BJP fails on Sab ka Saath front
The Modi-led BJP-led NDA government had begun on a Pan-Indian promise of -'Sab ka Saath, Sabka Vikaas-' in its election manifesto titled -'Ek Bharat,...
Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand imbroglios testify to his failure to keep the promise to create a vibrant and participatory democracy. The diabolical role played by the Governors shocked the entire nation, but not the BJP leadership.
Centre went by the report of the Governor of Uttarakhand who even cited a pen drive containing three audio clippings that suggested that some allurings had been offered to MLAs for not defecting. The Apex Court had to step in to rectify the undemocratic moves.
One more question that was thrown open was whether the Centre should not have initiated action in case of the TDP supremo too in the "note-for-vote scam" raising questions about BJP's commitment to democratic values
Two years have passed by with the Modi government being in place in the country. Several analyses and assessments have come forth to mark the anniversary in the media. I was compelled to read much of it with a view to understanding whether these two years have contributed in any way to the strengthening of democracy in the country.
The Modi-led BJP-led NDA government had begun on a Pan-Indian promise of "Sab ka Saath, Sabka Vikaas" in its election manifesto titled "Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat". The last page of the manifesto says it’s "Time to make a difference" and it has Narendra Modi's picture.
Has he really made the difference? I am not looking at the second part of the promise - Vikaas - but looking at the first part of it "Sab ka Saath." As we look at the 20-page abridged version of the manifesto, there are several promises that are intrinsic to the democratic values and are vital for preserving and enhancing the quality of the same.
The pledge of the party says it would create a vibrant and participatory democracy and help create a team India working closely with the State governments. Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand imbroglios stand testimony to the contrary. That the BJP neither has patience nor intent to preserve democratic traditions is proved by its attempts to topple the elected governments in these two States in the last two years in a shameless manner.
The diabolical role played by the Governors of these two States in consonance with the disgruntled Congress MLAs who joined hands with the BJP shocked the entire nation, but not the BJP leadership. The latter tried to brush aside criticism in this regard blaming the Congress leadership of the States.
While the extreme failure of law and order in Arunachal Pradesh, cited by the Governor, J P Rajkhowa, was "cow slaughter" to summon the Assembly without the advice of the Council of Ministers' and to direct the removal of the Speaker, Nabam Tuki, in the other case, the recommendations of the Governor, K K Paul, had been kept under wraps in dismissing the Harish Rawat government.
Another intriguing factor was that the Governor of Uttarakhand even cited a pen drive containing three audio clippings that suggested that some allurings had been offered to MLAs for not defecting and a video as "evidence" to unseat the government in his letter to the President, Pranab Mukherjee. The Apex Court had to step in to rectify the undemocratic moves.
(One more question that was thrown open was whether the Centre should not have initiated action in case of the TDP supremo too in the "note-for-vote scam" raising questions about BJP's commitment to democratic values).
Yet another promise incorporated in the Pledge is this: "Integrating the Nation - Its Vastness and Voices" (All voices must be heard within the spirit of 'India First').
The government could resort to chest-thumping for its contribution to make India stronger and bolder and highlight its foreign policy, handling of Yemen crisis, PM's Jan Dhan Yojana, Swachh Bharat campaign, Make in India programme and handling of insurgency in the North East etc.
But it hardly matters if a section of the population lives in perennial fear of the Hindutva forces. This need not necessarily refer to the minorities, but to sections belonging to the majority too. If the series of attacks on churches was worse, what was even more glaring was the silence of the government. Consider the case of Dadri lynching.
The Union Culture Minister, Dr Mahesh Sharma, defending the perpetrators of the heinous crime, said the lynching was an unfortunate accident. The Maharashtra government went ahead soon after the lynching at Dadri to ban beef eating. Rajasthan followed suit saying on such and such festival days there should be no beef trade.
No one blames Modi for these "accidents" but, he should have gone ahead and condemned the same unequivocally and without mincing words to restore faith of the people in his government. Then we have leaders like Sakshi Maharaj who advocate bigger sized Hindu families, death sentence for cow slaughter.
Recently, two artistes commissioned by the Delhi government to work on a project to celebrate the city's culture were painting the wall on a Delhi Jal Board in Shahdara area as part of "Delhi, I Love You" and "MyDilliStory" were threatened by a mob of RSS volunteers for painting a Urdu couplet on the wall.
The artistes, Akhlaq Ahmed and Swen Simon (a French mural artiste), were told that the crowd "could bear anything but the Urdu script.” The couplet under question was composed by a Delhi University student, Zeeshan Amjad that read: "Dilli tera ujarna, aur phir ujar ke basna/ Woh dil hai tune paya, sani nahi hai jiska” (O Delhi! You were ruined and again you overcame your ruins/ No city has a heart like yours”). Is this an anti-national piece of poetry or hailing Dilli a seditious act?
And What does the murder of M M Kalburgi indicate? Kalburgi was the third scholar-rationalist to be assassinated in the country in the last three years or so. Earlier in 2015, Govind Pansare, a writer and communist, was shot dead in Maharashtra. In 2013, Narendra Dabholkar, a rationalist, was killed.
Then, the BJP District Secretary, S N Channabasappa of Shivamogga in Karnataka, went ahead to threaten the Karnataka Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, with beheading if the latter were to eat beef. We have several such examples as in case of the Film Institute issue of Pune, Kanhaiah Kumar & Co example in JNU and Rohith Vemula's issue of the Central University of Hyderabad which are directly connected to the BJP leaders’ overzealousness and their attempts to establish a Hindu order in the country. Add to these, the hurdles created by ultra Hindus to the sports and cultural exchanges with other countries.
Don't you think they have a free hand? These are not certainly shining examples of a vibrant democracy. Democracy is an instrument of bringing about change peacefully. It is not a mere rule by a majority government. As Baba Saheb Ambedkar rightly pointed out we would understand the meaning of democracy in a better fashion if we view it as a way of realising drastic change in the social and economic spheres of society.
Political democracy means the principle of 'one man one vote' which indicates political equality. But, if oppression and injustice exist, the spirit of political democracy would be missing. A democratic government should be an extension of a democratic society. Indian society is not democratic, burdened as it is with all caste barriers and inequalities.
Modi government's failures are not confined to its refusal to keep the public spaces democratic. On other fronts, too, there are glaring omissions in implementing the manifesto which would have gone a long way in ensuring justice literally to the commoners. The party's pledge on Judicial Reforms is yet to take off.
It had promised fast-track courts at all layers for quick disposal of justice while doubling the number of judges. We have heard the Chief Justice of India in this regard the other day. The two years of Modi government have only exacerbated the fissures. Here is where Modi got to work hard - in allaying the fears of the minorities as well a section of the liberal minded majority!