More than three years ago, when Modi swept into power, the number of critics was few, and those willing to take a clear public stand even fewer. After the shocking murder of the senior journalist Gauri Lankesh this past September, it was clear from the nature and extent of the ensuing protests that this had changed dramatically. During a protest at the Press Club in Delhi, people were practically fighting for the microphone, wanting to be seen to be protesting.
After hearing Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt, I had had enough. When I later expressed my discomfort—given that I had earlier written that “the path away from Modi cannot lead us back to the Congress”—a friend asked me, “Where would this neti, neti lead?” It is a fair question, but journalists are diagnosticians—solutions must come from elsewhere. I had then stated, “The danger of the current liberal consensus is that it seeks to speak against a new establishment without looking within. The compromises and corruption that liberals participated in during the UPA’s rule are what led us to Modi in the first place.” This is even more evident today.
Modi may no longer command the awe that he did in 2014, and we are seeing the beginnings of an opposition forming around the Congress, but in wishing an end to Modi’s regime, it is necessary to begin with some understanding of why he became prime minister in the first place. Of course, he is a man who has built up a mass appeal, backed by a well-organised publicity machine that he controls and oversees. But it would have amounted to little without the work of two organisations—the Congress and the RSS.