Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Silicon Valley meeting Information Technology czars and at Facebook headquarters in the last week of September to sell his vision of Digital India. But the events that occurred in the following weeks – lynching of a Muslim in Dadri near the national capital on suspicion of eating beef, the murder of a rationalist thinker Malleshappa Kalburgi in Karnataka, the ink smearing on Sudheendra Kulkarni, a former media advisor of ex-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Mumbai and a series of other incidents of religious and political intolerance – certainly have tarnished India’s image as a progressive nation. Many outfits, claiming proximity and affiliation to the ruling BJP, are bent upon creating an atmosphere of medieval India.
The man, who talked about development and development only during the 2014 elections and won the hearts of Indian voters, is now ominously silent over the growing intolerance and alleged corruption charges against BJP chief ministers and a Union minister. While political interests are fanning communal sentiments for narrow electoral gains, Prime Minister Modi’s vision of making a giant leap in development is suffering a major dent.
The BJP has come to power at the Centre with absolute majority a year ago, but people now have started asking what you have done to fulfil the promises. Strangely, Modi’s ministers at the Centre and chief ministers in the states are seemingly countering this by raising emotive issues, even to the extent of proclaiming that “those who eat beef have no place in India.” Instead of coming up with tangible development plans, emotive issues that can’t be touched, seen or felt are being raised to polarise the society at many quarters in the guise of nationalism.
The tactics being adopted in the name of nationalism is no good for development or even democracy. Every attempt is being made to silence the voice of people, political parties, non-government organisations, bureaucracy, electronic media—many of which have already functioning like a captive power plant. Many feel that there is an undeclared emergency like situation.
During the British era, many Indian leaders were jailed for long but majority of them returned alive and in normal health to hold important positions in the Independent India. Even during the infamous emergency, many opposition leaders were arrested and pushed behind bars for almost 19 months. Later they too came out from jail and many of them led governments and other democratic institutions. Broadly, nobody was attacked or killed for writing or expressing their views both during British era and even during the authoritarian emergency rule of Indira Gandhi.
The latest attack on BJP veteran and a former media advisor of ex-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sudheendra Kulkarni by the Shiv Sena, a long-time ally of the BJP, has in fact, blackened the face of the BJP itself. Modi Sarkar, it’s high time, must realise that it’s difficult to control political allies if the party in power cannot control its own cadres and so-called independent organisations of the Sangh Parivar.
When Modi Sarkar is banking on Facebook, realising the power of social media, it must realise that its face is now black. India Inc and our youth are looking forward that the BJP government took concrete steps to wipe out this black oil from its face—by taking concrete steps to arrest and contain the elements of religious and political intolerance. Both the minority and majority communalisms are dangerous as both feeds on each other. It’s the responsibility of the government of India to set and implement a development agenda, rein in on fringe elements of all groups, and take the country forward on the path of development. Else, any government’s political oblivion is not very far.