By Tukoji Pandit.
Listening to the self-praise by BJP stalwarts, their most favourite pastime, one might wonder, if India, as we know it today, existed before the Modi brand of Saffron wave swept India in May 2014. The prime minister, Narendra Modi, his voluble finance minister Arun Jaitley and many other senior party functionaries hardly miss an opportunity to tell us how lucky we Indians are that they run the country which was a desolate, impoverished backwater in the third world till about two years back. One union minister described Narendra Modi, as ‘God’s gift to the country’.
Narendra Modi has currently embarked on a mission to rewrite the history of India’s freedom struggle, obliterating all references to Congress stalwarts who are credited with leading the movement. (Unfortunately for him there was no BJP at that time).By inference it should include Mahatma Gandhi because he was the Congress for all purposes during the freedom struggle. The BJP and its previous Avatar’, the Jana Sangh, has, of late, been ambiguous in assessing Gandhi.
But there are limits to which the Sangh Parivar can criticise Gandhi at a time when the BJP is busy appropriating leading figures from the Congress. What gives the entire Sangh Parivar some scope for endorsing Gandhi is his known fondness for many symbols of Hinduism and respect for the cow, the current obsession of the Parivar.
Since the present lot of BJP leadership is given to shooting their mouths off , Modi and Jaitley and many others like them tend to forget that when they condemn all previous governments they are also running down the six-year rule of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, an iconic Parivar figure commanding respect from rivals too. Perhaps that is the reason why the blabbering BJP leadership of today does not mind casting aspersions on the brief Vajpayee era. And, of course, nobody seems to remember that India also saw two interludes of ‘Janata’ rule.
The audience that listens to the sermons from Modi, Jaitley and Co understands that even if Vajpayee is an indirect target, the main bile is directed at the Congress party, particularly the Nehru-Gandhi family that ran the country for so many years. The Modi brand of the BJP has vowed to make India ‘Congress-free’ and for that to happen the first thing is to erase all memories of its long rule by painting that period as the darkest in the history of free India.
A lot of Indians look upon the rule by a ‘dynasty’ with strong disapproval. But they need not subscribe to much of what the likes of Modi and Jaitley say which amounts to abusing the efforts made in the past to make Indians ready to be part of the modern world where science and reason play an important role.
The BJP claim that it has extricated economy out of an abyss is downright ridiculous unless it claims to have magical powers. While the slow pace of development in the past because of too much reliance on ‘socialist’ policies may be a justified criticism to say that the entire platform for progress is being erected only now is an astounding assertion. The Modi regime has inherited a foundation from which it is easier to launch effective development plans.
Of course, many in India feel that the Modi government has failed to push up the pace of development and the tall promises made at the time of the Lok Sabha polls look like misleading slogans—Jumlas, to use the expression used by the BJP president.
In an atmosphere where praising the Modi rule is the norm divisive forces are on the prowl openly. Kashmir is out of control.There are more reports on the cow and how the vigilantes are harassing, beating and even killing those they suspect of slaughtering the cow or eating beef than anything cheering. Prices are falling only in the fiancé minister’s books; in the shops the Toor dal, for instance, still sells for Rs 200 a kilo. Major educational and cultural institutions are being revamped to be aligned to the agenda of the Modi government. The dissenting voice is being stifled. The editor of a popular English language weekly was mysteriously transferred just after the publication carried a story on the trafficking and ‘ghar wapsi’ of Assam non-Hindu tribal women.
Modi has said that no other party has ‘suffered’ as much as the BJP and belittles the part played by the Congress during the freedom struggle. What kind of ‘suffering’ is Modi talking about? ‘Bans’ and jailing of party workers and leaders. A ‘ban’ on political activities is against the democratic ethos. But it is a tool that the BJP does not hesitate to use. If a political party feels that ‘banning’ it (for a limited period) and jailing its members is a ‘suffering’, it is obviously being too self-centred. Unfortunate though it may be but ‘banning’ political activities and jailing politicians has become a part of the Indian democracy. It has affected all shades of political opinion.
When the BJP speaks as being the party that has ‘suffered’ the most does it forget that it was never the sole Opposition party? For the first 15 or 20 years after Independence, the Opposition role was more effectively performed by other parties opposed to the Congress, notably by ‘Socialist’ leaders like J.B. Kripalani, Ram Manohar Lohia and Jai Prakash Narayan.
In later years some of the effective Opposition leaders were the ones who had broken away from the Congress. None of them ever said they had ‘suffered’ more than the Congress, despite their bitter opposition to the party. (Syndicate Features)