How Prime Minister Narendra Modi Made it Easier for Nitish Kumar With His Attack on Cow Vigilantes
With the message, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created enough buffer for friends like Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar so they don’t have to be apologetic about partnering the BJP. The move is well-timed for Kumar as Mahagathbandhan ally Congress is expected to test his ‘secular credentials’ in the Monsoon Session.
File photo of PM Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
New Delhi: It is not the first time Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken against cow vigilantes. This is not his toughest call to action either. But by speaking out on the issue on the eve of the Monsoon Session, he has attained at least one political objective — making it easier for allies, and to send feelers to Nitish Kumar.
The Prime Minister’s statement at the customary all-party meeting indicates the government is bracing itself for a stormy Monsoon Session. His intervention last year after public flogging of Dalits in Gujarat was much stronger. He even quantified the percentage of anti-social elements masquerading as cow-protectors. It is another matter that the RSS was quick to issue a statement making its own position clear. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat even followed it up with a reminder in his annual Vijayadashmi address last October.
On external issues like the standoff with China and Pakistan, the government has attempted to seek a broader consensus by taking the Opposition into confidence. On domestic issues, however, the Treasury may come under strict scrutiny.
Preparing the ground to blunt the Opposition assault, the PM put the onus on states to act. Law and order — perhaps the most clichéd phrase in parliamentary debates — is a state subject.
In the process, Modi is creating a buffer for some of the NDA allies who have their own regional compulsions. The government’s prolonged silence on cow vigilantes can be politically detrimental for them. Recently, the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Ramdas Athavale, made that point amply clear in a press conference in Mumbai.
The vicarious, yet immediate, gainer from PM’s statement is Nitish Kumar. It was very much expected that the Congress and allies would test the Bihar Chief Minister’s ‘secular credentials’ in the Monsoon Session.
The Trinamool Congress and the Congress are planning to bring in a motion in Parliament on cow vigilantes and lynching. It was to be a motion under a rule which entails voting, thus forcing parties to shed ambiguity on contentious issues.
In taking a strong position on cow vigilantes, Modi is creating enough buffer for allies so they don’t have to be apologetic about partnering the BJP.
Interestingly, the PM's statement came on the day Congress chief Sonia Gandhi took a strong line on presidential elections. In a subtle message to JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, she underscored that the contest against the ruling dispensation was more fundamental than winning or losing — it was about the idea of India.
One just has to juxtapose it with the other statement by the Prime Minister on Sunday evening whose import was probably missed by the media. He spoke about the credibility of political leaders and he called upon political parties to identify corrupt leaders from within and act against them.
In the present political context in Bihar, it is an endorsement of Nitish Kumar’s stand vis-à-vis his deputy and RJD heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav after the CBI filed an FIR against the Lalu Prasad Yadav and other family members.
It is also a message to Nitish Kumar not to yield to an adamant Lalu. And, perhaps, it is an invitation of sorts; an olive branch to the Bihar CM.
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