With no one Noticing, BJP is Bringing One-Party Rule

Neue Wache- a building in Berlin, Germany- was erected in early 19th century. In the initial years, it was a memorial to Liberations Wars but later served as the site of annual celebrations by the then powerful Nazi Party. The building houses a sculptor, ‘Mother with her Dead Son’. This very statue is a reminder of the costs of war, war that was seen and projected by Hitler as a means to achieve dominance. Hitler may have died after having drastically failed to realise his ambitions, Germany endured endless sufferings. No family existed that did not lose its member in war. The costs of Hitler’s ambitions were paid by common people, and the statue where a grieving mother is holding her dead son symbolizes this.

It is very simple to understand that the overly ambitious, divisive and great-at-oratory leader plunged not only Germany but all other countries into darkness. Nations have learned their lessons, and a large-scale war has been averted ever since. Indeed, countries have fought proxy wars and the places which were at the heart of these conflicts could never recover from the damages. Iraq, Yemen, Syria and many more countries have only produced war refugees and asylum-seekers, not farm or industrial goods.

What about the present political environment in India? Although analysts have taken note of economic gloom and negative GDP growth, are we realising what’s in the making? Is there a more dangerous thing that seeks our attention?

The signs are all here, and sadly no one is noticing what’s coming. The ruling BJP has, time and again, echoed its stance of making a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’, and to a large extent, they have achieved it. Now one must try to make sense of why the BJP is so adamant at wiping off Congress from the Indian political landscape. It’s because Congress is the only political party that can replace the BJP; the others can only co-exist with the BJP and can never throw it completely out of power. The BJP’s design and party’s long-term goal has virtually nothing to do with India’s socio-economic well-being, the only goal is to remain in power.

And the party has been making all attempts to attain the goal. It is for a reason why the PM and his team invoke militaristic pride every now and then. If there is one thing that is sustaining BJP’s win in national and state elections, it is their clever way of invoking ultra-nationalism. While many are talking about this chauvinism, no one is actually realising where it can take India in the long-run. What do you think will be the electoral outcomes in next 15 years? Indeed, no one can correctly predict, and hence assuming that the BJP will maintain the current trend is not advisable. But what will happen if say people start voting for some other party, which comes out with a slim majority to form government at the centre?

Do you think the BJP will concede? The answer is available; we only need to read the signs. The PM was wearing a military uniform in his recent address on Diwali; why would he do this? A chief of defence staff (CDS) has been appointed to ‘address fragmented approach of armed forces and bring synergy’. In another scene, a section of the film industry is finding political patronage by making films on wars where historical facts can be distorted to instill a sense of militaristic pride in the Indian audience. And lastly, other leaders of the BJP- from national to local levels- have been endorsing a majoritarian stance so that in any event of electoral failure, mass can be mobilized in the name of militaristic and majoritarian pride.

The coming years in Indian politics are quite worrisome. If voters continue to back the BJP by sacrificing their personal growth, BJP can go for misadventures like the Nazi Germany that will ultimately cost India irrespective of whether we win or lose such unwarranted wars. And if voters ultimately decide to shun the BJP, the party will then use the section of populace that blindly backs their ideology to create unrest and maintain the one-party rule. From many in India Inc. to overly sentimental backers, BJP will use them all to ensure they cling on to power. The costs will be borne by the country and its wider population.

Political Alternative or a Military Coup- India Must Brace Itself

First things first. Although Germany had surrendered in May 1945, the WW2 in the Pacific came to an end only in August after the US had dropped nuclear bombs on Japan. It is a well-documented fact that Japan did not anticipate such devastating defeat and the subsequent occupation of the country by the US. The point is that things may occur unexpected. But the job of thinkers and analysts is to warn the stakeholders of any such probable events, and this is why discussing any possibility of a military coup in India makes sense, though this may be very distant and extremely unlikely.

But before we talk of this ‘strong’ term- coup d’état- let’s first consider what is relatively in the offing. That the Modi-led cabinet cannot rule prudently is a shared viewpoint of almost all non-partisan intellectuals and analysts. A seemingly-better-alternative-to-BJP wins in state polls even when BJP plays the faith card. Delhi and states in the South and even INC’s victory with slim margins in few states corroborate this argument. PM Modi, however, remains the preferred choice of most Indians and this is because of the lack of alternative in national politics.

On the other hand, the economy is in a freefall, joblessness is high, prices are rising and there is no visible improvement in law and order or in border situation as was anticipated by Indians when they boarded the Modi bandwagon. Any fair analysis will predict that the sole pillar of BJP support is the Hindu majoritarian political stance of the party. But do you think that the public at large will continue backing this stance in the long-run? That the ordinary man craves personal growth more than faith supremacy alone was validated in Delhi state elections. What will happen when the presently-concealed-by-oratory situation comes out in the open and the public realises that the Modi oratory isn’t enough for personal growth?

Here, we must consider the first part of this article’s heading- political alternative. Just one late development is enough to understand how badly the country needs an alternative. LJP, a party that was part of NDA in Bihar and allied with JD (U) and BJP to run the administration is likely to side with the winning coalition in 2020. In fact, politics has stooped so low that Nitish, who fought the elections alongside RJD and cursed BJP in the run up to 2015 state polls, shunned his allies to join hands with BJP. This is just one of many such immoral, unethical power games in the current political setup that have made/ will make the ordinary man disenchanted, but the lack of alternative is helping BJP and others maintain a winning streak.

Isn’t it understandable that this is the most suitable time for aspirants to give the country what it urgently seeks- a political alternative? The Emergency and 1977 general elections were a watershed moment; it was the dawn of regional parties and non-Congress PMs. What 2020 and next few years will bring is the similar opportunity for wise and ethical men to challenge the might of Modi and fill the void that has emerged due to INC’s inability to seize the moment. In coming days, we are set to see further GDP contraction and an invisible class struggle that can pave way for a new breed of politicians to reduce the gap between classes and bring inclusive development.

Now, it’s time to discuss the second part. In the absence of any such political alternative in near future, the countrymen may be left with no other choice than to feel disillusioned with civilian politics. The Modi cult or that of other BJP politicians isn’t eternal, and some late developments in the country- indeed, under the patronage of BJP- can decisively shift the mood of the public towards high-handed, centralized administration and this is when they might look at military as a good alternative. Take a look at Pakistan’s history- the first coup in 1958 was a product of events that included making Pakistan an Islamic Republic, failure of judiciary, cult figures in politics and military, and a general sentiment that politicians were weak and corrupt.

India is facing too many threats simultaneously, and it is in light of these threats that a military coup may in some distant future become a reality. From Chinese border incursions to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and record-breaking unemployment rate and rising inflation, there are so many failures that presently stand concealed behind majoritarian politics, however, will in near future dominate the political discourse. Believe us, all the news- from unscientific ways to deal with the pandemic to silent subversion of the constitution to more-than-judicious veneration of military to growing class gap, where the state employee is an elite and private sector worker a nothing- we read and often pay no attention to will shape the landscape of the country.

And so as it seems, the country must decide on what it seeks and deserves- an alternative led by civilians with ethical intentions or a coup of some sort. We may choose to ignore it now, just like Japan ignored many of its misadventures in WW2, or the US in Vietnam War, but the national political scene is somewhat fragile and a course correction will take place- sooner or later.

BJP is a Regressive Idea- Take a Cue from Socrates

Terming anything regressive for the sake of it or to mislead the ordinary man is a different thing but doing it to defend the present and future interests of all citizens is different. Against this backdrop, let’s note why the presently dominating Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is counter-productive to the socio-economic landscape of India. And this emanates from the way the party recruits its leaders, alongside the modus operandi that shrewdly markets and sells a glossy-looking but degenerative ideology.

First, the party has practically no leader who has the acumen to run the administration. Here, we need to know that oratory is a poles apart skill and cannot be likened to good administration. Had oratory been the indispensable attribute of a capable and productive leader, the founders of pyramid selling schemes would have delivered a perfect world where jobs were abundant and standard of living impeccable. In Gorgias- Socratic dialogue by Plato- Socrates argues that in comparison to an expert, a rhetorician is always ‘more convincing’ when persuading an ‘ignorant audience’. Socrates even equates rhetoricians with tyrants.

And it is here- in a nation that has yet to bring millions out of poverty and make health and education accessible for all- that BJP found the perfect breeding ground for rhetoric politics. With this approach, the party in its present form has recruited rhetoricians in its ranks, leaders who can be flawless at delivering speeches but clueless when it comes to run the administration. From CMs to cabinet ministers, the party has filled positions with leaders that bring to the table nothing but oratory and feel-good superficial ideas.

Second, the party is set to be even more regressive in years to come and there is a very strong argument in this favour. Presently, the high ranking officials in the party deploy hate as a means to garner support only when the need arises, typically around the time of elections. But the new recruits in the party, especially the youth seeking career in politics, know that the easiest way to make a quick impact is polarization and politicization of issues that place one community against the other. One does not need a vision to lift poor out of poverty but only an ability to incite hatred and bigotry.

Third, the party can never shed its roots that date back to pre-independence India. The predecessor to the party was Bhartiya Jana Sangh, the political arm of RSS. Founders included Syama Prasad Mukherjee, the man who was inducted by INC as minister even with his conflicting ideology. Mukherjee’s politics- where he opposed the Quit India Movement, demanded Bengal’s partition, and even allied with Muslim League to form provincial government- was not politics of good governance but that of rhetoric. The same legacy was carried forward by the man who was central to BJP’s ascendance on the national scene, Lal Krishna Advani. At a time when INC was losing ground, Advani exploited faith to garner support.

The problem here is that BJP leaders are now so inclined towards rhetoric that they have turned a blind eye to fallouts of such politics. Today, from health to education, orthodox and unfounded concepts have taken precedence over science and reasonableness. Here, vested interests are making profits even as the ordinary man is being deprived of any socio-economic progression. From unproven remedies for diseases to elite reinvigorating the dismantled caste order to dictatorial stance towards dissent, the ordinary man is losing, and the worst part is that the rhetorician has easily convinced him that all troubles will eventually do him some good.

BJP’s advance is counter-productive to the ordinary man. And Socrates’ critique of rhetorician is enough to understand this.

rahaf al-qunun’s saudi escape has lessons for indians

qunun, a saudi woman, who fled her country to find refuge in a more liberal and welcoming society, grabbed international attention recently. her transit at a thailand airport, her barricading herself in the hotel room to prevent authorities from forcibly handing her back to her family, subsequent support from human rights activists, expeditious processing of her application by the unhcr and canada finally granting her asylum, isn’t just a plain news story.

having reached canada, qunun breathed a sigh of relief and expressed joy over new prospects in a new country where she could pursue education, have a job and live according to her will.

almost at the same time here in india we come across reports of violence against a woman who entered the sabrimala temple, escaping the eye of vigilantes. almost no mainstream political party would come out in the defence of this woman whose only ‘sin’ is that she abided by the ruling of the supreme court of india that threw open the temple to women of menstruating age, something that was banned due to age-old customs.

the president of the ruling bharatiya janta party has openly criticized the judgment of the apex court and has said that courts of law shall not rule over religious matters.

sabrimala issue is just one of many ills that have suddenly made their way into the indian society that until some time ago was treading slowly but steadily towards making an inclusive india, where all are equal, irrespective of religion, caste, class, race or gender. and there are many evidences that can establish that the bjp win in 2014 lok sabha elections and the subsequent shift of the party from development to hindu supremacy have been the driving force.

what can one expect when the president of the ruling political party publicly announces that his party shall rule the country for another 50 years, no matter the mob killed a man from minority faith over rumours of cow slaughter? but the real problem is not the politicians from this party but some sections of the electorate that are buying their arguments, despite the fact that these are making us a more intolerant and regressive society.

the bjp government had also failed to protect the human rights of a dubai princess, latifa, who a few months ago escaped her home country to lead a free life elsewhere, but the indian government forcibly sent her back, proving that we lack both astute diplomacy as well as respect for human rights of an individual. loud claims by bjp leaders that all rohingya refugees will be sent back to where they will face further oppression and violence are nothing but steps that are quietly making india more and more regressive.

for indians, if they want the nation to develop further on the lines of the west (where rule of law, human rights and democratic values are placed above anything else, and this subsequently paves way for inclusive economic development), either the bjp must mend its governance, or the electorate should act smart in 2019.

here’s what’s wrong with bjp and modi

more than 4years have passed since the country witnessed a watershed moment where a single party won electoral majority after decades of fractured mandates. narendra modi became country’s prime minister, and let us tell you why almost every second voter was thrilled- they saw the rise of a ‘chai-wallah’ from being a boy with no political patronage to occupying nation’s most powerful office.

modi’s bjp could win the imagination of the electorate because one, the public found the only other alternative, congress, as a party of the powerful and corrupt; and two, modi was projected as the only savior of the poor, middle-class and corporates. another underpinning was the hindu-supremacy narrative that was propagated superbly through social media platforms by depicting the majority faith as reeling under appeasement politics of non-nda parties.

modi has achieved some goals, for example, financial inclusion, increased pace of electrification and paving of new roads, a new indirect tax regime and a seemingly effective law on insolvency. the problem arises when all these works are being projected as being done by a ‘great benevolent ruler’, and that only he and his team could have achieved this. in this narrative, the congress, which has its own set of past achievements and failures, is being presented as a party which only weakened indian society and economy.

but is this narrative true? no. what is actually wrong is that cult of personality has overshadowed the politics of india in past 4 years. almost every bjp leader or woker finds it impossible to end her/ his speech without mentioning the word ‘modi’ and his alleged superpowers, and the worst part is that the prime minister himself mentions his own name ‘modi’ multiple times in his public speeches while attacking the opposition.

the outcome of this is that all accountable and responsible persons, including leaders, ministers, chief ministers, governors, public sector employees and bureaucrats, have accorded all preference to praising the cult leader rather than treading the path of reforms and progress. chest-thumping on every policy action has become a trend with the word ‘historic’ being used to describe every action of government.

although history cannot repeat itself in exactly the same manner, historical events do provide some hints. adolf hitler gained a cult status on the back of chauvinism (exaggerated patriotism), xenophobia and supremacy of one race over the other. in india of today, hindus are being called upon to rise to the fear of a minority faith takeover and all bjp leaders, including its national president, are using this fear as a tool to remain in power.

increased rates of fuel in india, low credit growth, inadequate job growth, corruption are all being sidelined and a false impression of india rising as a superpower under modi is being created. the truth, however, is that corruption and inefficiency in public offices is still widespread, public sector enterprises are only wasting public money on high salaries and low productivity, india isn’t mentioned in power politics of even asia, let alone the world, and the government is busy criticizing congress rather than counting its own achievements even after an almost 5-year term in office.

bjp believes modi and the patriotic narrative will win them 2019; we doubt this since the general public can no longer be tricked by unnecessarily changing names of cities, placing hindu monks as chief ministers and building unwanted statues of public figures. the fall of mayawati in uttar pradesh assembly elections of 2012 holds much cue.

why narendra modi may not go down as a great leader

one needs to revolutionise the prevailing settings in order to be remembered as a great leader. what narendra modi has done or achieved to date isn’t anything extraordinary. he was blessed with oil prices at their historical low, and although such initiatives as mudra and skill india are promising, these are not enough to earn the prime minister the tag of ‘a great reformer’ or to bring the promised socio-economic progress.

what lacks is the will to alter the political landscape of india that is inundated with dishonest and prejudiced politicians. to form governments in states, the bjp not only welcomed goons but also has compromised the ideals of good governance. present bjp leaders not only publicly endorse accused and convicted men, they also try to make a hero out of them only to gain electoral support. unless politics of country is rid of vested interests, no reform can sustain in the medium and long run.

second, india’s public sector space is riddled with lackadaisical attitude of staffers and their want for kickbacks in return of favours. be it police, bank officials, psu staffers or government contractors, the sense of impunity and privilege, coupled with fixed tenure and relatively high salaries, has taken over the sense of dutifulness and this has resulted in continued suppression of human rights and even oppression of faith and caste minorities.

even after 4 years of modi-rule at the centre and with more than 20 states under direct or indirect rule of the party, no government department or organization could be purged of corruption and lack of sense of duty. the country where stringent rules and laws were required to rein in corrupt officials, the government diluted the anti-corruption act to the detriment of the common man.

in almost every other crime, there is some involvement of a politician or a government official, either by being directly complicit or by not responding to the wrongdoing when necessary. as if this wasn’t enough, the bjp’s unwanted stress on protection of cows and other chauvinistic elements have provided the local level elements with enough ammunition to target the already suppressed classes, be it the poor, women or caste or faith minority.

yes, narendra modi may not have any vested interests and may be completely patriotic and duty-bound. but for him to go down in history as a truly reformist leader, he needs to initiate a program to clean up indian polity and state institutions. else, all his schemes and policy actions- which already aren’t producing projected outcomes due to inept implementation- will end up being yet-another failed promise by a past prime minister.