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THE TURNING POINT

By Sanjay Jha

Arrogance is like the gradual filling of gas in a balloon. It makes for an interesting  sight during the expansion mode as we stare goggle-eyed at its infinite capacity to grow, until suddenly it goes –phut! An endless supply results in an embarrassing burst, usually self-inflicted;  you are spared the exercise of puncturing it with a needle.  Something similar has happened to the hubris-infected BJP following the recent by-election results.  BJP spokespersons, a personification of braggadocio ,  never short on oxygen supply reaching their vocal chords allowing for an insane decibel pitch in TV debates, have appeared remarkably  muted.  The Modi wave that won them 4 seats in the Delhi University elections just a few days earlier suddenly turned into a save Modi campaign; the fault was apparently all Yogi Adityanath’s, the totem pole of hate politics.  They cleverly  circumvented the obvious query; so did the Prime Minister not choose or at least endorse the luminous bellicosity or the  shining hate campaign of Love Jihad waged by an irrepressible Adityanath???  Rajnath Singh, who is supposed to be the Home Minister is recommended to read newspapers as it will be in India’s interest if he did.  Singh, recently grabbing headlines over an alleged unsavory transaction involving his son in an internecine feud within the BJP,  put up a consummate countenance of obliviousness when questioned about Adityanath’s  inflammatory statements—- I haven’t heard of Love Jihad, he uttered.  That was enough to establish this government’s insouciance towards matters such as communal harmony.

The fundamental questions most posed was , why did Modi choose the hardline Hindutva agenda over his Lok Sabha pitch of “ development” just a few months ago, especially when the latter had miraculously won them 71 seats in Uttar Pradesh and 282 all over India?  The answer to that is easy; firstly, development was always an assiduously-disguised subterfuge for the larger Hindutva push, and secondly, hadn’t the Muzzafarnagar laboratory experiment delivered  brilliant electoral dividends ?  As the adage goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it ! Frankly, Modi was only being consistent.  And by the way, did India become a global economic superpower and the third largest world economy ( in purchasing power parity terms) without any other national or state leader obsessing about “ development” over the last several decades?  It is time we bury this silly charade,  associating development as if it was an open sesame discovered by Modi alone, in the closest dustbin.  The by election verdict is crucial in terms of two other aspects;  one, the people have already begun to get disenchanted and discombobulated  with the daily dose of communal poison being administered with such methodical precision by the BJP. Secondly, they believe they have been led up a garden path in terms of exaggerated promises that were never intended to be honored.  It is true that stock market investors have made a financial windfall so far and some corporate top dogs are rising up the wealth curve and billionaire lists, perhaps even the middle-class too remains still mesmerized by his talk of earth-shattering reforms, but the truth is that the BJP is eons away from delivering on either jobs,  equitable growth, transparency, growth or a stress-free society devoid of communal divisiveness.

Readers will remember that the RSS has now officially dispensed with it’s pretensions of being just a religious, cultural entity, by formally anointing Ram Madhav in the BJP.  RSS foot soldiers were responsible for the mass mobilization of grass-root workers during the Lok Sabha polls; they will insist on a return on investment.  Article 370, Uniform Civil Code, Ram Mandir issue, Love Jihad et al are all part of a grandiose,  planned and well-articulated strategy of the Sangh Parivaar.  With Manek a Gandhi joining in the Love Jihad bandwagon,  “ lunatic fringe element” or “ right-wing extremists” which were being earlier blamed,  are now centre-stage and in fact, forming the quintessential core of the ruling dispensation.  The guards have been let down, the bare bone-faced agenda of majoritarianism to counter the shibboleth of “ minority appeasement”  is a dark reality. Successive defeats in several by elections in several states such as Uttarakhand , Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh will not atrophy the monster of hate, but in fact, will be used to unleash a more diabolical attempt to recapture the wild beast.  Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, and Jammu and Kashmir therefore assume greater import, especially given the fact that the BJP is already looking battered and bruised and is yet considered a front-runner by both a few  suspect pollsters and some exhilarated political pundits.

2014 may have been a unique year in terms of the surprise majority to a single party in decades, in an election marked by cacophonous exchanges,  choleric personal attacks, a massively mounted propaganda juggernaut and some bizarre tosh that assumed Pakistan was a dumping ground for anti-Modi voices.  But as recent events show, 2014 is not yet over.  And many more weeks still lie ahead. But amidst the rhetoric,  carefully cultivated image-building skyscrapers, structured sound bytes,  and the innumerable attempts at gerrymandering of our society,  the people are watching.  For any democracy, that is good news.

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