Friendly world for stable India
India re-enters a single party dominance at the Centre after 30 years but without an effective opposition for a constitutional democracy, with the installation of Narendra Modi as the prime minister of the BJP-led NDA government on 26 May. Modi (63) comes to the highest office after uniquely galvanising the nation, with fewer parallels before, to offer governance that would work for the poor.
The dramatic political transformation in India is being watched around the world for the promise of a stable government restoring the nation’s prestige and setting the pace for India’s rapid growth into a global power. But what matters most within is the fulfillment of the myriad aspirations of millions resoundingly reflected in the emphatic mandate of the 2014 elections.
It is as well that Modi has initially gathered some of the leaders of the closer South Asian region, notably Pakistan, on the occasion of his entering office – though not without incurring some caveats and protests in the South over the invitation extended to the Sri Lankan President Rajapakse. This has triggered the absence of the powerful TN Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, a friend of Modi, at his swearing-in ceremony on 26 May.
Not only that, even the Chief Ministers of West Bengal and Odisha, Mamata Banerjee (TMC) and Naveen Patnaik (BJD) respectively, with massive mandates for their own parties, have decided to stay away. In a way, it signals that these parties, along with Jayalalithaa’s AIDMK, would function like a watchdog on the new government’s policies, specially in the perspective of safeguarding states’ interests. For the present, their idea seems to be to maintain ‘equi-distance between BJP and Congress’.
This 91-member combine could well be a major pressure group in the new Lok Sabha, as a discredited Congress with just 44 members takes the opposition. On the whole, amid all rejoicings in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed by Modi, a sour note has been struck in Tamil Nadu, where all parties have made no secret of their antipathy to the Sri Lankan President over his
‘brutal suppression of human rights’ of Sri Lankan Tamils.
Jayalalithaa and DMK and other party leaders including the T N Congress have denounced the ‘ill-advised’ move to invite Rajapakse which they said was ‘wounding the Tamils’ sentiments’. BJP ally in
Tamil Nadu, Vaiko (MDMK) sponsored protest rallies in Tamil Nadu and the capital. Rajapakse’s attempt to bring with him the Tamil National Alliance leader C V Wigneswaran with him was thwarted by the latter, stating he would not make himself guilty of ‘facilitating tokenism’. While Colombo looks at the political change in New Delhi for the opening of a new phase of cooperation and partnership, without being vetoed by Tamil Nadu parties, Rajapakse has shown little interest in human rights as well as in making progress on grant of autonomy to Tamil provinces. Mr Wigneswaran, who heads the North East provincial council, said with no power, activities of these elected councils were stultified while the Tamils lived in fear with continued presence of military though the civil war ended in 2009. For Modi, the Sri Lankan Tamil issue would be a sensitive one and he would have to prove his credibility in Tamil Nadu.Bangladesh has sent its Speaker for the swearing-in ceremony of Modi at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Mamata Banerjee has been highly critical of Modi and the BJP, and both leaders virulently spoke against each other during the election campaign in West Bengal. But Modi, as prime minister, would need to persuade Banerjee, where former PM Manmohan Singh failed, to help in implementing the agreement on sharing of river waters with Bangladesh, a key issue in bilateral relations.
After some suspense with the Army demurring, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has responded to the invitation from Modi in the hope his visit would mark the resumption of bilateral dialogue to resolve outstanding issues including Kashmir. Here again, at home the Congress spokesman has reminded how BJP itself had been opposed to resumption of any dialogue without concrete assurances from Pakistan on terrorism and LAC intrusions.
These issues, out of several other challenges both on the domestic and foreign policy front, have suddenly been thrown up following the invitations extended to Sri Lankan, Pakistan and Bangladesh heads of government along with other SAARC leaders, on the occasion of assumption of by Modi. Relations with major powers including USA, China and Russia have to be re-visited but Modi has all the skills needed to navigate out of what may seem to be thorny problems. Currently, there remains some misgivings about the way Modi may exercise his authority, perhaps as in Gujarat, and about possible sectional pressures he might come under in days to come. But it is universally accepted he would be decisive certainly on the economic front, which can bring about a distinct change for him as well as the country. Positive signs are already visible, the way markets have been soaring, even if somewhat irrationally, in the rupee strengthening and a mood of optimism prevailing among business and industry.
The NDA is back in power after a decade, its first government having been reputedly led by
the BJP veteran, Atal Behari Vajpayee, (1999-2004), with a record of stable governance and economic reforms. IPA