#RightSideUp: A Pan-India NRC; Congress in 'Disintegration Mode'

A weekly round-up of voices from the right.

New Delhi: Indian politics lost a stalwart this week with the death of three-time Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit even as it went for a complete spin in Karnataka, replete with clouds of constitutional conundrums.

Speculation over whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to go ‘secular’ also made the rounds. One article looks into the supposed origins of the theory of ‘minority appeaser BJP’ and whether “there elements who are now actively playing on this negativity, trying to actually break Modi’s strongest support base by playing up half truths”.

“I will finish with a request to Hindu right wing online. It is absolutely right to accuse the BJP of not doing enough to roll back decades of minority appeasement. But do you think that Modi 2.0 would deliberately opt for minority appeasement? You and I know that BJP will not gain a single vote from minority appeasement. So please. Please don’t tell me that the two sharpest political minds in India cannot see that much.

We Hindus have been treated so badly in history that we have a hard time keeping the faith. This time will be different. Let’s not be misled so easily.”

US president Donald Trump’s statement that Modi asked for his help as a mediator with regard to the Kashmir issue with Pakistan and the foreign policy mess that followed it was painted by some on the right as a victory for India – marking the “finality of de-hyphenation between India and Pakistan that the mandarins of South Block have so wished and assiduously worked for since independence”.

Here’s quick look at some of the columns that were published this week on right-leaning media websites.

Also read: #RightSideUp: The Problem With ‘Congress-Mukt Goa’; ‘No More Pakistan’

Celebrating the NRC

In a week that the National Investigation Agency was strengthened and Union home minister Amit Shah made it clear that the government would not soften its stance on illegal immigrants in India and that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) would be implemented in other states as well, RSS mouthpiece Organiser ran an article aimed at dissecting the issue.

“Currently, the NRC is a part of Assam Accord. The Centre – as per its election manifesto – is dedicated to weaning out illegal immigrants from every inch of this country. We will make sure that all such immigrants are deported as per international law,” Shah had said in the Rajya Sabha.

The writer, Pranjit Agarwala, a freelancer based in Guwahati, lauds the NRC update, calling it “one of independent India’s most extensive and intensive census exercises”.

“The NRC will finally lay bare the scale of illegal influx from Bangladesh and end the decades of speculation, controversy and vote-bank politics on the issue. In the future, the digitised database will become a vital document to detect illegal immigrants.

A nation must first protect the rights of its own citizens before securing the citizenship rights of illegal immigrants who have allegedly fled their own countries because of religious persecution.”

Hitting out at a “flourishing racket of forged government documents that help illegal immigrants claim citizenship”, he says that many errors have been made “given the magnitude of the task”.

“Indians… have never felt the need for a document to prove that they are Indians. Ironically, it is only the illegal immigrant who has felt the need to prove his citizenship and hence possesses all the required documents.”

Also read: #RightSideUp: A ‘Bharatiya Budget’; Rahul Gandhi, ‘Too Clever by Half’

Political glue and the Congress

“The arrival of Priyanka Vadra to wipe the tears of the victims of Sonbhadra’s tribal killings will, once again, reinforce the idea that the Congress party needs a Gandhi family leader at the helm to rejuvenate itself,” writes R. Jagannathan, the editorial director of Swarajya magazine.

According to Jagannathan, the Congress party “does not need any glue to hold it together. It needs victories. Unfortunately, the Gandhi family is unable to deliver that.”

Pointing out how the party is in “disintegration mode” as can be seen by the recent political upheaval in Goa and Karnataka, Jagannathan says that Priyanka Gandhi is only rushing in to “fill the vacuum” left by Rahul Gandhi, whose leadership “got a sound thrashing in the 2019 general elections”.

“Does the Congress really need the Gandhi family? The idea that even if the Gandhis are no longer big vote-winners in any state, they are still needed to hold the party together is widely accepted.

Even in states where the Congress party remains a contender for power… it is the regional satraps who bring in the vote, not the Gandhis. Amarinder Singh would have won Punjab even without the Gandhis, and Siddaramaiah is the politician to reckon with in Karnataka, not Rahul Gandhi.”

Jagannathan says that there are three real glues that “hold politicians together in any party”:

“One, ideology. No matter how the BJP fares, whether it wins or loses, ideology holds its members together in the long term. The same is true for the Left, and even the caste-based parties.

Two, power. Power is a better glue to holding disparate party elements together than a family past its sell-by date. This is true not only of the Gandhis, but also the Yadavs in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Three, charisma. Party members will stick by a family if it is a real vote-winner, and not only because they are family. Right now, dispirited members of the Congress are hoping that Priyanka Vadra will be a vote-winner for them, but this is far from proven.”

Finally, Jagannathan says that the Gandhis are a “crutch the party does not need”.

“But the latter has been used to using the crutch for so long, that sheer inertia prevents it from realising this truth and throwing it away.”