File photo | Narendra Modi, Sheikh Hasina and Mamata Banerjee at inauguration of Bangladesh Bhavan, at Santiniketan, May 25, 2018 | PIB
File photo | Narendra Modi, Sheikh Hasina and Mamata Banerjee at inauguration of Bangladesh Bhavan, at Santiniketan, May 25, 2018 | PIB
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi won’t fly to Kolkata to meet his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina Friday at the inauguration of a special pink ball Test cricket match between the two countries.

Modi has too much on his plate right now –Parliament, Amit Shah, with his talks about a nation-wide NRC, irascible states, and the struggling economy.

Protest of the states

Modi won’t be happy with the manner in which the map of India is changing colour recently. The saffron is giving away to doubt.

Janata Dal (United) vice-president Prashant Kishor tweeted that “15 plus states with more than 55% of India’s population have non-BJP chief ministers. Wonder how many of them are consulted and are on-board for NRC in their respective states!!”

Kishor was signalling that the BJP’s ally in Bihar wasn’t happy with Home Minister Amit Shah’s comment about the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, both BJP allies, have already said they will fight the Jharkhand elections separately. Now there’s Maharashtra, where the BJP’s former ally, Shiv Sena, would rather form a government with the BJP’s opponents, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress.

Modi may have tried his charm on Maratha stalwart and NCP leader Sharad Pawar – the two met for 45 minutes earlier this week when Pawar invited him to a sugar factory inauguration in Pune – but it doesn’t seem to have worked.

The Shiv Sena will likely lead a government with the NCP and Congress sooner than later, with the Shiv Sena getting the chief minister’s post and the two allies a deputy chief minister’s post each.

The opposition is actually beginning to understand the message of Modi’s favourite philosopher Kautilya: My enemy’s enemy is my friend.

As Congress leader Jairam Ramesh conceded in this interview, the Congress party took a long time to decide whether it should support the once-‘untouchable’ Shiv Sena.


Also read: Why India supports the invincible Sheikh Hasina—who is censoring democracy in Bangladesh


Nation-wide confusion

Even with the revolt of the allies, it’s intriguing why Modi continues to give Amit Shah such a long rope to continue stoking more fire on the NRC front. Especially when it damages India’s relationship with a neighbouring country with whom India wants to be close.

Amit Shah, of course, remains unrepentant. Certainly, his latest NRC statement targets the big non-BJP ruled state, which also neighbours Bangladesh – West Bengal. Shah believes West Bengal is for the picking and the numbers certainly bear him out – in the last Lok Sabha election, the BJP increased its seats in Parliament from 2 to 18 from the state.

Still, Modi’s ability to separate issues is legendary.

When the NRC discovered 19 lakh “foreigners”  in August, who had supposedly come into India from Bangladesh over the years and the whole country was agog with the divisions it would cause, Modi didn’t even raise the subject with Hasina when she visited Delhi one month later.

As Hasina told the press at the time, “Everything is fine.”  Meaning, not only did Modi not talk about the matter with her, no one was expected to be deported by India back into Bangladesh.

Hasina’s international affairs adviser Gowher Rizvi also told ThePrint that he was sure there were no illegal Bangladeshis in India. He smiled as he said it, implying this was a domestic issue the BJP wanted to use politically. Again and again, Rizvi pointed out that Bangladesh was doing so well on the home front, why would its people want to come to neighbouring India whose economy was in tatters?

He added: “Modi and Hasina get along like a house on fire.”


Also read: Bangladesh’s high GDP a fitting reply to Amit Shah’s ‘termite’ taunt at illegal immigrants


A missed photo opportunity

If Modi and Hasina are indeed so close, why is the PM not going to Kolkata? It’s unlike him to pass up a photo-opportunity flanked by two powerful women. After all, Modi was in Santiniketan only in May 2018, as were Hasina and Mamata Banerjee, all three inaugurating the Bangladesh Bhavan at Visva-Bharati University.

Going to Kolkata, even for a few hours and just for a cricket match, would normally be up Modi’s street. He has done much more for much less.

Meanwhile, look at the powerful photos that Hasina and Mamata’s meetings will generate – Mamata calls Hasina ‘Didi’ – when they come together three times today over the space of 12 hours. After their public 2011 spat, the two women seem to be warming up nicely towards each other again.

That should worry Modi.


Also read: NRC to GST – How Modi & Amit Shah create Anxiety Raj and still win elections


A busy week

It’s been barely six months into the second Modi government, and all is not well. The political tea-leaves are stirring again. The single-most important reason behind these first stirrings is the downslide in the economy and how this is beginning to seriously affect the lives of people.

This has been a most interesting week to watch Modi, but it isn’t over, not yet. What if Modi decides to upturn the apple-cart yet again?

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9 Comments Share Your Views

9 COMMENTS

  1. WHY Modi is not in KOLKATA ? Because he is the BIG dog. India is undisputed hegemon of South Asia. Pakistan is not even a close second. If the situation deteriorates more in PAK, Bangladesh is going to take the 2nd place. Its not about MODI , its about the Indian PM. He is among the top 3 most powerful leaders, most powerful office of largest democracy. Hence , WB CM is more suitable , plus more WB and Bangladesh have trading and close relations its good for India to make it more of strong regional relationship, rather than global. (More like Bhutan and US-Canada).

  2. There is no problem in reading factual parts of Jyoti’s articles but her conclusions are bizarre like “After their public 2011 spat, the two women seem to be warming up nicely towards each other again. That should worry Modi.” Can’t figure out how it should worry Modi! Has Mamata agreed to share Teesta water with Bangla Desh? If so, Modi will in fact be happy. Similarly, “This has been a most interesting week to watch Modi, but it isn’t over, not yet. What if Modi decides to upturn the apple-cart yet again?” what is Jyoti expecting from Modi? As regards long rope to Amit Shah, Jyoti knows too well that they work together and in tandem. So Jyoti should note that NRC will be done and everyone will come on board in due course. As regards Maharashtra, it is indeed time for BJP and Sena to break up as there is no further Hindutva agenda left to be fulfilled for Sena after Art 370, Ram Mandir and UCC. Sena would have soon become irrelevant otherwise. So like in Karnataka, where there are 3 competing parties, in Maharashtra, we will have 4 parties and some workable coalition will manage the state from time to time. Also, with Congress supporting Sena, there is no more stigma of untouchability for a so called Hindtuva party anymore. However, as of now, it is doubtful how long this alliance will remain in power for a long time given Sena’s track record of behavior with BJP when they share power last time..

  3. Bangladesh is peddling the same lies again and again that there is no illegal Bangladeshis in India. But they get scared when India mentions about NRC.

  4. Sorry Jyoti to disappoint you Modi is doing very well so is the Indian economy which is one of the fastest growing

    I suggest you find yourself another occupation any job is better then being an writer for a rag like Print

    • Sorry, Satchin to disappoint you. In my opinion Modi will not be able to complete his second tenure. I have seen how Rajiv Gandhi was heckled, ridiculed, and mocked by mobs everywhere and Modi will have the same fate in another six months.

  5. The writer has a serious issue and is living in delusion. Why this pink ball test occasion important for which pm has to go to? Lol.

  6. One fire is surely self-inflamed, by refusing to intervene in the failed bargaining with old ally, Shiv Sena. The reason appears incomprehensible. His protege, Devendra Fadnavis has messed up everything and allowed an ally to depart, thus converting a narrow electoral victory into a dismal political defeat. The entire story smacks of poor decision making, utterly stupid bargaining strategy and inexplicable complacency and inaction. Resultantly, Maharashtra is lost to BJP. Now suddenly, the political map of India looks far different. Along with Maharashtra, M.P., Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal and the entire South barring Karnataka is non-BJP. In Karnataka too it depends on December by-polls- highly unpredictable.

  7. Haryana was saved by some deft footwork. Maharashtra is a most consequential outcome. The Congress was not play acting, taking its time to formally ally with and then join a government led by the Shiv Sena. For the BJP, it once again represents a worrying spike in opposition unity. Its inexorable pressure – on all three sides – to thwart this alliance has not worked. It would be in everyone’s interest to return to the drawing board, give divisiveness and polarisation a rest.

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