Modi, BJP and the bid to seize control of Indian polity

Modi, BJP and the bid to seize control of Indian polity

The Modi-Shah duo is singularly distinct, even by the standards of previous National Democratic Alliance governments. AFP file photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not seeking a fresh mandate for his governance in the 2019 General Elections; he did that in 2014 in the name of the ‘Gujarat model’. What Modi is now aiming for is not another mandate – that would be the ambition of political mortals – but to seize total control of India’s polity. After the resounding failure of his five years in office on public policy, that included the further marginalisation of an oppressed peasantry and decisions like demonetisation which disrupted the economy – formal and informal both, the government appears brazen in seeking another term. The Prime Minister seems like he will do anything to not let his control slip in these elections.

And it is here that the current government led by the Modi-Shah duo is singularly distinct, even by the standards of previous National Democratic Alliance governments. This is the characteristic not of governing with an iron hand – that too is problematic in a constitutional republic – but of actually taking control of all the institutional arms of government, that poses a grave danger to India’s democratic framework. 

It is pertinent to recall here that the modus operandi of governing the state through seizing control is characteristic of good old fascism. Those who rooted for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014, especially for Modi and the ‘development’ plank he rode on, would do well now to see the open fangs of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in its most brazen avatar. From controlling big media houses, to instilling fear among people for speaking against the government, to the full blown attack on education and not to speak of the quotidian violence against Muslims and Dalits, all of this is becoming the new normal today.  

The BJP in reality never had a concrete framework for governance to begin with, and has now conveniently resorted to their old model of Hindutva and anti-Pakistan rhetoric. And it is this ‘return’ to Hindutva that presents an imminent danger to the country’s polity. The nation’s unemployment rate is at its all time high, and the informal economy, accounting for 90 per cent of India’s economic activity, stands completely shattered post demonetisation. These are facts big media will tell you have few takers in the face of a narrative that projects a belligerent nation out to establish its superiority – not through socioeconomic progress but by bragging about its military capabilities. In 2019 not only do we have to face a never-ending Hindutva madness, but also have to constantly witness the projection of the invincibility of a leviathan BJP. 

BJP requires this projected invincibility, as fascism only understands and panders to the language of power and control, devoid of any possible democratic checks and balances. It is this model of total impunity that the Modi-Shah duo hopes will deliver them power. Theirs is a very clever construction to equate the party with the State itself. And when a political party behaves like a State, it is of course a danger to the very edifice of a country’s political democracy.

We must also not forget that the imagery of a belligerent nation that we witness today is nationalism of a particular hue that political Hindutva agrees with. It has been constructed through Brahminic veneration – which exists, just as Brahminism does – by dehumanising Muslims, Dalits and practically everyone else, except those who conform to its ideology. Fascism the world over works within this very framework of stoking social prejudices directed against the nation’s minorities which can be deployed expediently for electoral gains. 

The story of Modi-led BJP in the ongoing general election is the same where we are witnessing the normalisation of entrenched prejudices and its blatant repetition in everyday politics. In their aim to seize control of the country’s power structures, BJP has made this election a direct fight where people must come together to rescue democracy. We do require a belligerent nation indeed, but against all that the BJP has done and openly continues to advocate. 

Alas, the discourse we see paraded today – that of a hate-filled nation working against its citizens and its neighbour will consume its own people. Whatever is the result of the general elections this year, the republican values and democratic institutions must be defended unless we want to become part of a history written by the fascists. In the meantime, we must pity a nation, defined not by its own essence and character but by visceral hate for another nation.

(Moggallan Bharti teaches at the School of Development Studies, Ambedkar University Delhi)

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed above are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Deccan Herald and Deccan Herald does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.