Vidya Bhushan Rawat
India is passing through one of the most crucial phases of its political life. As the exercise of the ‘democracy’ begins the future of the country would also be locked and will be opened on May 16th only. It is important to understand the dangers of what has happened so far. The results will be out in a month but it is for the first time in our history that ‘someone’ has already ‘declared’ himself as the prime minister of the country. Things are not simple. Today, the ‘man’ is already declared as the ‘most powerful’ person of the country and every other questioning him has been made as person against ‘development’ and pseudo secular. It is not easy for a person who is main accuse for instigating violence against Muslims in Gujarat and kept conspicuously silent when people were crying for help such as fellow politician Ehsaan Jafari who was burnt to death by the barbaric anarchists mob which was allowed to do things at their whims by the state administration and who was admonished by his own prime minister, to be ‘anointed’ as a ‘national icon’. Witness the systematic campaign, rumors, fudging of data and then controlling the entire communication through a fictitious army of ‘devotees’ on social media and enforce ‘curfew’ in the news rooms which is worse than what Doordarshan and Aakashwani did in 1975. Today the role being played by embedded media is perhaps much disturbing and scornful to opponents and dissenting view point. If one has to see the replica of dirty tricks that Sanjay Gandhi played during emergency, these elections and the campaign management by the likes of Amit Shah are the best example.
We know media is modified and at the moment not ready to listen to anything which can suggest that India had lot of achievements during the past 60 years. It seems that India got freedom by the freedom fighters owning their allegiance to Hindutva and after that everything that the Gandhi family did was simply to destroy India. In critiquing Sonia, Rahul and Indira, they have also made mockery of Nehru without any respect to either history or his contribution which political opponents are supposed to do even if they disagree. That started last year on October 31st in Ahemdabad when chief minister of state make political speech to denigrate the first prime minister of India just to score a political point about Sardar Patel.
Yes, Congress is guilty of one hundred things. It demolished democratic values such as happened in 1975. Congress promoted cronyism. It promoted ‘chamchagiri’. It converted governors to agent of the congress party. It denigrated autonomous institutions like National Human Rights Commission, National Women’s Commission and other such autonomous bodies by picking up absolutely political chamchas to head those bodies which have responsibilities to provide justice to the people. It was the party that imposed Emergency in 1975 and anti-Sikh violence in 1984 in the aftermath of the assassination of Indira Gandhi is some of the darkest chapters of Congress Party’s life which are hard to erase as there is no remorse in ‘real’ sense. There were communal riots in the country and the government really did not take actions strongly. Meerut, Maliana, Bhagalpur, Nellie, Bombay, Malegaon and many more disturbances saw communalization of administration and police force. Today, there are talks of failures of dealing with these riots but it is also need to understand as who are the forces which speak language of hatred and retribution, who communalize the administration and used such symbols in public life and political speeches which unambiguously put the minorities make feel as ‘secondary’ citizens of the country?
There is no doubt that Congress has been a party of the brahmanical elite whose main interest was to maintain status quo through ‘liberal democratic’ face. But definitely you cannot blame Nehru for this. At least Congress remained much more democratic during his regime and despite all his weaknesses Nehru never ever courted the religious thugs, Gurus and communal forces. The down fall of Congress began in the post 1980s with return of Indira Gandhi who created a Bhindarwalen and then appeased Hindus in Punjab. The same things happened in Jammu and Kashmir where Indira Gandhi sought votes for the protection of Hindus. Sanjay Gandhi was known to flirt with religious fundamentalists. Rajiv followed Indira’s legacy and actually did the same tricks though he was definitely much bold and wiser in many senses. He signed Punjab and Assam accord even at the cost of his own party government but his own cousin Arun Nehru was flirting with Hindu Gurus and Babas and got opened the locks of disputed ‘structure’ in Ayodhya. Later, Rajiv started with Ramrajya and lost the elections.
The biggest damage done to Congress was by P.V. Narsimharao who was basically influenced with the Sangh philosophy and had a number of friends. Rao believed in Vajpayee more than to his Congress colleagues. The demolition of Babari Masjid in December 1992 was a well-planned strategy of Sangh Parivar and definitely Narsimha Rao had knowledge about it. There is nothing new of these ‘expose’ now as two veteran journalists late Nikhil Chakrawarty and Prabhash Joshi were known to some of these deliberations between various groups. It was only after that ‘break’ of promise that Prabhash Joshi started writing to Hindutva goons as ‘terrorists’ otherwise he was always considered to be an insider.
Narsimha Rao’s depended on notorious babas like Chandra swamy and others who were actually ‘secular’ mascot of Hindutva. There were other ‘Shankaracharyas’ too who might condemn BJP for political reasons but never really were different from them. All this only helped the Hindutvaisation of Congress Party.
The last ten years of Manmohan Singh regime were different. Congress, for the first time, accepted that coalition era has arrived in India and had to provide political space to maneuver for smaller political parties. UPA-I started with great promises and government listened to civil society voices too. There was no hope for the government’s return to power but it returned. UPA two started in the ‘whims’ that there is no opposition to it now. It started with vigorous ‘corporatization’ by Man Mohan Singh and his close associates like P.Chidambaram and Montek Singh Ahluwalia. The unrest caused in the states like Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and elsewhere added with growing corruption in fixing up the amount of coal block build up the perception. The UPA did not take things seriously and played game. The anti corruption plank was hijacked by the same forces who are actually the counterparts of Manmohan Singh and his team in the Hindutva organization.
The government never came out openly against Hindu fundamentalists. It played tricks and today we are in a condition where the government is ready to go out but people are really terrified and disturbed when the option and opportunities for a possible new regime are provided to us. We have no problem if those claiming to be ‘new’ and ‘alternative’ provide alternative to Chidambaram, Montek, Manmohan economics or give us an inclusive government. The problem is that the new entrants are more ‘nationalistic’ and jingoistic in their approach whose different ‘senas’ will be ready to beat up the people for their dissent like the goons of Sanjay Gandhi during emergency.
Hence India faces the biggest challenge to its very idea and concept. The secular socialist democratic republic is under the threat from those whose heart lies in big corporations of America and Europe and who want to sale the public land and resources to those looters with in India or outside it for a throw away price in the name of ‘growth’. That is not alone; the very premise of our nationhood is now under ‘arrest’ by those who have no history of fighting the country and those who are actually replicas of Talibans and separatists Muslim League which sought Pakistan with an idea that Hindus and Muslims cannot live together despite the known history of people in India living together despite all kind of differences and fight.
Frankly speaking these forces are not fighting to eliminate a secular congress but to replace a brahmanical government which has become totally discredited. So, it is nothing but an attempt to retain the hegemony of miniscule minority which has been marginalized politically though their control over politics, bureaucracy, media and our national life remain uninterrupted. The fight of the Sangh parivar is against a congress which would be lead by Gandhi family and which is attempting to return to its secular socialist roots.
Congress lost the plot because its brahmanical government wanted to appease all by doing nothing. It played tricks rather than taking strong action on issues like corruption and then wrongful arrests of Muslim youths. It failed to bring the issues of minorities, Dalits and OBCs to the fore and fight for them with ideological clarity. The whole issue of food security, and natural resources was dealt with more symbolism and less in seriousness which resulted in move backfiring.
We also know there was a communication gap between the government and the party. The party was moving towards a different direction while the Ministers in the government were in different. Leaders like Kapil Sibol, Chidambaram, Moily, Pawan Bansal, Ashwini Kumar, Rajiv Shukla, Shree Prakash Jaiswal,Rita Bahuguna and Shinde would take congress nowhere as there is not much perceptional difference between their thought and Hindutva and we can always find them in the other camp if things do not materialize here. The perception that Congress is corrupt went beyond the roof top. Now, this perception would not have worked easily if the Congress had done something good for Muslims, OBCs, Dalits and Aadivasis except for some constitutional provisions in technical sense. The dole out packages would not really work as people want participation in power. MNREGA and Mid Day meal would not work if they remain symbolic when the school education is privatized and people are still not able to get work more than 40 days a year.
Yet, a secular congress remained the best bet for India despite all these hick ups. I have no issue even if a so called third front come with a clear commitment to secular socialist republican ideals of the country. We have no issue whether Mayawati become Prime Minister or any other Dalit Bahujan leader or our friends from the left as India need to be governed by political class, those who worked for the people and not paratroopers who have been let loose on people from the above. We believe the people of India and have faith in them yet we have to understand now the enormity of this elections and why the saffron forces must be defeated at all cost who have unashamedly connived with corporate media and administration at one hand while hoodwinking people in the name of social engineering in the villages. A careful image has been crafted of Narendra Modi as a ‘tea seller’ who was ‘humiliated’ in his child hood. His macho images are also being projected and promoted actively everywhere including social media.
The last six months campaigning pattern can be seen which has silently upstaged and pulled the rug from the parliamentary system. In the system, we elect our members of Parliament and they elect a prime minister. Today, our democratic module has been carefully converted into a US style poll where we ‘need’ experts and therefore we have bureaucrats, army commanders, policemen, businessmen joining politics. There is no bar on any one’s contesting elections but attempt to subvert public opinion through embedded media has to be condemned. India will have to see these general elections in a different way. Yes, for the first time, we are witnessing the open defiance to norms and decency. Despite all our aversion to the Modi brand of politics and that of the Hindutva, the elections this time have crossed that limit. The corporate houses have cleverly done a coup against Indian democracy. First they manipulated a protest in the name of ‘fight against corruption’ and through Kejriwal and Anna attempted to discredit every institution we build up through hard work of our political forefathers. Now, the entire team Anna’s political ambitions have come out in open and Kejriwal has formed the party, the media had no option but to openly wage a war against him. The reason for a war against Kejriwal is because the media felt that a highly demoralised Congress Party would not be able to take on Modi and AAP is becoming the ‘biggest’ hurdle to Modi on his way to 7 RCR.
The media has already made Modi as Prime Minister and Modi is behaving as a prime minister of India. His body language, contempt for his predecessors and all other opponents look as if he would be able to run the government without any opposition. The Hindutva ‘event managers’ are targeting political leadership and trying to eliminate them following example of Israel which have used the same methodology to eliminate the genuine Palestine leadership. As more intelligence, military and policemen are joining the team. It looks they following the same tricks as they did in their duties.
Where are the common men and women in it? Celebrities are being appointed and we are informed, none less than Amit Shah that it is time for ‘expert’ to be brought in. What is the expertise of Hema Malini, Smriti Irani, Paresh Rawal, Kiron Kher and Meenakshi Lekhi? Yes, shouting at others on the prime time and using the worst kind of language towards your opponents. The system of nurturing a constituency and leaders interacting with their people has been done away with. Why should Rajnath Singh leave Ghaziabad constituency for Lucknow ? Why we fight in two constituencies? I think Mayawati does the best. She does not need a certificate whether she can win an election or not. She rarely contested and that give her strength to campaign for her candidates.
Despite Supreme Court warning, we seen those who are accused were given tickets by the BJP. And now we have seen the fulmination and vitriol by Amit Shah, Modi’s notorious but trusted colleague to ‘manage’ things in Uttar-Pradesh. Already vicious atmosphere has been created. But the most damaging thing to Indian democracy has been in the way of hiding facts from the people and absolute capitulation by the media which always claimed how it fought the tyranny of Indira Gandhi in 1975. The tyrant today is much more dangerous and fascist in attitude than Indira Gandhi. For all her shortcomings, Indira Gandhi had in her heart the socialist tendencies and she would never ever surrender to these crony thugs even when she might have sat with them.
Today, the entire agenda is being framed by the charlatans of these corporate thugs. They have turned out to be propaganda machinery of a man called Narendra Modi. Even within the BJP if any one raises question the ‘forward defense’ shouts at others. The nation wanted to know as why a devotee named as ‘Madhu Kishwar’ was granted interview by her God Narendra Modi? And one should know that a political opponent as media would try to pin down a simple young boy like Rahul Gandhi. Arnab tried to humiliate him without knowing the fact that the man Arnab Goswami and his Times Now team feel the ‘Bhagya Vidhata’ of India is a plain criminal and outright fascist who would not allow himself to be scrutinized to public. None in the media ever questioned why he is not talking to media? Yes the focus was on others and of course the PR agencies working overtime to give us ‘shining Gujarat’ feel all the time where just two days three people were killed in a manhole cleaning the human excreta.
Why we are not informed that Modi and his government handed over in platter the precious communal land. Today, village Panchayats in Gujarat do not have land. The success of a few powerful Gujratis is being presented as a great ‘revolution’ done there. Thankfully, India is not Gujarat. It is much more vibrant and colorful than a state where money matter more than anything else.
So the fight of people of India is not against a tyrant but also against the corporate media which has made itself more powerful than anything else. It is package news to sell its own interest. The time has come to expose the activities inside the newsrooms. The immunity that they have got in the name of ‘media’, ‘writer’ and ‘journalists’ must be done away with. It is time to have a press council which can have the power of derecognizing them. After all, media is not above Indian law. If they claim to unbiased and committed to news then it is time to ask question a how much space they have given to political parties other than the saffron. During emergency we used to call Aakashwani as ‘Indirawani’ but today with hundreds of channels, all of them have been ‘fixed’ by the ‘Hindutva’ ‘managers’.
Just a few days back we got the news that in one EVM in Assam the authorities found that pressing any button would only stamp Lotus. It is time to put a break on it as things are moving dangerously and with entire administration now polarized and communalized we are heading towards anarchy and chaos. Democracy is not a guarantee to peace building alone. Democracy has been hijacked by the corporate and manuwadis who are now using all their tricks to deny others a right. How can we succeed as a democracy when it become symbolic and provide legitimacy to all illegitimate acts? Can any democracy allow an individual to snoop? Will any democracy allow its leaders to speak the language of retribution, hatred and murder? For a pluralistic society with so much of diversity, the corporate honchos added with their admen masquerading as journalists and opinion makers have converted it into a ‘Americanized’ debate where an entire country of over one billion people are being asked to decide between three choices. This game of first converting a non entity into a brand and then discrediting democratic institutions to dislodge a democratically elected government was unheard of at least in India. But corporate did it. And now they are not even giving us an alternative. They have already declared Modi as prime minister through their ‘surveys’ which they carry on so vigorously to manipulate public opinion.
All the right thinking people are worried about the non representation of minorities as well as numerous minorities even among Dalit Bahujan and Aadivasis. They are worried about as why people are not included in decision making. With every election, the number of these segments in our parliament is reducing and we have no way to increase their fair representation. How can the demand for a fair representation of 15-20% of its Muslim population in our power structure be termed as ‘communal’. It is a fact that it is not communal when Ramdev, Ravi Shankar and other ‘bhudevtas’ seek vote for Modi but when Shahi Imam speak not to vote to BJP that is termed as communal. You bring out hate speech of Iqbal Masood some six month back and send him to Jail but have no action against either Amit Shah or Vasundhara Raje who is holding a ‘responsible’ position. If past speeches have to be found and people banned on those lines then Advani, Uma Bharati, Modi and others will only find their place in Jails but then the ‘movement’ for ‘Ram janambhoomi’ was the ‘biggest’ movement of his life which Advani termed as bigger than the ‘quit India’ movement of 1942. Nothing is communal when Vijay Kumar Malhotra says Okhla and Jamia Nagar areas in Delhi are den of ‘terrorists’. We know what hate speeches mean. Those who have seen the role played by Hindi media as well as the political class of the Hindutva, just search for videos of 1989,1991, 1992 in Uttar-Pradesh, Bihar and elsewhere of speeches of all these gentlemen and women.
Already those who fought against this tyranny are being targeted. They are being abused and if they are invited to media discussions they are being lynched. Anchors have already decided who to provide space and who to demolish. Indian parliament seems to be made virtually a non entity in front of these larger than life anchors. They have created situations which need to be defeated now. The war is on the people of India. It is the war of lies, deceit, calumny, distortion, falsification and glorification of information to deny people their legitimate right in the democracy. We elect our leaders to work for us but leaders are being imposed from the above. Celebrity culture is being developed to dupe people.
Socialism is the dirty word for media and corporate but that is the part of our preamble. They hate secularism too and that is why it is the biggest challenge today. Will India remain the same after May 16th? Will hate mongers be there to decide our destiny? Will those who are ready to sale our resources to crony and corrupt corporate will be our ‘decision makers’? How can anyone be our leader whose name creates fear and hatred among 20 percent of its population which is in real sense around Twenty Crore, a number which is much bigger than combine population of France, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Italy and perhaps a few other European countries.
When India was moving ahead and polity was becoming more decentralized, the threat has emerged in the form of a ‘cult’ revolving around a person. The important part of parliamentary system is that it provide opportunity to all and that is why people like Mayawati, Lalu Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Phoolan Devi and many others could make it to Parliament and became leaders of their state. If we are unable to preserve our democratic system, these thugs will only force us leaders from the above to lead the nation. It is that danger lurking over our head which we have to demolish in these elections. It is time we ask for a change in our political system and make it more proportionate to provide opportunity and space to all the marginalized sections of society. Our political system also needs changes and that to effectively such as Germany did in the aftermath of Hitler who also came through ‘popular mandate’. When the system convert to proportionate arrangements there is little chance of a fascist takeover of the state. We hope that the people of India will not allow the constitution to be defeated in these elections.