Is India Going To Repeat The History Of Europe That Led To Two World Wars? Ex ADG, BSF Answers
"Modi is the new opium for 38 per cent of the population of India, and any utterance critical of him is blasphemy."
Someone gave words to my exact thoughts in a tweet that I read yesterday. “There is a difference between accepting this electoral verdict (which I have no choice but to do) and respecting it. Respect is a matter of personal conscience, and it cannot be commanded or forced. I see nothing here to respect, and that is my prerogative.”
We are a democratic country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won a mandate “squarely”. But whether he has won this mandate “fairly” and ethically is the question that has been troubling me. I hope posterity will judge him fairly on this.
In fairness, I am not even referring to several reports and lingering doubts in the minds of the public about the manipulation of EVMs. Reports indicate that the Maharashtra High Court is hearing a petition on 20 lakh missing EVMs. There is another report on Newsclick, which prima facie suggests that there is a difference between the votes polled and votes counted in the EVMs in many constituencies. There is a widespread perception of brazen partisanship on the part of Election Commission in dealing with complaints of violation of Model Code of conduct both by the leaders of BJP including the Prime Minister.
This has been the vilest election ever held in India. The “Chowkidar chor hai” jibe of the Opposition pales in comparison to some of the language used by leaders of the ruling party, including Prime Minister Modi. Modi did not hesitate to use such vile language against Rajiv Gandhi, someone who was killed in an act of terror. I am sure he is aware that the Indian culture that he espouses, forbids talking ill of people deceased.
Having nothing to show for achievement in his first five-year term on the economy, employment, improving the lives of the poor or even on the law and order front, the Prime Minister resorted to his usual rhetoric of nationalism, patriotism etc. The Pulwama and Balakot incidents came conveniently handy. Anyone who questioned the causes of failure in Pulwama was promptly labelled traitor and trolled for questioning the bravery of our jawans. Several followers of BJP and their IT Cell came forward to send them to Pakistan on a one-way visa. In this cacophony of nationalistic jingoism, relevant questions about repeated intelligence and operational failure have been given a quiet burial, and those responsible will continue to rise and commit similar blunders.
This perhaps is not a coincidence that noted author Arundhati Roy had foretold of warlike incidents happening almost two years ago.
Use of sacrifices of soldiers, religion and arousing communal passions for political gains was fairly common, which manifested in widespread electoral violence, especially in West Bengal. The fact that many of the leaders had to be censored by the Election Commissions is also indicative of the level of unethical campaigning.
The nomination of Pragya, a self-proclaimed sadhvi and a terror accused, from Bhopal was the last nail in the coffin. Her nomination may have been technically correct, but no doubt nominating a terror accused is morally and ethically wrong. Would it not weaken our case against Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism? The denouncement of brave policeman Hemant Karkare and later eulogising of the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi as a patriot by Pragya is reflective of the degeneration of ethical values of our political leaders and public discourse.
The massive win of the BJP in the elections has emboldened the fringe elements, and they are back in business with a vengeance and renewed energy with their anti-minority activities. Instances of selective targeting of Muslims, compelling them to shout “Jai Sriram” or them being beaten by for their Muslim identity has started pouring in from many places. Several incidents of violence against Muslims have been reported after 23rd May from Gurugram, Begusarai, Raipur and Madhya Pradesh. A professor has been arrested in Jharkhand for a two-year-old Facebook post defending the rights of tribals to eat beef!
I have several good friends and close relations who I have discovered to be closet bigots during the last five years. These seemingly educated people are prepared to go to any extent to spread false propaganda and justify the wrongdoings, including the nomination of Pragya to fight elections, her vile statements and acts of lumpen elements targeting Muslims. They have no answers to what has been achieved by the Modi government during the last five years. They are thrilled though with “these” people being taught a lesson because Modi has restored the honour of Hindus.
A sense of déjà vu overtakes me at the site of Modi bowing to the constitution in a perfect PR exercise. The site, however, makes me apprehensive because in 2014 he had bowed before the Parliament but had blatantly ignored well-established practices through acts like converting normal Bills into Money Bills to ensure their passage, not sending important Bills for analysis and vetting to standing committees and ignoring the recommendations of standing committees. The apprehension is not misplaced because in an address to press and newly elected members of Parliament he gleefully stated that a unique thing in these elections was that no one spoke of secularism. I only hope that this is not a portent of things to come and India being declared a “Hindu Rashtra” through a constitutional amendment.
The extent of indoctrination is visible in all strata of society. A couple of days ago, I got into small talk with a person who supplies bottled water to our residential society. Upon learning that he belongs to Bengal, I asked him as to why Mamta Banerjee had lost so many seats in Bengal? His answer was “Wo Jai Shri Ram nahi bolta hai, isiliye” — She doesn’t say Jai Shri Ram, that’s why.
The euphoria amongst the supporters of BJP, nay Modi, borders on devotion. For them, he is God; he can do nothing wrong. They are not bothered whether they have jobs or not. They have no concern that they continue to pay bribes to corrupt officials, which was the main poll plank on which Modi rode to power in 2014. For them “Pakistan mein ghus ke marna” — entering Pakistan and beating them — is all that matters, but why were 40 CRPF personnel allowed to be killed and absence of any follow up on this account is immaterial.
Modi is the new opium for 38 per cent of the population of India, and any utterance critical of him is blasphemy.
I found the following tweet to be quite relevant in this context. “Fascism had come to power in Italy and Germany through a combination of street violence (carefully orchestrated from above but still undeniable with great mass support), deep infiltration into Police bureaucracy and Army …”
Is India going to repeat the history of Europe that led to two World Wars in the last century? Are we inexorably moving towards fascism? The signs are for the discerning to see. None of the leaders of the ruling party ever come out to condemn the street violence. The members of his own party trolled newly elected MP Gautam Gambhir who spoke out against one such case in Gurugram. It is alleged that many such rabble-rousers are followed by no less than the Prime Minister himself. Admittedly one minister in the last union cabinet had admitted to having monetarily helped a group of accused who were involved in mob lynching in Jharkhand.
The right-wing supporters of Modi who at first normalised the fascist mass murder of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 are oddly pretending an election victory turns vultures into a dove.
It is high time that all right-thinking people come out strongly against these fascist tendencies because if unchecked, we will be responsible for the demise of democracy in the country. It has to be ensured that the different institutions function effectively, and a healthy balance is maintained amongst different pillars of democracy.
The fourth pillar, too, has to break its shackles and play an essential part by reclaiming its independence.
There is no scope for complacency and words of Michael Rosen in this regard are prophetic.
“I sometimes fear that people think that fascism arrives in fancy dress worn by grotesques and monsters as played out in endless rerun of the Nazis.
Fascism arrives as your friend; it will restore your honour, make you feel proud, protect your house. Give you a job, clean up the neighbourhood, remind you of how great you once were, clear out the corrupt and venal, remove anything that is unlike you.
It doesn’t walk in saying, our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution.”
Sanjiv Krishan Sood is a Retired Additional Director General of Border Security Force. Having put in over 38 years of meritorious service he has served along all the borders of our country with Pakistan and Bangladesh including eight years on LC, and in the sensitive Samba Sector of J&K. A security analyst, his interests include Border Management, issues of topical interest, the role of security forces in Security Matrix of India, politics and humour. He tweets at @sood_2