State of affairs in BJP-ruled states

B.K. Chum

English Daily National Herald established in Lucknow on December 9, 1938 with Jawaharlal Nehru as its first editor had carried on its masthead “FREEDOM IS IN PERIL, DEFEND IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT”. Had the legendary cartoonist Jimmy Friell been alive today, he would have re-captioned his cartoon “INDIA’S DEMOCRACY AND ECONOMY ARE IN PERIL, DEFEND THEM WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT”.
The developments that have been taking place on political and economy fronts for the past few months would have justified the suggested change in the now resurrected Herald’s masthead. With 20 months left for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, there are signs of the malevolent stars eying the BJP and the Modi-led government.
Democracy is being trampled through vindictive actions against the Opposition leaders, their active supporters and even against a section of the media. The CBI, which the apex court had once described as “caged parrot”, has now got the ‘august’ company of Income Tax, Enforcement Directorate and Intelligence Bureau teams.
During the present ruling dispensation these caged parrots have raided “law-breaking opposition leaders”, their business establishments and residences for allegedly ‘indulging’ in corrupt practices and other ‘lawless’ activities.
People would back the government if the ‘caged parrots” take stringent action against political leaders or business houses, irrespective of their political or personal loyalties who, in popular perception, have been indulging in corrupt practices. But the question is: Are all the leaders of the ruling combine -barring miniscule sections- who have accumulated huge assets saints? And what about the members of Parliament and state Assemblies, particularly those belonging to the ruling party and its allies whose names already figure in the list of the MLAs and MPs who have amassed huge assets in a short period of time after getting elected. The inquisitive minds would have to wait if within their life-time they would see action taken against such ruling party’s ‘dignitaries’!
No doubt, unlike the mega scams that took place during UPA II rule, no large scale corruption has so far been reported in the Modi raj. This, however, does not mean that the menace has not been prevalent in the BJP-ruled states. Among the scams that had earlier been reported in the media are the Madhya Pradesh’s Vyapam and Lalit Modi cases, Chhattisgarh PDS scams and involvement of Maharashtra BJP chief minister Dedvendra Fadnavis cabinet’s number two Eknath Khadge in the land scam, which forced him to resign from the ministry. Yeddiurappa, the former Karnataka chief minister, now state BJP president, allegedly involved in huge land scams, got acquittals in some of the cases. But one case is still pending before the Karnataka High Court in which the court granted an interim stay on September 17 in the FIR filed against him by the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Centralisation of power by the Prime Minister and his authoritative style of functioning have been criticised by the opposition parties. BSP supremo Mayawati has even described the prevailing situation in the Modi raj as Super Emergency. The situation is, however, not like what had prevailed during the Indira Gandhi-imposed 1975 Emergency. But the actions and utterances of our present day bhagva leaders are creating an Emergency-like atmosphere. Freedom of the Press is subtly and in some case even overtly being curbed. Some journalists were killed during the past two years. Barring a couple of TV news channels, the major section of the print and electronic media has resisted the government’s blatant attempts to compel it to toe the official line on political and economic issues.
Realising the adverse impact some of the actions and utterances of BJP/RSS activists will have on the party’s 2019 electoral prospects, Modi in his “Mann ki Baat” on September 24 had tried to contain the damage. He exhorted the people to “feel ‘Unity in Diversity’ which was not a mere slogan. Let us experience this diversity. Can we make an effort as a student to learn, understand and try to live as per the traditions, culture, attire, eating habits and beliefs of different states, different societies, different groups of our country?”
Most politicians do not practise what they profess. Modi is not an exception. His government and the party have been trying to undo the country’s diversity by asking the people what to eat, what to wear and what to pray. It will be seen during the run-up to 2019 whether he and the BJP/RSS leaders act on his sermons. Their past record in such matters has been disappointing. Public memory is not so short as to forget that the bhagwa outfits have been communally polarising the Indian society. Some BJP MPs and RSS affiliates had publicly asked those (Muslims) to go to Pakistan who do not shout ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. Obviously believing that silence is golden, Modi used to keep mum on such issues, the latest being the case of the controversy over BJP president Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah’s business interests.
One need not comment on the country’s sinking economy and deceleration of growth, which has touched 5.7 per cent of the GDP, the lowest during the last three years. The main reason for the economy’s sharp slowdown has been the demonetization decision arbitrarily taken by the Prime Minister in November 2016. The hastily implementation of the faulty GST has also contributed to the prevailing economic crisis, which has led to unprecedented unemployment and closing down thousands of small and medium scale industrial units.
India’s sinking state of economy has been adversely commented upon not only by the opposition parties but also by the country’s renowned economists and world’s leading rating agencies.
The prevailing situation provides opportunity to the Opposition parties to revive their since demised Bihar-like mahagathbandhan for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But the Opposition parties perhaps believe what a wise man had said: “Politics is about conferring legitimacy to the undeserving.” (IPA)

Wednesday, 18 October, 2017