Ask what Modi can do to you

Sickular Libtard

Mitali Saran

The creepy story set in Maharashtra began like all badly written books: It was a dark and smarmy night.

It was well past midnight when Governor Koshyari developed a keen interest in forming a government. But the jack-in-the-box alliance between the BJP and Ajit Pawar had been invited to form government before the sun came up. Prime Minister Modi’s breakfast-time tweet congratulating Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis made us spill tea all over our newspaper headlines about Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

It was the most amazing nonsense in the name of the people -- a power grab carried out by a hubris-addled Prime Minister in collusion with his old pal the Governor, and his grateful appointee, the President of India. It made the land’s highest office-bearers look like thieves in the night.

Gratifyingly, their malodorous plot unraveled into a major humiliation for Narendra Modi and Amit Shah on Constitution Day.

But that’s small comfort. In 2014, after Modi had made a big show of kneeling before Parliament, he rammed money bills and ordinances through the House, and showed what he thought of consultative policy by springing demonetisation on us. So, when in 2019, he made a big show of bowing before the Constitution, my blood ran cold. His attention appears to be the kiss of death.

The PMO’s legitimisation of corruption through electoral bonds is an assault on our right to political transparency. Its slyness in Maharashtra is an assault on our intelligence. Its brutalisation of Jammu & Kashmir -- do not forget that 15,000 children were detained there, and the Indian Consul General in New York spoke admiringly of Israeli-style settlements -- is an assault on human rights among other things. But there’s more and worse coming that will exploit the Constitution and violate its spirit.

Modi tweaks his rhetorical messaging depending on what he wants to get done, or deflect from. He sold achhe din to get elected, drilled ‘pride in the nation’ to tide over demonetisation and fire up the faithful, and exhorted people to ‘be positive’ to discredit critique and dissent as things began to go wrong. ‘Anti-corruption’ and ‘national security’ have consistently been used to throw a lead-lined shield over disproportionate action against NGOs, academics, and journalists.

Now, his rhetoric is aimed at shifting constitutional responsibility from the State to the citizen. ‘Democratic rights, but also duties’ implies that ‘If you fail to do your duty, we can withhold your rights’. It puts people on the back foot, and is easily ramped up into terrorism-by-bureaucracy. Instead of representing and serving people, the State is now holding auditions for citizenship. It’s like being issued a showcase notice for why they shouldn’t squash you like a bug. Produce document XYZ, or what right do you have to free speech, to residence, indeed, to citizenship? Do we like you enough to let you have a role in the national play? Amit Shah has turned the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and the Citizenship Amendment Bill into a two-pronged communal weapon against ‘terrorists’ and ‘termites’ -- read Muslims. The exercise, and an Amnesty report on it, shows that people have been rendered stateless by errors ranging from grave judicial lapse to trivial spelling mistake.

Shah has vowed to implement it all over the country. Threatening citizenship strikes at the fount of our rights. It is crazy that people should bear the onus of proving their innocence and validity in the bloodshot eyes of this power-drunk government.

To rehabilitate Modi’s message: If we care for our rights, it is our duty to oppose the NRC.

(Mitali Saran thinks a good asteroid could solve all our problems   @mitalisaran)

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