The BJP Behind the Mask

Bibekananda Ray

It has to be admitted that the two NDA governments, led by it since 2014 have deeply impacted the economy, the society and politics of the subcontinent; wedge has gone so deep into the mass psyche that people these days are either pro-BJP, or anti-BJP; other parties do not matter. Never before, not even during the infamous Emergency (1975-’77), the society has been in more turmoil and confused about truth and untruth. Eminent economists like Dr. Manmohan Singh, Dr. Amartya Sen, Kaushik Bose of the World Bank, Raghuram Rajan, former RBI governor, Dipankar Dasgupta, retired professor of economics, ISI, Kolkata foresee economic doom ahead, as the GDP growth plunges to 5% and is unable to look up, but pro-government scribes, NDA ministers, legislators etc. take it as global and cyclical phenomenon, not structural. Dr. Singh and Dr. Sen attribute it to too much dislocation of the economy during the Modi-I regime by demonetization and imposition of multi-slab GST. The crisis is so deep that the government had to use a hefty RBI contingency fund of Rs. 146000 crores, which no other government did before. To avert a foreign reserves crisis, the RBI shipped 47 tonnes of gold to the Bank of England to raise $405 million, to fund the current account deficit, caused by exports lagging behind imports. To attract corporate investments to boost the economy, the new Finance Minister reduced taxes to the tune of the same amount, payable by private companies, which is yet to yield any significant result. The return of brute majority in the Lok Sabha following 2019 poll has reinforced the bull-dozing technique of the BJP; it is passing controversial bills, one after the other, setting at naught the protests and demands of a fractured opposition, demanding their reference to select committees, or for a full-scale debate. The minority status of the BJP and its allies in the Rajya Sabha is no longer a brake; by cleverly absenting opponent members in the House, it is removing all hurdles. The President, a BJP member, does not question, delay or refer back the controversial bills but merrily signs them, echoing their praises. On the ground, prices of almost every commodity are on the rise, hurting the poor and the middle-class; automobile companies are in the red, having cut down production and retrenched lakhs of employees, as sale of vehicles drop owing, inter alia, to 28% GST. The subsidy on LPG has been withdrawn even for Ujala beneficiaries buying second and further cylinders. The scrapping of Articles 370 and 35 from J & K has led to a virtual lockdown of the valley and suspension of rights of Kashmiris, slowing return to normalcy. After this momentous move, Pakistan is frantically trying to garner global opinion in its favour and d is threatening to push the nuclear button. The President, the Vice-President and the Prime Minister have resumed globe-trotting on sundry pretexts and visiting countries for agreements etc. which the foreign service bureaucracy could forge with equal authority. In previous seven decades, so many governments have come and gone in India but no other caused such a dislocation and turmoil as three NDAs. The NRC draft report on Assam has been finalised, subject to revision by the disgruntled among the excluded over 19 lakh residents, for whom a detention camp is being built near Jorhat. Leaders of West Bengal BJP are screaming to   have the exercise done in West Bengal too and if it comes to power through 2021 State election, it will certainly begin it. Already, there is a scramble for obtaining birth certificate by immigrants, registered in India and those having no credible documents are in panic.  Chief Minister, Mamata’s strident protests will cut no ice, if she loses power.

     The BJP has recently, in West Bengal at least, begun to woo the devout and the religious; it accuses Ms. Banerjee of “appeasing Muslims” and obstructing Durga Puja, Bengalis’ greatest festival in October. The fact is, Ms. Banerjee attends Iftars in Ramzan month, before Eid (as many other politicians do); she has, in some years, got immersion of Durga idols in the Ganga deferred to enable Muslims bring out their Muharram processions without coming in conflict with the Hindus. Coming to power in 2011 she had enhanced grants and other perks to Imams of mosques; she did the same for Hindu priests later. She opens and attends numerous community Durga Pujas in Kolkata and suburbs. Taking advantage of inherent dislike of Muslims by Bengalis, the BJP is introducing non-Bengali culture and festivals; this year, Ganesh Chaturthi of Maharashtra was celebrated with gusto in some places under its auspices. In Bengal, Ganesh is worshipped with Durga, seldom separately. This year too, several Hanuman baroaries, i.e., community worship of Ram Bhakta Hanuman, ubiquitous in north and western India was held. Hanuman is not worshipped separately by Bengalis; now Hanuman temples are being built here and there. Hanuman Chalisa, a 40-sloka paean of the Monkey God is being bought and read by Bengalis to avert dangers. After the party nominees did well in 2019 poll, BJP and RSS activists took to chanting Jai Shri Ram as a form of greeting and even forced the unwilling to chant it; a young Muslim returning home in Jharkhand at dead of night was beaten to death by RSS goons for refusing to chant it. It is inconceivable that these three holy words, wishing victory to a Hindu avatar (incarnation of God) would be red rag to Mamata Banerjee who is herself a religious person. As Dr. Amartya Sen says, the greeting is alien to Bengalis who worship Shiva and Krishna more than Rama. One may ask, why they prefer Jai Shri Ram to other forms of greeting like the Azad Hind Fauz’ s Jai Hind, or any other wishing victory to Lord Shiva, or Lord Krishna, or any other deity. West Bengal is a Shaiva, Vaishnava and Shakta territory, where Lord Shiva, Vishnu and goddess Kali are worshipped in homes and temples. Ram Navami which non-Bengalis observe in October or November is being observed by Bengali Hindus too, probably egged by the BJP. It is leaving no stone unturned to annex Bengal, even before the due State poll in 1921; the motive passes understanding when so many States are ruled by other parties, where it is not clamouring for change. Branching off from Bharatiya Jan Sangh in 1980 after split in Janata party, it is not even four decades old but claims to be the only rival of Indian National Congress, founded in 1885 at the initiative of a retired ICS officer, Allan Octavian Hume.  Like the Islam, it is fundamentalist too, as it deems the ideals of Veer Savarkar (1883–1966) and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (1901–1953), still relevant, 53 and 66 years, respectively after their demises. It justified recent re-organization of the J & K and abrogation of Articles 370 and 35 as dream of Shyama Prasad fulfilled. It ignores the present reality in everything and goes by effete dogmas.

     Janus, the ancient Roman god of beginnings and endings is depicted as having two faces- one looking at the past and the other at the future. In R L Stevenson’s ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ the same man has two persona- one benign and the other malevolent. Since antiquity, masks are worn for protection of the face from onslaughts, to hide it for fun, or entertainment (e.g., Chhou masks of Purulia). From over a decade of its gradual rise in India’s political arena, the BJP’s true face is hidden behind a mask of its benign agenda of ‘Sabka Saath, Saabka Bikas’, comprising flagship programmes like Swachh Bharat, Beti Bachao Beti Parhao, Ujala, Jan Dhana Yojana free bank accounts, Pradhan Mantri Sadak and Aabas Yojanas, Ayushman Bharat, ‘Digital India’, ‘Skilling India’ and so on. The face behind the mask comprises its malevolent and future hidden moves, e.g., demonetization, multi-slab GST, NRC in Assam, denial of Statehood to J & K and scrapping of Articles 370 and 35 from the Constitution to deprive Kashmiris of certain privileges promised in the 1948 Instrument of Accession, its unflinching resolve to have the NRC done in rest of India. Hidden in the mask to manifest in future is   building a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, introduction of uniform civil code, further messing of the economy to reach the target of five trillion dollars by 2024 and transforming India into a Hindu dictatorship. Protests by free-thinkers will gradually be muted by threats and persecutions and the people at large brought to support, as now, by mass hypnotism.  

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Oct 13, 2019

Bibekananda Ray [email protected]

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