HIMMAT is starting off as a blog by Rajmohan Gandhi who has written on the Indian independence movement and its leaders, South Asian history, India-Pakistan relations, human rights and conflict resolution. His latest book is Modern South India: A History from the Seventeenth Century to the Present (New Delhi: Aleph, forthcoming).

Trump and Modi

Once more India and the US appear to show matching trends. Even as Trump looks to have become weaker in America, Narendra Modi seems to be losing ground in India. 

The US is abuzz with hints of damaging evidence that even after launching his 2016 presidential bid, Trump had sought private deals with Russian oligarchs and with Putin. The information will be used to embarrass Trump in the House of Representatives, lately captured by the Democrats.

In India, many seem to think that the BJP will face setbacks on 11 December when votes for elections in five states will be revealed. But the problems for Prime Minister Modi may be more serious.  

‘No aspersions, direct or indirect, on Narendra Modi.’ BJP politicians have scrupulously observed this rule for more than four years. However, on 24 November, Satya Pal Malik, a senior BJP politician newly named governor of critically important Jammu-and-Kashmir, openly claimed credit for pre-empting a New Delhi directive to install a pro-BJP ministry in J & K.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/satya-pal-malik-sajad-lone-jammu-and-kashmir-1397133-2018-11-27

Asserting that there was no honest or above-board way in which the contemplated ministry could have assembled a majority in the legislature, Governor Malik dissolved the house. Courageous of Malik certainly, but perhaps also an indication that awe of Modi is declining even within the BJP? 

In both India and the US, the coming days will show whether the apparent setbacks of Trump and Modi are merely of minor significance or more than that.

As far as India is concerned, some encouragement should be drawn from the evident lack of popular response to the BJP’s extreme rhetoric over temples and mosques. A similar pointer may be seen in the success, in a string of recent local by-polls, of Kerala’s ruling Left Front. 

These by-polls, which the BJP energetically contested, were the first to be held after the loud demonstrations it organized in Kerala against the Supreme Court’s judgment that large sections of women should not be prevented from entering the hoary Sabarimala temple. 

The fact that the BJP came a poor third in these local elections, after the Left and the Congress, would suggest that so far at any rate pro-orthodoxy demonstrations have not swayed the bulk of Kerala’s population.

https://www.news18.com/news/politics/no-sabarimala-prasadam-in-local-body-polls-in-kerala-for-bjp-as-ldf-wins-big-1956335.html

December 11 will tell us more about the mood or moods of the Indian electorate. In the US, prosecutions taken forward by the Justice Department’s Special Counsel will tell us what is in store for Trump.

The people, courts of justice, politicians, bureaucrats and journalists willing to think independently – in the US and in India, these seem to constitute the lakes of hope.

To inform Parliament and the nation of their travail, thousands of farmers from different corners of India have shown up in Delhi after making arduous journeys. Crushed by debt, Indian peasants have been ending their lives in horrifying numbers. I don’t know if there is an American equivalent for these farmers’ suicides.

Kartarpur Sahib corridor

Imran Khan’s gesture