Free Power, Full Rehabilitation
Mr Narendra Modi, for the first time, in his political career, held a public meeting at Badwani, in the electoral campaign for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh. Badwani, being the centre of the Narmada Bachao Andolan since the last 28 years and Mr Modi having taken up the issue of Sardar Sarovar Dam, as a campaign from Gujarat to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, the entire country waited to watch what Mr Modi would say or would not! Thousands of adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers and others from the valley were also watching and waiting to know what statement he would make by raising a forum in the valley itself. They were also ready to stand up and react to anything that Modi was expected to state on Sardar Sarovar Dam, at the cost of their rights and life. Mr Modi however did not give them this opportunity as he showed no courage to repeat the lies at the valley he uttered at Bhopal or at the Sardar Patel statue inauguration at Kevadia. Thus, all his lies of free power and full rehabilitation were proved to be as fake, since he did not display the guts to repeat his lies! He was speechless on the issue of Narmada, he only vaguely referred to 'development' with no ideological content as usual and trying to blame 'unknown forces' for stalling the same. While the people certainly missed an opportunity to question him, as he flew away within half an hour, the situation brings forth that the real people's power matters much more than the Modi-political power. The non-violent, non-electoral politics of social movements too can make a difference.
It was during his public meetings first in Pune and then at Bhopal that he had very confidently claimed that these two states would receive 400 MW and 800 MW of 'free power' from the Sardar Sarovar Dam. NBA had promptly challenged this falsehood and the claim that the UPA Government was not permitting the dam height to be raised, stalling the progress of the state of Madhya Pradesh and that the Chief Minister of Maharashtra is proving to be weak by not giving consent to further construction, till rehabilitation. Modi also did not answer any questions that the NBA raised on the eve of his meeting. His false promise of lighting up the whole of Madhya Pradesh if the dam could be raised from 110 to 100 mts, voiced in 2005 from a similar public meeting at Anjad, a township adjacent to the submergence area obviously stood exposed.
Without any facts and figures, he was making such baseless claims only to promote his party with an eye on the vote bank, not only in Madhya Pradesh for the upcoming elections, but also the 2014 elections and his prime ministerial candidature. Even the Congress as an opposition party in the state, with only Mr Harish Rawat as an exception, could not exhibit its strength and courage to challenge Mr Modi on the issue of Narmada, with huge scale of displacement of thousands of families due to not just Sardar Sarovar, but tens of other dams in the alley, affecting lakhs of adivasis, farmers and others, in spite of there being a solid vote bank, the task fell upon the NBA.
NBA, following its unique way of intervening into electoral politics adopted since 1990, in the Sardar Sarovar affected region of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, organized mass Lok Manch inviting the candidates at two places at Badwani and Dharampuri, covering 5 electoral constituencies. Most of the candidates belonging to the Congress, BJP (Kukshi) CPI, NCP, Independents had turned up in Badwani, while both the mainstream parties, BJP and Congress avoided the programme in Dharampuri. The voter-citizens and the long term agitators are obviously upset with those who did not turn up and are also knowledgeable of the push and pull applied to the Sardar Sarovar Dam without any sensitivity and concern for the displaced, for the nature. It was therefore, obviously known to the parties that their votes are going to be affected and decided by their opposition or negligence to the people's struggle on their rights. Will Modi ever be ready for an open debate on what is true development? NBA appeals to all political parties to come forward and hold an ideological debate with the people's movements, rather than showing lollipops of smart phones to washing machines and laptops.
Saavabehan, Devram Kanera, Kailash Awasya, Medha Patkar
Tehelka was in its own way a great magazine. Strenuous and uncompromising investigation, reaching conclusions at once tough and fair, and startling in its ability to expose the underbelly of magnificent but rotten institutions and public behemoths.Like David swinging at Goliath.
Shoma was hounded by the media,to be sure.As though she was an accomplice.But if the leaders withdraw from the scene the magazine may collapse,to the cheers of bloody-minded reactionaries.A great pity.
Hope Tehelka will survive this storm.
Hiren Gohain, Guwahati
The electoral uprising of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), in Delhi raised important questions. In many parts of the world, new kind of political parties and movements are emerging. The core slogans are expressing through democratic participation-participatory democracy, direct democracy, e-democracy etc., the direct attack on party establishment that attracts people at large. In ltaly there is Five Star movement. These types of parties are trying to address the immediate demands affecting basic life—water, electricity, development, corruption etc. The party can be a role model of new age popular demands. The restlessness among citizens are being expressed through the party-movement politics. The traditional left-right agenda is being mixed up. Most of the main stream political parties have been failing to address these core issues and mostly indulging in their own survival issues as the political class. The anti-party establishment politics that now captures the political imagination seems to be general trend everywhere.
C K Vishwanath, Kerala
Democracy and Secularism
December 6, 1992 must count as the darkest day in the history of independent India. While the crowds mobilised by organisations of the RSS destroyed the Babri Mosque in a planned conspiracy, the institutions of the Indian State, elected state and central governments, police and judiciary, stood by as mute spectators. This was the culmination of a prolonged campaign by the RSS and its allies to destabilise constitutional government and seize power via the spread of communal hatred and violence. Thousands of Indian citizens were killed in riots instigated by these forces during the runup to the demolition of the Babri Masjid and after it.
Mukul Dube, Delhi
Vol. 46, No. 27, Jan 12 -18, 2014
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