Allow me to take you back to that press conference that late Atal ji had called in 2002 when he cancelled all his schedules to travel to an Indian state that was burning in communal violence, mindless killings tainted newspapers and television sets got a coat of deep red. In the court of the people, the state administration had demonstrably done lesser than they could, the apex court, however, I must mention, absolved all from the administration from all charges. You might wonder a PM in a press conference answering questions, was it ever done? Yes, all PMs before Mr Modi used to hold frequent and well-timed press engagements; all of them with the only condemnable exception of Mrs Indira Gandhi who shared particular hate for critical media, with our current head of state. Atal ji, advised Mr Modi, the then CM of Gujrat that he should, follow RajDharma, he went to explain that “ Raja ke liye praja praja me bhed nahi hota! Has Mr. Modi learnt the lesson? If 2019 election speeches are any indication, he has not quite as well as a head of state should have. Political science has been a subject of my interest, I like to read about it and learn about contemporary politics by following prominent politicians. Anna movement, was one such high voltage event, that I could not have missed. I was among many who travelled to Jantar Mantar to express their solidarity with the cause. Thanks to my friends in the media, I also got the opportunity to briefly meet Anna, I paid my respect to the man and said that we were with him, in the few minutes that my friend could squeeze in for me. I was infuriated by the mindless loot and the immoral plunder that Dr Singh led UPA2 had dispassionately unleashed on our beloved country, it felt as though, my own home was being robbed. Filled with rage, I wrote about it and with my feeble & unimportant voice joined the chorus that was gaining momentum by every passing day, the solution looked simple and in sight : Throw congress as far away as possible from the corridor of power. Facts as it stands today, the same court that found Mr Modi and his aids innocent of 2002 killing of innocent Indians, also pronounced some of the scam unfounded. CAG’s adventurism caused nationwide outrage, the gentleman who headed the respected institution then, is now retired and perhaps living a great life, I wish him well.
India, unfortunately, only has 2 parties with a real national presence, naturally, an alternative to Congress-led government was searched in BJP & there the stars were aligned just right for Mr Modi, he got anointed as BJP’s candidate for the top job. Much like how the character of Mr Bachchan emerged as an antiestablishment protagonist in the most successful years of his career, Mr Modi appeared taller and much more formidable than he eventually is being seen today. Indian looked at him with hope, a country that was already frustrated with UPAs misgovernance, did not ask him to work hard to connect with the Indian people. Media lapped him as the ultimate choice and Indian household accepted him as the sole saviour, the true beneficiary of the Anna movement had emerged and captured the imagination of a billion Indian.
The groundswell of support for the unprecedented anti-corruption movement seemed natural, the citizens were out saving India from the clutches of a corrupt coalition government which had acquired the form of a hydra-headed Frankenstein monster which was determined to steal and fleece our democracy. Media played its part too, dedicated headlines to the crusaders, nothing less than most severe punishment seemed fair and India was in no mood to wait for the law to take its own course. CWG blossomed and started throwing into the public domain details which directly implicated high profile ministers of gross misdoings, every other day, scams would get unearthed, every progressive catch was bigger and bolder than the previous one. It all looked unbearable & suffocating. In all this Dr Singh was deliberately and dangerously quite, moving from one patchy story to another without saying anything that could console the mourning nation. In the hearts and the minds of Indian people Manhoman Singh had lost, all credibility. People forgot liberalisations, his efforts that gave Indian economy a chance to compete in the modern world. He became a joke and we unabashedly hated him. We were falling in love with another politician, who seemed pure, clean and impeccable, new beloved of India looked dapper & enthralled people when he spoke, he alone made sense, everyone else was just ‘chor’. The entire country was salivating for Gujrat and its model of growth: All of this made Modi into an overnight hero, it seems as though he had won even before the election had formally gotten over. The election seemed like a mere formality. Mr Modi, worked really hard, he travelled across the length and breadth of the country, addressed mega rallies, people frustrated with unclean UPA flocked in great number, heard every word Narender uttered with hope and adulation. “Abki baar Modi Sarkar’, “Har har modi .. ghar ghar Modi” .. “NAMO NAMO” echoed in Indian homes, streets, newspaper and even in news studios. Rahul Gandhi’s visible disinterest in politics and laughable utterances, Dr Singh’s deafening silence and Sonia’s Italian origin were all criminal offences, in the minds of an average Indian voter. People turned out in record numbers. Some right meaning journalists like Rajdeep did try waking the Ghost of 2002 but they were shut down, mocked, and even attacked, people (us) deliberately looked the other way. Supreme Court has absolved Mr Modi of all charges for lack of evidence, the courts with whatever was presented to them couldn’t without reasonable doubt establish that Modi administration in Gujrat allowed the riots to spring out of control. The allegation that they willfully slaughter Muslim families were all forgotten. Indian saw Mr Modi as the man who could deliver progress. ‘Vikaspurush’, carefully crafted speeches delivered artfully played on to the public sentiments, Indian voters and Modi became one, in a rare political black swan moment, in which on 60% of the seats BJP got 90% of the votes. First time in the history of Independent India, we had a non-congress government sworn-in with a clear and unmistakable majority in the lower house. Constitutional formalities were undertaken and Modi became India’s 14th PM. In the minds of Indians, Indian was well on its way of becoming the golden bird one more time.
That night India slept as relieved as Nehru would have after delivering the iconic ‘Tyrst with destiny’ speech.
Before we could make peace the new occupants of the New Delhi; things began to change really quickly and with it what was once a wave became a whisper of disappointment. Indian discourse changed into some of the below.
Nationalism: The ruling party re-wrote the definitions of nationalism, by adding, machoism, bigotry, jingoism, and majoritarianism and artfully removing secular principles, at least in the narrative that it worked hard to build. People were forced to prove their nationalism, by saying Bharat Maa ki Jai, out loud for no reason, become the barometer for a few and for others it was agreeing to the demand of Hindu nation. Liberal voices, the intellectual questioning and critical proportion of the population were being sent to Pakistan.
Communalisation & Hatred – An incident thereafter, was never an incident alone, it was either a Hindu or a Muslim’s issue and almost always Hindu Vs Muslim. Back in the day being communal was considered bad, the secular viewpoint was the respectable stand. In these 5 years, before any one of us could realise, masses were galvanised, Ghar waspsi was organised, name changing, from ‘an Islamic name to a Hindu name’ became the new normal and before we knew India started aspiring to become a pro-Hindu Nation. People who tried, separating religion from the issues, were considered terrorists, apologists of bad Muslims and even worse, anti-national. Mob lynching and killing on suspicion of beef were no longer rare incidents. All Muslims were terrorists to the supporter of the ruling party and even those Hindu Dalits who for centuries have been deskinning dead cattle were not spared.
Institutionalisation of Misinformation – Narender questioned 70 years of Congress rule to suggest that they had not contributed to making India. Dead Nehru was dragged back to public discussions, everything that was not right was made to appear as his fault. Whatsapp became a powerful communication platform and the mighty IT cell of the ruling party uses it to its fullest to spread all kinds of bizarre lies, demonising Nehru and efforts were made to erase him from the memories of modern India. Reading and researching have since long been dying in the modern world, superficial hearsay information makes people knowledgable, now. Most industrious are those who type and search on Google if Google throws garbage in the first 10 search results it becomes the gospel of truth for this brigade. Pictures were morphed and lies were spread like nobodies business. Concerted efforts were made to decimate opposition, not just a party, but then the whole concept of active opposition was being attacked. Online trolls were legitimised by the ruling party which needed not just ground support but also an army on social media.
Media got broken up in two blocks.
1) Modi’s cheerleaders
2) Anti-national, presstitute, swine and what not
Anti questions & subversion of institution: Prime Minister Modi broke away from the tradition of holding press conferences and answering to the Indian people through these media events. It is not that PM was as quiet as the the previous one, in fact, he spoke, more than any other PM in the history of this country but all of it was either a Monologue or a staged programme where people who he would face, would ask questions celebrating his grand personality and greatness of his hard work. Media houses, barring a handful, just stopped being journalists and resumed the role of ruling parties spokespersons. From Prime Time to headlines, every space was dedicated to celebrating the larger than life personality of the PM. Hero worship was in. People who wrote against him were silenced, cornered, driven out of jobs and in rare cases even killed, like the journalist Gauri Lankesh. The economy started to rumble, following the disastrous currency ban but and botched up implementation of GST, with unemployment at a 45 years high, Indian saw 26 lacs open positions and government gagged NSSO data, which led to the resignation of eminent statisticians, two RBI governors walking out, supreme court judges holding press conferences and what not. On one side, the ruling party muted every information that showed its poor performance and on the other side within their party, they shunted all veterans; thus came into existence the Margdarshak Mandal.
Real issues were masked: Poll promises of 2014 were forgotten and Pakistan made entry into the political debate. To the point where PM in his election speeches dedicates 80% of his time to terrorism and even stoops to the level of asking votes in the name of the dead soldiers. Those who raise questions on his all-around unflattering performance are called “DeshDrohis” by his supporters. Farmer Suicides, trade deficits, questionable handling of the Rafale deal, cultivation of hate, mishandling of the Kashmir issue are all unimportant and must be subdued by the chorus that BJP, one of the wealthiest political parties of the world builds. Mr Modi, in this 2014 election speeches, spoke about fighting 2019 election on the report card, he has forgotten it completely instead he now holds a large card with “Hate Pakistan and Muslims” written on it. He had taken an oath that he would set up a special court to fast track the cases pending on MPs, the reality is that in 2019, his party has the maximum % of tainted MPs. He has been in the harshest tone possible condemned dynastic politics but truth is that his party is not different from any other political party in the country, he has gracefully given tickets to 25+ such entitled naamdars. The below tweets summarises the change in Mr Modi’s politics
BJP : We will ensure implementation of NRC in the entire country. We will remove every single infiltrator from the country, except Buddha, Hindus and Sikhs: Shri @AmitShah #NaMoForNewIndia
My Tweet (@LKstates): Insurgent #Modi #2014 : Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas, Black Money, Jobs, Sec370, Uniform civil code, development, Price rise on fuel!
Incumbent Modi #2019: India Pakistan .. Hindu Mussalman.. Anti National .. Surgical strike.. Nehru .. Congress..
In such a political climate, it is incumbent on we the people of India to decide by voting which story appeals more to us. Do we wish to preserve and protect our democratic right of holding the Government accountable by asking tough and critical questions or should we surrender like most of the Indian media before the almighty political force and let the change of 2014, forever change the construct of our society? This election is when we need to assert our will of keeping India a plural sovereign, of valuing peace and beating the surround sound of rhetoric. You own your vote, spend it wisely!
I continue to reserve my right to ask questions and I shall continue to do so; should you wish to know those questions too, look me up on twitter @LKstates.