There is no dearth of people who believe that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is too soft on Kashmiri militants and sundry other unruly dissidents who pose a great threat to our nation’s independence and integrity. They think that his electoral boasts of ‘56-inch ka seena’ bind him to a pact with the nation to jingoistic belligerence that can’t be diluted ever. The number is no less of those peaceniks who feel that the PM has allowed himself to be misled by the reckless hawks in his coterie. Bent upon scoring self-goals, his Cabinet colleagues seem to be suffering from an incurable foot-in-the-mouth disease. The hawks and doves have been at loggerheads for long and rendered their leader almost a lame duck.
Atrocities against the Dalits continue to shame the nation and the religious minorities too have articulated their grievances stridently. The GST Bill has been passed by Parliament, but many contentious issues remain to be resolved. At one time, it appeared that the Central government was quite capable of snatching defeat from victory.
Unlike in the context of foreign and defence policies, it’s not conventional to talk of hawks and doves in economic decision-making, but we think it’s reasonable to suggest that Modi finds his hands tied and problem-solving style cramped by his colleagues and supporters of different avian plumage.
Hawks, doves and lame ducks are fluttering their feathers not only in the NDA but everywhere. Elections are near in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, and here too we are witnessing bluff, bluster and bullying, olive branches held out in bruised beaks and futile quacking totally oblivious of the electoral culling that is impending. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, most observers and analysts agree, is a good man. They add with a sigh that the poor man has lost his way in the political jungle that is UP, thanks to his constantly chaperoning father and uncles. Much more damaging than blood relations have been the shrieking war cries of an apparently avuncular Azam Khan who can make any bird of prey look meeker than a caged canary. Akhilesh at the moment is busy launching a slew of schemes that may yet absolve him of the charge of being a lame duck, but time is fast running out. The Congress has put all its eggs in a broken basket and the likes entirely incapable of hatching healthy chicks. The hawks it owns prefer to bare their talons in TV studios in the national capital, the doves have been silenced long ago by what continues to strut as the party High Command. The bird that is recalled in the context of the Congress top leadership is not a duck but the dodo, the feathered creature that gleefully walked into extinction.
Mayawati stands still in the eye of the storm, hoping to rise like the Phoenix. She does not seem unduly perturbed by defections and desertions from her party. She is a master strategist who can herself play the double role—switching from a hawk to a dove and vice versa. The only problem here is that the voter has ceased to be amused by such ‘performances’. Memories of her good governance are fading. Even her most ardent supporters are reluctant to bet that she can on her own vanquish the villains.
Who is a hawk and who a dove or for that matter a limping duck elsewhere? And what about the mind-boggling mutations or opportunistic metamorphoses? Mamatas of the world, the also-ran, have-beens like Omar Abdullah and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq?
We find it ironical that we use these clichés almost always in the context of politicians. We remain oblivious of the airborne or grounded antics of journalists, public intellectuals and bureaucrats in retirement and old soldiers who stubbornly refuse to fade away. They are the ones who colour our minds and make us support their belligerent or resilient positions. We begin to aspire to be a hawk or dove in national interest or to protect human rights globally.
Last word about the lame ducks—especially those who belong to the political or bureaucratic species. They continue to pack a deadlier kick than any mule. Remember Lalu Prasad who can be three-in-one at the same time?
Former professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University