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Course Correction

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has applied some course correction at the two-day meeting of BJP’s National Executive held in Delhi. This is in the context of the larger design to win the coming nine state assembly elections, and also to prepare the scenario for the Lok Sabha elections of 2024. Significantly, he has pointed out that, by generating ‘unnecessary’ controversies, public attention is diverted from the good work done by the party and its governments. He had directed party cadres and supporting organisations earlier, too, to ensure actions like cow vigilantism were reined in, which had been rampant during his first tenure. These are rarely heard of at present. Even the fringe groups that are not directly related to the RSS-BJP eco-system have been curbed through strict enforcement of the laws.

He has expanded his political philosophy, which was initially articulated as ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. After winning his second term, he added to it ‘Sabka Vishwas’, which was a clear message that governance would be inclusive and acknowledged the support he had received, even if it was small, from all sections of society. This has been witnessed in the many welfare and social empowerment programmes that have been launched by the Union Government. He has, now, added ‘Sabka Prayas’, which requires citizens to play their role at the individual level in India’s development, thereby taking responsibility for the future.

His address on Tuesday also encouraged party cadres to engage with sections of society without expecting their votes, particularly ‘educated Muslims’. This went along with his focus on Pasmanda Muslims, which is being described by analysts as a move to extend the party’s social engineering to backward sections not traditionally included in the caste calculations. If nothing else, it will create insecurity among the opposition parties, which have increasingly tended over the years to take the Muslim vote for granted.

It is obvious that the ‘unnecessary controversy’ advice also extends to the numerous boycott calls made against films these days. It would seem that Modi has responded to back channel appeals made by the film industry in this regard. It is important to note that moderating the Hindutva ‘outrage’ is being done as part of the ‘Vishwas’ principle, without conceding on the contexts of the various controversies. What happens in future will depend on the response received from contending forces – it is tactical restraint rather than a concession. It has been basically made clear that there remains a strong hand at the helm and the party will follow.