We can all see how the Modi government is unravelling.
The government and of course, (the BJP Bhakt), bridles at criticism and harries its critics. Media firms are anxious not to offend it; journalists who take it on often lose their jobs. The press has been asking awkward questions about the finances of a firm owned by the son of Amit Shah, the BJP’s number two; they were greeted with rebukes from ministers and a lawsuit. Even comedians who imitate Mr Modi have mysteriously disappeared from the airwaves. The resulting culture of adulation means that the government’s proposals seldom receive the sort of scrutiny and debate that might improve them.
In fact, the BJP is not that interested in policy. It offers voters mainly distraction. The new government in Uttar Pradesh, for example, has painted buildings and buses saffron—a shade associated with the essence of sadhus (and the RSS)—and has picked fights with Muslims, leaving the Taj Mahal (built by a Muslim emperor) off a list of the state’s main attractions.
The party’s overriding focus is extending its own authority. Earlier this year the defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, resigned to become chief minister of the tiny state of Goa. The BJP had lost ground there in recent state elections. The allies it needed to form a government insisted they would join it only if Mr Parrikar, a former chief minister, returned. The finance minister, for whom making the GST work was apparently not a full-time job, took on the role of defence minister as well for the next six months—a period of tension with both China and Pakistan.
In other words, a government that prides itself on its muscular nationalism left defence policy rudderless amid rows with its main military rivals, simply to retain power in a state with just 0.1% of the population. This is not just my opinion, I have lifted it from another newsmagazine.
THE change in mood is remarkable. Earlier this year Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, had an air of invincibility. His government, although more than halfway into its five-year term, seemed more popular than ever. No longer. Frankly, we have had enough!
Alok Sharma, Thane, Maharashtra