Defeat and Dethrone the Jittery Dictator

Just one phase of the elections has been enough to make the BJP bare its fascist fangs before the whole world. The main talking point after the first phase was the drop in voter turnout. The first phase was the biggest phase covering 101 seats (with elections countermanded in one seat) across sixteen states and four union territories, and the voting percentage dropped almost universally by close to five points. Observers have also pointed out that the drop in voter turnout is significantly greater in seats currently held by the BJP/NDA than in seats held by non-NDA parties.

This drop in turnout is clearly a reflection of waning interest and enthusiasm among the BJP's own voters, many of whom feel badly betrayed after voting in the name of Narendra Modi in 2014 and 2019. Sensing the disillusionment and fatigue among BJP supporters and the diminishing impact of the much hyped 'Modi magic', the regime tried to inject aggression into the campaign by setting its sights on an overwhelming 400+ majority. But the low turnout figures clearly indicate that this aggressive call has failed to trigger any ground level enthusiasm. On the contrary there are signs of disgruntlement and division in the BJP camp in state after state. This has made the BJP top brass jittery and desperate and the surest sign of this desperation can now be seen in the kind of unmitigated hate campaign being spearheaded by Narendra Modi himself.

Modi had already hinted at the kind of polarising campaign to come with his absurd accusation of the imprint of Muslim League on the Congress manifesto. And the 'blame' for the points of economic justice and social welfare in the Congress manifesto was placed at the doorsteps of communists. Muslims and communists remain the chosen targets of the Sangh brigade from the very beginning alongside their contempt for the radical egalitarian ideas of Ambedkar and the constitution drafted under his leadership. In his election speech in Rajasthan's Banswara, one of India's most deprived districts, Modi set a new benchmark for hate and lies, making even his past speeches sound somewhat mild.

Modi returned to the BJP's mischievous propaganda in circulation since 2006 about Manmohan Singh reportedly granting Muslims the first right on India's resources. Factchecks have repeatedly exposed this malicious lie and brought the truth to the fore. In the course of his address at the 52nd meeting of the National Development Council, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had outlined the priorities of the UPA-I government. In this address, while mentioning the collective priorities that merited greater attention of the government, Manmohan Singh had emphasised measures to develop sectors like agriculture, irrigation, health and education and uplift deprived social sections including SC/ST, OBCs, minorities, women and children. The Sangh propaganda has always sought to delink the question of Muslim welfare from this overall context, pitting Muslims against other deprived sections of the society and Modi has now taken it to a new level of toxicity.

His attempt to instigate Hindu women by telling them that their 'mangalsutras' or wedding necklaces would be taken away and the wealth redistributed among Muslims if the Congress came to power will go down as the most brazen instance of scare-mongering and hate-peddling ever by any leader. To demonise Muslims, Modi invoked typical anti-Muslim prejudices like the bogey of population growth and infiltration.  And when such venom is spewed by a Prime Minister holding office for ten years, it only underlines the severity of the threat to the constitutional framework of India's parliamentary democracy.

The experience of the people of ten years of Modi rule has actually exposed the Modi government as the biggest enemy of the assets and income of the common people. It is this government which has systematically robbed the common people of their limited savings and earnings by inflicting one blow after another from demonetisation to lockdown and eviction to wholesale privatisation, measures that have further impoverished the working people and enriched the wealthy upper echelons. And a sadist Narendra Modi was actually celebrating the plight of the people in the wake of demonetisation as a great victory in the battle against black money. In Modi's economics, the first right to all resources belongs to his corporate cronies while eighty crore Indians are asked to remain content only with five kg free ration a month.

A campaign which began with the swagger of a 400-plus majority in a house of 543 members now revolves around making people scared about a Congress comeback and about a shift in policies away from the disastrous pro-corporate mantra of reckless privatisation. This shows the panic that now haunts the powers that be. Apart from hate-mongering, the panic-stricken regime will also resort to all kinds of conspiratorial measures to hold on to power. Anyone who might have expected the regime to be restrained after being caught red handed with the Chandigarh vote-counting scam, will only have to look at the shocking Surat model of stealing an election. The model of horse-trading has now been perfected to the art of buying and disabling candidates to secure victory without any election.

As the 2024 election proceeds through the scorching summer, the forces of democracy will have to fight harder with greater alertness and determination to oust the fascists from power. The panic in the eyes of the dictator clearly shows that the regime has been hit hard by the growing mobilisation of the people around the core agenda of jobs and justice and the popular assertion in defence of Ambedkar's Constitution, the system of multiparty parliamentary democracy and India's diverse and inclusive culture. Had there been an Election Commission worth its salt we would have by now seen some action against the Prime Minister for this toxic hate campaign. But with the EC turning a blind eye, we the people of India will have to punish this campaign at the people's Court. We need to intensify the battle, stick to the agenda and ensure that the momentum generated in the first phase is carried forward to ensure an emphatic defeat of this disastrous decade-old reign of hate, lies, terror and loot.

Defeat and Dethrone the Jittery Dictator