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Ram Mandir can’t wait for Covid vaccine. Modi is Hindutva leader first, India’s PM later

For BJP, Ayodhya issue is the most significant. And PM Narendra Modi is unlikely to miss the grand 5 August ceremony, Covid or no Covid.

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Narendra Modi is a Hindutva leader and a political animal first, India’s prime minister and a statesman later. With 50,000 cases of coronavirus infection a day, one would think that PM Modi, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, and the organisation with the largest cadre — the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — would be in all-hands-on-the-deck mode. But no. A Ram mandir at Ayodhya can’t wait for the pandemic to flatten. In fact, this is when Modi needs to deploy his favourite tropes even more — Pakistan-bashing, Ayodhya and putting his stamp on Lutyens’ Delhi.

The prime minister and his team may be doing their bit to tackle the coronavirus crisis, but that does not stop him or his party from making a grand event of the temple construction. The government is also keen to fast track the Central Vista redevelopment project, ignoring criticism that this may not be the best time for it. Of course, there is the Bihar assembly election slated for the end of this year, which the BJP and its alliance partner Janata Dal (United) are keen on holding. And then, in his monthly radio show ‘Mann Ki Baat’ Sunday, Modi launched a scathing attack on Pakistan — and not China, which right now is the bigger enemy — calling it ‘wicked’ and a ‘backstabber’.

All of this might give an impression that there is no pandemic anymore and that we are back to normality.

Also read: PM Modi should know India needs to be a strong country, not just have a strong government

Politician first, PM later

Modi, together with his trusted lieutenant, Home Minister Amit Shah, manages a system where no one has any qualms about placing politics above all else. Power is everything, and shrewd politics the means to acquire it. Everything else is secondary, including governance and administrative responsibilities.

This is not to say that the Modi government hasn’t been working to control the pandemic. Of course it has, just like every other leader or head of a government in the world right now. In the first few weeks, the coronavirus situation was overwhelming and it showed even in Modi’s own approach — his addresses to the nation, the all-concerted effort to project his government as completely hands-on, and constant reminders to the people to remain on high alert.

But even as the threat continues to loom large, PM Modi seems to have now decided it is time to get back to what he knows and understands best — politics.

Also read: Five elements make up Modi’s charisma. 4 are beginning to lose lustre

Safe territory, core issues

The Ram Janmabhoomi movement is at the very heart of the BJP’s politics and the party’s national rise. The beginning of the Ram mandir construction, therefore, is not the kind of opportunity Modi, or any BJP leader in his place for that matter, would allow to simply pass by without reaping the maximum political dividends out of it. Modi, in fact, has been keen to project himself as someone who is ‘correcting’ all of India’s historical ‘wrongs’ and bringing a closure to long-pending issues.

The Ayodhya issue, for the BJP, is the most significant of them all and Narendra Modi — the 56-inch-chested, ‘strong’ Hindutva leader — wasn’t going to miss the grand 5 August ceremony, Covid or no Covid.

Then there is the resentment against Lutyens’ Delhi that runs high, and being in power, Modi will ensure he rebrands the Capital as his own. The Centra Vista makeover project, therefore, is top priority.

Both the Ram temple and the Rs 20,000 crore redevelopment plan in Delhi are big-bang and opulent shows that Modi simply loves.

An election is another high-inducing event for him, and hence, the emphasis on holding Bihar’s assembly polls on time, despite vociferous protests by the opposition. Narendra Modi can campaign, be heard and use his semantic power to the hilt. It also ensures the BJP comes back to power without much delay, in what now seems like an increasingly one-sided election given the shattered state of the opposition.

Pakistan-bashing, meanwhile, is the BJP’s favourite past-time and nothing makes Modi feel more at home than that. So, even when China is snarling at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), making Pakistan the biggest-ever enemy makes more sense, because it echoes with Modi’s majoritarian, ultra-nationalist voter.

Also read: Modi’s strongman leadership needs reality check, Ninan & Fukuyama offer one

Hardly the first time

Covid crisis, however, isn’t the only time that Modi’s preoccupation with being a hardcore, election-winning politician has overwhelmed everything else. The prime minister of the country is expected to maintain a certain decorum. But barring the social media platforms — which, by the way, remain squeaky clean ever since he became PM in 2014 — all other avenues are turned into rough playgrounds where the honourable position held by Modi loses some of its dignity every now and then.

Why else would a PM go to the extent of dragging the name of his predecessor during a bitter election campaign with the most preposterous of claims? During the 2017 Gujarat assembly election, Modi floated this theory of a ‘secret meeting’ between Pakistani officials, Manmohan Singh and Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar.

Modi’s shamshaan-kabristan (cremation ground-graveyard) remark during the 2017 Uttar Pradesh election or his usual rhetoric on the NRC-CAA-NPR send out a similar message — of him being an opportunistic politician before anything else.

So, who is this tiny virus to stop Modi from being the great, election-fighting politician that he is? The coronavirus may be the biggest threat at the moment, but it’s not bigger than Modi’s desire to be the most powerful politician. 

Views are personal.

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  1. He does not need Covid vaccine, he has gomutra and besides he said India is the vishwa guru and has helped 140 out of 125 countries with Covid. The Hindus believe him.

  2. Well done modi ji.. opposition is on fire.. next time demolish the empires created by these ‘sick’ulars.. in the era of indira gandhi khan..

  3. It is Modi’s personal choice to attend or not, if he has been invited. Modi says he follows Hindu traditions and so he has freedom to exercise his personal choices. It is just that the pseudo seculars and anti nationals who cannot stomach these developments.

  4. The Print is run by people who enjoyed maximum clout and favours during Congress regime. I am not surprised by this article.

  5. This case has been cleared by Supreme Court and Modi is doing constitutional thing! Ignore the paid agenda journalism. By the way writer is animal journalist.

  6. When a publication decides to put out an op-ed, it must have the gumption and the courage to call it so, instead of filing it away with a disclaimer that ‘these are personal views of the author/writer’. For an attentive reader of this article, it isn’t difficult to understand the narrative that is consciously trying to be built….” That India was an ideal state, beholden to a utopic version of secularism concocted by a party (the INC) who’s inheritors (the current lot of congressmen and women), have failed to deliver the promise due to their political misadventures, moral inadequacies and administrative ineptitude—yet, the other party (the BJP) with its alternative vision is found to be wanting, ostensibly, on all accounts and this (the Ram mandir) is supposedly their ultimate mark of ‘stupidity’ “…….. What seems to rile the author (and in my opinion, this publication in entirety, but again..that just my ‘personal’ opinion, you see) is the BJP’s unflinching commitment to what has been their ideology all along….India has always been a Hindu country and polity, but was trying hard since 1947, and more diligently since 1975 to ‘seem’ different…… and the BJP has only unmasked the rest of the ‘secular’ apologists by junking that idea and relegating this bit of hypocrisy to the dustbin of popular thought…….If anything, the author only has issues with the honesty with which the party has undertaken its goals, and insists on crying Cassandra about it. Of course, belittling the very ideology on which all this rests, and connecting every dot on the horizon just because it is there, is par for the course in building this counter narrative. In this entirely self serving exercise of building narratives and counter narratives, what the author, in all her articulation misses, is to see realities as they are, and knowing what ‘works’, and what doesn’t, in the culture that she claims to belong to.

  7. Hats off to Shekhar Gupta for having courage to publish this . Critique of Power is a prerequisite of democracy and we don’t have opposition.
    The language used in many of the comments reflects the lack of culture in some of us and shows the true face of many .

  8. Clearly, there is no shortage of angry comments from the overzealous Hindutva types who will defend this Ram Mandir stunt come hell or high water. In the process, they deliberately ignore the many serious crises that confront the nation at this point in time:

    – a devastating health crisis – nay catastrophe – stemming from the ravages of the COVID virus.
    – an unprecedented economic crisis that was already staring at India in the face, even before the COVID crisis and is now worsened by it.
    – a deadly defence crisis triggered by Chinese aggression in Ladakh.

    All these have come together to make a perfect storm, nay a tsunami of crises for India. And yet, just as Nero fiddled while Rome was burning, the PM, in his infinite wisdom, prefers to pray rather than proffer solutions. This cunning exploitation of religious fervour, gullibility and nationalism by PM Modi, reminds me of a saying attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger:

    “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.”

    • It is clear that abuse is the only thing that your parents taught you “Sekhar Gupta” ? After all your grand impotence in being able to argue is there for all to see. …

      • Awww baby you’re so triggered. You see Article 19 is a fundamental right for all and not just for you and this presstitute. And are you sad now? Cause in the future, we will be also be taking up Kashi Temple too, what will you do triggered muzzie? Or are you a bhimte? Either way you don’t matter😂😂😂😂

        • Aww gupta ji how long are you going tp survive with your 1820 attitude. And you’re gonna take kashi temple😂😂 im so sorry that you’re so poor. I bet you make a living out of it. And if this is taken away from you, your career is over. Guess the person who replied was more educated then your future generations ever will be. But o well
          You can take away whatever you want. Not our brains. Which u definitely don’t have

  9. Right said, I agree . But Ram mandir is pride of India. I support ram mandir personally but I hate BJP though.

  10. Article is very bias which a journalist shouldn’t and the funny part is after reading the article in the end it is written PERSONAL VIEWS 😂

  11. Here we are again. You will always find a way or another to criticise Modi ji actions. You will prove time and again that no matter what happens we will be against his every action. When things are inder control, why do you have problem with Ram mandir construction?

      • So who pays you to be an online gaurakshak Mr Sunil Chohan? Godse worshipper Pragya Thakur ? Or is it that premature ejaculator with an obsession for the orgasms of Arab women BJP MP Tejaswi Surya ? Or have you merely overdosed on gomutra toddy ?

    • Mr Kshitij Bisht: Your puerile utterances make one wonder whether you belong to the same notorious Ajay Singh Bisht clan. The latter Bisht, is better known as Yogi Adityanath and runs/ruins the state of Uttar Pradesh in his own bizarre way.

      But getting back to your ludicrous claim:

      “.. When things are inder control, why do you have problem with Ram mandir construction ..”

      Pray tell us Mr Bisht on what basis do you claim that everything is OK non-Akhand Bharath when:

      – The economy was tanking before, I reiterate before the COVID crisis
      – Demonetisation ruined the informal sector from which it is yet to recover
      – GST implementation is a further drag on the economy
      – The Chinese have gobbled up Indian territory and have killed 20 Indian soldiers
      – The COVID crisis has gone out of control and the chaiwala is absconding
      – Remittances are down
      – FDI has all but disappeared

      I could list a lot more issues that needed the attention of the government. But then, the Modi government knows that it cannot handle these issues and hence distracts you with a mandir.

      Pathetic Mr Kshitij Bisht !

  12. First write a shitty article and then beg for money to the readers.. Horrible.!! Darbaari media grow up.

    • Mr Subodh: care to explain why the article is “shitty” ? Or is it just your knee-jerk reaction to abuse anybody who does not sing praises to the Gujarati graduate of Delhi University ?

  13. A bitter pill how politics and religion overtakes everything else for.this govt which the supporters cannot relish. God save ud

  14. According to age old practices of Congress party arranging and attending iftkaar parties is secularism. Attending Bhoomi-poojan at historical event is communalism . What is logic of so called secularists is not clear to many people like me.

  15. How come such meaningless articles are allowed to be published. Hope theprint is conscious about its credibility.

  16. Modi is not capable of anything but politics. He has devastated the Indian economy. He has allowed the virus to spread everywhere! He has done more damage to India than any other Prime Minister. He is good at politics and that alone is why he will be at the temple which was taken from Muslims!

    • Why don’t u write your real name man?
      It’s not Pakistan.! It’s india.You are from minority & hence free to spit venom in your real name.

      • Why don’t you reveal your full name Mr/Ms Reddy?

        Isn’t it precisely because it is India and while there may be the right to free speech in the Constitution, in practice, it does not exist right? Indeed, Reporters Without Borders in its ranking of press freedoms in 180 countries places India at an abysmal 142 and Pakistan at 145, see ref:

        And in India today, you go to jail or get killed even if you are from the majority community but choose to be critical of the BJP or PM Modi. Heard of the hit job on Karnataka journalist Ms Gauri Lankesh Mr/Ms Reddy? The assassins were paid a mere Rs 10,000 to eliminate the brave journalist.

        So get real, and wake up to the fact that under PM Modi and the BJP, India is slowly being transformed into a Hindu Pakistan. And becoming a Pakistan on many fronts, including when it comes to press freedoms – or the absence thereof.

        Indeed, the situation in Modi’s India is best summarised by the quote from Ugandan dictator Idia Amin (1925-2003):

        “There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech” !

  17. Very beautiful and realistic presentation of Modi opportunistic politics and implementation of majoritarian agenda, pushing people’s welfare and development to the background and distorting all Democratic Institutions.

  18. Narendra Modi is the prime minister of our country and he has to do all the jobs!!! You just can’t make him just sit in his office and just handle the pandemic! Every thing he does you start blaming him about the pandemic. All you people want is until the pandemic is over every work should stop, no projects should take place, no development should take place until the pandemic is over! Can you guarantee when will the vaccine be available?? If NO then why stop all the projects! The central vista project you are like after the corona crises you should do now ram mandir!! And about the pandemic what do you want the government to do more?? County like the USA is not able to control the pandemic how do expect it in India!! Why do you blame the government for increasing cases? The main reason it is increasing is because of the people who are all careless, roaming freely as if the virus doesn’t exist!! So stop blaming PM Modi or his government for corona cases and by the way it is the main responsibility of the state government who handle the pandemic at their states! Delhi government is doing an incredible job at it and other state government should also follow their model!!

  19. Article filled with biasness and anti Modi agenda it is completely irrelevant in today’s context .

  20. The article not only shows the pathological hatred from Modi from The Print stable but alao manifests the immaturity of the author of this article. What does Ruhi Tiwari thinks, Modi should stop all his activities and sit monitoring in the Covid 19 war room ? Modi is a leader of substance who will live by what he says. Ram Mandir had long been on BJPs agenda and now that the way for its construction has been cleared by the highest court of the land it is giving a burnol moment to the congress sychophants in the media who never said anything when past PMs and Presidents hosted Iftaar parties and tried to appease a section of voter. Today’s media is just left abusing Modi every other day with 2 articles daily in almost each of the publication whose owners are close to the corrupt family and who made hay while congress was punch drunk in power. These mediamen miss the days when a jumbo load of these guys were treated to foreign jaunts by congress PMs, staying in 7 star hotels, gulping the most expensive liquor in the would, all free of cost on wone condition that they would lick the corrupt family’s feet and turn blind eye to their misdemeanours while abusing Hindus, RSS, BJP, VHP all along. Fortunately 2014 has ruined the great going these corrupt mediamen had and have now fallen on tough times but they know well that abusing Modi for everything is still the best bet and fastest way to get rich, the nation may go to hell, who cares.

  21. Being a slightly agnostic – secular and liberal are no longer safe words to describe oneself – sort, one cannot judge how many hearts a Ram mandir in Ayodhya, built on the spot the Babri Masjid stood for 450 years, will set aflutter. What passes before my eyes is the trail of violence and innocent lives lost Mr Advani’s Rath Yatra left in its wake, culminating in the Bombay blasts of March 1993. There are many other temples where I will pay obeisance to the most revered of our gods.

  22. Is mr modi the chief scientist leading the development of the vaccine? By your logic he should do nothing else except sit in a covid war room till this disease is eradicated from india!!
    He is the PM and has to multi-task ..your article clearly appears penned by a petulant writer.

    • So temple opening and Vista are more important than saving lives ???? Sad to see your priorities my friend……..tell your bove statement to the girl who cycled 1200 km in a month …see the response you will get…!!!

  23. The anti-Modi brigade is out in force.
    Would you rascals rather have Pappu as a puppet Prime Minister and turn India into a laughing stock?

  24. The author makes a valid point – the amount of time and resources spent towards Mandir building might more profitably be spent setting the economy right. The SC has already awarded the land for the mandir to be built – what is the hurry to take such a massive risk of gathering so many people for the bhumipujan? The PM seems more interested in fulfilling his party’s old agenda rather than paying attention to improving life of ordinary Indians who are being subjected to arbitrary lockdown resulting in erosion of their hard-earned savings, job insecurity and untold misery.

    • I seriously don’t understand your point! For your kind information the temple is not being built on government money!! It is build with the help of donations it receive!! And prime minister is not the one running the project it is the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra who’s decision is to when to build and not!! Prime minister as a supporter of the movement before is just attending the bhumipujan as a personal individual! And it is his wish where he wants to go! And I don’t think you can guarantee when the vaccine will be available, even after several years of SARS-Cov-1 still the vaccine isn’t available, and you want to all the projects to just be put on hold until the vaccine is developed??????

    • Mandir building also helps economy. Does it not ? There will be jobs for construction workers etc. This is how economy works.

  25. Continued anti-Modi propaganda since 2002 by Sonia G, Congress party and its supporting journalists could not stop Modi Ji from capturing the SINGHAASAN –seat of power – of the Prime minister of India , because of his solid work for the people of Gujarat. Modi -II ( as the PM of India ) is doing more than what any other person would have done if he was placed in similar circumstances. Biased media persons are naturally blind to this scenario . When their eyes will regain SIGHT , they may see this in hindsight. They may have wait till 2050-60 and some of them will see only if reincarnated in India in that era.

  26. I think, this is a nasty piece of writing. You have a problem when he shuts down india, in the wake of the start of the pandemic. You have a problem, when he opens up the country. And now you have a problem, when he inaugurates the construction of the Ram Mandir. Are Hindus not a part of this country?Nobody had any issues, when iftar parties were being organised by all and sundry, including PM’s & Presidents. Are Hindus second class citizens, that their sensibilities are never to be considered. and in any case, how long will he be in Ayodhya. a day max. Does the fight against covid-19, come to halt , in the absence of the PM for a day?… please wake up……

  27. This is another article by a junior reporter, commissioned by The Print (Congress-China mouthpiece) to churn out divisive anti-Modi propaganda.

  28. If each bhartiya had known their history then Ayodhya would not have been a BJP only issue.

    I was one of them.

    I was naive at that I believed to end the dispute we should build a hospital or school to cater to betterment of the public.

    Fast forward 25 years later I know my history. Our bharat is so blessed to have vedas, Shastas, math, Medicine, astronomy astrology , grammar by panini, ramayan and Mahabharat as our itihaas.

    With so rich heritage we descecrated this knowledge science and history as mithya and parroted what invaders and colonist told us.

    We should strive to at least equal these advances by our ancestors and not just reject as mithya.

    Which brings me to aastha. Ayodhya is synonymous with Ram and Sita. If we believe he was born there and there existed a temple before a community center was built upon it then no, it is a place of worship not for a school or hospital or a community center for offering Arabic prayer.

    • Dear Neil, I wonder what made you change your stance and how you learned your history.
      Did attending 6 years of WhatsApp academy play any role?
      Revisionsim is so rampant on this scourge called WhatsApp that in next few years we will retroactively discover every single scientific achievement from our forgotten past.
      What next? Nobel prize in medicine to Baba Ramdev for Coronill?
      Maybe it is already awarded on some group.
      God save us.

      • The claim of Ayodhya being a Ram Janmabhoomi is not a new one built on WhatsApp. It is not revisionism either. Cultures as far east as in Indonesia, Cambodia and Thailand are aware that Ayodhya was where ram was born. Those countries are presently not Hindu countries. Indonesia is in fact an Islamic country. Yet here in India we have you claiming that this is revisionism built on WhatsApp uni in a little more than half a decade.

        The Ram Janmabhoomi Issue is one that has been going on atleast since pre-Independence India; there are records left behind by the British documenting thus. It is safe to say that WhatsApp was not yet invented.

        As far as Islamic penchant for destruction ofmlocal cultures is also not a fiction borne out of WhatsApp. There are ample records from the Mughal period boasting about destructions of various Hindu and Jain temples in North India. A visit to many ancient Hindu religious sites reveals desecration of sculptures in the temple with noses chopped off, hands and breasts cut off. A Kashmiri Muslim ruler was also famous as butshikan (destroyer of idols). And mind you, this is not from WhatsApp uni. This is from actually having visited many of these sites since childhood.
        The Parsi community fled Persia and took refuge here because of religious persecution by Muslim invaders. In fact, very recently in recorded history, the bamiyan Buddhas were demolished as they did not confirm to the Islamic religious views. So why is it such a stretch of imagination that Muslim invaders conquered India and smashed 3 sites very important to Hindus?

        Ayodhya is a matter of faith to millions of Hindus. Hinduism has existed in the subcontinent for atleast 2 millennia. A lot of Hindus might claim that it has existed for far far longer than that, but since you want to accept only what external sources say, let us take the estimate given by those very same external sources. In 2 millennia it is not unreasonable to expect that a lot of places in this region would have a significance to the local culture. So why should there be a debate on a matter of faith? If a belief has existed for 2 millennia, why should there be a debate on it especially since it is a matter of faith? You might not believe in it but a lot of people do and have been doing so for millennia; far longer than the existence of Islam itself.
        And, there were several temples that were demolished. Hindus have let that pass. But Ayodhya is a different matter. Citizens of faraway land in South East Asia will recognize the significance of Ayodhya despite not being Hindus themselves. It is sad that in the country of its origin, the significance of Ramayana is not recognized.

        The Renaissance in Europe started with revival of their ancient culture. Europeans to this day take pride in the achievements of their ancestors. But in India, recognizing the achievements of our ancestors is looked down on. I am not claiming that ancient Indians had atomic power or aeroplanes. But I do recognize the fact that our ancestors came up with the decimal number system. Our ancestors were pretty awesome at geometry, astronomy (yes, astronomy, not astrology), architecture and sculpture. Take a look at the magnificent rock cut temples to get an idea of what our ancestors were capable of. Maybe you could join our WhatsApp university grad and get some real education too.

        Aside from refuting your half baked understanding of Indian history, coming to the topic of this article. Mr. Modi presiding over a large event with the potential to become a super-spreader event is downright irresponsible as the prime minister of this country. The event is better done as a private ceremony rather than a public mass gathering.

        Also, miss Ruhi, which politician is a saint? Certainly not Mr. Modi and certainly not his alternatives. Let me remind you that Congress is today miffed at not being invited to the event. Politicians are doing what their target audience want. The target audience doesn’t care about hospitals in their vicinity more than putting their caste leader in power.

  29. Pls shut your mouth and do some better job rather than bashing the current leader..we are as we are, try to get a better leader who doesn’t do appeasement to roadblockers and who shall remain neutral..or else the people should and shall elect BJP only…we only know bomb blasts and terrorist attacks during UPA rule..atleast we are safe big attacks in any of the cities or to common people

  30. INDIA has a huge population which needs to be controlled through strict measures, congrass journalist should focus on implosion in their political party and thereby loss of corruption opportunity for them . If possible focus on writing about huge population and strict measures to control them. Hindus will take care of RAM MANDIR an obvious irritant to journalist who have pray at ROME mandir.

    • Wasting money on a temple instead of a hospital when people are suffering! The temple will not do anything for the people. Ram is a fairy tale and where he was born cannot be proven as he really never existed. Will the temple heal people? No. Will the temple do anything except allow so called god men do more damage to people? Yes!

      • The temple is not being built by the government it is being build by the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra on the basis of donations!! It is the people who donate the money for the development of the Temple! What is your problem with it! It is being build by the people who want the temple to be build and their money!!!

      • You imbecile, the temples donated so much money for the cause, and people like you still talk crap about the temples, who are you to question the development of the temple, and if you are accusing, do it with proper facts, cuz we have a lot of facts to throw at your crying face.

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