It is essential to understand this: that a prince cannot observe all those things for which men are considered good, for in order to maintain the state he is often obliged to act against his promise, against charity, against humanity, and against religion.—Machiavelli

The18th chapter of Niccolo Machiavelli’s famous work The Prince is titled “How a Prince Should Keep His Word” and the very beginning of the chapter is as follows: “How praiseworthy it is for a prince to keep his word…nevertheless the princes who have accomplished great deeds are those who have cared little for keeping their promises and who have known how to manipulate the minds of men by shrewdness.”

Doesn’t the image of our Prime Minister come to your mind when you read the above quoted sentences of Machiavelli?

The gau rakshaks publicly flogged four Dalits in Una on July 11, and nearly one month after, Narendra Modi reacted ‘sternly’ by saying that the government will not tolerate atrocities against the Dalits and in his characteristic rhetoric, he  said: “You can shoot me rather than targeting the Dalits.” Who are the ‘You’? The gau rakshaks? No. You and I and everybody who has no role in the atrocities against Dalits are included in that ‘You’, but nobody who perpetrates the atrocities. Modi doesn’t want the gau rakshaks hear his criticism and the gau rakshaks don’t mind his criticism either, because the ‘criticism’ is meant to satisfy those who are against such vigilantism.

Narendra Modi is a consummate politician who has used the politics of silence to look the other way when violence is perpetrated on the hapless people by those who are the part and parcel of the political organization or party he represents.

He has used this silence in 2002 when hundreds of innocent people were being butchered on the streets of Gujarat. “On March 6, as many as 96 bodies of genocide victims were buried in a mass grave in the Dudheswar graveyard….another mass grave for about 200 victims was being readied in Sarkhej…A big grave was dug and the bodies lowered into it one by one. … Among them were five children, including a six-month-old baby; 46 women, including one who was pregnant, and a handicapped man whose crutches lay by the side. 500 persons silently watched and prayed. CM Narendra Modi driving less than a kilometer away did not visit the graveyard.”—says Communalism Combat (March-April 2002, page 19).

He has used this silence when Muhammad Akhlaq was lynched in 2015, and when the Dalit youths were flogged in 2016. After using the silence of politics very fruitfully, he would use his rhetoric to ‘condemn’ the ‘anti-social elements’ in order to reiterate his distance from them. Of course, he keeps his safe distance from them. He doesn’t have the intention to reign in the vigilante and other fringe groups who have donned the mantle of protecting the cow and the culture of India, especially since Mr. Modi became the PM. At the same time, with his rhetoric, he unfailingly sends the message that he ‘criticises’ such vandalism in strong words. That is all.

It seems that the nature of all our politicians can well be explained by the words of Machiavelli. But Modi becomes the perfect politician to suit Machiavellian description of a good prince. He says that “it is not necessary for a prince to have all qualities, but it is necessary for him to appear to have them. Furthermore, I shall be so bold as to assert this: that having them and practising them at all times is harmful; and appearing to have them is useful; for instance, to seem merciful, faithful, humane, trustworthy, religious and to be so; but his mind should be disposed in such a way that should it become necessary not to be so, he will be able and know how to change to the contrary.”

What we witness in our country today can only be explained fully through the words of Jawaharlal Nehru: “[T]he alliance of religion and politics in the shape of communalism is a most dangerous alliance, and it yields the most abnormal kind of illegitimate brood…the combination of politics and of religion in the narrowest sense of the word, resulting in communal politics is —there can be no doubt—a most dangerous combination and must be put an end to. This combination is harmful to the country as a whole.”

It seems that Indian democracy is under siege from the vigilante groups— the most abnormal kind of illegitimate brood Jawaharlal Nehru refers to. What we witness today in our country is the vigilantes of various hues belonging to a particular religion enjoying impunity to indulge in hooliganism in the name of protecting the cow or the culture.  In a democracy the weakest sections should enjoy safety and security just as the strongest section. But in the present day India atrocities are perpetrated on the Dalits and Adivasis with greater impunity than in ancient India. The killing of Kalburgi in Karnataka, the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in U P, the flogging of Dalit youths in Una, spring from the same source –the cultural intolerance that is diametrically opposite to democratic values.

The basic problem seems to be that the Modi government has nothing to deliver for the well-being of the people as a whole, especially of the downtrodden. The government is looking after the affairs of the corporate sector in deed and only in words it looks after the downtrodden. That is why the vigilante groups are given absolute freedom to ‘engage’ the people. In his 32-minute long speech delivered extempore at the Central Hall of Parliament on 20th May 2014, Narendra Modi said that his “government is one which thinks about the poor, listens to the poor and which exists for the poor. … The new government is dedicated to the poor. This government is for the villagers, farmers, Dalits and the oppressed, for their aspirations and this is our responsibility.”

We have a Prime Minister who said that this government is for the Dalits, and the same Prime Minsiter says nothing when Dalits are publicly flogged by the gau rakshaks. Everybody knows on whose side he stands, but with his rhetoric he tries to convince the civilised world that he criticises the vigilantism that targets the Dalits.

The day after tomorrow we are going to celebrate the 69th Independence Day and we are going to hear the Prime Minister’s commitments towards the poor and the downtrodden in his passionate rhetoric. You should not compare his speech with the realities; the speech is only a speech, that is all.

The author is a frequent contributor to

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  1. S.M.PASHA says:

    22/51, Barracks Road, Perimet, CHENNAI 600003
    Attn: Prime Minister Modiji
    Here are a few tips for your Independence Day Speech.
    Allah Subhanathallah, in His Infinite Mercy, has blessed you with an excellent gift of the gab and also the knack of making mountains out of petty molehills [ even out of imaginary ones] and vice-versa. Hence, telling you what you should say on the Independence Day is tantamount to carrying of coals to Neyveli. But still, to satisfy my Inner Voice, which tells me that I will be failing in my duty as a humble but vigilant chowkidar of the lawful rights of the Indian Muslim minority community, if I am silent, when and where silence is wrong and harmful.
    Apart from giving all sorts of lame excuses [ bye the bye, your excuses are deaf and blind too] tell us why the “ACCHAY DIN” have not yet come and the “BURRAY DIN” continue to reign supreme and if at all they have come, they have NOT come to us –Muslims and Dalits – but come ONLY to the members of your saffron parivar, who are making hay whilst the sun shines.
    Tell us – frankly please – do you propose to put a permanent end to the atrocities of the gangsters who style themselves “gau rakshaks” only with harsh and hard words? Do you have a concrete programme of action such as BANNING such outfits and throwing such criminals in jails? Is it necessary for me to tell you that soft and sweet words do not sweeten parsnips and make them eatable?
    The Congress Party, unfortunately, failed to implement, in toto, the recommendations of the Sachchar Commission ‘s Report and it received punishment from the electorate. From this you must learn a good lesson and avoid committing the same atrocious mistake. Implement its sagacious recommendations and see the magical result.
    Inasmuch as brevity is the soul of a Memorandum, I close it with my plea:

  2. K SHESHU BABU says:

    If Modi is really interested in restoring the confidence of people, he must do nothing more than ‘restoring ‘ secular credentials of Nehru. The RSS and Hindu brigade might try to erase Nehru from history books but if Modi at least tries to follow some of Nehru’s policies, he would work for the welfare of people.

  3. Sometime what makes article laughable is the comparisons that writer makes in this case Narendra Modi, the PM of India who hails from Backward Caste. I guess that comparison can also be made of President Obama – after all more blacks have been shot by police officers during his presidency. I don’t think the writer is seriously concerned about Dalits being lynched or killed. The agenda of NY Times and many writers including that of the current article is to portray Modi in bad light. In the end, Modi will have done more good for the OBC, Dalit community than the previous govts.

    • Dr.Zasheer Ahmed Sayeed says:

      a thinking citizen of india wiil raise the question.Do the muslims of this country do otdesrve a commentary similar to what te Pm ande against those gau rakshaks whonin the Stste of Gujrat treated the the dalits community with intense trauama.
      dfid not the
      Dadri incident desrve a similar reaction from the PM.
      .Answers for this asymmetric response by the pm raises hackles and suggest preferential treatment of communities and citizens by the powers that be of the indian state.