Is there a hole in PM Modi’s office?
By now, it has become a matter of common sense to believe that the 2019 general elections will be historic. The last four and a half years have been anything, but ordinary, if not historic. People are sick and afraid of living in a state of undeclared emergency and fascism, the chief architects of which are our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and BJP chief, Amit Shah, his trusted lieutenant.
While the lives of scores of Indians, who earn their daily bread through hard work, have only become more miserable, and the numbers of those who go to bed at night hungry only increase relentlessly, the saffron party seems, instead, to be busy with talks about temples and mosques.
It’s an irony that while businessmen such as Mukesh Ambani earns Rs 300 crores in a day, there are more than 80 crore Indians who survive on less than Rs 20 a day.
Our Constitution envisages India as a “socialist” democracy. And the massive economic disparity, which is on display, is in stark contrast with this very ethos of what our founding fathers had intended, and which they infused into the Constitution.
We don’t want a country where only a handful of people and organisations, such as the Adanis, Ambanis and Essars concentrate all the capital in their hands, while the common people have barely any means to eke out a living.
The purpose of electing a government to power is because we want the said government to take care of our basic needs, such as build schools and hospitals, ensure every citizen is safe. Surely not for constructing temples and mosques, which are nothing but diversionary tactics employed to ensure the citizens do not question the performance of the government.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance, this Sangh-BJP nexus is stopped this election. The ideology that they profess goes against the very spirit of our Constitution, and another term would only entail pushing India towards a bankruptcy of medieval mentalities, where caste-entrenched privileges are rewarded.
We only need to look not further away in order to demonstrate the potential threat this present dispensation has had over the country’s institutions.
Only last year, for instance, the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court had to warn us, in an unprecedented open press conference, that our democracy is under threat. The message they sought to send out was that our judicial processes are being weakened. It was almost as though the judges were literally pleading for help.
As the general elections inch closer, it is imperative to wake up to the realities facing our republic today, the realities of our constitutional institutions being weakened at its very core.
No matter how much the ruling dispensation talks about making the 2019 general elections about temples and mosques, we must not stop to remind them about the issues of poverty, unemployment, illness and inflation.
It’s not just institutions. This present ruling party and its policies have been determinedly anti-farmer and anti-poor. It doesn’t matter if you’re an MLA, MP, or even the prime minister. The wellbeing of our farmers, and solving the agrarian crisis looming over us all, must be made a priority. However, this government seems to be woefully unaware of the ground realities.
In fact, our Prime Minister is so busy getting his pictures clicked with Indian and foreign dignitaries, that the thought of scores of farmers who have committed suicides in the last four years, has not even evinced a worthy reaction from him.
All his slogans — such as Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas — ring hollow. These slogans are nothing but mere words, where there is no place for minorities, farmers and workers.
They brag about his “56-inch chest”. They talk about bringing back “black money” and building a “corruption-free India” and yet not a single corrupt politician or industrialist has been put behind the bars in the last four and half years.
It seems like there is a tunnel inside Prime Minister’s Office. Perhaps, that’s how people like Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi, Jatin Mehta and Sandesaras have all fled the country. It seems through this same proverbial hole in the PMO that our republic has lost more than Rs 35,000 crores.
Let’s do a roundup of some ground-level realities. There are no MRI or CT scan machines at any tehsil level hospitals in Gujarat. These two machines alone cost around Rs 4 crores. In Rs 400 crores, at least 100 tehsils can get covered, if the same money is put to right use.
In other words, with the money that was lost due to Mallya, Choksi and others, one can get these two machines in every tehsil of every district in India.
It is these ground realities that a ruling dispensation ought to bother about. And because they haven't, temples, mosques, and graveyards have now become blatant markers of this government's failure.
(The article is translated and adapted from a video column by the author for Asiaville Hindi.)
The writer is a Gujarat MLA and Dalit activist.