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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 1 New Delhi December 23, 2017 - Annual Number

A Surfeit of Constructed Lies

Sunday 24 December 2017

by K. Narayana

I am a born Hindu. I also like the religion and my caste and maintain social relations. But while taking either political or organisational decisions never can religion or caste influence me. At the same time I will not sail either with religion or caste in the above matters. It is purely my personal belief which our pious Constitution permits me to hold. Above all, I do not belong to the Hindutva fold and I am not casteist at all. The BJP has come to power in the name of communal hatred. At present the BJP is ruling the country in the name of the Hindus and in practice is implementing crude Hindutva. Whoever opposes the BJP is being branded anti-national and those who support the BJP become holy cows. Sharad Yadav, who is a senior politician, a member of the Rajya Sabha, and a socialist, has been disqualified under the Anti-Defection Act just because he opposed the BJP. Whereas Venkaiah Naidu, the Vice-President of the country, hails from a Telugu State that is full of defectors who also enjoy Cabinet berths as well as important positions. Can he look in to it?

Is it not a fact that the BJP vehemently criticised a former TMC leader for his involvement in the Sharada chit fund scam which involves thousands of crores of rupees and the same celebrity is now a topmost personality in the West Bengal unit of the BJP? The former Chief Minister of Maharastra, Narayan Rane, was sharply criticised by the BJP, but the same distin-guished person is a friend of the BJP at present. The BJP opposes the Congress tooth and nail. But a former Minister belonging to the same Congress has currently been awarded a berth in the Cabinet of the BJP-AGP coalition Ministry in Assam. The son of Sukhram of the telescam fame has now become a friend of the BJP. Is it not because of Laloo Prasad Yadav’s opposition to the BJP that he is being hounded by the CBI? Is it not true that the DMK is being blackmailed by Modiji? Is it not a fact that Modiji met Karunanidhi on the same day the 2G spectrum case came up for hearing in the court? The result is that the CBI court has adjourned the case. Why such double-standards? How suddenly some staunch opponents of the BJP are becoming patriots and some others are becoming anti-nationals?

In a world dominated by half-truths and near-truths, natural justice and reason are relegated to the status of dissenting voices. Constructed binaries occupy whatever little thinking space is available in our minds. Much before Virtual Reality, we had Virtual Illusion. The surreal overtakes the reality; larger than life images and symbols overwhelm our lives. Our collective psyche finds stimulation in symbols of symbols of symbols, submerging the real truth under multiple layers of symbolism. We try to seek easy answers to life’s problems through the path of least resistance—mass hallucination is created by the endless caco-phony of populist politics and mass media which numb the people’s minds to their endless suffering. It is the tried and tested technique of fascism to put up binaries where they have no reason to exist and feed people with surreal images of “us versus them”. A vast majority of Hindus are religious but not communal and believe that people of all faiths have equal rights to live and prosper in this land and prefer communal harmony, but the BJP wants to polarise the nation in the name of binaries of Hindutva versus anti-national; the total destruction of secularism is their aim. Any political opposition to Hindutva is branded as anti-national. Not chanting “Jai Shri Ram” is tantamount to being anti-Hindu and if one doesn’t meekly repeat “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, he is certainly a Pakistani agent in disguise, who has to be exposed and lynched. The list of convenient binaries is endless—“us versus all”—the targets are beef-eaters, minorities, Dalits, atheists — just about everyone who does not purportedly buy into the Hindutva version of jingoistic nationa-lism. Killing in the name of cow vigilantism is institutionalised. Intellectuals, who raise their voice in protest, can be gunned down with impunity. According to this narrative, all politicians in the Opposition are zombies and the one and only tallest leader with a glorious head on his shoulders is Modi and none else. He epitomises growth and development and without any element of doubt, he is an indispensable stalwart who is hell-bent on reviving a Hindu India that is soon to join the elite league of superpowers.

But this binary game essentially survives on transient emotions, with a very short life-span, which makes it mandatory to keep on inventing newer binaries to feed to the meek and compliant populace. Modi won the 2014 parliamentary elections with a surfeit of constructed lies— promises of 10 crore jobs for the youth, fishing out black money and depositing Rs 15 lakhs of Swiss horde in each Indian’s account, rapid industrial and agricultural development—just to name a few.

Promises of flash development with ‘Make-In-India” and Smart Cities had died a silent death. The promise of imparting hi-tech skills to 45 crores of youth in the name of “Skill India” had never seen the light of the day. The grand narrative of fishing out black money by demonetising 86 per cent of currency notes in circulation proved itself to be an unmitigated disaster. While the country is still reeling under the disastrous effects of notebandi, the people were hit by the forced Cashless India initiative and ill-planned GST. The lethal mix of all these misadventures had its inevitable effect on the economy—the GDP growth had shrunk by two per cent by official estimates and four per cent according to expert economists from the projected 7.2 per cent. Domestic consumption, exports and industrial production as well as the agricultural sector have seen negative growth. Job creation fell to its lowest ever level in nine years—just 1.4 lakh new jobs were created in the organised sector, whereas Modi promised 1.3 crore jobs every year for the next seven years. The President of the BJP had claimed with a dead-pan face that 7 crore jobs were created, but failed to explain how and where the magic had been achieved. The prices of all essential commodities have seen a sharp increase, whether due to GST or because of the opportu-nistic manipulation of wholesalers. The much- promised miracles obviously failed to materialise.

The BJP Government follows double- standards in its economic policies—what they profess outside has nothing to do with what their ulterior motive is. Demonetisation is professed to be a cure for black money and fake currency. But it ultimately transpired that the whole destructive exercise was meant to appease the thirst of the digital intermediary MNCs, by forcing cashless transactions on the unsus-pecting populace. The people were duped into believing that Modi is hell-bent on fishing out the ill-gotten wealth of the super rich—but he was actually safeguarding their wealth and giving enough leeway for them to park their slush funds abroad.

When the Soviet Red Army was entering the city of Berlin at the end World War II, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister was claiming that the German Army was marching on to take over Moscow. Just two days later, the people of Berlin were surprised to discover that the Soviet Army had hoisted its Red Flag over the Reichstag, the erstwhile German Parliament. Even before the UP local bodies’ poll results were fully declared, BJP President Amit Shah, the Indian edition of Goebbels, had the temerity to claim a spectacular victory for the BJP and said that the Uttar Pradesh (UP) civil poll results were a barometer of the nation’s mood. If this were true, then the nation’s mood clearly is to throw out the BJP in the coming elections. Shah’s claims remind us of the famous cliché from Mahabharat, where the Dharmaraj says: “Ashwathaama hatah kunjara”, with the word kunjara almost inaudible. Mr Amit Shah’s statements are a classic case of half-truths being paraded as total truths. Faced with an imminent drubbing in the ensuing Assembly elections in Gujarat, the BJP has mounted an offensive of lies to deceive the voters of that State. It is now emerging that the BJP fared very badly in the overall results in the elections to local bodies in UP. Except in the metros, where they had won 14 of the 16 mayoral posts, the BJP’s performance is nothing much to talk home about. On the face of it, the civic polls can hardly be seen as a sweep for the BJP—a picture that most of the compliant TV news channel headlines and scrolls painted immediately after the results started coming. A cursory analysis proves this. The BJP got less than 30 per cent of the 652 posts of the heads of urban bodies in all the three tiers that went to the polls. It got 184 out of 652 posts consisting of 16 mayors (top tier), 198 municipal council heads (second tier) and Nagar Panchayat heads (438). In the UP urban local body polls, the BJP vote-share fell by 10 per cent, lost 87 per cent of Nagar Panchayat member seats and 82 per cent of Nagar Palika Parishad seats. The State has a strength of 5434 Nagar Panchayat members of which the BJP won only 662 and lost 4728 to others, including an overwhelming majority of Independents as also the SP, BSP, Congress and RLD. But then it is contrary to the claims of BJP propagandists. What they are not saying is that the BJP vote-share has come down approximately by over nine per cent from 39.7 to 30.8. It seems then that what the BJP lost in these eight months, the Opposition and Independents gained. What a comedown for the Führer’s own party—even in the constituencies of Modi’s Varanasi and Aditya-nath’s Gorakhpur, it had got an unenviable drubbing.

In the election to the heads of Nagar Panchayats, the Independents led the way by capturing 182 out of 438 posts. The BJP won 100 posts, the Samajwadi Party 83, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 45 and the Congress 17. In the second tier, the BJP did emerge as the single largest party but with a much reduced vote- share than the 42 per cent it got in the UP Assembly polls earlier this year. Surely, the results prove that the UP voters have got disenchanted with the BJP in just eight months. The constructed halo around Modi is showing signs of petering out and losing its shine. The performance of the BJP in these local body elections shows a clear trend of rising voter dissatisfaction as we go to less urbanised and rural areas, where most of the people live in this predomi-nantly agriculture-based State. The local body elections were contested with party symbols and some of the Independents might eventually be attracted to the BJP by the latter using every foul means, but that is besides the point. The indisputable fact is that the BJP’s voter-base has eroded.

Contrary to Amit Shah’s and Jaitley’s claims, demonetisation and GST certainly had eroded the confidence of the voters in the rural and semi-urban areas—as is seen in the widespread farmers’ protests. Smaller businesses and small and micro-industries are the worst hit by these two Tughlaqian acts of the Modi Government—90 million or so people, who have lost their livelihood, along with their families, amount to no less than four crores of people nationwide. Added to this are the 53 per cent of people surviving on agriculture—landless unskilled labour had seen an increase of 34 per cent in the last three years under the BJP‘s misrule—these are the very people who had lost their livelihoods and the constructed binaries are visibly wearing off. If these were to be the trends of the voter mood, as is claimed by Amit Shah, then the BJP cannot hope to win big in any future election. But there are also a few lessons to be learnt by the Opposition—the only way this lethal machine of Hindutva can be contained is through Opposition unity. Any semblance of a united non-BJP Opposition would easily give a nightmare to the ruling dispensation.

Dr K. Narayana is the National Secretary, Communist Party of India.

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