Maximum Government, Minimum Governance

Modi farm laws

Do you remember 10 March 2022? What happened that day?

The results of the elections to the five state assemblies were declared wherein the BJP won in four of the five states, with the fifth, Punjab going to AAP.

What happened then?

Almost immediately, the Prime Minister flew to Gujarat which was the next state slated for elections, though still eight-nine months away.

The Prime Minister has been known to prefer being in the election mode, which gets his adrenaline going, but this was the most definitive indication of his decisive priority of being in the election mode.

One might say, the Prime Minister has, for most parts of his premiership, been in that mode. Even when he is abroad (as he has been on over 150 occasions), he would rather have the Indian diaspora rallies organized by his supporting groups (including the Indian embassies) rather than meet with the people, press and intelligentsia of the host country. Later, he stopped holding press conferences there as well, to the extent of even having a formal request made that no questions be asked by the Press at the formal joint declaration ceremonies. For him, these press conferences or interviews (both there or here) stopped being of any concern or importance. His target audience everywhere, wherever he went, was the Indian diaspora and the people back home, all with an eye on the next elections.

But his 10 March visit to Gujarat, was a clear sign of the Prime Minister shifting into higher gear, and in the State to which his umbilical cord remained still tied and was his lifeline.

However, with this election mode, whatever happened to the Prime Minister’s governance mode? When the BJP won in 2014, among the plethora of statements and promises the Prime Minister made to the country was that his will be “minimum government, maximum governance”.

Now, eight years on, we can see and speculate on almost unlimited variations in the fulfilment of that promise.

Minimum government? Yes, of course. Minimum and limited to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, both who had taken the Constitutional oath, plus the PMO and his two brothers in arms who didn’t need to take the oath. The other names that took oath while getting aboard the Government’s cabinet are there, at best, as masquerades or robots. Indeed, it might be a good IQ test for us to name the minsters and their respective ministries, without looking at GK notes or seeking the google guru!

Maximum governance? Well, yes, in terms of absolute control over the governing institutions, machineries and treasuries.

In April 2019, the Prime Minister stated that the country still doesn’t know the real meaning of minimum government and maximum governance. And as the country awaited the new definition with bated breath – it rapidly emerged that in real-time situation, the terms actually meant “maximum government” and “minimum governance”.

That is exactly what we are facing and experiencing – a maximum government, maximum through exercising total control and practicing minimum governance. One can site any number of examples as evidence and proof but when all institutions that matter and actually execut governance lie shattered, in despair and in virtual chain and fear, what is left to govern? All that the government has to do is to govern the police, the CBI, the ED, and they in turn then execute governance for it. Likewise, simply govern the judiciary, the election commission, the media, not forgetting the foot soldiers, and they do all the governing as per your specific wishes. With minimum to actually govern, throws open for the party in power the ground where it can happily remain in election mode 24×7. Thus, when there are no elections, we have a government already thinking of and preparing assiduously for the next elections, weakening its own partner political parties in the states and decimating those in opposition or having its think-tanks scheme how through cajoling, threatening or buying, whatever that works, to have adequate opposition MLAs and MPs on its side and topple the Opposition ruled state governments. You could say, “BJP forms the government in a state after winning the election; BJP forms the government in a state even after losing the election!”

Is it any surprise then that there is no policy or plan worked out, no action taken, no work in progress on issues that are troubling the country most – and are, in fact, snowballing as a result of the apathy – from the Chinese two-steps-forward-one-step-back presence on the country’s borders to the spiraling cost of living and unemployment, the concerns on the education and health fronts, the ills that beset the farmers, not to talk of the threat to the country’s Constitution. And so, we see, sharply deteriorating indices on virtually all fronts, the troubling rise in the state of hunger, the increasing sense of helplessness, insecurity and fear, gathering over the people the people at large and the minorities and the women, in particular.

At the same time, it isn’t any surprise either that the Opposition parties have fallen into the trap and have themselves joined the election mode race – decimated and scattered as they are, yet biting at one another. There are some Opposition strongholds in several States, but these too are forever wary and distrusting of the other Opposition parties alongside or in other States.

However, what is worse or more worrying, since 10th March, is that even media has been mainly catering to the election mode. One is not expecting anything from the Godi media, but even the social and the alternative media (including the many news portals that have come up in the last couple of years) does not discuss governance, no longer thread-baring the foul, immoral or illegal means being practiced, no longer measuring their distressing impacts on the various front – but more discussing the “excellent election machinery” of the BJP. And even where they are discussing the issues that matter, it is largely from the point of view of what that would mean in terms of the next elections and the prospects for the various political parties. It is, as if, the question of TRP is upfront for them as well.

Amidst all this, though a bit too early to state definitely, the Bharat Jodo Yatra seems to have opened the window a bit. In its breath of fresh air, those who thus far were fearful, are beginning to show signs of emerging from that suffocation and finding their voice. Still, it would be foolishly naive to hope and expect that the current problems and situation are going to upturn anytime soon. That would largely depend the people, the people and the people!

Biju Negi, Hind Swaraj Manch & Beej Bachao Andolan

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