(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)
Time is overdue for Modi to wake up; and lead from the front decisively. Otherwise, he too would go Manmohan way as a footnote in the history books.
The acme of leadership is judged by decisive and positive responses to critical issues tormenting the nation. Seizing opportunities is yet another hallmark of great leaders.
Modi must remember that people voted him in the fond hope that he would decisively lead the way to address critical issues in all fields – social, political, economic, technology and military security issues.
His sole obsession with the ‘development’ as the panacea to overcome key issues in other fields cannot deliver results.
Remember Modi Ji, development, per se, without ensuring fair and just distribution of wealth will only further embitter rivalry between the rich and historically deprived sections of society.
Also, with increasing awareness due to information revolution and rising expectations, people living below poverty line or marginally just above the poverty line would certainly take to streets, protests and bands at every single opportunity particularly when instigated by the vested opposition parties.
After all, the game of politics is ruthless and vicious and ‘no holds barred’ in today’s context.
None can deny that Modi has inherited a “total mess or chaos or anarchy’ due to the past leadership’s dismal failure to steer the nation on the right path. So, people gave a decisive vote in favor of Modi in the fond hope of his strong leadership credentials as Chief Minister of Gujarat.
But the outcomes are belying such expectations. And, slowly and steadily people are losing faith in his leadership credentials.
Viewed holistically at macro level, social unrest is increasing nationwide. The great Indian society horizontally and vertically divided on race, caste and communal lines has become the breeding ground for conflicts proliferation. If one is marginalized another springs up. Tolerance so vital to maintain harmony and peace is on rapid decline.
Reckless posturing and outbursts by criminal turned political leaders to hog limelight of being champions of vote banks with utter disregard to ideology is the root cause for social crisis proliferation. It is feeding frenzy on the streets. Attacks on police have become quite common and frequent.
Most disturbing are the controversial statements made by elected representative feigning as leaders both in the Parliament, State Assemblies and before journalists, anchors and editors with utter disregard to its fallout on national unity. Opposing them are their rivals.
With the media blowing up conflicts by visuals directly into the drawing rooms and sensationalizing them, the social divide is viciously churning. Seldom has one witnessed such boisterous outbursts or acrimony in the past.
Next, power struggles are intensifying oblivious to offering opportunities to external actors to capitalize on denigrating India’s image. Of course, it is in the full knowledge of havoc of anti-India information war by China-Pakistan nexus.
Although tall claims of 7.4% GDP growth, the economy remains sluggish and stagnant. Promised numbers of jobs have not been created.
Viewed in such a vicious environment, absence of leadership, more aptly, rudderless leadership is bound to take the nation on an irretrievable downward spiral.
Unless Modi sheds his “Man Ki Bat” or “Maunvrat” image and lead from the front, he would be surrendering opportunities to his opponents.
Modi ji stoic silence on the outbreak of crises, particularly security, social, political and economic issues of national importance, does not augur well for his stature as a strong leader.
For example, Modi should have addressed the nation on national channels on the outbreak of violence on the streets of Kashmir appealing for restoration of peace. Similarly, on the outbreak of Dalit protests in his home state Gujarat, Modi should have made a similar appeal and issued a stern warning to the perpetrators of violence against the Dalits.
By keeping silent on both crises and also not paying visit to pacify the victims, Modi has squandered an opportunity to demonstrate his strong leadership credentials.
Some may justify Modi’s silence on the grounds that the responsibility to restore normalcy rests with the Chief Ministers and local leaders. The fault lies exactly therein.
Modi’s rivals have gone the offensive by paying visits, considered as photo-opportunity by quite a few, but also create pandemonium in the Parliament to score brownie points. But, the damage howsoever minor it may be to Modi’s leadership status, its cumulative pile up can be electorally disastrous in times ahead.
After all, a 2-5% shift in vote banks is good enough to tilt the electoral fortunes.
By delivering speeches in electoral rallies at a later date cannot have the same pacifying effect appeal made immediately after the crisis explosion with a follow up visit at the first opportunity even before his rivals appear on the scene for photo opportunities.
In retrospect, Modi needs to do both a transformational and transactional leadership shift. Otherwise, people will soon lose faith, trust and confidence his ability to deliver as a strong and decisive leader. Never too late for Modi to lead from the front as a decisive and strong leader.