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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 17, New Delhi, April 10, 2021

Can India Get Liberation from Modi? | Nagender Madavaram

Saturday 10 April 2021


by Dr. Nagender Madavaram*

India is attracting global attention for wrong reasons. The country has an astonishing history of coexistence with diversified cultures. Jews, Persians, Bahais, Tibetans and other ethnic groups got shelter in India when they were prosecuted by their respective governments for various reasons. India was a hope in Asia to accommodate the asylees. Indians welcomed the foreigners with open hearts for centuries. Prime Minister (PM) Modi Narender Modi damaged the reputation of India and made the nation to explain his controversial actions on international forums. India is alienated in South Asia. Hindu majority Nepal, and Buddhist majority Sri Lanka are no more friends of India. Currently, the nation is more divisive than ever before. The government performance is a disaster in economic, political, and social sectors.

Is It Modi Janata Party?

Vajpayee built the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on core foundations of morals, ethics, democratic values, and good governance. Modi turned BJP as his private corporation and appointed Amit Shah as CEO. State party units became franchisees and continue in office at the mercy of corporate head. Senior leaders L. K. Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha, Uma Bharathi, and others were marginalized. Internal party democracy is curtailed. Against core values of the party, Modi is toppling the elected governments, spreading false information, abusing power, recruiting Hindutva elements in all institutions, encouraging corrupt politicians to join the party, squeezing the financial resources of state governments ruled by opposition parties, encouraging governors to fight openly with the chief ministers and using central agencies to arrest opposition leaders. Party’s organs are dysfunctional and leaders are competing to praise him. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu said Modi is God’s gift to India. [1] Thousands of years of glorious Indian history has been reduced to six years for hailing invisible achievements of Modi. It is not a correct approach to view Modi-BJP as Vajpayee-BJP and design the policies and soft methods to oppose the autocratic government. In spite of dismal functioning of the government, Indian opposition parties are disappointing people in providing alternative policies and coalitions. Regional political parties are effectively challenging the BJP in various states but a huge vacuum has emerged at national politics. Sweden’s V-Dem Institute has amply described India as an “electoral autocracy”, and said the country is now as “autocratic” as Pakistan, and worse than Bangladesh and Nepal. [2] Human Rights Watch mentioned in its report that Indian authorities brought politically motivated cases, including under draconian sedition and terrorism laws, against human rights defenders, student activists, academics, opposition leaders, and critics, blaming them for the communal violence. [3]

Collapse of Institutions

The scam of the century is the acquisition of Rafale aircrafts. Critics questioned that how the price per aircraft escalated from ₹526.1 crore to ₹1,570 crore after Modi came to power. [4]The total escalation of the price for 36 aircrafts is 37,584 crores. There was an infamous Bofors episode, the opposition alleged that Rs. 64 crores were paid to middlemen in the defense deal. Opposition did run a successful campaign and unseated Rajiv Gandhi government in 1989. The allegation was not proved, Bofors guns played a vital role in the Kargil war and the Vajpayee government lifted sanctions on Bofors company in 1999. Interestingly, there was no sufficient discussion on huge Rafel scam as the country discussed about Bofors. Opposition parties failed to make an issue in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Supreme Court disappointed the nation with its judgement. The way former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was nominated to Rajya Sabha raised many questions about the integrity of the judiciary. Common people have a serious concern about the impartiality of Supreme Court, Election Commission, Controller and Auditor-General, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Income Tax Department, the Enforcement Directorate, and media.

Disastrous Policies

There is no comprehensive study on the impact of demonetisation. A considerable number of people have committed suicide, and many individuals have been trampled to death or suffered violence outside ATMs and banks. Individuals have suffered heart attacks while waiting in bank queues to exchange notes. Many marriage ceremonies were cancelled. Patients including infants and pregnant ladies died as they did not get treatment for not paying bills due to cash shortages. Modi created big mayhem but it was not made a national issue. Implementation of Goods and Services Tax forced many small industries out of business and the rate of unemployment increased exponentially. Modi government centralized tax collection and not releasing money to the states ruled by opposition parties.

The covid pandemic exposed the irresponsibility of the Modi government. All the neighboring countries of China took necessary steps in the month of January 2020. India got the same information at the same time. Why didn’t India impose lockdown until 25th of March 2020? Obviously, Modi was busy toppling the Indian National Congress (INC) government in Madhya Pradesh (MP). Special fights were arranged in March 2020 to take MLAs from MP to Karnataka and hosted them in Bangalore while world was fighting with Corona virus. Kamal Nath government was toppled on 20th March, 2020 [5] and lockdown was imposed on 25th March, 2020. The nation paid a huge price for delaying lockdown and imposing it without structured plans. The delay impacted the economy, industries, and caused death of many migrant workers. By-elections were held on 3rd November 2020 in MP for 28 Assembly seats who resigned and defected to BJP. Surprisingly, INC did not make Modi’s action of putting the nation at the risk for toppling the MP state government an election issue.

Distribution of National Wealth to Cronies

Economists need a fresh prospective to study Modi’s distribution of public companies to his cronies. Government actions do not fit in traditional privatization process. After collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian President Boris Yeltsin turned sale of public sector units into under-the-counter sales of valuable state assets at bargain basement prices to half a dozen wealthy bankers and businessmen. The government bailed out its business cronies, the cronies bailed out unpopular politician Yeltsin by funding his reelection in 1996. The system that came into being in Russia was “crony capitalism.” [6] Modi is implementing Yeltsin’s policies for mutual benefit of cronies and himself. The best example is Vizag Steel Plant which is for sale. The steel plant is paying more interest rate and more price for raw materials than private steel companies. National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) supplies raw material to the steel plant for a higher price. Only crony has an ability to get raw material at a cheap price from NMDC and low-interest rate from the banks. There is no level playing field for public sector companies in the Modi administration. There is a possibility that NMDC may stop the supply of raw material and incur huge losses to the new buyer if other than crony gets the steel plant.

Spread of Misinformation and Lies 

In the history of India, no Prime Minister (PM) gave misinformation constantly to the nation other than Modi. The position of PM has become a laughing stock. Modi claimed he used the internet and digital cameras in 1987. VSNL started Internet services in 1995, and digital cameras came to India post-1990. He claimed that he sold tea at Vadnagar railway station but there is no record of his tea stall. No university is offering a degree for MA in Political Science in all subjects as he claimed. Why is he hiding the degree certification? He stated on foreign soil that he was jailed during the Bangla war. In contrast, the nation supported the Bangladesh liberation war. Who jailed Modi for supporting the war? Can he reveal the name of the jail? There is no seriousness in his policy decisions.

The government declared a 20 lakh crores of Covid package. [7] The nation is not even aware of when the package was implemented. India lost its credibility in the international business community with declaration of fake packages and spreading false information.

Unusually, Modi administration is working for elections since he took oath of office. He is an Election Jeevi and he does everything to win the elections and topple the opposition governments. The administration is always in an election mode. He does not have any limitations in achieving his goals. Observers considered his recent tour to Bangladesh as an election campaign for the West Bengal Assembly elections. Home Minister Amit Shah leaves a trail of fear and destruction everywhere he goes. Joseph Goebbels turned a lie as truth by repeatedly telling something. Goebbels said "if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." He persuaded people to believe lie as truth. Modi advanced the theory further and convinced many people truth as a myth and lie. Particularly, relentless misinformation on Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru created doubts about his role in building modern India. BJP is controlling social media and spreading disinformation successfully. In 1526, at Panipat Babar defeated mighty Ibrahim Lodi’s army with cannons. [8] Effective methods and tools are required to win the current expensive elections. Modi is using all the central government agencies, unlimited financial resources, social media, religion, and crony media. India never experienced a well-coordinated attack on opposition parties from the government. In fact, India is in terror of an undeclared emergency since 2016. Ineffective opposition is despondently giving passage to the government on many issues. Regional parties have reservations about the capability of the INC leadership in defeating the BJP. It is the responsibility of main opposition to build political alliances, counter the false information, fight for restoration of democratic institutions, protect the secular and progressive fabric of institutions. Unfortunately, the party performance in the Assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Bihar is disappointed. The INC should adopt new methods to fight with the modern BJP. Intellectuals and progressive forces are expecting strong opposition to protect human rights, welfare programs, and public sector units. The current state of affairs should not continue in the best interest of the nation as well as the world.

* (Author: Dr. Nagender Rao Madavaram, worked in the Department of Political Science, Osmania University, Hyderabad. Currently, he is based in the US.)

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