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The electoral nexus: India’s forte

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By Ujjawal Krishnam

“There was no legal machinery by which [Gandhi] could be brought to book….I felt that [he] should not be allowed to meet a natural death,” Nathuram Godse made his great decision to kill Gandhi as dismemberment of India was announced.

 

Manohar Malgonkar, in his acclaimed book ‘The Men Who Killed Gandhi’, writes how ‘the cause to assassinate Gandhi’ was Hindu Sanghatan, which envisaged the unification and revitalisation of the Hindus so they should stand up and fight for their political rights instead of giving in to the Muslims as they have done in past.

If we are aiming to understand the present political scenario ahead of this year’s assembly elections and general elections of 2019, it becomes necessary to revisit some aspects of inevitable political polarization. Polarization of this kind not only led to the first assassination in independent India but also the present political development suggests the probable cataclysm towards radical sympathy and majoritarian demand. The justification of Gandhi’s murder is certainly a testimony of this fact.

The silhouettes of politics evolve, retaliate and cooperate according to demands. The political fight which could be on the edge of technological era or curbing pollution is now fought on the ground of caste, creed, dogma and (to a great extent) religion. The countrymen don’t preen poverty, corruption and demagoguery as prime issues but for them minority opinion is a problem. It is obvious to acknowledge the connexion which doesn’t let majority believe that ‘minorities’ also constitute this diverse nation. The minor religion should be wiped out, they believe. That to ensure that terrorism doesn’t infiltrate as it happened in ‘Malegaon’ and ‘Ajmer’ but they may always deny.

The episode of Rajasthan man burning a migrant Muslim labourer by creating a smokescreen of ‘love jihad’ is not forgotten. The ludicrous process of Hindufying the tribal talisman too stands fresh. Chattisgarh is wobbling on the axis of extreme Maoist influence, the vicious cycle concerns here the wipe out of tribals so land could be easily rewarded to industries which finance and support political parties. On the other hand, Madhya Pradesh promoting the culture of vegetarianism is less mischievous and more humorous. Three states with three different issues with a common patch of political polarisation are set to elect new legislators. It is this facet of polarisation which certainly has emerged as a linchpin of Indian democracy-and-demagoguery.

The silence of Rajasthan government on the movie row demonstrated the inability and fallacy existing in the dictionary of BJP. The states governed by BJP veiled by the chilled primordia of compliance not only banned the propagation of art but let fringe elements turn public properties into ashes dismantling chords of peace and governance. Many analysts speculated that the government didn’t take any actions as people belonging to specific community constitute major voter pool and dishurting their rigidity would cost negative in upcoming assembly elections. Congress in the opposition also maintained silence. The reason being evident and inevitable: votes.
It is quite a conundrum now to observe Congress leaders suddenly turning into hard core Hindus, in their language, ‘janeudhari bhrahmins’. The secular stance of Congress seems staggering. It appears that the grand old party has abrogated the vision what it has been known for. Question at present is: To retain the identity of Congress party, should Congress follow the ethics of majority or that of old Congress party? In the land of majoritarianism where a person has a vote there secularism matters less. The evolving Congress doesn’t fail to justify the saying.

It is not a surprise to observe the dwindled quality of education in these three states. In addition, Hindutva branding of school text books to carry out the mailcious propaganda is not hidden. The appointment of Dinanath Batra by BJP governed Gujarat earlier infuriated historians like Irfan Habib and Romila Thapar. Having polished history textbooks of Gujarat to exaggerate Hindutva, Dinanath Batra was invited by Madhya Pradesh too. Rest is a long story and easy to guess.

The so called ‘development’ is not restricted to reality, it spans over imaginary lands too. The lands believed to host those magnificent roads are better than any in US, Shivaraj Singh Chauhan said twice. Still it is a question of introspection among critics (they don’t include ‘followers’) why Mr Chief Minister was photographed crossing the waterlogged area with his rump on the hands of police and smile broadening the aura of Madhya Pradesh’s vikas.

The cow politics has encircled the current debate ahead of general elections. A cow is safely taken to Goshala before a victim of mob lynching is taken to the hospital. In that case, what brings repute to the cow belt is a practical affair. The poverty in all these three states is alarming. The social harmony and social inequality are prime issues which are none less than dilapidated drums on the face of the continent.

The communal polarisation will certainly play a major role in the assembly elections. These elections are important because this time it is not only BJP is in the ugly fray, it is Congress too ruling out the possibility of emergence of any third secular front.

People from these states are migrating to other regions in search of better opportunities. Daily wage labourers from Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are forced to sleep on the footpaths of Delhi while many farmers in Rajasthan have shunned their ancestral agricultural practices and have flocked to cities to sell toys; again, they too sleep on footpaths. Policemen killing protesting farmers in Mandsaur of Madhya Pradesh was a horrific incident. Their only mistake was to demand better crop prices in the drought-ravaged region that recorded a farm suicide every five hours in 2016-17 and their silence when broken silenced them.

These issues highlight the complete failure of state governments in these states. Governments have failed to avail minimum facilities to poor.

Administrative negligence is the reason why poor in tribal belt of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh are joining Naxalite movement. Do they have an option except of becoming police informers? The question still lingers why innocent and illiterate villagers were being trained as Special Police Officers (SPOs) under Salwa Judum, thanks to Supreme Court of India for declaring the program unconstitutional and inhumane.

The elections in India have been reduced to a failed chicanery of schematic five years plan. People may elevate non-incumbent to the assembly, they may believe that the new government will bring change and improvement but among these three states none is left to have not faced the government of the major political parties of India.

Voters are assessing charlatan politicians’ quackery, the reason why NOTA emerged as the third largest front in the recent Gujarat assembly elections. There is still no utility of NOTA, restricting voters to a limit: “Damned if they vote; damned if they don’t.”

(Author is an editor at Academia.edu and Wikiprojects, contributes to Getty Images, and writes on Indian polity and jurisprudence.)