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Sound, Fury And Nothingness

Sound, Fury And Nothingness
File - AP Photo/ Saurabh Das

With independence day around the corner when India's very eloquent prime minister Narendra Modi will get a chance to do what he does the best -- address the nation -- doubts and questions are rife among his detractors over whether the PM and his speeches are just "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". Leading political commentators in their latest pieces have questioned Modi's achievements in the last one year, his hasty decisions leading to frequent U-turns and his silence in the Parliament which seems to hint that he might just be taking after some of his predecessors.  

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar writes in the Economic Times:

The land acquisition fiasco reveals him as frightened and indecisive, happier retreating than fighting to the finish. This is not an isolated example: he has repeatedly given priority to tactics over strategy, to political convenience over conviction.

No, the problem is not that Modi is too dictatorial. Rather, he is vacillating and unwilling to fight to the finish on any difficult issue, more yellow than saffron. He presides today over apathetic sense of drift, defensiveness and lack of conviction. He seems happier coining slogans than in implementing tough decisions.

Soutik Biswas in his piece in the BBC asks a pointed question: "Has Narendra Modi lost the plot?" He writes:

This week's hasty and inept decision to block access to internet porn and almost immediately lift the ban made the government the butt of social media jokes. And many believe that Mr Modi's government is being petty, vindictive and partisan in browbeating critical NGOs, hounding a prominent social activist and packing educational institutions with people whose credentials many find dubious...The prime minister has often been silent in the face of rabble-rousing by hardline elements in his party. 

In his August 7 piece in the Indian Express, President, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi, Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes that Modi is turning into the opposite of his own self-presentation:

Instead of boldness, we are getting timidity. There is not a single measure this government has taken or a policy it has proposed that can in any way be called bold, which involves the slightest political risk, or displays a measure of conviction...Instead of clarity, there is confusion...Instead of implementation, you are getting inaction...Instead of confidence, there is insecurity...Instead of political acuteness, there is political obtuseness...Instead of communication, you are getting silence...Instead of aspiration, you are getting a diminution of spirit...Modi is visible in campaign mode; he will doubtless put everything on the line in Bihar. But the PM is missing.

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