Black Friday 2014!
-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
For a large section of India’s teeming millions, the massive victory by the right-wing Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) today to the country’s Parliament is indeed a ‘Black Friday’. While most pre-poll and exit-poll surveys were forecasting a victory for the BJP, none of them in fact predicted such a triumph for them and the near wipe-out of the Congress Party and their allies in the UPA. While in the true spirit of a democracy, one has to accept the fact of this verdict, one need not necessarily agree with it.
The BJP, all are aware, has catapulted to power due to the aggressive (a Presidential "I-Me-Myself" style) campaigning by Narendra Modi – who was anointed as the PM candidate by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He also had an unlimited amount of money from the corporate sector and other sources. The combination of all this was indeed a heady mix. The BJP finally made very calculated moves to polarize the Hindu vote-bank in different parts of the country; this has obviously paid great dividends. Their well oiled and strategic campaign and the political impasse created by the ruling UPA were certainly among the other key reasons for this massive victory.
On this Black Friday, the three major concerns emerge:
- will the new Government, under Modi’s leadership, protect and preserve the cherished ideals of the Indian Constitution? It will surely not be easy for them to either tinker or tamper with the fundamentals of the Constitution, but going from the writings and thinking of the ideologues of the RSS mainly Savarkar, Golwalkar and Hedgewar, their desire of establishing a Hindu nation State may have finally brought them to the threshold
- the second concern is the country’s pluralism: India takes great pride in its secular character, its diversity and the need and importance for inclusiveness at every possible level. Modi’s track record has been one of exclusiveness; there are the cosmetic gestures; true, there are some minorities who have been co-opted and compromised, however, a divide and rule policy, a ‘we-and-they’ attitude, and a feeling of majoritarianism will ultimately spell doom for the country
- the third concern is the institutionalization of corruption and the significant role played by the corporate sector in these elections. No one really knows how much money was pumped into propaganda and advertisement for Modi’s campaign. Conservative estimates put it at more than fifty five thousand crores of rupees. It may easily be double that amount. The irony is that one of the reasons that the Congress and the UPA were voted out of power was because of corruption; but now even greater corruption has brought the BJP into power. It is common knowledge that the corporate sector that supported Modi will now want to have its “pay-back” time and this will have detrimental repercussions on the body polity of the country.
To top it all, the poor and the marginalized will be at the receiving end; with its pro-rich policies, the BJP will clearly side with the 'haves' of the country. The middle-class will obviously have no problem about this; but the growing gap between the rich and the poor will surely have a negative impact in the long-run.
As the saffron flag with the lotus symbol flies high, there is a very large section of citizens who are deeply concerned about the India of tomorrow!
16th May, 2014
(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052