Thursday, May 7, 2015

Indo-Bangladesh pact: Narendra Modi and Indira Gandhi

Incidentally, the Narendra Modi government's one year in office would be completed by next fortnight or so, on May 26 2015.
The Modi-led dispensation showing much eagerness to make a mark on diplomatic front did make a major break through as Parliament approved a historic legislation that will improve relations with the eastern neighbour Bangladesh.
Taking a huge diplomatic step for improving relations with Bangladesh, both the Houses of Parliament unanimously passed a historic Bill to operationalise the Land Boundary Agreement that provides for exchange of territories, help citizens in the enclaves and that will settle a 41-year-old issue between two countries. 

It's definitely a diplomatic feather in Prime Minister Modi's cap, who is otherwise facing criticism on domestic front and agrarian crisis.
These have been happening around for Narendra Modi,once dismissed and hounded for 2002 mayhem, despite the kudos he has got almost in every country he visited as Prime Minister.

It is also significant to note that in Lok Sabha as Modi's somehow not so trusted - at least perceived to be - External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj piloted the Land Boundary pact Bill, initially conceived in an Indira Gandhi-Mujibur Rahman pact of 1974, Mujib's freedom slogan and Bhupen Hazarika's friendship song resounded. 

The BJP, which had during its avatar as an opposition outfit since 2011 and 2013 had steadfastly opposed the LBA, played language diplomacy and fielded its Darjeeling MP, S S Ahluwalia, a Punjabi Sikh but a fluent orator in Bangla, to present party's view on the Bill. Making his speech in fluent Bangla, Ahluwalia recounted Assamese music maestro Bhupen Hazarika's popular number, 'Padma amar ma, Ganga amar ma..., a famous song on Indo-Bangla friendship.  

Another good orator Sugata Bose of Trinamool Congress did not lack behind. He brought alive the richness of few Bengali literature. Quoting Banga Bondhu Mujibur Rahman's famous slogan during his historic speech on the 7th of March 1971, Jadavpur MP Sugata Bose recalled the line, 
"rokto jokhon diyechhi, rokto aro debo" and offered to translate it for members, “Since we have given blood, we will give more of it, Inshallah, we will free the people of this land (the then East Pakistan).” 

Quoting galaxy of Bengali writers and the likes of Rabindranath tagore and Nazrul Islam, as he recited
some poems, other MPs demanded him to offer the translation.
TMC MP also quoted Tagore's illustrious number,  “Bangladesher hridoy hote kakhan aponi, tumi ki apurup rupe bahir hole ...". Sugata Bose again referred to poet Jibananda Das's famous line, "Banglar mukh ami dekhiachi, (We have seen Bengal's face)".
Indira Gandhi and Mujibur Rahman
Most often history becomes important mainly for the sake of its timing. History also offers room for comparison often between two non-conforming personalities.  
Perhaps that comparison is not out of touch from the reality between Modi and Indira Gandhi.

Notwithstanding Modi's focused approach to discredit Nehru legacy and its lapses especially, perhaps without his realizing PM Modi has walked into the path followed by Indira Gandhi decades back.

There will be little to dispute that Indira Gandhi's reign for 16 years marks a watershed in India's history. But the watershed was also on international front in spite of big time events like Emergency
in 1975.
For his part, Modi is ambitiously playing the 'international image building' card often to the cost of neglecting affairs in the country. 

"It's PMO all the way," remarked former career diplomat and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on the focus of Modi's governance. Such criticism do not add to the credit of a Prime Minister, who has promised to deliver on more mundane issues like price rise and jobs. But Tharoor has also been candid in highlighting Modi's personal ambitions - to leave a name for himself. 

A section of Indians are meanwhile getting restive and expectedly so. Others say Modi needs to come out of his decade-long 'Gujarat mindset' and start trusting his colleagues and they, as in the Congress, need not be couple of 'yes men' like compatriots Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley. 

However, Modi is perhaps aware of the words being spread about him and against him. One known Hindutva ideologue Arun Shourie, also an admirer of Modi, has already spoken against him. One sitting BJP MP, Bharat Singh (from Ballia in UP) has reportedly flayed him and his council of ministers and their style of functioning at no other forum than BJP parliamentary party meet where PM Modi was himself present.

All these could be linked to RSS's own unhappiness in the manner Modi is trying to control both the BJP and the government. 
The Sangh fountainhead's decision to depute an astute Ram Madhav as BJP general secretary has perhaps not helped much on this front as not many are yet willing to take on a powerful Prime Minister who gave BJP as many as 282 MPs in Lok Sabha.

Likes of Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh have been either silenced or tamed and there's no stopping of Team Modi and the select 'coterie' around him.

Modi and Nawaz Sharif on May 27, 2014

But in retrospect having moved a calculated gesture towards Bangladesh, Modi would now be interested to make forward movement with Pakistan. He knows if he can deliver even a 50 per cent of an 'ideal friendship' with the western neighbour, he would remain unconquerable for sometime.

A smart mover that he is, PM Modi is moving in the other direction also. The GST Bill will be another achievement when the uniform tax regime is rolled out. 
Within country, PM Modi and his 'chanakya' Ajit Doval are acting rather quickly on prospective peace adventures in Nagaland. Having sidelined a popular Neiphio Rio by a 'weak and lightweight' Chief Minister T R Zeliang is a step in that direction.

Like Indira Gandhi, in the ultimate analysis, PM Modi is also decisive and has the requisite nerve to take decision quickly.

Many say, the history of Indian sub-continent would have been different if Indira Gandhi had delayed the decision of recognising Bangladesh as an independent country. Prime Minister Modi has that rustic Gujarati-vania mindset even as that's not his caste. 

Despite the criticism that Modi is neglecting internal matters and also trying to bulldoze his decision on all ministries and ministerial colleagues, there's a deep appreciation that PM Modi is being decisive on key issues something Atal Behari Vajpayee would have hesitated.

Naga rebel leaders in Peace Talks
Ultimately, they say Modi's decisiveness has stuck even for the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) with Bangladesh as he brushed aside the strong objections from Assam BJP unit.

It's a risky proposition on the eve of assembly elections in Assam next year as the LBA could be construed as an act of betrayal of Assam.

But Modi and Amit Shah made it clear that such dichotomy would not come in the way of the Prime Minister scoring a key diplomatic victory, at least for the time being.

There's another crucial similarity between Modi and Indira Gandhi. Both are known for their abhorrence of back-seat driving.

Indira Gandhi's support for V V Giri in the presidential election in 1969 on reflected Indira's commitment to run her own show by herself, so has been Narendra Modi's strategy so far.

Despite RSS pressure and brickbats from opposition, Modi stuck to his stand so far to retain Smriti Irani as his HRD Minister. He is also firm about the Land acquisition Ordinance and could go any further to push it. 
Pakistan's military dictator Yahya Khan committed a blunder when he could not imagine 'that woman' (Indira Gandhi as he contemptuously referred her) would risk a military response to the attack of Indian western airfields on December 3, 1971. 
None of Modi's detractors would know that a die-hard fan of populism and electoral politics could risk making voters of Assam 'unhappy'.

But, do you have it in you Mr Modi, would still be my all-time favourite question for the Prime Minister when it comes to taking on the elements like Sakshi Maharaj and Yogi Adityanath.




  1. going by the current noise, I see an eerie similarity between Dr Manmohan Singh and Modi.......Dr Manmohan Singh, whatever his worth, always appeared more at ease and seemed to come into his own when he used to be outside the country......within the country, he was always ill at ease....Modi too has done fantastically well on the foreign policy front, and everybody has acknowledged it.....but he is facing problems in the Parliament and within the country....while Dr Singh had the excuse of being a remote control and, therefore, not in control of things within the country, Modi too appears to be saddled with various problems within the country........One explanation could be that people expected lot from him and the opposition is now making the right noises -- aided by inclement weather -- to make matters worse for him....what say?

  2. DELHI: India has formalized the 40-year-old Land Boundary Agreement with
    Bangladesh on Saturday during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to
    Dhaka. This will enable the two countries to exchange land enclaves in
    each other's territory.

    well done modi...

    India vs Bangladesh 2015