Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, May 28, said in yet another show of his popular radio talk Mann Ki Baat that India's strength is its diversity.
He said 125 crore Indians can feel proud that people belonging to all communities and faiths live in the country and reverberate the message of peace, unity and goodwill.
It is nice to hear such words from the prime minister of the country. And he undoubtedly made the right observations. No matter what the times are, India's massive plurality can only be ruled by a Nehruvian instinct. Our diversity makes us strong.
But is the government of the same prime minister following this mantra on the ground?
The Centre recently banned the sale of cattle from the marketplaces for culling. The environment ministry has said in a gazette notification titled Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017, that hereafter, nobody is allowed to bring cattle to the animal market unless he/she has a written documentation that the animals are not meant for selling for slaughter. Also, upon the sale, the animal market committee will ensure that the animals for meant for agricultural work and not slaughter.
The officials will also have to verify that those who purchase the cattle are farmers by checking relevant documents. Even, the purchaser will not be allowed to sell the animals for culling or any religious sacrifice.
A project to homogenise India, contrary to what the PM said?
Now, this step has given rise to debates like whether the Centre can make laws on livestock which is a state subject. The Left-ruled Kerala has strongly opposed to this move, calling it "fascist and anti-federal". The Kerala chief minister's office mocked the Modi government saying cattle slaughter becomes illegal at a time when manslaughter happens in the name of cow. Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor also backed the Left government's stance on this.
Why isn't the Centre abiding by the PM's "diversity is our strength" statement then? Isn't PM Modi making his own words in Mann Ki Baat look less convincing?
BJP's dual faces: A must for its survival in power
The BJP's dual strategy is perhaps required for its own survival in power. When its first generation leaders were in power, Atal Behari Vajpayee was always projected as its soft face to mask the hardline thoughts and work that were spearheaded by Lal Krishna Advani. The twin leadership had made it easier for the BJP by giving it an option to become diversity-friendly and make the sinister mission to achieve a homogenous India off the public glare.
In the times of Modi, the BJP doesn't have that option anymore. From the twin leadership, the saffron party now is a one-man show and for every required face – soft or hard – the same man has to be roped in.
Given Modi's past image, it is not very easy for him to don the mantle of Vajpayee even as the Hindutva brigade looks to him as the natural heir to Advani and not the former prime minister. But for the sake of Raj Dharma, Modi has to play the role of Vajpayee the most.
Raj Dharma is a Dharma Sankat for Narendra Modi
The question of Raj Dharma has eventually turned into a Dharma Sankat for the current prime minister as he has to feed two contradictory ideologies at the same time. In Mann Ki Baat, Modi tries to show his Vajpayee face to cater to the liberal Indians but on the ground, his hardline supporters continue to thrive for an India ruled by Hindutva where diversity has no place.
The paradox will continue till the BJP-led NDA is in power. Even the mighty Modi is unable to turn the tables around for he himself is a prisoner of an image and ideology.