Loss of credibility
Country’s grim situation has turned people’s overwhelming mandate into a glaring trust deficit
One cannot fool all the people, all the time. Notwithstanding Modi's rhetorics — heroics of Kashmir, NRC, et al — elections in Haryana and Maharashtra proved it. And now, even with the addition of Ayodhya and CAA, the massive drubbing in Jharkhand has reaffirmed it. With the much-hyped Modi magic no longer relevant, the country is not willing to believe in the reassurances of Modi and Shah regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, as seen in the spontaneous protests across the country despite the repression resorted to.
The photo of a burning bus circulated in the media justifies the harsh action of Delhi Police at Jamia Millia University. However, videos of uniformed personnel seen emptying cans of petrol on the bus and setting it on fire, in existence as per some media reports, only raise serious doubts whether the action was pre-meditated since Delhi Police is under the control of a person like Amit Shah, who was notorious for Gujarat encounters and post-Godra riots, and has been unrelenting in implementing the RSS-agenda during BJP's current tenure. Thus, students from several universities have come out in support. Nation has been aroused.
Assam, West Bengal and the North-East are simmering. Over 22 people have been killed, mostly in BJP-ruled stated where Sec 144 has been imposed with internet shut down like in Kashmir, and garrisons of security forces have taken guard in every nook and corner. On the other hand, massive protests in other states are incident-free. This outburst of latent anger cannot be wished away as engineered by the Opposition parties, as is being done.
There is increasing disillusionment because of false promises, leading to a trust deficit. People thus doubt the very intentions of Modi government about the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens; raising questions whether they are really necessary. The arguments proffered by Amit Shah which are not in conformity with historical facts only expose the lies of the government.
Amit Shah tried to convince the country that at the time of Partition, the Congress Party had divided India on the basis of religion, necessitating the enactment of the CAA now. However, historical facts indicate that the Partition of India was a British colonial project that began in the first decade of the last century when the then Viceroy summoned the bigwigs of the feudal propertied-classes among the Muslims of India to Shimla and urged them to set up a party counter to the Congress, which the colonialists sought to portray as one inimical to the Muslim interest.
The great icon of RSS and BJP, VD Savarkar, who did not even make a pretence of resisting British rule, however, himself proposed the two-nation theory even before Mohammed Ali Jinnah did. Also, neither RSS nor Savarkar expressed any view on the Partition plan of the 'Rajaji formula' of June 3, 1847, according to which only Muslim-majority districts in Muslim-majority provinces of British India would constitute the new Dominion of Pakistan. But for the spirited intervention of leaders of the Nationalist Movement, the British would have made Pakistan a much larger entity.
When such was the contribution of the so-called nationalists, the question that arises is whether the present RSS-BJP combine is the keeper of 'nationalism'. It's very clear that their 'Hindu interests' and their craving for power are behind the entire exercise when India is the common home of people of many faiths. The reassurances of Modi and Shah are thus questionable. Furthermore, how can people believe the words of the PM at a massive rally in Delhi that NRC was never discussed in the past six years when his Home Minister repeatedly asserts that NRC would be implemented across the country? Moreover, in the thick of Jharkhand elections, Amit Shah gave out a signal that he was willing to make changes in the CAA, and once the elections reached the final leg, he changed tack to say, 'Come what may, CAA will be implemented'. Since the duo acts in tandem, the words of neither of them can be trusted. Let them decide who the bigger liar amongst them is.
The reality is that BJP has lost its credibility by only making false promises and creating illusions only to promote the interests of crony capitalists and RSS-like outfits all these years. Apparently, their dictum is 'Promises and assurances are never to be kept'. People are aware that surgical strikes, Kashmir, NRC, CAA, etc., were used only to divert the attention of people from other pressing problems and failed promises.
There is no sight of either the Rs 15 lakhs promised in every citizen's account by bringing back unaccounted money stashed in Swiss accounts, or the creation of two crore jobs every year for the youth. Notwithstanding objections raised by RBI, with the ostensible reason of weeding out black money, people were put to great misery; millions of jobs and livelihood lost, small businesses and industries closed; unemployment reaching a record high. Black money only found its way into banks, and more was generated; BJP reaped the benefits. Even Electoral Bonds were so designed with secret randomised numbers that the donors, with unaccounted money, were made vulnerable for government action; BJP got over 95 per cent of the donations. They could spend over 27,000 crores of rupees of unaccounted money during general elections and could use thousands of crores in engineering defections while pushing our economy into crisis.
Every sector is bleeding. GDP growth rate was falsely glossed at 8 per cent, whereas it was declining by leaps, and now stands at 1.5 per cent. NPAs and bank frauds have gone up to a lakh crores of rupees each. Farmers still suffer, in spite of all the tall promises made. A one per cent of the population is pocketing most of the country's wealth, leaving the majority in poverty, and unhappiness. The misery of the common man is no issue for the hard-hearted Modi as long as his crony-capitalist friends flourish, even by indulging in frauds.
Mukesh Ambani could defraud the nation for Rs 50,000 crore rupees, and yet, he gets Modi's protection. Anil Ambani is insolvent for Rs 45,000 crore rupees, yet, instead of sending him to jail, he is being bailed out by making him the off-set partner in the Rafale deal. Likewise, there are Adanis and other Modi supporters. His slogan on corruption, 'Na khaunga, na khanedunga,' has turned out to be empty rhetoric, another blatant lie, like other false promises.
Education and health were projected as priorities but budget for them dwindled each year, like in case of the environment. Namo Ganga project is still at the take-off stage. And, none of the Sustainable Development Goals could be truly reached. Instead, deforestation was indiscreetly done with the clearance of projects. Bullet train takes precedence over Aarey trees. Overall, we are among the poorest in environment protection.
Contrary to dismal achievements in all the promises made, what is seen is Modi's silence in hundreds of mob-lynching cases by cow-vigilantes, thousands of police encounters in UP, in which mostly Muslims and Dalits lost their lives. Religious bigotry has scaled its heights in our secular democracy, which Modi promised to uphold with all respect when he ascended to power.
What the country has witnessed instead, is an operation of the tenets of Fascism. There were no debates or discussions. The opposition was torpedoed with raids and criminal cases. Every institution, including the judiciary, has been pulverised. Dissent of any kind has become intolerable and a crime. Further, if the allegations are true, even EVMs were rigged, like how the Fascists did in their elections to assume power, which the media is silent about. Media has been reduced so much into submission that it has become their propaganda machinery, to ensure that those who are flouting the norms of democracy are considered patriots, and those who are voicing to protect democracy are anti-national. In every matter, the country has only witnessed either a failure or deliberate effort to mislead people, causing a great trust deficit.
Although they claim to have only implemented the Assam Accord and the SC order, people are aware that NRC in Assam involved a laborious exercise and an expenditure of 1,600 crore rupees for 3.3 crore people to prove their credentials as Indians, in which 19 lakhs of them, including 12 lakh Hindus, could not prove it. Now, the government is in a fix to decide their fate. Meanwhile, Assam is fuming, and the country is agitated against the CAA which is intended to help the non-Muslim minorities allegedly facing persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Can we afford to rehabilitate them? If we can, why should we discriminate Muslims? Amit Shah talks about the pan-Indian application of NRC and CAA when the country is facing a deep financial crisis?
All of it only appears to be a cheap election gimmick used indirectly to promote the RSS agenda by these leaders, who are ready to tell bundles of lies. The dreams of such people and their bigoted supporters of turning 'Secular India' into a 'Hindu Rashtra' would never materialise, since the country still believes in Mahatma Gandhi and other Nationalist leaders who made sacrifices; not RSS and Savarkar who were cosy with the British. Protests across the country and results of Jharkhand elections appear to be indicators of an erosion of the ruling party's credibility.
Dr N Dilip Kumar is a retired IPS officer and a former Member of Public Grievances Commission, Delhi. Views expressed are strictly personal