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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 18, May 4, 2024

Modi up for flaring communal polarisation to reverse the voting trend in his favour | Arun Srivastava

Saturday 4 May 2024


Narendra Modi is famous for shifting goalposts. This may be construed as the sign of an astute and shrewd politician. But it is not the reality. During the last fortnight, in the midst of high-pitched electoral battle, Modi has frequently shifted the goalpost from arousing communal passion to vilifying the Muslims to enticing SC, ST by promising their sarkar.

His monkey flight from one agenda to another simply reinforces the fact that Modi is running short of ideas, has lost touch with the ground realities and has turned politically bankrupt. It also underscores that his political actions are bereft of a concrete dimension. The discernment of losing the power and walking into the mush of uncertain future has probably unnerved him. Otherwise too Modi has not been known to be an astute politician. His actions have mainly been impulsive and derived strength from muscle power and misuse of the state machinery.

It is tough to predict that the voting pattern during the two phases is advantage INDIA bloc. But little doubt this reflects disenchantment of the huge cache of the saffron supporters, especially the RSS cadres and volunteers to him. This is more relevant and vital than the disillusionment of the common voter.

Modi’s homily at a rally in Rajasthan makes it amply clear that he has miserably failed in his endeavour to erase Congress from Indian polity and create a Congress Mukta India. His design of terrorising Hindus by saying that Congress will seize their assets, including the mangalsutras of “mothers and sisters”, and distribute them among Muslims sends the clear and deafening message that he has failed to eliminate Congress. If he had succeeded in his mission, there was no need to terrorise people, in film Sholey style “Gabbar ata hai (Gabbar is coming)”. It was his defeatist act. He virtually confessed that Congress is on resurgence and will be back as a formidable force.

Modi is known to be a perennial liar. He never hesitates. During last fortnight this was on display. The first major occasion was insinuation of Dr Manmohan Singh. After receiving severe beating in the two phases a despondent and frustrated Narendra Modi with the aim to retrieve lost electoral ground and check the down-slide resorted to worst kind of vilification campaign against Congress and for this he chose the most honest politician, Dr Manmohan Singh. He distorted his reflection on the empowerment of the poor and minorities and malign him purely with the aim to arouse the communalise passion and polarise the Hindus of the country just ahead of the rest six polling phases. But unfortunately for Modi his attempt has floundered.

Not only the secular and democratic people rebuked his deceits even his own party men and RSS leaders rebuked him for his lies. In 2006, Dr. Singh had said that the poor, OBCs, people from weaker section and minorities would have the first claim. Modi must know that Muslims are not only the minorities. There are Sikh, Christian, Parsis and others. One wonders how a prime minister, that is too of a country like India, could stoop so low. Facts did not endorse his vilification drive. This has put the saffron ecosystem and especially the RSS leadership in a precarious position.

Some senior RSS leaders feel that how could RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat not question him. He must have pulled up his protégé for speaking this kind of blatant lies? This obviously implies that Modi’s diatribe against Dr Singh has his blessings. Nothing could be more heinous crime than distorting the observation of a person like Dr Singh, for whom politics was an instrument to serve the poor people.

His insinuation against Dr Singh makes it abundantly clear that Modi will not accept the voting pattern lying down and will resort to any kind of scheming to subvert the electoral process in his favour during the next six phase of polling. In its memorandum to the Election Commission Congress said: “While we have objections to the entire tone and tenor of the Prime Minister’s speech, in this representation we wish to highlight the completely unprecedented and malicious allegations as well (as) statements which are clearly aimed at creating enmity between groups, far worse than any ever made by a sitting Prime Minister in the history of India. This cannot go unchecked, unanswered and unpunished.”

Yet another lie for which Modi is severely being criticised is his saying that the Congress manifesto mentions that Mangalsutras and properties of Hindus would be distributed amongst the Muslims. This is no where mentioned in the manifesto. This is the imagination of Modi. This is also being resented by some senior RSS and BJP leaders. they nurse that his utterances were eroding the credibility of the party. People have come to nurse the believe that Modi was treating them like idiots and fools. They point out this has been a major reason for a big chunk middle class people did not come to the polling stations.

While turnout was down by 4 percent in the first phase of 2024, it was around 8 percent in the second phase. This has three distinct messages; voters have outright rejected Narendra Modi’s constricted rhetoric on polarisation of Hindu votes, second the youths have lost faith in his eloquence of pragatishil (progressing) India which will turn five trillion economies in 2047, and registered their lack of faith in EVM.

This decline in percentage of voting is no doubt expression of no-trust in Modi. This decline has in fact a positive dimension and also dynamics. The experts and analysts compare the current figure with the 2019 verdict. In 2019 the share of percentage had gone up by 8 percent on the previous mandate. Modi has used his extra political skill to project the Pulwama massacre of 40 soldiers and project it as an attack on Indian nationalism to win the election. Indeed, it was shocking how could a prime minister exploit killing of soldiers to arouse passion for his electoral gains.

After five years the Indian voters have come to see through the 2019 game. This is wellnigh reasoning that Modi’s latest attempts to evoke nationalism failed to yield any result. The increasing distrust to Modi could also be made out from the fact that more people have voted this time than they had voted in 2014 to install Modi as the prime minister. This time’s increase in percentage is the reflection of the resolute determination to bring in new face.

The first phase of voting in Lok Sabha elections usually sets the tone for subsequent phases. In 2019, phase 1 recorded the highest turnout, at 69.5 per cent. Similarly, the first phase of the nine-phase 2014 parliamentary polls was among the highest, at around 69 per cent. The vote percentage has sharply declined that too in the backdrop when Modi has been consistently projecting his gains and his so-called concern for the poor of the country. Decline of the percentage of votes implies that people have refrained from endorsing his claims. Nevertheless, a senior EC official said. “Summer is not the sole factor. There may be other factors as well. Last time too, polls took place during summer months.”

Monarch of the New India Modi preferred to ignore the judge the mood of the people. He was so busy with serving the interest of his industrialist bosses that the sufferings of the people did not matter to him. For him the basic issues, unemployment, poverty and inflation did not matter. Though economists challenged the narrations of NITI Ayog on joblessness and poverty, he never bothered to take them seriously. His act of patronising and projecting the scamsters and anti-people corrupt politicians was disliked by the people. Regrettably, instead of doing some introspection he continued to blame Nehru-Gandhi family and Congress as the patrons of the corrupt politicians.

He was so obsessed with his monarchical fixation that instead of correcting himself with the common people, he continued to speak lies. Most unfortunate has been complete averseness to the problems of youths though he usually described them as his favourites. In real sense he never undertook any measure to ameliorate their economic condition or provide them with jobs. Youths still recall his words, which was nonetheless described ass Jumla by his lieutenant Amit Shah, to provide jobs to 2 crores youths every year. It was during his ten-year rule that number of unemployed youths has gone up. It is somewhere around 45 crores.

It would be naïve to construe that youths don’t know how to gauge the difference between political parties. Youths are on the contrary more aware of the political and philosophical differences between the parties and also the nature of the politics. The primary reason has been the political parties have not ever tried to identify themselves with the youths. They utterly lack the element of effective interaction and dialogue with the youths.

It is said that one reason is youth-centred agendas are limited. Yes, it is a fact. There is tremendous dearth of young members with the political parties. The left parties, CPI(M) and CPI, which once claimed to represent the aspiration of the youths, virtually do not have youths as their members. Astonishingly Modi is projected as the Hindu Hridaya Samrat and symbol of aspirations of the youths. But the BJP too has been deprived of young faces. It has only those youths, who have been associated with the Sangh Shakhas for long.

The RSS and BJP had claimed that consecration of Ram Mandir would enthuse the youths. But it has proved to be a mirage. Ten year rule of Modi was the best opportune time to build a strong base of youth members. But ironically Mohan Bhagwat and his colleagues, including his protégé Modi, were so engaged in communalising the society and spreading hatred in the society that they could not entice the youths.

One must ask both the leaders, Bhagwat and Modi, why are youths not willing to identify with their politics of Hindutva and the hate Muslim campaign. Youths are for change. They are not status quoists. One major difference between the youths of seventies and today’s is, the present-day youths are not politicised. They are growing in a reform and open economy. They had high expectations from the government, especially from the prime minister.

But Modi is so obsessed with Hindu Muslim that he has no time left to think of shaping the future of the youths. At a time when youths are new looking new education avenues, he and his Sanghi cronies are out to trample and finish the education system. Youths have rationale mind and approach, but the Sanghi cronies have been telling them to believe the lies they try to cater on the plea of correcting the past mistakes.

Modi ought to remember that the youths of the country had enormously overwhelmingly responded to his appeal of 2019 asking the first-time voters to vote for him to revenge the killing of 40 security personnels, In the first phase of polling in 2019 the turnout was around 70 per cent. But this time the overall voter turnout in 102 constituencies in 21 states and Union Territories was recorded at 62.37 per cent till 9 pm with the highest percentage in Tripura at 80.17 per cent. The downturn was around 7 per cent.

In 2019 the voting percentage shit to 70m per cent only due to the active participation of the youths. An insight into the present averseness would make it clear that they are no more willing to be treated as mere ballots, numerical voters by Modi. They have their aspirations and ideas. Modi trampled the education system. The education system doesn’t orient them to understand the current academic imperatives and needs. Their scholarships have been discontinued.

The worst victims of Modi’s discrimination have been the Dalit and Muslim students and youths. Modi must do some introspections why are the youngest eligible voters hesitant to exercise their franchise? Election Commission has called upon the young people to get registered as the voters. But ironically only 38 per cent of the voters between the age of 18 and 19 have registered for the 2024 elections across the country.

Modi is not the person to accept defeat lying down. Still six rounds are left and he would certainly like to mould the electoral proceedings in his favour. Apprehensions are being expressed that he would go to any extent and use any device to subvert and rig the election. Incidentally he flashed the sign today itself.

Election Commission headed by his yes-man Rajiv Kumar cannot be expected to take any action against him. It needs moral conviction and determination. Rajiv utterly lacks these two. It would be utopian to believe that he would even issue a notice to Modi. This is evident from the fact that instead of going on defensive, Modi on Monday once again reiterated his harangue. Congress and opposition parties instead of looking for punitive action from Election Commission must be on guard. In his desperation to swing peoples’ mood, Modi will not hesitate from inciting communal violence. He had already pointed out Muslims as the enemy of 100 crore Hindus who were out to grab their properties and trample their prestige.

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