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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 34, August 19, 2023

Modi over-confidence of winning 2024 election points a deeper design to manipulate elections | Arun Srivastava

Friday 18 August 2023


by Arun Srivastava

What made Narendra Modi exude the confidence of becoming the Prime Minister for the third consecutive term and hoisting the national flag at the rampart of Red Fort on August 15 in 2024 despite facing public hostility and his mentors in the RSS publicly expressing a lack of trust in his leadership, has indeed been an omerta.

Ever since Modi become the prime minister in 2014 for the first time, he has been projecting himself as the visionary, who will shape the destiny of Bharat and create a New India. It is indeed ironic that during his ten years of rule, Modi has utterly failed to justify his claims and prophecies. The more he has been trying to project himself as the creator of New India, the more he is being ridiculed and dubbed as a hypocrite.

Nevertheless, the fear of losing relevance and identity and the lingering perception of being dumped as political hubris have forced him to reinvent himself and resort to more lies and fabricating the facts. Modi is an old hand of indulging in the intrigues. Barely five days back it got public that Modi is planning to drop the Chief Justice of India from the panel of three selectors which was to choose the Chief Election Commissioner and other members of the commission.

His exude gives rise to apprehension that some rightist forces are conspiring to bring in a new CEC who will manipulate the election and facilitate Modi to win the 2024 election. We have the elections of 2019 before us. A research paper by a professor of Ashoka University has unravelled the murky design of the rulers to manipulate the election. It emphasises that this manipulation resulted in BJP winning a disproportionate share of closely contested constituencies in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

The paper titled Democratic Backsliding in the World’s Largest Democracy was authored by professor Sabyasachi Das. The 50-page research paper finds that due to the number of these “excess” BJP won in close fights in 2019 from nine to 18 Lok Sabha seats. The back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that the party won 11 of these seats in which its win margin was less than 5%. While the figure is much less than the BJP’s required half-way mark of 272 to form a government on its own, the author alarmingly concludes through data analysis that electoral fraud even in a single constituency would imply that such manipulations by incumbent parties are possible. This raises broader questions about the future of electoral democracy in India.

In yet another important development the CAG has exposed seven scams in different departments. Some people feel happy at the expose of corruption in Modi rule. But there are some who are not willing subscribe it. They are yet to forget the manner in which the RSS used the CAG Vinod Rai to malign the Congress government, especially sully the honest image of Dr Manmohan Singh. It later transpired that Vinod Rai had manipulated the figures to politically finish Manmohan Singh. He succeeded in his mission. The report which escalated the backlash on the then UPA government was an imaginary estimate of possible loss put out by the then CAG, Vinod Rai, who was made the chairman of the Banks Board Bureau after Modi came to power at the Centre.

The latest CAG report castigates Nitin Gadkari, the known detractor of Modi. He is incidentally being projected as the possible new prime minister. It is really hard to disbelieve that the CAG was not used to malign the political image of Gadkari, who is publicly acclaimed as the only honest minister in Modi government. While all the BJP leaders preferred to bow and crawl before Modi, he was the only leader to keep his head high.

The tone and tenor of his speeches made in the Lok Sabha on no -trust motion and at the Red Fort on Independence Day make it abundantly clear that he was using both the occasions to mislead the nation and blunt its conscience. The spectre of an uncertain future has shaken his confidence to such an extent that he could not check fumbling at the Red Fort. His speech was incoherent and lacked his usual punch.

In his quest to justify his relevance, he used both occasions not only to challenge his senior party colleagues but even to test the authority of RSS. He is aware of the fact that the final word about the prime minister would be of RSS, he emphasised that he would become the prime minister for the third consecutive term. He made no secret of the fact that is not willing to accept the RSS observation that Modi is lost. According to him he continues to dictate the dimension and dynamics of Indian politics.

On both occasions, he did not tell the truth of Manipur. True to his trait of being deceptive, seeking refuse behind lies and avoiding taking the bull by horn, Modi refused to narrate the truth about the three-month-old genocide that grips Manipur.

While his two-and-a-half-hour speech in Lok Sabha was laden with lies, his Independence Day address was devoid of any political direction. Usually a prime minister speaks of and about the country on this day. But Modi counted his gains, tried to project as the only visionary leader the country has ever produced. His Red Fort speech added to the belief that Modi has lost his confidence and was suffering from a complex. In his pursuit to present his larger-than-life image, he even did not feel ashamed of distorting the historical facts and presented Nehru and Indira Gandhi as the destroyers of the country. The occasion also witnessed his futile attempt to project his invincibility

On August 10, participating in the debate on no-trust motion in Lok Sabha, Modi devoted two hours of his speech to counting feats of his government, abusing the Nehru-Gandhi family, and assuring the people that in spite of the opposition’s vilification campaign he would come back to power in 2024. These two occasions were of immense national importance. But Modi instead pulled them down to the level of mockery. An anatomical analysis of his speeches would make it explicit that he has lost sight. Few visual moments are as strange in which Macbeth sees a dagger floating in the air. This hallucination provokes one of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches: “Is this a dagger which I see before me?” The weapon is puzzling. Is it a dagger of the mind, or a false creation. One thing is nonetheless clear that it symbolises Macbeth’s faltering conscience.

The fact of the matter is either Modi was hallucinating or was reeling off the design of the RSS and BJP to rig or resort to some new instrument to win the election. These developments also underscore the fact Modi treats the people of India as fools who love to be guided and controlled by a smart and clever politician shepherd. Modi had begun his ten-year rule with the promise to root out corruption and finish the dynastic rule and for this, he had given the call for “Congress Mukta Bharat”. But he miserably failed to give shape to his assurances.

Reminiscent of 2014, just ahead of 2024 election he has relisted ’corruption, nepotism and appeasement politics’ as three enemies of the development of the country. He could dare to do so as he knows that fools would not muster the courage to question him about his not keeping promises. It is only the opposition that has been seeking to know; “have you got rid of corruption? You had almost 10 years. What happened? Where are the ’Acchhe Din’. Forgotten? Inflation is imported. Our vegetables are not!" "Next 5 years golden period. For whom? The poor, Dalits, Minorities or ?"

Ever since Modi came to occupy the chair of the prime minister, he has made it a point to turn his critics and detractors crawl or become subservient. But the recent political changes have made him realise that the political scenario was changing fast and even the serfs were ready to look straight into his eyes. With elections approaching fast he is scared of the resurrection of these forces in a more unified way. It is precisely the reason that Modi has embarked on the mission to create his own space and perform the task of his own publicist.

He does not like a situation like 1977 when Congress for Democracy was launched by Jagjivan Ram and H N Bahuguna, which created a tornado for Janata Party. He is apprehensive of some senior BJP and RSS leaders. His design to count gains of his government and project himself as he visionary, is clearly evident in his two speeches.

Only a day earlier of his reply on no-trust, Rahul Gandhi had questioned why the Army was not used to combat the violence in Manipur. It was pity to watch Modi resorting to botched fact to justify his inaction. Modi accused Indira Gandhi of ordering airstrike in 1966 on Indian civilians in Mizoram. Through this he intended to tell the people that since Indira was anti people she used air force against her own people, which of course he was not.

While doing so he either demonstrated a lack of understanding of the historical facts or did he indulge in deliberate attempt to malign Nehru-Gandhi. It is a part of history that Indira had to take the extraordinarily tough decision of March 1966 in Mizoram to deal with secessionist forces that drew support from Pakistan and China. Congress media chief Jairam Ramesh correctly said; “it is about a remarkable story that reinforces the idea of India in Mizoram today".

Notwithstanding Modi’s reluctance to come out with the hidden facts on Manipur, the no-trust motion of the INDIA alliance has done one prodigious service to the nation is, it exposed his hypocrisy and double face. The urban middle class which is the home of the bulk of his bhakts, has been let down by him. They are yet to reconcile to the fact that why their Vishwa Guru has been evading the Manipur challenge and allowing the state to burn and its people lurch.

Though Modi’s deceptive intrigue to hedge around, indulge in his favourite past time task to punch the Nehru-Gandhi bag and play the victim card, dominated his speech, he could not surmise that Rahul’s avowal that Hindustan was not simply an identity, but it represents the idea of voice of India, put him in an awkward spot as would not coin a suitable “jumla” to counter it. He found it tough to counter Rahul’s new narrative through his tried rhetoric. Through this Rahul denied him the political space.

In those days the various indigenous groups resorted to violence for asserting their existence, but now it is the RSS’s nasty politics of Hindutva and Modi government’s complicity with the big houses that has been at the root of the crisis. He was simply lying when he said; “Northeast ke samasya ki janani Congress hai,” (Congress is the genesis of the problems in the Northeast). Will he or his mentor Mohan Bhagwat put the facts in the public domain of what RSS has been doing in the northeast since 1945?

In recent times why has the RSS has been throwing its weight behind the Meitei community? Why is Modi silent on apprising the country of the compulsion to allow the Meitei Hindus to have ownership right of land in the hills, dominated by Kukis? Why is the government not encouraging the alternate mode of plantation and agriculture and forcing the the local tribal people, who incidentally belong to Kuki community, to continue with Poppy plantation?

While India is looking towards Modi for what he has to say about the genocide that has been going on unabated in Manipur, he preferred to deliver an election speech on the floor of Lok Sabha which incidentally lacked the element of seriousness. An insight into his reply would make it explicit that more than clarifying his stand on Manipur, he was desperately trying to take his party MPs into confidence. It also implied that at some level Modi had come to realise that his MPs are losing trust in his leadership. Modi at some level has failed to represent their aspiration. His stress on BJP will break all records to win in 2024 as country has ’no confidence’ in Congress was simply an attempt to win over their trust. It is worth mentioning that while Modi was addressing the house at least six BJP MPs were either taking snap sleep or yawning in the house. It simply underscored that even the BJP MPs did not take him seriously. For them he was simply performing the ritual and nothing else.

During his speech he devoted less than 2 minutes on Manipur. He said; ’There will be peace again in Manipur. It is a promise from Prime Minister. I want to assure people of Manipur that the state will soon be back on the path of development. Centre would do everything to ensure peace returns to the northeastern state.” This was simply a part of deceit played with the people of Manipur. Nonetheless if at all he had come out with this nature of disillusionary statement earlier the situation in Manipur would not have deteriorated to this extent. Probably the should not have been thrown into the genocidal turmoil.

Modi said "There will be peace again in Manipur. I want to assure people of Manipur that the state will soon be back on the path of development and we will leave no stones unturned for this.” He even said; “Whatever was said about ’Maa Bharti’ in this House has hurt the sentiments of people of the country. Some people talked about the death of ’Maa Bharti’, what can be more unfortunate than this". Undeniably he wanted to project himself as the saviour of the people. If at all what he says is true, then why did not come to the house to narrate the truth and put on record the mechanism to salvage the situation?

The primary reason for his reluctance is he does not intend to create any problem for RSS to widen its reach and spread to the whole of northeast India. Any move to curb the saffron violence would prove to be disastrous for the saffron ecosystem. Against this backdrop, it is worth mentioning that like Modi, his mentor, the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has preferred to maintain silence. He does not perceive the genocide that is haunting the people of Manipur as a threat to the sovereignty of India.

Modi climbing down from his public stance of playing the issues of nationalism and patriotism points to Rahul putting him on mat. It would not be exaggeration to say that Rahul has successfully hijacked the twin issues of nationalism and patriotism. Obviously denied of space he is trying to project himself as the vanguard for development and empowerment.

Modi saying that India is going through a very important and critical phase of time and is prophecy that its impact will be felt for the next 1,000 years is quite interesting. How could Modi who is not sure of what will happen after the 2024 election, was talking of India of distant future. It was simply a tactics to convey the people that he was devoted to the welfare of the country and his hard work would lay a strong foundation for the next 1,000 years. Expert in the art of fantasising the poor people, he once played his fantasy rope trick.

Rahul setting the new narration has unnerved Modi was clearly manifest in his systematic attack on him. Modi hit out Rahul Gandhi as a “failed product”. He said “Yesterday, someone talked of ‘dil ki baat’. The country has seen the state of his dimag (mind) and now has also seen his dil (heart),” Modi said. The intensity Rahul’s attack could be made out from his remark; Rahul’s “mohabbat ki dukan (shop of love)” is “ loot ki dukan hai, jhooth ki dukan hai” (This is a shop of loot and lies).”

His speech made it abundantly clear that he has no desire to stop the mayhem let loose in Manipur. His assurance that peace will soon be restored in the state was a bluff. His lack of concern for Manipur and its insulted and humiliated women folk got reflected in choosing his priority. He prioritised electoral victory over Manipur. If he was really concerned, he would have opened his speech by referring to Manipur. He knew the country has been waiting. Instead he passed on the buck to Amit Shah and said what Shah had said in his reply was sufficient. It is certainly a national shame.

Modi nevertheless didn’t explain why he maintained silence for so long and why the simple appeal for peace came after 99 days. Gaurav Gogoi, who had moved the no-confidence motion, said: “We didn’t see any intent to provide justice to Manipur. It was clear that chief minister N. Biren Singh divided the state. The Prime Minister didn’t explain why he was protecting him.” Like the politicians of the yester years who used to describe the students as “ jigar ke tukade”, Modi too resorted to theatrics; “Hamare liye Northeast jigar ka tukda hai (For us, the Northeast is a slice of our heart)”.

Congress allegation has enough substance that Modi government in the past nine years reflected ill-intentions, bad policies and injustice, contending that rhetoric and bluster could no longer cover up the truth which was now evident to the entire country. It said that the social fabric of the country had been torn apart through control of the media and the misuse of social media by the Modi government, the BJP and the hydra-headed Sangh parivar.

The Congress said; "To summarise, PM Modi’s failures in the last nine years can be categorised under ’durniti’ (bad policies), ’anyay’ (injustice) and - perhaps most importantly - ’badniyat’ (ill intention). Rhetoric and bluster can no longer cover up this truth which is now evident to the entire country."

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