The beleaguered UPA Government found itself on a very sticky wicket during the Chief Ministers’ conference on internal security. It was the coming together of all anti-UPA (and Mamata Banerjee) against what they correctly see as a step-by-step move to destroy the federal structure of the country. This meeting and the parleys that unfolded in the entire day can have far-reaching ramifications on the political landscape of India in the years to come.
Narendra Modi Shines in CM’s meet!
If there were to be an award for the man of the match, the award would unanimously go to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Even before the conference began it was he who set the agenda. Over the past few months, he had written a series of letters to the PM on issues ranging from NCTC to RPF and now the proposed amendment to BSF Act. It is equally noteworthy that Modi has been setting the agenda through his letters, his attending the meeting and even his absence! The last time there was a Chief Ministers meet in Delhi, Modi made the conscious decision of staying away leading to other senior CMs like Mamata, Jaya, Parkash Singh Badal and then UP CM Mayawati staying away too. Today, when he attended the meet he led form the front.
Modi pointed his attack to the UPA over its recent standoff with Army Chief General VK Singh. Modi expressed serious apprehension on the way things were going, arguing that such conflicts were bound have far reaching ramifications on the internal security of the country. [Civil and military tensions affecting internal security: Modi]
He also became the only Chief Minister who expressed the fears of the common man and woman when he said that the standoff did leave a fear of our defence preparedness among the common people. He asked the Centre not to view internal security in isolation; that it is very much connected with external factors. Modi also asked the UPA to move beyond its usual way of giving statements and make some strong effort to clear the fog of mistrust.
Slamming the non-consultative approach that has unfortunately become the norm of the day, Modi also expressed unhappiness on the constant misuse of CBI to suit the whims and fancies of those in power in Delhi. [Read: Non-Congress CMs unite against Centre on security issue]
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
The points raised by Narendra Modi indeed deserve immense attention. It does not augur well for a nation to be underprepared for any eventuality or have the armed forces plagued by a low morale. And, indeed who better to point this out than Narendra Modi himself.
In the past decade, Gujarat has become a case study on how to strengthen internal security along with keeping the morale of the police force at an all time high. When inhuman terrorists struck in Ahmedabad in July 2008, Modi responded swiftly to ensure that not only was the relief work very quick but also an atmosphere of clam prevailed. Infact, even the tracing down of the suspects and subsequent trial have happened at a remarkable pace keeping the hope of justice very much alive. The work of the Gujarat Police received tremendous praise in this regard.
Even the law and order situation in Gujarat has improved in the last decade. Gone are the days when ‘curfew’ was very common in the streets of Ahmedabad. Also gone are the days when bootleggers and petty criminals like Latif ran a reign of terror in Gujarat thanks to the protection they received from Congress Ministers and Chief Ministers. Today, nobody remembers instances when even Section 144 had to be imposed in Gujarat. Thus, when a leader like Modi comments on internal security, rest assured he speaks with some degree of experience and not only to engage in political rhetoric and one-upmanship.
Historic Unity Seen In Delhi
The CMs conference in Delhi witnessed a phenomenon that hasn’t been seen in the Indian polity for many years. Never before in recent history has there been so much bonhomie among Chief Ministers from the NDA, UPA and the so-called Third Front. We are all familiar with Modi’s stand but it received almost the same enthusiasm from UPA’s Mamata Banerjee, NDA’s Parkash Singh Badal and non NDA UPA CMs like Jayalalithaa and Naveen Patnaik. This group of CMs have led from the front giving sleepless nights to the UPA, particularly the PM and Mr. Chidambaram.
This unity achieved reminds many political observers of the climate in the 1980s when NTR played a major role in uniting anti-Rajiv CMs and national leaders from Jyoti Basu on the Left, Vajpayee and Advani on the Right to everyone in the middle. The work Narendra Modi has done in uniting CMs can arguably rank a step above what NTR did and one hopes this positivity among CMs continues.
Where Is The Untouchability?
Right after the meeting, Narendra Modi along with Naveen Patnaik dashed off to TN Bhawan to meet Jayalalithaa. This is in stark contrast to the attempt to portray Modi as this sort of political untouchable who cannot transcend the boundaries of Gujarat. Evidently, he was the only BJP CM who engaged with 2 non-NDA and non-UPA CMs.
This meeting and camaraderie has much larger ramifications- it shows that the major non-NDA and non-UPA partners will engage with Narendra Modi in the national interest. During Modi’s Sadbhavana fasts, Parkash Singh Badal himself flew down to Ahmedabad. The Shiv Sena was also well represented. Recent NDA entrant Ramdas Athawale was also there and potential ally Raj Thackeray too graced the occasion. Dr. Subramanian Swamy has also repeatedly spoken in favour of Modi. Thus, when it comes to the core NDA, Modi can’t be deemed ‘unacceptable’. And after this meet we can even see other players sharing forums with him. What does this show? That he remains a leader, who like Vajpayee can build coalitions across party lines!
Tailpiece- Nitish Kumar’s Splendid Isolation
If there was one leader who was missing in action despite being a reasonably strong CM it was Nitish Kumar. The cyber world was full of comments on why he decided to skip the action despite fancying himself as a future leader of the nation. But, the truth is that he has confined himself to the margins of obscurity only because of a certificate of pseudo- secularism from some sections. In the long run such posturing will do him more harm than good as he will be seen as the perpetual and arrogant outsider who is too cautious to take decisions. Nitish surely must be thinking of himself as some kind of Charan Singh or Chandrashekhar but he should also remember that together their tenure was only close to a year!
In conclusion, it is indeed evident that the mood of CMs cutting across alliance lines is against the PM and the Home Minister. Federalism is an integral part of our constitution and it must be protected at all costs. It is also good to see a leader like Narendra Modi coming to the fore and taking the lead in uniting the leaders and speaking up for the nation. If India needs a strong and stable voice that is uncompromising in safeguarding national interest, we all know where to look…