By: Akhil Ennamsetty
So many dreams, so many visions – as we have passed through the decades of being a republic, we have witnessed so many elections, so many parties, so many coalitions, so many governments and so many leaders.
But the times have drastically changed since the National Democratic Alliance under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi has come into power at the centre in 2014. There has been an enormous debate on the curtailment of rights of the citizens of this country.
Though it has secured just the 31% of the total votes polled, the Bharatiya Janata Party has managed to occupy most of the seats in the lower house of the parliament. Yes, it is the bitter truth of the concept of a democracy but is it okay when the same bitter truth starts to poison the system?
Events happening for the past few years in this country raise serious concerns on whether the longest written constitution of the world has been misunderstood for a comic book by the government.
Are the people ready for more years of such suppression? The indicators say, no!
The despair of farmers with the government can be seen across all corners of the country. The main issue of farmers is their demand for minimum support price. There are various other issues that are bothering them, one of which is their demand for farm loan waiver which has been a long pending issue in the BJP ruling States. The traders, who until recently formed the backbone of BJP’s support base, seem to be extremely unhappy with the government on implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, which has additionally burdened them with a lot of accounting.
The government’s decision of demonetisation was a serious lurch to the common man of the country. Without criticising the move, the people have readily shown their support by believing that this hard-time shall be a step towards a better tomorrow with corruption and black-money coming down the scales. But the reality has been something else. There were people who died in the queue lines, weddings got cancelled, transactions froze, and almost everything slowed down. At the end, the ones who ended up in those bank queues are the middle class and the poor who probably don’t even know what black-money actually is while the people from upper middle class and above looked completely insulated from any of such troubles with their ways sorted. The Reserve Bank’s statement later was the biggest eye-opener to the public which said that 99% of the demonetised currency has been legally exchanged. Doesn’t it mean that almost all the black-money has been legally exchanged into white? The irony here is, the BJP has celebrated November 8th, the day demonetisation happened as the Anti Black-Money Day.
The prime minister’s silence on certain issues of national importance and the ongoing violence is the most surprising thing. The freedom of speech and expression though is a fundamental right has become a privilege these days. We all have seen the kind of ruckus the right-wing organisations have created on a movie and the kind of indirect support they all have received from the respective State Governments, all ruled by BJP again. Did the Prime Minister speak an even word while the cities were being vandalized and death threats were being announced aloud on media channels? No! Also, the people of this country did not forget the killings of the rationalists and writers.
Modi has made beef into a combustible matter during his run for the PMO. He and his party leadership re-permeated it with Anti Non-Hindu venom. The chief minister of one of India’s richest states declared that Muslims could only live in the country if they stopped eating beef. A system of Gau-Rakshaks was brought up in order ensure the safety and security of the cows. The appointment of Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu hardliner with open anti-Muslim views with many controversial statements, as chief minister, also led to a spike in violence in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The house magazine of the RSS, the parent outfit of Hindu nationalists, cited ancient scriptures to justify the killing of “sinners” who slaughter cows.
Modi is a stalwart member of the RSS, a paramilitary organisation explicitly modelled on European fascist parties, whose members have been found routinely guilty of violence against minorities. History has not yet forgotten the scary decimation in Modi-ruled Gujarat in 2002 which killed more than 1,000 Muslims and displaced tens of thousands.
According to official statistics, India witnessed more than 700 outbreaks of communal violence that killed 86 and injured 2,321 people in 2016. The actual number, however, could be higher as many cases go unreported, says the report by the Mumbai-based Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) and the UK-based Minority Rights Group International (MRG).
In the huge controversy of Judge Loya’s suspicious death, who was dealing with the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case where the BJP supremo Amit Shah was the prime accused, things moved so dramatically that Mr. Shah was given clean chit by the successor judge within a month of the death of his predecessor and surprisingly CBI has not challenged the same. Under whose administrative control is CBI functioning? Isn’t it fishy?
Modi has proved his mark with few of the crucial bureaucratic appointments as well. The controversy with the former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan during the time of demonetisation and the subsequent appointment of Urjit Patel who previously worked for Ambani’s Reliance Industries or even the appointment of the former Chief Election Commissioner A K Jyoti who was a Gujarat cadre IAS officer who had worked as the Chief Secretary of Gujarat while Modi was the Chief Minister there, all these appointments raise doubts on the vested interests. To mark in bold, Mr. Jyoti had recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs just two days before the completion of his tenure on the charges of Office of Profit though similar issues were pending in most other States. People are aware that the Aam Aadmi Party is the toughest opposition for the BJP in the National Capital. Questions have risen from various corners asking whether this recommendation is in order to pay gratitude to someone!
The recent elections in universities might not be a complete mirror image of the national political mood or choices but these verdicts are good enough to at least give some indication of what is going on in the minds of country’s educated youth. The BJP-supported ABVP lost elections in Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, and Hyderabad Central University. The popular choices of students were varied in different universities, but the trend was clear. The wave was certainly against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). The reason these elections in educational institutions would really matter is that these very same universities have been the manufacturing units of many national-level political leaders.
Such electoral failure in different universities should be a matter of concern for the ruling party and it should ring an alarm bell for the BJP as it is important to note that young voters played an important role in the victory of their alliance in the last general elections. Also, what is even more dangerous for the BJP is the growing disappointment of students even in various other universities and colleges due to the failure of NDA government in creating job opportunities as promised.
Keeping universities aside, the recent Gujarat election verdict must’ve sent strong warnings to Mr. Modi-Shah & Co that the home State of the Prime Minister itself has not been a cake walk even after such a rigorous campaigning by the Prime Minister himself (which probably never happened in the history) by halting in the State for the election rallies almost every second or third day, and must’ve clearly reminded them that they have the support of just 31% of the total electorate of the past general elections and this time it could be more worse. The recent Congress’ victory in the BJP ruled Rajasthan’s by-polls too would’ve definitely added up the spice. That means, the hypnotism played by Modi on the public in 2014 is rapidly breaking and the people are realising how dangerous path they have been driven all this while.
- In a country where an opinion against the government is no more tolerated,
- In a country where food choices measure one’s nationalism,
- In a country where government is more bothered about a cow’s security than that of a woman’s,
- In a country where communal extremism is made to believe as the practice of religion,
- In a country where majority feel it righteous to overthrow the minority,
- In a country where secularism is just preached but not practised,
- In a country where freedom of speech is no longer free,
- In a country where being obedient is a characteristic of being patriotic,
- In a country where love for the ruling party is confused with love for the nation,
Democracy is under great threat and people will revolt to secure it!
(The author is the Advisory Council Chief of The International Union of Students, Czech Republic and also a Freelance Investigative Journalist)