Delivering his victory speech last evening at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) head office in Delhi, Narendra Modi said the 130 crore citizens of the country stood “for India” and voted “for India.” The BJP, instead of asking for votes based on the work they did in last five years, chose ‘nationalism’ as the core issue.
Thus, the results of the 2019 general election and the kind of victory that the BJP has seen—while making us reflect on the ways in which a strong opposition could or could not have been formed—also reminds us of the false but powerful narrative of “the nation in danger” that the BJP has nourished, with the help of the media, its IT cells and the RSS networks.
This narrative was planted and nurtured gradually by the party to a point that the BJP itself and Modi himself were being equated with India. Thus anyone who supported the BJP and Modi was portrayed by the bought-off media as ‘patriotic’ and ‘nationalist’ while anyone who did not was an ‘anti-national’.
If the election issues had been focussed on the real economic (demonetisation, GST, unemployment, poverty, health care, agrarian crisis) and socio-cultural (lynchings, growth in intolerance and growth of hatred in the country, communalism) problems plaguing the country’s population, would the people have been in a position where they had to choose between the “country” and the issues affecting their lives? Amit Shah and Modi and their teams know the answer to this question.
As Newsclick has reported extensively, none of the tall promises of ‘vikas’ made by the party and Modi in the previous general elections were fulfilled; there was a direct onslaught on freedom of expression and speech, government educational institutions, along with every sector of the country; the rate of communal violence shot up. Despite all this, as Modi’s victory speech of last evening drove home once again, “nationalism” was the issue and it will remain so for the next five years.
Along with promising the country a “bright future,” “development” and pledging to “serve the country”, Modi took a dig at the parties and people who spoke of secularism — while reiterating the idea of a “poverty-free India,” which has become a political cliche of bourgeois parties in the country.
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“No veil of Secularism”
Not surprisingly, Modi took a dig at ‘secularism’ and those who believe in it, saying the veil of secularism had been lifted from those who were fighting the elections in its name. Party workers were present in thousands and were cheering, hooting, clapping, whistling and chanting “Modi, Modi, Modi”.
Cow-related violence, mob lynchings, attacks on religious minority institutions shot up in last five years. According to factchecker.in, 302 people became victim for 127 incidents of cow-related violence across the country that killed 47 people; 76 of these incidents took place when the BJP was in power and 98 per cent of these incidents were reported after Modi came to power. The data also shows, 56 per cent of the victims were Muslims and 9 per cent of them were dalits.
All through these incidents, Modi — except for mentioning once or twice that such incidents should not repeat — chose to remain almost completely silent. Nor was this issue, which was also taken up by the Supreme Court, was acknowledged by the BJP ministers and its chief ministers and its president Amit Shah. If this was the case while there were parties in “the veil of secularism,” then it is frightening to think what would be the situation without this veil.
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In the same speech last evening, Modi promised to perform within the realm of the Constitution of India and strive hard to protect it. This is farcical coming from the mouth of the person and the party that have been bent upon eliminating, among other things, the principle of secularism, in the Constitution.
All through their election campaign, Modi and Shah have both quite openly questioned the secular principles. If Modi talked about Hinduism and being a Hindu in his rallies, Shah in Bengal recreated a scene from the Ramayana in his rally and challenged Mamata Banerjee to say “Jai Shri Ram.” Such actions and the speech yesterday and the hysteria among the party workers that one could see tell us that the BJP is abiding to the ideology of the RSS dream of a Hindu Rashtra.
“Only Two Castes in the Country”
Modi after congratulating himself and his party and the voters for getting done with secular parties, went on to say, “there are only two castes in the country. “One of those who are poor and the other of those who want to contribute to doing away with poverty. There is no other caste.” This statement in itself shows that Modi wants to draw the curtain over all debates around caste-based oppression in the country, turning a blind eye to how casteism plagues the Indian society.
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This again comes as no surprise from Modi, as the RSS is a casteist hardlining Hindutva organisation. If we take this statement by Modi at face-value, then who are these people of the second caste — those who would contribute to doing away with poverty? The rich? How will you eradicate poverty while you do your best to make the rich ever richer?