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Fresh Set of Challenges for Modi 3.0

Fresh Set of Challenges for Modi 3.0

Khalistanis, Naxalites, Kashmiri subversives gaining legitimacy in Parliament demands fresh thinking and strategy


As Bharat’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi readies to take reins at centre for a third consecutive term, challenges, known and unknown may have to be dealt with on priority basis.

Commentators of every hue and shade have written copiously on Prime Minister Modi’s tenacity or lack of it to run a coalition government with Telugu Desam and Janata Dal (United) and half a dozen others in tow. Challenges identified here are different and mostly new to tackle right away.

For a year, Amritpal Singh, a Khalistani extremist who waged a war on Punjab Police has been put away in Dibrugarh jail of Assam. Waris Punjab De chief who hitherto owned a logistics company in Dubai is being tried for crimes including possible treason after having led a mob on Ajnala police station in Punjab. He’s being tried under National Security Act (NSA) from April 2023. His reported linkages with Pakistani spy agency, ISI to source weapons to spill violence on streets of Punjab are some of the allegations against Amritpal Singh. The 31-year old radical Khalistani separatist will have to be dealt with by Modi government when eighteenth Lok Sabha opens for newly elected members of Parliament to take oath.

From Khadoor Sahib in the Punjab, Amritpal Singh was elected a member of Lok Sabha after having trounced his Congress rival. Security forces that laid trap in and around Punjab after the Ajnala incident will now have to provide security cover to the ‘Honourable Member of parliament’. Singh was successful in recent elections with highest majority of 1.97 lakh votes in Punjab. Member-elect from Khadoor Sahib will have to be respectfully escorted by the very security forces from jail to Parliament.

Election Commission of India (ECI), Lok Sabha Speaker and the new government apart from courts will have to bear with his idiosyncrasies on Khalistan, the imaginary separate Sikh state. One big positive however is that the avowed Khalistani will have to take a pledge as per Bharat’s Constitution and work within the country’s governance system. Protocols to deal with him will change overnight.

Second case will be Sarabjeet Singh Khalsa, son of Beant Singh who killed then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi following Operation Blue Star. Sarabjeet is the new Member of Parliament elected from Faridkot and a fundamentalist. Though an independent candidate, hitherto Sarabjeet Singh Khalsa was with Siromani Akali Dal – Amritsar. This party has had Simranjit Singh Mann as its member in Lok Sabha from Sangraur previously represented by Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann.

Sarabjeet Singh Khalsa’s plank as an independent in Faridkot was to seek justice for desecration of Guru Granth Sahib in October 2015. On October 12 that year, Sikhs’ holy book was desecrated in Behbal Kalan and a couple of days later two sikh youth were killed. This very is part of Faridkot constituency. Even after election, Khalsa and Mann along with several Khalistani separatists shouted slogans for a separate Sikh state at Golden Temple, the highest seat of Sikh Panth in Amritsar.

While Sarabjeet is regarded a fundamentalist, his election and allegiance to Bharat’s Constitution as a Parliament Member may ring in some positivity. But, there’s denying that going forward Sikh panthic politics has come here to stay and traditional Sikh parties like Shiromani Akali Dal will have to make way for new alignments and forces especially aligned with extremist and terror elements globally. Modi government will have to redraw its Punjab strategy in sync with new realities.

Third member who could turn tricky for Narendra Modi government is Sheikh Abdul Rashid who’s serving his term in Tihar jail. He’s been elected to lower house from Baramulla after trouncing former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah of National Conference. Popularly known as engineer Rashid, he’s been in high security Tihar jail for over five years in cases relating to money laundering and funding terror in the Kashmir valley from across the border and elsewhere. Oppression, revenge and jail term were emotionally put forth by his sons to garner votes for engineer Rashid. While Rashid’s swearing in as Lok Sabha member would turn an eyeball event, abrogation of Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections may come back to focus. Courts have to take a call on his interim bail to facilitate his swearing in.

After a gap of 25-years, Communist Party of India – Marxist Leninist (Liberation), Left extremist group will enter the parliament with two  of its members in Rajaram Singh from Karakat constituency. His comrade, Sudhama Prasad defeated BJP minister and high profile R K Singh from Arrah. Both these constituencies are in Bihar. The party that draws inspiration from one of left extremist movement, Charu Mazumdar, has moved into public space from arms struggle and is part of the opposition, Indi alliance. CPI-ML Liberation shifted gears and moved away from Kondapalli Seetaramaiah faction’s Peoples’ War group that still is in the midst of waging a war against the state.  Mainstreaming of naxalites with entry into Parliament and state legislatures is a tribute to Bharat’s democracy. But, spread of Left extremist political ideology overtly may demand a fresh strategy from Modi government.

Chandrashekhar Azad alias Ravan is yet another figure from Uttar Pradesh that BJP-led alliance that needs to watch out for.  Chandrashekhar will represent Nagina Lok Sabha constituency in the lower house after having won the seat with a margin of over 1.51 lakh votes. He is regarded as a self-established Dalit leader after having setup the Bhim Army. His activism extends to a decade.

On March 15, 2020, Chandrashekhar launched Azad Samaj Party (Kanshiram) to mainstream his political activism overtly. Initially, he looked at a tango deal with Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP). But, Chandrashekhar felt let down when his party was offered just two seats in the Lok Sabha elections by SP.

Azad’s direct involvement in Saharanpur violence led to his arrest under National Security Act by the Uttar Pradesh government. Delhi Police denied him permission for protest march against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, resulting in his arrest and several days of detention after he commenced the protest at Jama Masjid.

Chandrashekhar Azad who’s also close to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi represents quiet churn in Dalit groups in the northern heartland that hitherto rallied around BSP’s Mayawati. His rise as Member of Parliament signifies another big challenge to BJP-led alliance’s bid to consolidate the Hindu vote bank.

Given that BJP lost the Faizabad seat in which Ayodhya falls, it’s bound to haunt the ruling party big time and its government for next few years. Larger challenge would be to counter myths and propaganda unleashed by select foreign media representatives and their collaborators in Bharat on loss of Ayodhya – Faizabad seat. Several news reports pointed to purported divide between Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and BJP leading to huge electoral losses for the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh, especially Ayodhya.

Well, this narrative is false, timed and part of an ecosystem that’s driving a well-oiled agenda based reportage in media and social media networks to debunk and deface the Hindutva forces. And, it will not work.

First myth propagated was that Ram temple built on razed Babri structure was to secure landslide victory for BJP. Such propagandists are blissfully unaware of 500-years Hindus struggle to build a Ram temple at his place of birth. Several agenda-driven media houses have conveniently linked Ram temple to Modi seeking third term. Now that his party lost in Faizabad, they found an easy target in RSS and the Sangh parivar to throw mud at.

After Faizabad seat lost by BJP apart from four others in the region, propaganda centred dalits and tribals not being part of ‘Brahminical’ agenda on Ram temple. From day one, each section of Hindu society and even Muslim litigants were part of Shri Ram temple’s struggle, litigation, construction culminating in ‘pran pratishta’.

These media houses choose to ignore that valmikis, yadavs, other backward classes, dalits like pasis, Sikhs, jains and several other sects were very much part of this non-political wider Hindu movement for Ram temple.

 Grand temple for Shri Ram was facilitated after protracted legal tussle spread over decades and not handiwork of some fanatic ‘brahminical’ supremacists as pointed out by a couple of commentators.

While Sangh would deal with Ayodhya and Hindu centric movement in its own painstakingly disciplined way, Narendra Modi and BJP may have to get battle ready for a big political pushback in Uttar Pradesh to retrieve the lost ground.

Other big challenges to tackle will include changing demographics of several constituencies with Muslims outnumbering Hindus and other minorities. Church’s role and foreign interference in Bharat’s elections need serious analysis and response from Hindutva forces.

(Author is Director & Chief Executive of Delhi based non-partisan think tank, Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies)

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