08/04/2016 1:03 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

PM Modi's 'Politics Over Dead Bodies' Makes Even Mamata Banerjee Seem Trustworthy

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
ASANSOL, INDIA - MAY 10: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during the inauguration of '2.5 MT modernized & expanded IISCO Steel Plant' at Burnpur Polo Ground in the district Burdwan of West Bengal, on May 10, 2015 in Asansol, India. During the function, Modi described the Union Government and 29 State Governments as 30 pillars of 'TEAM INDIA' which would take India forward. The upgraded steel plant of IISCO (Indian Iron and Steel Co) that has the country's largest blast furnace and has been modernised at a cost of Rs.16,000 crore. (Photo by Subhendu Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Narendra Modi is supposed to be the development Prime Minister. While his supporters and opponents argue about “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, the PM is supposedly focused laser-like on vikaas.

Then why has he decided to sound like one of those wacky Christian fundamentalist televangelists so popular in the US?

After 9/11, preacher Jerry Falwell said God allowed the attacks because of moral decay, specifically abortion, gays and feminists.

After Hurricane Katrina, his comrade-in-Biblical-arms Pat Robertson said God was sending a message that he was very angry about abortion.

Now Modi has joined the God Squad.

And the 7.0 earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010? That too was God’s punishment for making a “pact with the Devil” according to Robertson who divines a message to his liking in every disaster.

It’s not just the Americans admittedly. BJP’s own Sakshi Maharaj blamed the earthquake in Nepal on Rahul Gandhi. “Rahul Gandhi eats beef and goes to the holy shrine (Kedarnath) without purifying himself. The earthquake was bound to happen.”

Now Modi has joined the God Squad.

Cleaning work underway at the site of the collapse.

At an election rally in Bengal, he warned that the flyover collapse in Kolkata was God’s message to the people - today the flyover collapse, tomorrow the state.

“God has sent a message to the people – that today this bridge has collapsed, tomorrow she will finish off entire Bengal.”

God apparently buries innocents in a pile of concrete and steel to send out election PSAs. This is playing politics with both God and the victims of the flyover collapse.

God apparently buries innocents in a pile of concrete and steel to send out election PSAs.

The Trinamool Congress has plenty to answer for vis a vis the flyover collapse. The deadly disaster has blown the lid off an ugly truth in Bengal – the reign of syndicate raj. Syndicates are not a Trinamool invention. The Left Front cannot dodge the blame for the rise of syndicates who supply money and muscle to the party in power and hold building projects hostage until they bag the contracts to supply materials and labour, usually of sub-standard quality.

Under Mamata Banerjee’s government the syndicates have gone from strength to strength and turned into syndicate raj. Sabyasachi Dutta, a Trinamool leader and now mayor of Bidhannagar was caught in sting where he admitted that syndicates were the only viable form of employment for thousands of people and he could not provide employment to all those people if the syndicates went kaput.

Mamata Banerjee at the site of the incident.

But to twist the flyover collapse into a warning salvo from God is simply trying to reap political benefits on the backs of the dead and maimed. It does not behoove the Prime Minister of the nation but it just proves that when Modi comes to campaign he leaves his prime ministerial hat in Delhi.

Modi, the Prime Minister, was quick to respond with sympathy and understanding when the flyover collapsed. “Shocked and saddened by collapse of under construction flyover in Kolkata,” he tweeted. “Took stock of the situation & rescue operations” he reassured. “My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in Kolkata. May the injured recover at the earliest.”

When Modi comes to campaign he leaves his prime ministerial hat in Delhi.

Barely a week later he was basically telling those same people, that this was God telling them to shape up, vote right or face the consequences.

But then Modi is at his least prime ministerial when on the campaign trail. In Bihar he openly played an anti-Muslim card to try and woo Dalits. He said the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad combine was “conspiring to take away five percent reservation of Dalits, Mahadalits, Backwards and extremely backwards and give it to a particular community". That ploy, that particular dog-whistle failed for the BJP.

The debris being cleared.

The BJP knows it does not stand much of a chance in Bengal. Its vote share can go up but with one lonely assembly seat it has a long way to go to be a real power player.

Modi was hammering on the Trinamool on very valid grounds of the Narada sting, Saradha corruption and violence. But this one crass comment undid it all.

The PM told the crowd “When a flyover has collapsed and victims are lying trapped, Didi is busy saying it was build by the Left government. This is politics over dead bodies.” And then he proceeded to do exactly what he accused Mamata of doing – politics over dead bodies.

But Mamata Banerjee at least did not drag God into it. The PM showed no such restraint.

Ironically an insensitive comment like this only serves the interest of Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool. She can be accused of trying to dodge the fallout of the disaster, even trying to pin the blame on the Left Front but at least she is not trying to milk it for votes. The PM played into her hands with that remark which is probably why the Trinamool reacted vociferously and quickly to it. Derek O’Brien, the party spokesperson advised the PM not to behave like a “Shakha Pramukh” (RSS unit head).

Modi has managed to do for the Trinamool what even Mamata could not – give it a chance to claim moral high ground.

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