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‘Narendra Modi has put in place an alternate Idea of India’

Narendra Modi became the longest serving non-Congress Prime Minister of India, surpassing the record of late leader Atal Behari Vajpayee and also became the fourth longest serving Prime Minister of all time. File   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the longest serving non-Congress prime minister of India, surpassing the record of late leader Atal Behari Vajpayee and becoming the fourth longest serving Indian prime minister of all time. 

Into the second year of his second tenure, he is poised to take over Dr. Manmohan Singh’s record too, of serving two full terms in a row and a decade at the helm.

Also read: Narendra Modi swearing-in: Celebrities, honchos, stars steal the show

Professor Ashwani Kumar, political scientist at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences terms Prime Minister Modi a “child of destiny” and a product of the nearly 100 years of the RSS’s existence.

“As such, his tenure has not just surpassed former prime minister Vajpayee’s but also marks a departure from what the former achieved. Prime Minister Modi is the most presidential of Prime Ministers India has ever had in his combination of legislative and executive power and his leadership of the party. But the most significant thing he has done, on the basis of the two big parliamentary majorities that he won, is to flesh out an alternative Idea of India, one with its moorings in Hindutva. He has pushed the ideological agenda of the Sangh Parivar far more than his predecessor, who was encumbered by coalition compulsions and his own Nehruvian ways of doing things. Prime Minister Modi has clarified a vision of a Hindu civilisational state,” said Prof Kumar. 

“Another remarkable thing about this is that he has not made any fundamental changes to the Constitution of India in realising this. The biggest example is the quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) for government jobs. By tinkering with quotas without any reworking of the central premise of reservations for SC/STs and OBCs, he has completely changed the nature of the reservation debate in India,” added Prof Kumar. 

Rahul Verma of the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) adds that the continued electoral dominance of Prime Minister Modi and the unprecedented expansion of the party, BJP, under his stewardship is also a departure from Mr Vajpayee’s tenure.

“Mr Modi’s tenure is not just about any non-Congress leader etc.; it is about the expansion of the BJP as well in areas where they were never present and among communities where they were not a political option,” he said. He added that Mr. Modi’s unabashed advocacy of ideological imperatives of Hindutva has percolated to new economic institutions and socio-cultural institutions as well. 

“The increase in the BJP’s dominance is different from the last thirty years of coalition politics because it has also decimated the opposition, whereas earlier we were in a competitive political system. It has led to the inauguration of what many political scientists are now saying is the Second Republic in India, with new rules of engagement and a new democratic project based on ideological polarisation,” Mr. Verma said. 

Prime Minister Modi has been heading one government or the other (State and Centre) uninterruptedly for the last 18 years. 

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 7:42:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/narendra-modi-becomes-the-longest-serving-non-congress-prime-minister-of-india/article32355969.ece

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