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NAMO or NO-MORE?

Shilpi Singh
With the 2014 elections just a month away there are heated debates and discussions about India’s political future. Narendra Modi of course is the centre of most of the ongoing debates and discussions. There are two paradoxical groups of opinion that emerges when we talk about Modi. One, for some he will always be the man who presided over the 2002 Gujarat riots. And second, for few others Modi is the epitome of good governance and efficient administration capable of guiding India through the path towards development. This group seems to have washed away the 2002 Gujarat riots completely from its memory. These two different opinions appear to be quite irreconcilable.
For all of us who believe in the secular democracy that India is considered and meant to be Modi is a complete threat. He is a monster who must never be allowed to win if we want to preserve and protect our hard earned freedoms and retain the breathing space that allows us to deepen our democracy and make it more real. Fascist and authoritarian figures and mass murderers like Modi who curb dissent as an exercise of their choice are threats to democratic rights of people to make choices and respect choices contrary to one’s own. One should understand the irony in expecting Modi to be strengthening democracy. We cannot expect a person whose vision for India is a Hindu Rashtra to be capable of defending democratic principles and liberal ideals.
Liberalism stands for the respect of individual rights and rule of law. Modi clearly does not understand the meaning of either individual rights or rule of law. He does not respect a liberal polity at all because his politics is about nationalism and not liberalism. His agenda is focused towards development and not democracy. Or to correct myself, his agenda is focused towards growth not even development. His politics is about progress and not about equality and equity for all. How can someone whose ideologies are absolutely contrary to the basic principles of liberalism and democracy be able to uphold these principles? One should always remember that democracy is not just about majority rule as Modi and his hindutvawadis are trying to bluff people into believing. Democracy on the contrary means collective decision-making at all levels of society and more importantly as J.S Mill argues that democracy means the protection of the minorities even if the minority is one in number which surely is at stake with Modi coming to power.
It should be understood that we will not always have the option of voting for the “best” candidate since there are no so called best candidates on the platter of Indian politics that is being offered to us. In other words there are no sacred cows. Modi coming to power will rob us of all the civility and dignity that we have managed to achieve in our society. The idea of Modi as our next Prime Minister has been quite luring for a lot of people because of the fact that Modi has been able to achieve a substantial degree of progress in his state. However what they fail to see or rather see through is what happens to the minorities. For them what the minorities face is the accepted cost of any progress and so is absolutely justified. So anyone who raises a voice against this or tries to bring attention to the condition of the minority is immediately judged as being anti-progress. So any debate on Modi is brought down to a debate on progress. And here I would like to mention about a very interesting argument that one of my faculty, colleague and friend mentions- “never was a more dangerous idea invented than progress”.
Apart from everything else what really makes my blood go cold is a major fear regarding the huge acceptance of the politics and person that Modi is. A lot of opinion polls point towards the coming of a wave in which Narendra Modi is the man. One would be utterly naïve and insane to not be afraid of the fact that a mass murderer and someone who carried out a genocide has absolutely and surprising no trouble getting supporters, and that too in such large numbers. It is this fear that forces me to write and reach out to the masses asking them to use their conscience and exercise their right to choice meticulously so that their liberal democratic rights are not curbed. Let not the politics of personality win over the politics of issues. Let not our silence be misunderstood as an acceptance of Modi as our next Prime Minister because he is the man of decisive communal politics, anti-people neoliberal policies, false development claims and a highly patriarchal worship of the dominant man. Let’s unite and rise against all of this.

About the author

SHILPI SINGH, CENTRE FOR POLITICAL STUDIES, JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY, NEW DELHI

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