Main Issues Forgotten

An Unethical Win!

Bibekananda Ray

Awin becomes honourable, if it is ethical and in accordance with the rules of the game; an unethical victory stings. Mr Modi-led BJP's massive and unexpected victory for the second time left tongues wagging! Did the party's 302 candidates really polled so much? Were EVMs tampered with, or somehow manipulated? Has there been rigging, despite presence of Central forces in booths? Have voters been bought in cash or kind? How is it that in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where the BJP lost to the Congress in November-December 2018, it got a reverse verdict after three months?

These doubts would not have arisen, if certain tell-tale clues did not emerge. Two days before counting of votes on 23rd May, Mr Modi in his first-ever news conference claimed to have won in over 300 seats; the party won 303. Halfway through the poll, he and Amit Shah announced that they had hints' and 'reports' of opposition trailing behind the BJP. How could they say so, when opinion polls had forecast diverse results and there was no exit poll? A news portal, 'News Clip' in New Delhi that conducted a survey in eight constituencies in Bihar, found that in many of them votes polled by BJP candidates were more than the number of voters who had exercised their franchise. For example, in Patna Sahib constituency, the number of registered voters was 2051905, of which 86.34% cast their votes, The BJP candidate, Ravi Shankar Prasad polled 607506, while Shatrughna Sinha of Congress got 322849 and all other candidates polled 45709, together they polled 982285 votes, i.e., 789330 less than the voters who had voted in EVMs. In Begusarai, where BJP's Giriraj Singh contested and won against nine other candidates, total votes polled was 28082 more than the voters who pressed buttons in EVMs. Such anomalies were seen by the portal in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh too. The Election Commission has not refuted, or explained, the findings. No wonder, West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee has alleged EVM pre-programming, demanded a probe and a return to paper-ballots. Sam Pitroda, a renowned IT specialist, settled in the USA claimed that pre-programming or hacking of EVM is possible and two others, one in New Delhi and another in London, demonstrated it.

The win has been unethical in many other ways too. An election is like a match in which the referee is Election Commission which has to be just and impartial. For its various decisions, the Commission has been widely perceived as partial to Mr Modi and Mr Shah, particularly in respect of violation of its model code of conduct. Since the Balakot air-strike before the poll was announced, Mr Modi was bragging about the IAF's success in demolishing JeM training camps in the POK by 'surgical strikes'—a petty and routine military exercise; after the announcement, he continued this bravado, even as veteran military leaders forbade its politicization. Strangely, when Mr Modi referred to it in hurricane campaigns, all over the country, two members of the EC did not deem it a violation of the model code but a third did but his dissent was not taken into account. Thus, it was unethical for the EC to exempt Mr Modi, when opposition leaders were hauled up for pettier violations. In their campaigns too, Mr Modi and Mr Shah made unethical charges, like calling Rahul Gandhi, heartlessly, the son of 'Number One Corrupt Man', ignoring the fact that both Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi were cleared of any misdemeanour in the Bofors gun deal by a JPC probe and the Supreme Court. Mr Shah charged Mamata Banerjee with obstructing Durga Puja while the fact is, she attends religious festivals of all faiths and inaugurates scores of community Durga Pujas. They played to the gallery in a cavalier manner, throwing truth to the winds.

The opposition defeat was waiting to happen. In forming a pre-poll alliance, the opposition parties did not gel well and merge their self-interest to forge a credible strategy to defeat the BJP, convincingly to the electorate. In general election in other democratic countries, people want to know, who would be the contesting parties' Prime Ministerial or Presidential candidate. The pre-poll opposition in India did not put up any, saying if they won, they would choose a Prime Minister by consensus. This gave an easy handle to Mr Modi to mock the opposition unity as 'a great adulteration'. People tended to look upon Rahul Gandhi as immature, although he was 54-year old. His charge against Mr Modi that he had manipulated with the French government and Dassault Aviation to benefit Anil Ambani, his friend in the Rafale deal could not be proved, although intervention of the Prime Minister's Office in the defence purchase was fairly established by secret documents in Ministry of Defence, scooped by a major south Indian daily. Voters were not swayed by the unproven allegation. Mr Modi by his drama, rhetoric and oratory, loaded with half-truths, falsehoods and jingoism against Pakistan proved to be BJP's greatest USP, with which Mr Gandhi or any other opposition leader could not match. Mr Gandhi and his sister, Priyanka should have told people about the shocking misdeeds of Mr Modi and Mr Shah in 2002 Gujarat riots that raged for three months, Mr Shah's conviction and imprisonment for having a criminal Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kauser Bi and his associate Tulsiram Prajapati killed in fake encounters by the police, while he was Home Minister and how in 2013, he ordered illegal surveillance on a woman in 2009. They should have revealed Mr Modi's alleged role in the murder of HarenPandya, the State home minister as well as his discreet advice to police to go slow in controlling the riots in 2003; all these would have revealed their true faces beneath the masks and disenchanted voters. The RSS and the VHP as piggy-riders of the BJP are unabashedly anti-Muslim and if their past were recalled with facts and figures, secular people would have dumped the BJP in the electoral race. Though excellent, Mr Gandhi's pro-poor NYAY scheme and his promise of filling 22 lakh vacancies in central offices within a year did not cut any ice with voters, as he was not in power.

Compromise with ethics is in the DNA of the BJP and its predecessors. In 2017, it 'unethically' captured power in Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand, although its candidates polled less than the Congress, with the connivance of the Governors who belonged to it. After the L S poll, it has set its heart on dislodging the TMC government, led by Mamata Banerjee, true to Mr Shah's sinister declaration before the poll that 90 TMC legislators were in touch with BJP to defect to it after the poll, implying horse-trading. BJP spent 27000 crore rupees to win the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, including 5000 crore rupees on multi-media publicity etc. Over a crore rupee were seized from the vehicle of a former PA of Dilip Ghosh, a foul-mouth spokesman and later MP of the party, and several lakh rupees from the car of Bharati Ghosh who retired from the IPS to join the BJP. These were the tip of an iceberg of tonnes of money transported to various places before the poll.

Just as to kill a dog, one has to give it a bad name, Mr Shah and Mr Modi are accusing Mamata Banerji with tyranny"that suffocated party members", with having no control over law and order and wanton arrest and persecution of BJP workers and supporters. Playing such nefarious games, the BJP is determined to oust her by reducing her party to minority, or by having President's rule promulgated under one of the two articles in the Constitution. It passes understanding, why is BJP is so keen to annex West Bengal when 12 other States and several union territories are ruled by other parties? In no other State or UT, its propaganda blitz against the present regime is so unashamed and relentless. Mamata is its bete noire now, because if she could be muted or muzzled and thrown out of power, there will be none except Rahul Gandhi to berate its rule. This unethical, bulldozing got a new lease of life after the 2019 Lok Sabha poll. Mr Shah had announced, well before polling, that the bid to oust TMC from power in West Bengal would begin immediately after the announcement of results on 23rd May; he kept his promise. From two seats in 2014, the BJP captured 18 with a lucky diversion of votes of CPI(M) supporters who could not vote in the Panchayet poll in the State in 2017. The West Bengal chief of the party, Dilip Ghosh and Kailash Vijayabargiya claimed support and defection of a number of TMC legislators. Skirmishes erupted and raged for days in Bhatpara-Naihati area after an Assembly by-election. Mr Ghosh openly brags that they will have more TMC legislators defected and have Ms. Banerjee out of her seat within six months. Where is democratic ethics in this power play? It is a pity that out of greed for pelf and power, India's legislators defect merrily, throwing Anti-Defection law, amended by Rajiv Gandhi to the winds and betraying voters who elected them.

Many misdemeanours of Mr Modi and Mr Shah in the last five years will be buried, thanks to India's security and investigative agencies, particularly the Rafale riddle in which, according to Rahul Gandhi the IAF's 30000 crore rupees have been swindled and siphoned to Anil Ambani of Reliance. If the Congress or another opposition alliance came to power, they could get at the bottom of it by having it probed by a JPC, just as a JPC probed the Bofors gun scam and found no misdemeanour by Rajiv or Sonia Gandhi.

It is said, "nothing is unfair in love and war"; even Lord Krishna took recourse to falsehood and deception in the Kurukshetra War to help Pandavas defeat Kauravas; he was cursed by Gandhari whose 100 sons were killed and died an ignominious death. Howsoever Mr, Modi and Mr, Shah may brag about the win, the ever-turning wheel of fortune will have the BJP out of power, some day; only then ethics will return to politics. Until then, the people will have to bear with Mr Modi's and Mr Shah's bulldozing, unethical moves.

Vol. 51, No. 51, Jun 23 - 29, 2019