After 64 years and 7 days of Congress rule (read misrule), captained by successive democratically elected Congress governments, from that headed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to that by Dr. Manmohan Singh, the country got to witness a rather unlikely political organization take over governance from the incumbent Congress government headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh. The rightist BJP-led NDA assumed power, riding on a massive majority of 336 out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats. The BJP led by Narendra Modi by itself netted 282 seats. Narendra Modi, was sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India on 26 may 2014.
The trailblazing triumph of the BJP represented a massive and collective awakening of a dormant Hindu majority, which had been suppressed and taken for a ride by the policy of secularism (read pseudosecularism) adopted by the Congress. The Congress (mis)rule resorted to brazen double standards and hypocrisy nurtured and adopted by the party’s powers-that-be. The Congress’ brand of ‘secularism’ generally meant appeasement of the minorities at the expense of the majority. This was utilized by that party to the hilt as an all-weather ‘vote garnering’ apparatus. Narendra Modi spearheaded a movement of politicized Hinduism called Hindutva, which announced its presence as the vehicle to take the rightist political outfit- the BJP to power at the centre through its hand-in-glove and overt involvement in tearing down the Babri Mazjid on December 6 1992. The event is arguably the worst blot on the history of post-independent India after probably the infamous 21-month long Emergency declared by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25 1975.
The majority which had been silent for long woke up resurgently by handing over the reins of power to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The NDA held forth much-needed and long awaited ideals of change, which was promised through, what looked like a sensible manifesto (which included implementing a Common Civil Code and scrapping the special status for the state of Jammu and Kashmir).the NDA had the majority to actualize these. India, at that time seemed to believe that she was about to be governed by a government which meant business. At least the broad-shouldered and well-groomed new Prime Minister’s body language seemed to suggest that! After convincingly capturing power in the centre, the NDA went on to capture power in almost every Indian state except a few, through convincing victories at the hustings. The Congress, which did not have the numbers worth the mention to even form a noticeable opposition in the Lok Sabha fell by the wayside without a whimper. It withdrew into an unfamiliar role of a mere onlooker. A spent force and an also-ran, which looked clueless before a behemoth that the BJP-led NDA seemed to resemble then.
The new Prime Minister by inviting the heads of state of the SAARC Nations, including India’s bête noire Pakistan to his swearing-in ceremony seemed to have made the right kind of a start by holding forth an olive branch to the nation’s worst nemesis-Pakistan. He followed it up by visiting numerous nations and sealing healthy détente through tete-a-tete with heads of state. The most noticeable was the personal rapport he seemed to have struck with the then US President Barrack Obama. His globe-trotting ways, which took on dimensions of overdo sealed for India crucial trade deals and healthy bilateralism with nations. He took his fight against terrorism to the world stage. He was instrumental in conferring international status and recognition for yoga. He then turned his attention domestically by attempting to keep his promise to ‘make India clean’ through his pet Swachch Bharat Abiyan. The images of the new Prime Minister sweeping the streets of Delhi almost immediately upon his return from a much-hyped visit to the USA are still fresh on our minds!
The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, or the Clean India Mission was launched by Modi to clean up streets, roads and infrastructure of Indian cities, smaller towns and rural areas. Objectives of the well-meant movement included elimination of open defecation by constructing household-owned and community-owned toilets.
The campaign officially launched on 2 October 2014 at Rajghat aimed to achieve an Open-Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2 October 2019, the 150th birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. It required a projected construction of 90 million toilets in rural India at a projected cost of Rs. 1.96 lakh crore. Arguably India’s largest cleanliness drive till date saw 3 million government employees, and students from all over the nation participating in a mega-cleaning spree in 4,041 statutory cities, towns and rural areas in on the day of its launch.
What seemed to be a heady start by the new government quickly fizzled away. Glaring lack of enthusiasm, resolve and determination and distraction of the government by other less relevant issues saw the mission turn into a damp squib. Indians continued to defecate in the open. Miles of railway track continued to be the favorite ‘toilet’ of millions of Indians. India continued to be a heap of garbage. Even the Ganges River, which Hindus consider Holy and a Goddess, continued to be a ‘floating storehouse’ for filth and garbage. Unburnt and half- burnt dead bodies and human body parts, especially bones continued to float on the Holy River. This, despite a union ministry being constituted exclusively dedicated to clean up the Ganges. The new Prime Minister failed to follow-up the launch of the well-meant Swachch Bharat Abhiyan with tenable action. Results proved disappointing. The very first attempt by the new government to improve things fell flat for lack of results.
Slowly but surely, the BJP-led NDA governing India seemed to be losing its way in other more important areas as well. A great promise that the Modi-led government held forth soon seemed to be just a mirage. ‘A dream gone awry’, so to say. A golden opportunity to transform India seemed to have been wasted most thoughtlessly. The Congress party had a set of sycophants and ‘kitchen favorites’ that formed a coterie around those wielding power from the Gandhi-Nehru ‘clan’. The coterie-powered style of governance by the Congress ultimately showed the ‘grand old party’ the way out of unquestioned and seemingly everlasting power. Corresponding to the coterie that surrounded those in successive Congress governments, the BJP had RSS and other extreme right forces viz; Bajrang Dal, Karni Sena and many others collectively called ‘Sangh Parivar’(whatever that means!), which seemed hell-bent to hand out an ignominious exit from power to a seemingly all-encompassing and powerful BJP-led NDA. India witnessed all the wrong things happen within her borders. Things that the country had never witnessed before. The nation seemed to have lost her way and the governance derailed. Independence wrested from the British by the likes of Gandhi and Nehru, seemed an exercise in vain!
- On the night of September 28 2015, a mob of villagers attacked the home of a Muslim, Mohammed Ikhlaq, with sticks and bricks. They suspected him of stealing and slaughtering a cow calf in Bisara village near Dadri in Uttar Pradesh. The 52-year old Mohammed died in the attack. His son 22-year Old Danish was seriously injured. The ‘cow as Hindu God’ movement was woken up from its hibernation for political gains, and not for the love and reverence for the animal, of course! People involved in cattle trade were lynched across India by right wing goons and zealots remote controlled by their political bosses endorsed by the new government in power through its silent and tacit approval. The government, by doing so decided to peep into the kitchens of its citizens’ households. To make sure beef was not being cooked in the kitchens and served on the dining tables. The Modi-led NDA remained silent as mayhem unfolded across India on account of beef. It seemed not to bother as people involved in trade involving the animals’ meat, hide and milk were attacked ad nauseum across India. The gross loss of source of livelihood of those involved in the above trade wasn’t the government’s botheration. The big boss- the RSS wanted it that way!
- On September 5 2017, journalist Gauri Lankesh, editor of Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada weekly started by her father P. Lankesh, was shot dead by ‘unknown assailants’ outside her Bangalore home. At the time of her ghastly murder, she was a known critic of rightwing Hindu extremism. She had been honored with Anna Politkovskaya Award for speaking against rightwing Hindu extremism, campaigning for women’s rights and opposing caste based discrimination. The Modi-led NDA chose to remain silent when freedom of expression was murdered that night. It’s intolerance to criticism and to being pulled up and questioned for unsavory tendencies that ran incongruent to India’s civility and her very purpose stood exposed. Gaury seemed to share the fate of other similar personalities who questioned Hindu rituals, superstitions and extremist thought viz: M.M. Kalburgi, N.A. Debholkar, and Govind Pansare. All of them were murdered in similar circumstances by two-wheeler borne ‘unidentified assailants’. All of them had raised their voices against Hindu Rightwing extremism, superstition and rituals. Interestingly, the assailants still remain ‘unidentified’, and are at large.
- BJP MLA Sangeeth Som spued venom and sowed the seeds of division by declaring Taj Mahal a ‘blot on Indian culture’. India’s rich heritage and past seemed next on the queue to be guillotined. Indian history somehow seemed to irritate the NDA and Hindutva it espoused. The past irritated them, strangely. Modi remained silent. Silence, generally means condonation of what is being silently allowed to unfold.
- BJP’s Union Minister for Skill Development, Anantkumar hedge opposed the Birthday celebration of Tipu Sultan tooth and nail, which was being observed every year in Karnataka. For some strange reason, the minister chose to oppose the celebrations in 2018. The reason seemed to be the upcoming elections in Karnataka, which the BJP considered crucial. It had to pocket the Southern state, come what may. Ananthkumar chose to garner in votes for the BJP by choosing to prevent the Tipu birthday celebrations. Was Tipu picked because he was a Muslim? Through it all, Modi chose silence yet again. He had to listen to the diktat of his big Boss- to speak not a word against the interest of the Hindu majority, even at the expense of India’s existence.
- Strangely, as India was being taken apart methodically, and Indian society systematically torn asunder by divisive policies of the NDA-led government, and as deep chasms divided Indians along lines of religion, as people in workplaces and homes identified their colleagues and family by their religion, rather than by their nationality, or the content of their character, BJP-led NDA gobbled up state after state of the Indian union electorally. Nothing seemed to stop the NDA juggernaut. It rode to power like a behemoth in practically every state, through ‘elections’ of course! The BJP won 35/59 seats in Tripura where they had no seat until the assembly elections in the state on 18 February 2018. In Meghalaya, the party won just 2 seats against the Congress’ 21. Yet, it formed the government in that state. It formed the government in Nagaland too, where it won only 11 against the opposition NDF’s 29! In Nagaland, It did a Goa where it formed government with only 13 seats in a house of 40! This queer phenomenon made a mockery of the much talked about Indian ‘democracy’, while Modi held his peace. It would not surprise any Indian if Yeddurappa forms a BJP government in Karnataka even if it loses majority to Siddaramaiah-led Congress front in the Karnataka election, which is just round the corner! The opposition charged the NDA of tampering with the Electronic Voting Machines to account for this curious winning streak by the NDA. This was ruled out categorically by the Election Commission.
- NDA’s ‘history allergy’ had them scratching once again, when the rightwing Karni Sena of Rajasthan refused to have the Bollywood mega buster ‘Padmavati’, made on the Rajput queen Padmavati released. Karni Sena believed the film sullied Rajput ‘honor’ by having Padmavati shown in an amorous relationship with her intended kidnapper and invader, Allauddin Kilji, when, actually she committed self-immolation before the invading army of kilji, as the Sena believed. Rajasthan burnt to the torches of people who never watched the movie, but decided to respond to the exhortation for arson and violence, espoused by Karni Sena! Padmavati was subsequently released as ‘Padmavat’. Big deal! Through it all, the man who is supposed to instill confidence in fellow Indians, as the nation was being taken apart by the unruly mob-instigated arson of the kind enacted in Rajasthan, chose not to utter a word against it. Modi chose to play the lyre when India burnt like the proverbial Nero did when ancient Rome went up in flames!
- The clueless NDA-led BJP made hara-kiri of Indian economy under the ‘helmsmanship’ of Finance minister Arun Jaitley, a minister who managed to occupy the throne of a priced ministry-that of finance without even winning the election; some Indian ‘democracy’ that!
Jaitley threw Indian economy into absolute disarray and confusion, that no banker or accountant worth their salt could predict the ‘fate’ of the economy, nor could they make head or tail of the newly imposed ‘reforms’. Jaitely managed to make minced meat of the economy through two pet ‘reforms’ adopted by the Modi government-imposition of the GST and demonetization. Goods and Services tax (GST) was intended to consolidate and deposit into a single basket, various taxes and cesses that were being collected from the people from the point of manufacture of goods used by the people to the point of sale to them. This move threw Indian economy into utter disarray and confusion. Even the wisest Accountants and financial wizards failed to decipher and unravel the mystery of the new GST regime and it’s functioning. Instead of consolidating the numerous taxes into a single GST, as the latter was supposed to achieve, a new form of tax evolved-the GST, while the ones supposed to have been dismantled, remained! The common man was asked to pay up GST for every commodity he or she purchased from Indian markets and stores. Qualified Chartered Accountants needed to attend classes and tutorials on the GST, and commerce students in college had to an exam paper exclusively on GST to make head or tail of this avatar of the new burden dumped on the man on the street.
At 20:00 IST on November 8 2016, as Indians were relaxing before their TV sets, after a hard day’s toil, they had their Prime Minister drop a bombshell on them. He, through an unprecedented televised address to the nation made illegal the banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi series, belonging to denominations of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000, invalidating 86% of India’s currency. This process, referred to as ‘Demonetization’ was intended to achieve two goals, as the Modi government claimed- (a) to unearth black money, which is being hoarded in India and abroad, and(b) to throttle funding of terrorism and insurgency within India, hatched by master-brains operating from across the border, deep inside Pakistan, through counterfeit notes. The abrupt move by the Prime Minister, though was initially accepted by the citizens considering its intensions, fell into disrepute when many died standing in serpentine queues before dried-up ATMs, that failed to furnish money for day to day living. Demonetization had the farmers by the scruff of their necks. The timing of demonetization torpedoed the agrarian economy, which is primarily cash-based and village-based. Demonetization was implemented following an above-average monsoon season. But the farmers were rendered unable to cash in on the benefits of a windfall karif crop. Farmers whose savings are almost entirely on cash found it impossible to fund winter sowing. They were forced to sell their produce at abysmally low rates. Banks refused to exchange old notes, or give them loans. Local moneylenders exploited the situation by charging inhumanly high interest rates. Farmers who had no money, could not repay bank loans. Many committed suicide. Black money continued to remain in the darkness of its hiding places. Cross border insurgency and terror continued unabated, as Pakistan set about printing fake notes closely resembling the new Indian currencies belong to Rs.500 and Rs. 2,000. Demonetization, like GST fell by the wayside as a humongous failure of the Modi government.
- Adhaar is a 12-digit unique Identity number that Indians were supposed to possess. This is generated based on their biometric and demographic data, collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UDAI), a statutory authority established in January 2009, under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology under the Manmohan Singh government. The number issued in the form of a card, was originally intended to ensure financial and other subsidies, benefits and services reached their rightful beneficiary. Though a brainchild of the Manmohan Singh government, the Modi government misused the Adhaar card by hanging it over the citizens’ heads like a Damocles’ sword, and pointing it at their temples like a loaded gun. The card was used by the government to eavesdrop into the financial wherewithal of its citizens, by making it compulsory to link the card to bank accounts, and even hard-earned savings and investments in LIC, mutual Funds, etc. the government conferred the card with all-embracing, all encompassing and Machiavellian powers. Citizens were arm twisted and threatened to such an extent that they were needed to link the card to their mobile numbers. Indians thus became refugees in their own country. They were looked upon with suspicion much like terrorists by their own government who they voted to power! The government’s motive to gird the card with all encompassing power was to widen its tax net and to fatten its coffers, and nothing else. Even ration cards were required to be linked to the all-powerful card. Indians subsisting below the poverty line, who did not have a ration card died for the lack of it, and it’s linking with the sinister Adhaar card. By making the demographic, biometric and financial details an open book through the card, Indians were stripped off their privacy. They found themselves at the mercy of crimsters and tricksters, who had invented elaborate mechanisms to misuse the card of hapless and threatened Indians. Through it all, Modi remained silent. Much to his big boss’ happiness.
- Irrespective of Aadhaar, GST and demonetization riding roughshod over the ordinary Indian on the street, big-time swindlers and financial crimesters, having the right kind of ‘contacts’ with the right kind of persons in the government had a field day in India, bleeding the exchequer and swindling humongous amounts of public money. Diamentaire Nirav Modi left a $1.8 billion hole in Punjab National Bank’s books. Former IPL Chairman Lalit Modi laundered R. 1,700 crores through 16 different Forex violations through media advertisements, etc. he is now cooling his legs in UK. ‘King of good times’ Vijay mallya, also in the UK fled the country on charges of fraud involving Rs.9,000 crores. Surely, these three among many such will never be apprehended by Indian law. Indians will ultimately be demanded to cough up crores swindled by the big three from the latters’ hard-earned money and savings, which is exactly what Adhhaar card and such gimmicks have been put in place to achieve!
- ‘Nationalism’ and love of the motherland was thrust upon citizens. Indians were required to stand up in respect whenever and wherever the national anthem was being played, or the tricolor was being hoisted. This was thrust on them even inside movie halls. A physically disabled person seated in a wheelchair in a movie hall in Goa was thrashed physically by rightwing lampoons, when he couldn’t rise up to the national anthem. Modi remained silent!
Love and respect for one’s country has to be ideally voluntary engraved within citizens. If these qualities require arm-twisting and threat for their expression, there has to be some problem. Problems there were aplenty for average Indians not to feel proud of India under Modi. How could they voluntary rise up to some song, or a multicolored cloth called national anthem and the national flag respectively!? When things were going all wrong for them?
- Inner party democracy was given a shove by the wily PJP Party President Amit Shah-Prime Minister Modi combination, who tolerated no dissent or even disagreement on issues. Politicians who shepherded the BJP during its conception bore the brunt of the ruling BJP’s blinding vainglory and detestation of being questioned and lust for power, catalyzed by brut majority in Parliament.
Murali Manohar Joshy, the BJP President between 1991-1993, and Union Human Resources Development Minister in the erstwhile NDA Government, and L.K. Advani, India’s 7th Deputy Prime Minister under the Vajpayi government, and Indian Home Minister from 1998-2004, cofounder of the BJP and leader of the Opposition in the 10th and 14th Lok Sabha were unceremoniously shown the door from the BJP Parliamentary Board for questioning Modi’s choice as Prime minister. At the time of writing, India’s former Finance Minister, under the previous NDA government and a BJP leader of yore, Yaswant Sinha resigned from the BJP, piqued by the undemocratic functioning of the ruling dispensation under the Shah-Modi combination.
Thus, the BJP-led NDA rode on like a mighty juggernaut, crushing to the sands of time, anything, or anybody that came in its way. Absolute Power blinded it. Convincing electoral victories at the centre and states infused vanity and haughtiness that corrupted them big time.
By polls to the Lok Sabha in the constituencies of Gorakhpur in UP and Phulpur in Bihar were called, necessitated by the election to the UP Legislative Council of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adithyanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya who vacated the above respective seats. This by poll was considered by many as a run up to the 2019 general election- a testing of water of sorts. When the results were announced later on March 11, 2018, the BJP was in for an unpleasant shock. The seemingly invincible party had lost both the prestigious constituencies. Yogi Adhithyanath, was elected from Gorakhpur, and had only taken over as Chief minister of UP on march 19 2017.barely a year later the electorate decided to defeat him comprehensivelyin his own backyard. He had to bite the dust in the hands of the Samajwati Party. As did Keshav Prasad in Phulpur. The electorate called the bluff of the BJP by defeating it in these prestigious constituencies. These defeats brought the seemingly invincible BJP-led NDA to its knees and reality. The vibrant Indian democracy stamped a resounding ‘NO’ to the policy of division, hatred and violent governing ways of Narendra Modi led NDA. The ever vigilant and vibrant Indian democracy reacted most assertively to silent brashness, one-upmanship and highhandedness and wily mechanizations of a governing apparatus to achieve narrow ends of a destructive body like the RSS and others of the Sangh Parivar. The Shah-Modi combine looked clueless before an unfamiliar defeat. Indian democracy proved its resonant and vibrant ability to get back at those who endangered and defied it and the constitution, and those who posed danger to India’s existence as a nation as dreamed of by her founding forefathers. Whether the shocking defeats in Gorakhpur and Phulpur are a harbinger of bad news for the BJP and NDA in 2019 is for time to tell!