| Narendra Modi at the BJP Public Meeting Public Meeting in Pune on 14th July 2013 Photo Wikimedia Commons Narendra Modi | MR Online

Two agonizing years of devastation

Originally published: Peoples Democracy by Sitaram Yechury (May 30, 2021 )  | - Posted Jun 03, 2021

THESE two years since the Modi-II government was re-elected saw the consolidation of the process, with renewed vigour, put in motion seven years ago, post-2014 elections, of the realisation of the RSS project of converting India into their conception of a rabidly intolerant, theocratic, fascistic “Hindu Rashtra”. This was its declared objective on it’s founding in 1925. Savarkar’s coinage of “Hindutva” as a political project having nothing in common with Hindu religion that followed soon and the ideological construct along with an organisational structure to achieve this project advanced by Golwalakar in 1939 laid the foundations for this assault on the Indian Constitution, which is the very anti-thesis of the RSS’s project. This destruction of the secular democratic Republican Constitution acquired a frenzied pace since the 2019 elections.

THE PANDEMIC CATASTROPHE

Ever since the outbreak of the pandemic, first recorded in India end January 2020, this Modi government’s preoccupation had never been on combating the pandemic in right earnest and saving people’s lives but on continuing to relentlessly pursue the unfolding of the RSS project.

The Indian people are paying a very heavy price as a result of this. For a whole year, despite urgings by our Party and by many other opposition parties, the required measures to combat the pandemic were not undertaken. In fact, there was a general disdain to do so. No preparations were made in the health sector for providing protective equipment to our health workers; vastly enlarging the hospital spaces; involving the private health facilities (despite pointing out that Spain had temporarily nationalised all private health facilities); provision of oxygen and most importantly placing pre-orders for the then emerging vaccines. On all these counts, the Modi government paid absolutely no attention, thus failing miserably.

The abrupt, unprepared, ill planned lockdown created havoc. Indian economy that was plunging towards a recession prior to the pandemic was now devastated. Crores of people lost their jobs. Hunger was on the rise. But no measures of direct income transfers or free food grains distribution was undertaken.

The fleeing of migrant workers and their exodus from industrial centres reminiscent of the people’s travails during partition, desperately seeking refuge of their homes were not provided any facility for transportation by road or by rail. This naturally contributed also to the spread of the virus apart from heaping untold misery and death on the hapless poor, the spine of India’s manufacturing activity.

Despite all forewarnings Modi declared having won the war against Covid. Desperately seeking to project himself as the ‘Vishwa Guru’, he bombastically claimed that India is saving humanity through its vaccination production.

In the meanwhile, the Kumbh Mela was permitted. It was advanced by a year in order to reap electoral benefits from a communal polarisation campaign to garner votes in the early next year’s UP assembly polls. The IPL cricket tournament was permitted. Mega electoral rallies were conducted by the PM and HM violating all Covid protocol norms. All these decisions proved to be disastrous. They accelerated community transmission of the virus. Deaths and infections rose sharply combined with an acute vaccine inadequacy.

As the second wave started viciously, Modi government abdicated its responsibility by passing the burden on to the state governments without offering any financial packages, and blaming the people for their neglect of precautions. The net result was people dying gasping for breath; shortages of crucial life-saving medicines and an acute shortage of hospital spaces and ventilators.

India has today the morbid record of having the highest number of daily deaths and positive cases. Such has been the disaster of Modi’s Covid management. It could not protect lives and could not even arrange for solemn and dignified funeral of the dead. The gory visuals of dead bodies floating on rivers, particularly Ganga and the mass funerals are a reflection of this macabre dance of death that this government has brought about on the country and the people.

Even today, there is an abject refusal to provide relief to the people by procuring vaccines from all sources and to ensure a free, universal mass vaccination drive all across the country. The truth remains: Indian people can save themselves only when the Modi government can be forced to launch such a vaccination drive on a war footing while providing the needed monetary and food relief.

DESTRUCTION OF THE CONSTITUTION

Modi 2.0 government began with the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution which defined and protected the status of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. In one stroke the state ceased to exist and came under a virtual military occupation with all means of communications and normal day to day life disrupted. Even after these two years the situation is far from permitting people to conduct their lives in the usual manner. The subterfuge with which this whole exercise was undertaken was a blatant violation of the Constitution and its procedures.

This was followed by the enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act that is a brazen violation of and an affront to our Constitution. For the first time, citizenship was linked with the religious affiliation of a person.

The manner in which the countrywide massive protests against the CAA with a huge participation of our youth was dealt with was a clear expression of the contempt with which this government holds the people’s constitutional right to peaceful protests. It sought to break up this growing unity against the CAA/NPR/NRC by targeting the religious minorities, attacking them in various places including universities like Aligarh, Jamia, JNU etc., and the communal violence unleashed in Delhi as U.S. president Donald Trump was being welcomed and feted with massive public receptions, “Namaste Trump”.

ASSAULTING OF FOUNDATIONAL PILLARS OF THE CONSTITUTION

The attack on the Constitution is actually an attack on the very character of independent India. The Indian Constitution gives expression to the rich plurality and diversity that defines our country and people. India’s unity can only be consolidated when the threads of commonality among this diversity are strengthened. The RSS/BJP assaults this very concept by seeking to impose a uniformity on all expressions of our diversity linguistic, ethnic, religious etc. The very conception of a “Hindutva Rashtra” forces all minority religious groups to either subsume under Hinduism or live as secondary citizens with no constitutional rights of equality. The ethnic diversity is sought to be erased by inducting all distinct groups under Hinduism. The RSS slogan of ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan’ imposes a linguistic uniformity. This effort is a recipe for a social implosion which the BJP will suppress with strong arm tactics jettisoning democracy, democratic rights and civil liberties and employing fascistic methods and using draconian laws like the UAPA, sedition etc. All those who oppose them are treated as “internalenemies”. Such is the negation of democracy and the constitutional rights of freedoms and equality.

An assault on the constitutional rights of the people like what hap-pened in J&K is now being sought to be reenacted in Lakshwadeep with the frenzied communal attacks on the rights of religious minorities.

Self-Reliance: The foundational pillar of self-reliance was systematically undermined since 2014, but has become more vigorous after 2019. There is a merciless loot of national wealth. This is accompanied by the crassest expression of crony capitalism. The public sector is being dismantled and sold for a song and the financial sector is being denationalised which will lead to a massive exclusion of marginalised sections.

This is accompanied by a merciless attack on the rights of the working people. All the labour laws have been abolished and the new labour codes are an abject apology. Agriculture is being mortgaged to corporate interests through these new farm laws that have been enacted the surest recipe for the destruction of Indian agriculture and our farmers. India’s mineral wealth is likewise being thrown open to private profit maximisation.

In a nutshell India’s self-reliant foundations that stood India in good stead during the last seven decades is being destroyed in the interests of profit maximisation of private capital.

A grim consequence of this has been the exponential rise in the levels of corruption at high levels, accompanied by the legalisation of political corruption through the electoral bonds and permitting political parties to receive funds from foreign entities.

Net result is the gross obnoxious levels of widening of economic inequalities. The poor are condemned to greater poverty and misery while the rich become obscenely richer.

Federalism: The last two years have further cemented the assaults on the rights of the states. During this entire period of the pandemic these assaults on federalism have enlarged. The manner in which the GST is being implemented refusing to heed any suggestions by the states; refusing to pay the states their legitimate dues and imposing unbearable rates of taxes even on life saving drugs and equipment are all leading to a situation of riding roughshod over the Constitutional rights of state governments.

Social Justice: The atmosphere of poisonous hate campaigns and violence targeting the minorities, the dalits, the adivasis and women have risen phenomenally during the last two years. Gang rapes and murder of dalit teens, eviction of tribals from their forest lands, virtual nullification of the Forest Rights Act, alarming rise in crimes against women and the merciless attacks on the poor have all undermined every basic tenet of ensuring social justice for our people as guaranteed by the Constitution.

NARRATIVE OF THE “NEW INDIA”

The direction in which the Modi 2.0 government has been moving during the last two years is one that aims to destroy the secular democratic constitutional republic and replace it with their rabidly intolerant fascistic Hindutva Rashtra.

This requires that all constitutional authorities and the institutions of checks and balances be eroded.

Parliament: This process begins with the undermining of the parliament and the abandonment of any meaningful discussion or committee functioning. The parliament has been reduced to a tyranny of the majority.

This is dangerous. The centrality of the Indian Constitution, the sovereignty of the people is exercised by the legislators being accountable to the people and the government being accountable to the legislature. This is how “We the people” exercise our sovereignty. If the parliament becomes dysfunctional, then this people’s sovereignty is undermined.

This is accompanied by a systematic undermining of the independence of the judiciary (challenges to the abrogation of Article 370; CAA remain pending yet to be heard); the impartiality of the Election Commission and the gross misuse of other constitutional bodies like the CBI, CAG, the ED etc. Some of them are openly used as the political arm of the central government and the home ministry.

Media: For the RSS to succeed in realising its agenda it requires a largely servile media that can push the government’s narrative as “objective news” to promote pro-government falsification and actively push the government’s campaigns for sharpening polarisation.

Never has independent India seen a large section of the corporate media serve as abject ‘drum beaters’ of the government as witnessed during the last two years.

Assaults on Reason: For the RSS project to succeed it is absolutely required that reason, rationality and scientific temper must not inform and shape public discourse. Scientific temper is being destroyed and in its place obscurantism, superstition dominate facilitating realising the objective of the Hindutva Rashtra. Universities as centres for reason and rationality have to be assaulted to allow the triumph of irrationality, facilitating the RSS project of rewriting India’s history, replacing the study of India’s syncretic history with Hindu mythology and the rich diversity of Indian philosophy with Hindu theology. This is the real import of the new education policy pushed through undemocratically, during the pandemic by this government.

Symbols: Finally, this narrative of a “new India” requires its own symbols be created replacing the symbols of independent India. Fanciful projects like the bullet trains, even though unrealisable, gigantic statues and the redevelopment construction of the Central Vista in New Delhi are all reminiscent of the Hitler’s Dome in Berlin that was to highlight his fascist rule. Mercifully that could not fully materialise due to the second world war!

TWO YEARS OF HORROR

The last two years have been a virtual horror for the people and our constitutional republic. It is now incumbent that in order to save people, their lives and their quality of livelihood; to safeguard and strengthen India’s constitutional republic and to uphold the inalienable democratic rights, equality and civil liberties of our people that all those who cherish the values and rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution to come together to resist and defeat this assault on the Indian Republic and our people.

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