Image source: The Companion, India - Photo: 2019

What Five Years of Modi Rule Mean for the Indian Democracy

Viewpoint by Ram Puniyani

This article is the seventh in a series of joint productions of South Asian Outlook and IDN-InDepthNews, flagship of the International Press Syndicate.

MUMBAI (IDN) – The result of 2019 Lok Sabha polls are out and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has come back to power, with BJP increasing its percentage of votes and the number of seats. This came as per the prediction of BJP leaders, particularly Amit Shah who stated before the results that BJP will cross the three hundred mark.

While BJP was overjoyed and its supporters hysterical with joy, many of those in opposition and also those struggling for upholding of democratic values and human rights were shocked to say the least. While some felt that it is the manipulation of electronic voting machines (EVM), there were others who drew our attention to the bleak future of the democratic and plural values.

The election campaign was dominated by the propaganda on the rival sides. BJP, rather Modi, ignoring the pattern of 2014 campaign and the promises made in that campaign focused more on the national security, nationalism and sectarianism. The Pulwama terror attack, which exposed a big failure of Government in preventing the attack in highly militarized area, the lapse of the government in airlifting the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy and letting them travel on road, was projected as the great success of the Government on security front.

The language of revenge and hysteria created against the “enemy country”, Pakistan, worked wonders for Modi BJP. The cry of anguish of unemployed youth, the worsening plight of farmers in agrarian sector was drowned in the din of ‘Ghar mein ghus ke marenge’ (will beat enemies in their homes).

Hitting below the belt Modi went on to paint Rajiv Gandhi, the martyr as the ‘Corrupt number one’. Targeting minorities was subtly used to woo the majority. This was exemplified when Modi told the voters that Rahul Gandhi had decided to contest from Waynad, as that is an area where Minorities are in majority. To win over majority community, it put up terror accused Pragya Singh Thakur as the candidate from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat.

Congress on its part could not counter the nationalist hysteria created around Pulwama. To its credit, it came out with one of the better election manifestoes, ‘Ab Hoga Nayay’ (there will be justice now), in the Manifesto titled ‘We will deliver’. It did come up with Nyay scheme offering Rs 60,00 per month to the families on lower income bracket.

Rahul Gandhi, the Congress President, talked of Love, a hint to counter the intensity of divisive politics created by the last five years of BJP rule. The schemes of job creation, the measures to counter agrarian distress found pride of place in the booklet, stating the objectives of Congress party.

On the minus side, Congress failed to strike the proper alliances at places. While it did well to stitch alliance in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, it could not find the place in the ‘Mahagathbandhan’, which was forged by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh. It also could not put the alliance in place in Delhi, Punjab, Harayana and Maharashtra. The consequences were disastrous.

BJP’s control over large section of media has been very obvious from last many years. Its money power has been one of its major strengths in last 2014 elections also. With electoral bonds brought by BJP rule, large Corporate funding fell in the kitty of BJP. Election Commission all through was partisan, letting go the violations of Modi-Shah, while issuing notices against opposition leaders.

One of the Election commissioners showed his displeasure against the doings of the Commission. With all this manipulation of the democratic processes, Modi is back in the saddle of power. What awaits India’s future?

During last five years the country has suffered severe violation of the values of Indian Constitution. The fate of religious minorities has been relegated to second class citizenship, what with the lynchings in the name of cow and attacks on Christians’ prayer meetings and Carol singings.

The public institutions like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have seen vertical split. The universities are being packed with Vice Chancellors and faculty whose sole qualification is ideological affiliation to Hindutva nationalism. The power has been centralized in the hands of one person. The doings of the Government got well reflected during last five years with eminent persons returning their awards, the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, the floggings of Dalits in Una.

So what future and fate awaits the Indian nation? The return of Modi with increased power may further intensify the processes unleashed during last five years. The type of fright experienced by religious minorities is unprecedented. What is called as Hindutva agenda, Ram temple, Abolition of article 370 and Uniform civil code may be on the cards. The intensification of violence in the names of cow is already the phenomenon assuming dangerous proportions.

Unemployment rose terribly, the number of security personnel dying during last five years has been very high despite the ‘ghar mein ghus ke marnenge’ posturing. Glorification of Godse is assuming horrid proportions indicating the rise of Hindutva nationalism in many portals of our society.

The prevalence of Hate in the society, Hate against religious minorities is damaging the very concept of fraternity in the country. So what should be done? While the ruling autocrat, Modi will try to further damage the democratic institutions, the need for protecting the carefully nurtured institutions is urgently needed. Mass movements to demand for right to life, employment, housing, food need to be stepped up. The constitutional guarantee of affirmative action for minorities is already being trampled.

We need to raise a united voice to preserve and promote the core values of India. The dreams of the freedom fighters, those who strove to uphold the plural values while respecting diversity need to be upheld and nurtured. The dangers of Hate need to be underlined and social programs to promote amity and oneness as Indian nation are the need of the hour.

All the political parties, who want to uphold the values of Indian Constitution, the values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity need to come together and take further the voices of social movements demanding promotion and preservation of human rights of all sections of society. [IDN-InDepthNews – 30 May 2019]

Image source: The Companion, India

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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