It must be Hitler’s Germany I am living in, and I should keep looking over my shoulder to reassure myself that neither the Gestapo nor the SS is on my heels to arrest me for speaking against the Fuehrer. The thought came to my mind after reading Ms Shobha De’s ‘When Rahul’s hot air balloon refused to take off ‘(Sunday Times December 18, 2016). If one were to believe what Ms De has written, India has turned into a dictatorship, the citizens have been gagged, fundamental rights abolished, the media muzzled and the secret police everywhere, watching people at large.
Ms De could not have been farther from reality. She does not seem to have contact with the common man. Where did she get her information from? From one local Maharashtra politician who she has carefully not named? Ms De should have climbed down from her high perch and spoken with the common man before demonizing demonetization. I have spoken with scores of people, from high middle class to domestic help and daily wagers, and did not find a single individual who was against the move.
Far from being furious, in reality, the average Indian has welcomed demonetization and is happy that at last someone has taken a strong step to bring the economic offenders to book. If the average Indian was furious, the country would have witnessed mass rioting. Barring stray instances of minor violence on account of banks not having money, the country has remained peaceful. All agree that things could have been better managed to save people the hardships. Better management would certainly have eased the pain.
Ms De has a right to disagree. It is her fundamental right. But she should learn to disagree without being disagreeable.
A healthy democracy is one with a strong opposition, which India seldom has had. The Congress is the only party which could provide the main opposition but dependence on one family has been its undoing. It is pity that a party which ruled the country for sixty years has been reduced to a level where its leader cannot even claim the title of the Leader of Opposition. A resurgent Congress would be welcome but that scenario is nowhere in sight.
So, is Prime Minister Narendra Modi a fascist? CERTAINLY NOT. Is he a dictator? ABSOLUTELY NOT. An autocrat? Possibly yes. Let us not hang him yet. Let him run the entire term of office and see if he hangs himself.