By Sanjay Jha
The idea of India has never seemed more close to the precipice.
We live literally on the edge of uncertainty and trepidation, not knowing just what might trigger a seismic disaster or a volcanic overflow. A dramatic breaking news is always lurking dangerously round the corner; just a few days ago we saw the brutal massacre in Assam of Adivasi’s , once again a harsh reminder of the susceptibility of our fragile social structure to violent sectarian interests. Bangalore has seen a terror attack, a manifestation of the dangers interspersed around us. Simultaneously, the extreme right-wing hardliners of the saffron parivar are wrecking multiplex theatres screening the box-office blockbuster PK, simply because a charming alien played by actor Aamir Khan in the film has hit the sweet spot and exposed the dark underbelly of the many crooked, avaricious godmen of India. Baba Ramdev, in particular, seems prodigiously incensed.
The great thing about democracy is that it is forever restless, brewing at a furious intensity, expectations rise like mercury and public angst is difficult to forecast even for the most sophisticated psephologist. The BJP won the 16th Lok Sabha elections on the basis of “development and governance”; shibboleth, slogan and sound bite-friendly stuff. It made for good copy. Conceded that we do need to be more transparent, have fundamentally stronger public accountability, establish enduring structures for delivery and justice, but pray, nobody asked as to how could India have emerged in the competitive global economic scene and taken critical political centre-stage without adequate institutional mechanisms?
Modi converted nebulous loosely defined terms which attract public consumption into electoral zeitgeist and through a hugely funded campaign amassed 282 seats. Using popular abstractions, difficult to quantify, and yet convenient for aggressive campaigning suited his bellicose and spin-doctoring style. That’s why Modi has come a cropper on black money, but still markets his “governance model” despite no CIC, no CVC, judicial encroachment, CBI interference, casual promulgation of ordinances’ etc. His foreign policy, particularly with reference to our neighbours, has been a Himalayan flip-flop.
Despite ridiculously collapsing Brent crude oil prices, the Indian economy struggled. Manufacturing decelerated, agriculture stress increased, social welfare allocations diminished and job creation saw a downward slump. Achhe din seemed like a mirage, just a deceptive dream. Of course, huge public advertisements were mounted on Swachh Bharat, Make in India and Madison Square Garden publicity gimmicks. Crony capitalism received a warm hug. The HRD ministry seemed intent on rewriting history with a distorted prism, wearing saffron-tinted glasses.
Interestingly, in the time of Love Jihad politics, Modi is being hoisted by his one petard. His luminous silence in Rajya Sabha on the issue of religious conversions was an unalloyed public admission that he secretly supported it. After all, did he not once famously quip “Hum paanch, hamare pacchis”, a repugnant reference to the fantasy figures of rising Muslim population, a false propaganda parroted with religious regularity by the Hindutva brigade? Modi’s ostensible disgruntlement in private gatherings about the brouhaha created by the right-wing fringe is often floated to preserve his development façade. But this farcical Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde twin persona will be an unsustainable performance over 60 months. The mask has already begun to reveal deep fissures. The idea of India has never seemed more close to the precipice.
A few days ago , a concerned citizen asked me if 2014 was indeed for the Congress party an annus horribilis (horrible year), considering we comprehensively lost the general elections, and in subsequent state elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir, have struggled to arrest the electoral downslide. Seriously, we cannot argue with voter arithmetic, that is an indisputable reality. Does it indicate public disillusionment with the grand old party still continues, or is it that we are still feeling the imponderable loss of popular momentum courtesy BJP calisthenics at the ballot box? Either way, the Congress needs to rebuild, recharge and reinvigorate itself through a combination of internal strengthening, public outreach and a defined alternative blueprint of inclusive growth for India’s 125 crore people. The party possesses a strong intrinsic character and embodies diversity; cynics who question its resilience, underestimate its capacity for an emphatic rejuvenation. While electoral green-shoots are yet to surface, a turnaround is imminent.
The saddest memory of 2014 is the fact that the killer of Mahatma Gandhi, NathuramGodse has assumed a cult status among the right-wing fanatics, and there are fervent declarations for building statues and temples in memory of their “patriot” who slayed the Father of the Nation on a fateful evening on January 30 1948. The BJP is mealy-mouthed in condemning the brazen sacrilegious act, after all, Godse was once a RSS member. Mohan Bhagwat , RSS chief had the state broadcaster Doordarshan giving him official approbation, while Modi tweeted mountainous praise on his de facto boss. With RSS calling the shots with cool aplomb, it is hardly surprising that Sadhvi Jyoti, Sakshi Maharaj, Yogi Adityanath and Giriraj Singh joined in the vitriolic chorus of hate politics. The rate card for conversions, of course, defined the price band for religious anointment. It heralds the beginning of competitive communalism under the much trumpeted call of correcting a historical grievance. The “M” letter dominated political discourse throughout the year; Modi, minorities, and the stony silence , almost like an Egyptian “mummy” of Modi when he should have spoken up. Frankly, the sudden stridency in extreme religious expressions was not a happenstance, but played out perfectly to the BJP story-board.
He inspired many including Martin Luther King Jr who led the American civil rights movement. But sometimes you wonder what the Mahatma must be thinking in heaven. Perhaps not, maybe Godse, resurrected and with renewed vigor, may have already pulled the trigger on him even in those white clouds as well. Unless of course, he was saved by PK.
Happy New Year!
Courtesy : http://www.dailyo.in/