The prime minister pulled a fast one

Like most other great ideas and ideals of the country, protest fasts have also lost their potency and value through misuse and overuse. They are undertaken for wrong and unworthy causes by people who hardly understand their meaning and significance. The fast has actually become a ritual and a gimmick, without conviction and sincerity of purpose. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's one-day fast, purportedly in protest against the disruption of parliament by opposition parties during the budget session, was one such. It is for the first time that a prime minister undertook a protest fast, and it is a shame that it left all wondering if Modi had any moral authority to go on a fast blaming the opposition when the government and his own party played the major role in parliament's failure. Working through the AIADMK and hiding behind the Speaker, it was the government that ensured that no business took place in the House, especially the debate on a no-confidence motion. There was not much danger of the government losing a trust vote, but the debate would have brought up uncomfortable questions. Being questioned is not something the prime minister likes.

The prime minister probably thought that offence was the best defence in an untenable situation. But it is difficult to see how he can substantiate his charge that it was the opposition that paralysed the House when the AIADMK, an unofficial ally of the ruling party, created the ruckus and the Speaker adjourned the House day after day. The prime minister's sense of outrage would have sounded genuine and justified if the minister for parliamentary affairs or anybody else from the government side had made an effort to reach out to the opposition to put an end to the impasse. The prime minister himself did not utter a single word while all this was going on. Modi may be good at public performance but this time, it's not at all convincing.

When Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal staged a protest, he was mocked and ridiculed. But the prime minister has discovered the fast as a political weapon. It is also odd that the protest came from Modi, not particularly known for his attendance of parliament. It has become convenient for the prime minister to blame all ills in the country on the opposition, but it's being taken too far. A fast without a genuine purpose will not appeal to the people. Two days ago, some Congress leaders showed how farcical fasts can be. The prime minister's fast was a farce of a different kind. While sincerity takes only one form, insincerity can be expressed in many ways and many forms.

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