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OPINION

Modi’s obsession with ‘federalism’ is eroding the authority of the PMO

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s love for ‘federalism’ is turning into some kind of an obsession and it’s helping none. The states are at war among themselves, and with their people. While the Union Government and the PMO and the Home Ministry are diligently and dutifully following the ‘hands-off’ policy, the corrupt and divisive political dispensations ruling the states have a free run with their callous and partisan governance, blatantly pursuing a destructive and divisive agenda and vote bank politics.

A well-meaning government must not be driven by the highfalutin notions and principles of those who are at the helm of its affairs. Only the ground realities should dictate its behavior.

And what are the ground realities of today?

They are alarming. Some state satraps are bent upon challenging the authority of the Prime Minister. They are not even prepared to follow the established protocols and show basic courtesies to the highest political and administrative office of the nation. They are trying their best to belittle, undermine, and make it look ridiculous and helpless. They openly mock at the PM with the ’56 inch chest’ and his much-touted decisiveness.

It increasingly looks as if the authority of the Union Government will now be confined to securing the borders of the nation, giving environmental clearances to projects, collecting direct taxes and VAT for redistribution, and the Prime Minister will just be making appeals to people to construct toilets and delivering sundry ‘inspiring’ lectures from various altars.

The writ of this government does not even run in the union territories since the PMO and the HM’s ‘hands-off’ approach prevents them from intervening in the affairs of the local administration. Look at what is happening in Delhi. The Lieutenant General is the de-facto ruler of the state and apart from sending him a few occasional advisories, the PMO and the HM keep their hands off him and the incompetent Sonia stooge continues to run the affairs of the tiny state as he deems fit.

If that is not enough, the Supreme Court judges, after a little pause, are back to challenging the power of the political leadership and the executive. They tested this government and found its underbelly soon after it rubber-stamped the SIT on black money, constituted and reconstituted by the SC to include known beneficiaries of the Sonia regime. It was Narendra Modi who had promised to the people of India that within 100 days they would see the positive outcome of the efforts made by his government to unearth black money stashed abroad.

The SC took away his authority to do anything about it and the PMO, the Finance Minister, and the Law Minister allowed that to happen. So, while Modi remains accountable to the people for the promises he has made, the authority to do anything about it rests with the totally unaccountable Supreme Court and the SIT instituted by it.


People rush to Modi asking for an answer, brandishing his poll promises and manifesto. In fact, they should be organizing demonstrations against the Chief Justice of India and in front of the SIT office.

If SC takes over the job of governance, it must also be held accountable. The CJI Lodha and the Chairman of the SIT on black money Retd. Justice M.B. Shah and its Vice Chairman Retd. Justice Arijit Pasayat must answer for the tardiness of the probe. It’s not enough to say that ‘SIT has made SOME progress’.

The nation wants to know from the Supreme Court how long will it take before SIT takes concrete steps to get the loot back or will it be done after Sonia and her ilk have successfully managed to hide it and cover their tracks. Let the Attorney General send this poser to the CJI and ask him to give a time-bound promise or back off from the probe and let the Union Government conduct it.

The ground situation in states like Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal has gone from bad to worse. Ruling party goons rule these states with their unbridled terror tactics. Law and order does not exist in these badlands. The administration has become subservient to the ruling parties, its cadre, and their politics of blatant appeasement. Political murders and rapes are on the rise, and the leaders are corrupt and self-serving. The condition of UP is the worst. Industry has come to a halt, infrastructure has crumbled, and people are suffering, living in hellholes without water and electricity.

However, the cries of the suffering and the dying and the raped don’t seem to reach Delhi. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister are deaf and dumb spectators. Lakhs have been tweeting about this to the PMO and the HM, but what they get in response are photographs of the PM meeting this dignitary or that, receiving bouquets of flowers, shaking hands and warmly looking at each other. Occasionally, we see Modi tweeting messages of congratulations and condolences.

However, I have not come across a single message of condolence from the PMO about the death of young girls who were brutally raped and killed in UP and West Bengal. Is this what federalism means, turning insensitive to the cries of help and standing aside passively with ears plugged, and eyes closed to the misery of people? Fie on such federalism.  

Now, look at what is happening between Assam and Nagaland. The not-so-competent and indecisive Union Home Minister dutifully follows the ‘hands-off’ ‘law-and-order-is-state’s-duty’ funda of federalism. A wily Tarun Gogoi turns around and puts the ball in Modi’s court. If the CM cannot handle the worsening situation, he throws the ball in the PM’s court. A smart and decisive PM should have kept the ball and ended the game by putting the state under the President’s rule using the provisions of Article 356. He should have sent a clear-cut message that if he is accountable for the unity, integrity, and prosperity of the nation, he will not pull his punches. He will do everything possible using every available constitutional provision and he won’t care for his media image. He has to do a job and he will do it to the best of his abilities without letting his personal obsessions, prejudices, and ideologies come in the way.  

If Modi has to emerge as a strong leader of its people, he must get rid of his federalism obsession and must talk and act tough with the belligerent and bad state leaders and political dispensations. They should be sent a clear-cut message that their acts of omission and commission and falling out of line or defying the policies and programs of the Union Government and working at cross-purposes with it will not be tolerated. They will have to respect the overriding authority of the Union Government.

Modi may have great ideas of development but nothing will work unless the states are geared and motivated to execute those ideas on ground.

Rajesh Kumar Singh