Why the New Year has begun on a depressing note

Political arrogance and a myopic vision have made the Bharatiya Janata Party so blindsided that it has mistaken the majority numbers in the Lok Sabha to be a mandate for imposing majoritarian ideology.

It is indeed paradoxical that a government that refuses to tell us the source of of BJP’s humongous electoral bonds funding, the extent of black-money obliterated, publicly disclose Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s controversial educational degrees, and present the correct data on GDP and unemployment should ask each and every 130 crore people of India to furnish documents to establish our citizenship. It is a monumental travesty. 

The Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register are a deadly triumvirate that is a part of a larger Hindutva ecosystem which is blatantly divisive and is being deployed with remorseless precision all over India as the BJP believes it will pay huge electoral dividends. 

But the massive crowds on public squares all over the country protesting against the sectarian politics are a manifestation of an India that will not be subjugated or suppressed by the authoritarian fascists. A new vocabulary has coruscated India. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at Ram Lila Maidan in Delhi where he blamed the Congress party and ‘Urban Naxals’ for instigating students was archetypal gaslighting: it’s sole purpose was that if you can’t convince them, confuse them through devious mendacity. 

The PM’s speech was an epitome of disingenuous propaganda meant to deliberately confuse the people on the NRC, detention centres and the religious character of the CAA where the Muslims are being officially targeted. It is distressing that Mr Modi found his voice after over 20 innocent Indians were killed. 

Home Minister Amit Shah has repeatedly talked of an all India NRC and of potential termites who need to be thrown away, both in Parliament and outside. The Minister of State for Home has acknowledged in Parliament that the NPR is the basic foundation, a precursor to the NRC. 

The new NPR, in fact, has two crucial intriguing questions that demonstrates BJP’s political intentions: ‘Place and Date of Birth of Parents’ and ‘Place of Last Residence’. Both these data captured can be used to determine citizenship. And why should the NPR be used for welfare subsidy distribution when the government has already adopted Aadhaar for the same? 

Mr Modi’s government is a past master at doublespeak but India and the world has seen through their chicanery and hypocrisy. It is clear that the immediate trigger for the CAA was to negate the NRC results in Assam that found nearly half the illegal immigrants to be non-Muslims. 

The distraught local BJP leadership wants a fresh NRC following the disastrous contretemps. It is hardly surprising that the Sangh Parivaar finds itself in a political dilemma with both its wobbly feet on a banana peel. 

The police brutality especially in Uttar Pradesh is extremely disturbing and exhibits the institutional bias against the minority communities in our state institutions responsible for law and order. It is in BJP-administered states like Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, et cetera that has seen largescale violence and that is not an unusual coincidence. 

It is as per the BJP playbook of maligning civil society. PM Modi has already commenced his pedestrian, substandard rhetoric by dragging in a Pakistan-Congress connection into his fulminating speeches. It is contemptible baloney. 

The secular inclusive fabric of India’s constitution is under threat. A prominent BJP leader from Haryana, Leela Ram Gurjar, intimidated people by saying that those who opposed CAA/NRC ‘will be wiped out in an hour’; another threatened to cut Kerala’s Central assistance if NPR was not implemented in the state. 

A climate of fear is being created, but it is good to see that several state governments have said that they will oppose the NRC and now even NPR in their states. We face the extraordinary prospect of the bitter most confrontationist federal showdown with the Centre since 1947. 

Demonetisation did such serious structural damage to the Indian economy that we are still feeling its negative repercussions; the CAA, NRC and NPR likewise can create social mayhem that may take decades to restore.

We need to put an end to exclusionary politics and imbibe the Idea of India that celebrates our religious plurality and secular diversity. The vicious, violent attacks on protestors, imposition of Sec 144 , Internet shutdowns that have the dubious distinction of the longest in any democracy and the attempt to throttle free expression tells us that India’s unofficial Emergency has now entered 67 months. 

I have a question for India’s Prime Minister: who and what did he mean when he said that you could recognize protestors (and by extension insinuating that they are perpetrators of violence) ‘by their clothes’?

If the country’s highest executive indulges flagrantly in dog whistle politics, it is hardly surprising that India has entered into a dangerous phase of political polarization.

But the Jharkhand election results tell us all that India’s democratic syncretic multicultural character is not easy to destroy. The people of India fought valiantly against the British for our freedom struggle. They have a deeper inner resilience. They are capable of heavy lifting. 

Thus, we start 2020 on a depressing, dismal and despondent note. But as they say the darkest hour is before the dawn.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Yahoo or Verizon Media.

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