No Reason  to Bow Down to So-called Modi Storm, Time for Unity to Strike: Sankar Ray

Guest post by SANKAR RAY

We have been living through an unnatural and scary time in India. Those in power today are ideologically responsible for destroying the greatest achievement of India’s freedom struggle. The achievement is stable parliamentary democracy, one of the main conditions for whose existence and development is accommodation of dissent and transparency therein. The symptoms of this destruction are often horrendous.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 156 out of 182 seats in the recently held Gujarat Assembly elections. The pattern of state politics was completely reversed as BJP’s number of seats increased from 99 to 182 from 2017 to 2022 and Congress’s seats decreased from 77 to 17. But BJP’s strength in municipal and panchayat elections in Gujarat was decreasing.

How could the solid base of Congress in Dalit and Adivasi areas suddenly weaken? Is this is a clear indication of abnormality, which is more evident in the landslide victory of the BJP in the Morbi district assembly seats? At least 140 people (mostly women and children) lost their lives when the Julto Pul suspension bridge over the Machu river collapsed on October 30 in Morbi town, a month before the assembly elections. Morbi Municipal Corporation, which is wholly under the control of BJP, is entirely responsible for this. The bridge built during the British colonial period fell into disrepair. The Morbi Municipality awarded the contract of its maintenance and repair to the Ajanta Manufacturing Company of the Areva Group, which manufactures watches, which have no experience in bridge construction and maintenance . It is a clear indication of corrupt and nepotistic nature civic administration under the BJP. Unbelievable as it may seem, the BJP candidate led in all the 130 wards of Morbi municipality. The BJP candidate Kantilal Amrutia of Morbi assembly constituency defeated Congress candidate Jayantilal Patel by a margin of more than 60,000 votes. In 2017, the Congress had won all these three seats with comfortable margin.

Are we then to assume that the people of Morbi voted for the BJP in droves, having been very happy for picking up Ajanta Manufacturing Company for maintenance and repair of bridge although it only has the experience and expertise in manufacture of watches? Is it to be accepted that loss of life of more than a hundred people did not sting the conscience of the voters?

Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi and his cronies among BJP leaders and the ‘Godi Media’ whose canine subservience to the saffron rulers is beyond doubt, put forward jackal’s logic that the people voted for the BJP candidate, because he jumped into the Machchhu river and saved many lives – as if hundreds of people died didn’t matter at all; what mattered was the swimmer’s acrobatics . What a ridiculous and politically motivated plea? As if despite the Morbi tragedy, the swimmer-turned-saffron-contestant made voters go in droves to press the button of the lotus symbol on the electronic voting machine and ensured the victory of BJP candidate, forgetting the criminal irresponsibility of Morbi municipality for the latter’s hidden lure for pelf and local power! Is this the Modi storm?

If Modi ha so impressed the people of Gujarat, then why has the percentage of votes polled reduced to 64 in 2022 from 69 percent-plus in 2017? If 52 percent of voters out of 64 percent of total valid votes were cast in favour of the BJP, then two-thirds of the state’s voters have practically boycotted the Modi-Shah duo.

BJP candidates did not even get 40 percent of postal ballots in Gujarat. Rather, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party together got more than 54 percent of these votes. This voting is not by pressing the button in the EVM. These voters are state and central government employees and officers engaged in polling, police and the Indian army plus with disabled people. Those votes cannot be rigged through EVMs and VVPAT. Postal ballots reflect the verdict of the actual vote.

So, it cannot be said that the voting machine was not rigged. The Election Commission of India claim that hacking of EVM-VVPAT system and rigging thereof is impossible. But a former head of one of the computer science divisions in one of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, wrote to me after the last assembly elections in Bihar. “It can be manipulated in a very opaque manner, by bugging the firmware of the machines and it can evade the test runs. If the VVPATs are checked by the voter and All VVPATs are counted then it is as good as ballot paper voting.”

Needless to say, this cannot happen without the connivance of Election Commission of India. It was evident in the Lok Sabha election in 2019 when the BJP won all 26 seats in Gujarat where the party got 56 percent of valid votes. This was no t normal at all. Little wonder, Modiji was happy with the work of the Central Election Commissioner and rewarded him with the post of Governor after end of his tenure at the EC.

Last Sunday, Dr Pranab Bardhan, emeritus professor of economics at the Columbia University lashed out at destruction of federalism during the eight years of Modi raj in his oration on ‘Centre-state relations and Indian Federallism’ under the aegis of the Federation Society, a heritage institution in as much as it was born during the famous resistance movement against the Partition of Bengal by Lord Curzon in 1905, said “The Prime Minister and his associates talk about cooperative federalism, but it’s a fraud. Our country is heading towards autocracy”

Despite this, the opposition has no reason to despair as a whole for more than one reasons. One, this time in Himachal Pradesh assembly polls, Congress not only won 40 seats out of 68 seats, it got more than 50 percent votes in 26 seats, while BJP got more than 50 percent votes in 10 seats. Outgoing BJP chief minister Jayaram Thakur got the highest percentage of votes – more than 75 percent. The seats where the Congress won by 50-percent-plus votes are Baijnath (50.32), Chamba (53.78), Chutpurni (52.7), Dharampur (51.9), Doon (51,89), Fatehpur (51.83), Gagret (61.15), Ghumarwin (51.96), Haroli (55.33), Jaisingpur (50.47), Jawali (51.22), Jubbal Kutkhai (54.89), Kasauli (50.47), Kasumpti (55.43), Kutlehar ( 54.84), Lahaul & Spiti (52.91), Nahan (50.08), Palampur (53.72), Rahanu (61.9), Shahpur (55.39), Shimla (51.35), Shimla Rural (60. 19 and Solan 51.54. In contrast, BJP got more than 50 percent of votes in 10 constituencies.

 Modi said Congress is leading by less than one percent in terms of total votes as if the Congress scrapped through by fluke. But by saying this, the success of Congress cannot be underestimated – and the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi’s Padayatra to some extent ensured togetherness among Congress workers during poll campaign. True, dissident BJP candidates caused defeat of Sangh Parivar in some constituencies. But it would have increased BJP’s strength by five seats at the most. But quite possibly the EVM-VVPAT game couldn’t be played in Himachal, unlike –many Gujaratis believe – in Gujarat .Otherwise, 156-seat win was improbable, even if Hindutva is ideologically acceptable to the majority of people in Gujarat.

AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said firmly that his party was set to win in Gujarat this time and he also mentioned the name of who will be the Chief Minister. But AAP won only five seats and 128 AAP candidates lost security deposit . So Kejriwal has suddenly became a mouni baba . Even then AAP is to be congratulated for winning 134 out of 250 seats of Municipal Corporation of Delhi and ended the BJP’s 15 years of protracted misrule.

But Kejriwal has to do some introspection. His counter-Hinduana (which should not be called alternative Hindutva, but a variant of political Hinduism which too deserves strong condemnation although he has not yet spoken of Hindu Rashtra) has been slapped by the Gujarat electorate. Kejriwal has to become acceptable to the opposition alliance. He has to change his slogan.

The people of India are now in an unnatural socio-political situation, as Modiji and his chief sidekick, Amit Shah, are determined to turn secular India into a Hindu state. There is an attempt to establish a fascist dictatorship by unbridled and naked application of ‘brute majority’ in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament.

The time has come to unite against the fascist conspiracy of the Sangh Parivar to put an end to this abnormal situation. In Bengali the slogan is ‘ samne din, jor larai, jot bandoo, toiri hao –whose essence is ‘ A grim battle is ahead tomorrow, unite and get prepared..

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