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Modi 2.0 – Well begun is half done!

Author: Priti Gandhi
Publication: The Times of India
Date:  May 30, 2020
URL:      https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/modi-2-0-well-begun-is-half-done/

History had not witnessed anything like this before. It was the 2014 general election. A humble ‘chaiwala’ dared to defy the most powerful dynasty and won by a landslide. It was unimaginable by any standards. The party in power with roots deeply entrenched in the system and with the entire establishment & eco-system firmly in their hands, was untouchable. But the people of the nation had made up their minds. The massive corruption and poor performance of the UPA government was rejected outright. The development agenda of the NDA alliance led by BJP was welcomed with open arms. When the verdict came, the NDA had a comfortable majority with 282 seats, acquired in the name of the most reputed ‘Brand Modi’. For the first time ever, in the history of independent India, a party other than Congress had won a simple majority on its own.

After that historic victory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi kept his word with the people of the country who had full faith in his promise of good governance. It was an impeccable corruption-free five year term. Infrastructure development that was not done in 70 years was now being accomplished at break neck speed. Demonitization broke the backbone of black money and corruption. The long overdue implementation of GST was systematically done. 100% village electrification was no small achievement. 10 crore toilets were built under the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’. Long pending demand of the Indian armed forces and veterans – the ‘One Rank One Pension’ was implemented. National security became the top priority. India gained more respect in the world than ever before. PM Modi’s dream of overall economic development of the underprivileged population turned into reality with ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan dhan Yojana’. The ambitious ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana’ successfully provided clean cooking fuel to 50 million women of BPL families. Perhaps, it would not be wrong to say that in five years, PM Modi achieved what the Congress didn’t achieve in sixty!

Having acquired so many feathers in their cap, once again, the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi went back to the people in 2019, this time armed with an A+ report card. ‘Phir ek baar, Modi sarkaar’ dominated the political scenario & PM Modi had won the heart and confidence of the entire nation with his model of good governance. The people of the country were convinced about his ‘neeti’ and ‘neeyat’ and showed their support by giving the Bharatiya Janata Party an even bigger victory this time in the 2019 general election for a second term in office with a one-sided mandate of 303 seats. ‘Janta Janardhan’ was damn sure about what they wanted.

As soon as he took the oath of office for a second time, the unstoppable Prime Minister Narendra Modi took up even bigger challenges and began working on important issues that had been kept simmering on the back burner for decades by every other government – The legislation on Triple Talaq, Dilution of Article 370 by scrapping of Jammu & Kashmir’s special status, bringing in the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and setting up a trust to build the Ram temple at Ayodhya as per the Supreme Court judgement – each one of these were extremely complicated issues that should have been simplified & sorted at the earliest. But the governments in power had been using them all along as tools in hand to fear monger and polarize their own vote banks, nation be damned. Over time, the issues only kept getting complicated further.

Taking these four gigantic reforms to their logical end within the first year of coming power is an achievement that neither the critics of the Bharatiya Janta Party nor their staunchest supporters could ever have imagined.

Triple Talaq

On 30th July 2019, the Parliament of India declared the practice of Triple Talaq as illegal, unconstitutional and made it a punishable act. Muslim women who had been denied legal parity with Hindu and Christian women for decades considered the passage of this bill as their personal victory. India will never forget the 1986 Shah Bano case where the Rajiv Gandhi led Congress government and Muslim clerics worked together to overturn a Supreme Court judgment. The same people who so brutally throttled Shah Bano’s self respect and the Indian Judiciary back then, once again tried their best to fear monger, portray the Triple Talaq bill as an anti-Muslim move and block it. But the Narendra Modi government did not allow vote bank politics to overpower long denied gender justice and finally the archaic and medieval practice of Triple Talaq has now been trashed.

Abrogation of Article 370 & 35A

In yet another phenomenal move, Article 370 – a long standing barrier between the people of Jammu and Kashmir and rest of India, was broken on 5th August 2019. It was beyond anyone’s imagination that the abrogation of Article 370 would happen within 100 days of the Modi government coming to power. This ‘temporary’ bill was not allowing Kashmiris to be part of the mainstream and had alienated them from India and the entire world. Kashmiris barely had any access to even the basic rights like healthcare and education. Cut off from the world, all they were exposed to was terror.

Along with Article 370, the revocation of Article 35A has been another big leap towards bringing Kashmir into the mainstream. Not only did Article 35A empower the state of Jammu and Kashmir to define ‘permanent residents’ in the state and accord special rights and privileges to them, it was also openly anti women and anti Dalit. Such a flawed bill did not deserve recognition in a secular democracy. The only people who opposed the abolition of this bill were those who had been milking the situation for years and had greatly benefitted from it politically. Abrogation of Article 370 will be recognized by our future generations as one of the most significant constitutional amendments in the history of independent India.

Ram Mandir at Ayodhya

If one has to mention the longest running, most controversial dispute in the history of India’s cultural, legal and political battles, it has got to be Ayodhya’s Shree Ram janmabhoomi – Babri Masjid land dispute. The first case in the Ayodhya title dispute was filed 134 years ago, way back in 1885. Since then, several law suits, writ petitions & verdicts came and went but were unable to quiver the historical and spiritual significance attached to Lord Ram and Ayodhya. For the 80% Hindu majority in India, Ram Mandir was not just a title suit, it was their cultural ethos, a matter of their faith.

It was an issue that should have been handled very delicately by the people in power but unfortunately they were looking at it only from a political angle to divide communities. The riots between Hindus and Muslims, that followed the Babri masjid demolition, led to the death of at least 2000 people. In 2003, the Archaeological Survey of India confirmed that Babri Masjid was built on land where a ‘non-Islamic’ structure previously existed. Several other evidences to back that claim were presented in the highest court of law. Finally, the Supreme Court on 9th November 2019 ordered the entire disputed land to be handed over to a trust to build the Ram Mandir. The Supreme Court ordered to form this trust and a Board of Trustees within three months. It also ordered the government to give 5 acres of land inside Ayodhya city limits to the Sunni Waqf Board for the purpose of building a mosque. Had the Modi government not shown their will to patiently and very amicably take this complex issue to its logical conclusion, India would have still been bereft of it’s cultural identity.

Citizenship Amendment Act

The Citizenship Amendment Bill is about granting Indian Citizenship to persons belonging to the minority community – namely the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis & Christians, who have migrated to India after facing religious persecution in the three Islamic nations – Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill was a part of BJP’s manifesto since 2014. Infact, this bill was first tabled in 2016 and referred to a joint parliamentary committee that tabled it’s report in January 2019. But it had lapsed with the end of the 16th Lok Sabha’s tenure. After the formation of 17th Lok Sabha the bill was re-introduced and passed first in the Lok Sabha and subsequently in the Rajya Sabha. After receiving assent from the President of India, the bill assumed the status of an act and finally came into force on 10 January 2020.

The Citizenship Act was first amended in 1985 after the Assam Accord was signed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. It was further amended in 1992, 2003, 2005 and 2015. Interestingly, no one had protested the amendments then. Infact the CAA was then supported by the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and even the Left parties. But suddenly now the same people started fear mongering and portraying the bill as Anti-Muslim inspite of this bill not affecting the citizenship or rights of even a single Indian Muslim. Massive protests erupted across the nation by either the ill-informed or those who had vested interests, but the Government was firm. It is a matter of great concern that minorities in our neighbouring theocratic countries have borne brutal atrocities and faced persecution since decades, leaving them with no other option but to seek asylum in India. All three countries in question were essentially Islamic nations so the questions of Muslims facing persecution did not even arise. Those opposing the bill need to understand the difference between illegal immigrants and those who were seeking shelter as a last option. They must also understand that the citizenship status of every single Indian Muslim remains unchanged. By giving citizenship to those in genuine need, the Modi government has upheld an idea that is one of the key tenets of secularism – ‘Sarva Dharam Sambhav’.

At a time when India is going through a health crisis that the whole world is struggling to overcome, being governed by a leader who is handling this pandemic in the most efficient manner is comforting. Not only India, infact several world leaders have praised the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Viewing the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to achieve economic self-reliance, the Prime Minister has announced the ambitious ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’, an economic package which works out to a whopping 10% of the GDP, making it amongst the largest in the world! From being a third world nation, India is steadily moving towards achieving self-reliance & self-sustainability.

And while the BJP is achieving one milestone after another and celebrating an eventful first year in office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, just like Arjun in Mahabharat, has his eyes firmly fixed on just one goal – Rashtra Pratham. Nation First!

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