material terms; in human terms? To India’s water table; to India’s water quality; to India’s soil fertility; to agricultural produce; how many million homes have gone without power for how many million hours; the poor, the Dalits and the minorities going without electricity in their huts, small tenements, eating, studying, living and sleeping with creepy crawlies and poisonous ones at that.
Has any commentator called the Congress Party to account for their crimes of omission and commission in governance because of which we have probably 240 million abject poor and another 360 million who are flirting with poverty. One serious injury, one health setback or one failed crop would push them over the line into poverty.
Why doesn’t this shock us while demonising (I am not suggesting that Shri. GKG demonises him. He doesn’t) Modi comes to many naturally? Can we write about this and not about who carried what DVD in their hands?
In the olden days, headmasters used to keep a salted cane in one corner of the classroom, visible and scary, as a reminder of his ability to lash the chosen skin. Memories, no more than a few months old, of the riots in Muzaffarnagar which left at least 42 Muslims and 20 Hindus dead and displaced over 50,000 persons, are that salted cane. “Beware, this is what will be done to you!” is not a threat that anyone in a democracy should fear. But that is the message that has entered the day’s fears and night’s terrors of millions.
Let us get a few things straight again: First, let us be thankful to Shri. GKG for mentioning the numbers of deaths of Hindus and Muslims.
But, let us also remind him that Muzaffarnagar riots happened in UP before elections in a State ruled by a so-called secularist. Law and Order is a State subject. If Modi could be held solely responsible for post-Godhra riots by these secularists (in whose eyes he is not responsible for Gujarat’s successes but only for failures), why is there no mention of the Yadav clan in UP?
If ‘day’s fears and night’s terrors’ have entered the minds of millions, it behoves Shri. GKG to ask the question of who is responsible for that. Is it someone who provided riot-free governance for more than a decade – something unprecedented in the history of Gujarat?
An objective social commentator would use the occasion to ask some questions of the community itself and question the responsibility of other political parties, social activists and commentators for this state of mind, so that they could pose (only that) as their guardians.
In one of his film songs, the late M.G. Ramachandran said that unless a thief chose to reform himself, theft and robbery cannot be eradicated. That applies to many things in lives of individuals and in the economic and social development of communities and nations. Hard questions need to be asked.
What has been taken as your stand on Article 370 of the Constitution, the old and hackneyed demand for a Uniform Civil Code, the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, and what the media have reported as your statements about “Hindu refugees” in our North and North-West and “Muslim refugees” in our East and North-East, strikes fear, not trust. Mass fear, Mr. Modi, cannot be an attribute of the Republic of India. And, as Prime Minister of India, you are the Republic’s alter ego.
It is wrong to conflate domestic and foreign policy issues. Illegal immigration is a big issue in the Northeastern States as are the activities of Christian Missionaries in those States. Shri. GKG should not treat these matters perfunctorily.
The BJP Manifesto’ stand on the Uniform Civil Code and on Article 370 are clear.
When you reconstitute the Minorities Commission, ask the Opposition to give you all the names and accept them without change. And do the same for the panels on Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and Linguistic Minorities. And when it comes to choosing the next Chief Information Commissioner, the next CAG, CVC, go sportingly by the recommendation of the non-government members on the selection committee, as long as it is not partisan. You are strong and can afford such risks.
Did Ms. Sonia Gandhi consult even her PM when she constituted the National Advisory Council? Did Shri. GKG not know that Ms. SG and her son lacked the grace and decency to congratulate Mr. Modi? Given their bad faith and mala fide, why should Mr. Modi accept the suggestions they make, without demur?
Good that Shri. GKG introduced the caveat of ‘non-partisan’ for his other recommendations.
Imperial and ideological exemplars appeal to you. So, be Maharana Pratap in your struggle as you conceive it, but be an Akbar in your repose. Be a Savarkar in your heart, if you must, but be an Ambedkar in your mind. Be an RSS-trained believer in Hindutva in your DNA, if you need to be, but be the Wazir-e-Azam of Hindostan that the 69 per cent who did not vote for you, would want you to be.
The 69% is wrong again.
With every good wish as you take your place at the helm of our desh ,
I am, your fellow-citizen,