Bombarding the Voters

Modi's ascent to power about five years ago signalled a dangerous escalation of fascism's countrywide inroads. Over the years he has created an atmosphere of fear psychosis with a number of authoritarian measures, attacking tribals, forest dwellers, marginalised people, women, human rights activists and social workers. He has rolled back labour protections and allowed peasants to wander in wilderness and encouraged them to commit suicide in despair. The situation is so supercharged that even opposition parties are not allowed to function within the limits of Constitution. He has mustered the art of diversion to avoid disturbing issues that affect people in the street in numerous ways. Today the only issue that dominates the national discourse and mainstream news space is Rafale, albeit the old Russian Mig-21 of 1960 vintage was used for air strike against the Jais-e-Mohammed training facility in Balakot of Pakistan. In truth opposition parties are dancing to the tune of Modi-scripted drama. The Congress party's sole obsession is Rafale, rather Rafale-related corruption in high places involving Modi and his close cronies. As for opposition parties other than Congress the less said the better. They have no agenda of their own. A renowned media house is being threatened by the powers that be for unearthing the tacit approval of Modi's office in the shady Rafale deal with huge corruption and manipulation. Perhaps the Modis think Indians enjoy too much democracy, they need controlled democracy so that the persons in authority can execute their repressive agenda. Meanwhile, the Editors Guild of India severely condemned the Modi government's attempt to apply the colonial era Official Secrets Act with a view to punishing the media house that has exposed beyond doubt the unholy nexus between the Modi dispensation and defence dealers in purchasing Rafale jet fighters.

All tall promises given by Modi before the 2014 parliamentary poll have long outlived themselves, Modi is now busy in highlighting his achievements while national dailies are reaping rich dividends by doing his public relations work. Crores of rupees are being doled out daily on propaganda dishing out life size pictures of Modi with fantastic figures that may be false or exaggerated to influence voters.

Surprisingly, no success story advertisement about job creation. He has nothing to say about why labour participation is falling and unemployment is rising. The impact of jobless growth is there all to see—it is a hopeless scenario but Modi is adamant to call it development.

Faced with the possibility of disaster in the up-coming polls the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has begun to bombard the people with multiple missiles. The just concluded Ardh Kumbh mela was one of them. It was all about BJP showbiz as PM Modi hiself took a holy dip in the most polluted water and got focused. This religious festivity was a big occasion to provide poll boost to bjp—after all god fearing voters won't miss the saffron message. This time some 22 crore devotees visited the fair and Uttar Pradesh government reportedly earned a staggering sum of Rs 1,20,000 crore as revenue. The banias know how to cash in on religious belief and to further their political interests.

Farmers are restive while tribals are being systematically evicted from their traditional forest land, both legally and illegally. A number of supreme court judgements in recent months had gone against them as the Modi government was too reluctant to fight cases filed by vested interests to displace forest dwellers and allow corporates to take control of 'jungles' for mining purposes. If the recently delivered forest judgement is implemented millions of forest dwellers will be evicted only to multiply the number of displaced persons across the country. For the tribals awaits a human catastrophe. Some Supreme Court judgements have already adversely affected the legitimate interests of SCs, STs and SEdBCs due to ineffective handling of cases by the Centre.

The Modi regime is heading towards a totalitarian rule, denying democratic space to its opponents with any political shade. Intolerance is the order of the day—intolerance everywhere.

After a series of judgements by the apex court against the poor and marginalised, people seem to have lost faith in judiciary, their last hope of redress. No one can expect fair judgement from a biased judiciary. Opposition parties do hardly bother about gradual erosion of judiciary as if it won't affect them in any way. Dissenters are afraid of indiscriminate incarceration and fake encounter. Some 'encounters' were so naked—they were actually cold-blooded murders—that even the National Human Rights Commission had no option but to take cognisance of such incidents of 'encounter' reported in the media. Surprisingly, opposition leaders of all hues never raise the issue of arbitrary arrests of academics and rights activists across the country. The Opposition too is relying too much on Rafale corruption and Rahul Gandhi's ability to transform it into votes while Modi's brigade continues to bombard the voters on many a front.

The role of the Opposition is, however, does not hold out much hope. The CMIE report on the employment situation is a slap on the face of the Modi government, but the major Oppositon Parties are yet to come up with any employment-oriented appraoch to economic growth and development. They are as yet quarrelling among themselves about electoral seat adjustments and alliances. More impoartantly they are yet to come out strongly against liberalisation, the curse of the economy. They are yet to come out vociferously against growing inequality of income and wealth. If this pattern of behaviour continues there is little reason for hope that replacement of Modi and his party will usher in a new phase of greater welfare of the indian masses.

Vol. 51, No.37, Mar 17 - 23, 2019