Tejashwi Yadav: Do we want Godse’s India or Gandhi and Ambedkar’s? 

The battle of 2019 will be between Godse’s idea of India represented by the RSS-BJP versus Gandhi and Ambedkar’s idea of India represented by secular and democratic forces

Photo by Shailesh Raval/The India Today Group/Getty Images
Photo by Shailesh Raval/The India Today Group/Getty Images
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Tejashwi Prasad Yadav

While I have never laboured under any illusion of the true intent behind the promise of a ‘New India’ of ‘vikas’ made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, I still find it astounding that the past four years have been far worse than even my worst apprehensions.

Authoritarianism is the new normal, institutions are crumbling andformidable opponents are being ‘fixed’ by brutal use of state agencies against them. If this was not serious enough, the advances made by the marginalised sections of the Indian society vis-a-vis gaining rights and social dignity are in the reverse gear. The idea of governance is compromised and the weakest citizens are being targeted most violently. In place of rule of law, rule of the Sangh seems to be the motto. Vicious propaganda campaigns are being run by the party in power and its arms against those who question it. Ochlocracy or mob rule is being promoted at the cost of the democratic ethos. These are the highlights of Modi government's four years rule.

Take up any issue for discussion—from employment,education, public health, farmer’s issues, social harmony, foreign policy, national security (to name just a few)—the way to fittingly describe this era of the RSS-backed Narendra Modi rule is to call it an ‘era of failures’.

With almost a third of our country’s total population (31.3 per cent) being in the age group of 18-35 years, employment generation should be the cornerstone of our development vision and policy, but this current dispensation has totally quashed any hopes on that front.

This government’s economic irrationality in the shape of demonetisation and incompetence in the shape of the ill-conceived and badly implemented GST has slowed growth rate down substantially, it has dipped to below 6 per cent in some quarters.

The self-proclaimed Pradhan Sevak, during his rally in Agra for the run-up to 2014 parliamentary polls, promised one crore jobs per year, but the figures suggest otherwise. According to the Labour Bureau report of 2014-16, this government is providing way fewer jobs than promised.In 2015, only 1.55 lakh new jobs were created in our country and in 2016, only 2.31 lakh jobs. Compare this to 10 lakh jobs created in India in the year 2009 (during UPA-1). Our economy grew at an average of 8.4 per cent per annum in the 2004-09 period under the watch of UPA-1 (of which RJD was a major coalition partner).

This government’s economic irrationality in the shape of demonetisation and incompetence in the shape of the ill-conceived and badly implemented GST has slowed growth rate down substantially, it has dipped to below 6 per cent in some quarters.

According to a Forbes survey while over 14 per cent Indians reported that they were ‘thriving in 2014, only 3 per cent reported the same in 2017. During this same period, under the Modi government, the living wage for a family remained stagnant, rising only by a paltry Rs 100 from the base of Rs 17,300 per month, while the monthly wages for the unskilled workers actually went down by Rs 300.

The mob lynching of Akhlaq in Dadri was a chilling warning, not only for the Muslims of India but also for the whole of India which primarily believes in liberal,democratic, progressive, inclusive and accommodative India, that a fascist and authoritarian regime had taken the centre stage and that ochlocracy will be the new normal. The idea of constitutional governance in Indian socialist, secular, democratic republic is to uphold the rule of law and to deliver well-being of its citizens. In case of the Modi government, it has only meant rule by Golwalkar's “Bunch of thoughts”.

In my state Bihar, the riot machine of RSS is responsible for 70 small riots and communal incidents in the last two years after they cunningly subverted the mandate of the people. The single-largest party RJD was divested of power through unethical stratagems because Lalu Prasad Yadav is perceived as a symbol of secular India that fights back against the communal designs of the RSS. His unambiguous stand on the matter of BJP’s communal mobilisation has remained consistent through decades of turbulence and violence marked by the demolition of the Babri Masjid. It is also clearly reflected in the largely riot-free Bihar between 1990 and 2005.

This country was not divided in 1947 as much as it is today. Other than Muslims, the Scheduled Castes and tribals are on the hit list of Sangh Parivar. The idea of reservation in education and jobs is being attacked stealthily through crafty means. This is apparently in follow-up to the ominous questioning of the idea of affirmative action and reservation by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat during the campaign for Bihar Assembly Elections held in 2015.

The mandate given to Lalu Prasad Yadav and RJD was a clear articulation of the wishes and aspiration of the marginalised and backward sections of India. This was destroyed by BJP-RSS through a concerted and systematic onslaught on Laluji at the hands of CBI, ED and other agencies under the guidelines of the saffron outfit.

This country was not divided in 1947 as much as it is today. Other than Muslims, the Scheduled Castes and tribals are on the hit list of Sangh Parivar. The idea of reservation in education and jobs is being attacked stealthily through crafty means. This is apparently in follow-up to the ominous questioning of the idea of affirmative action and reservation by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat during the campaign for Bihar Assembly Elections held in 2015

As far as farmers are concerned, the BJP, in their election manifesto, promised them a minimum of 50 per cent profit over cost of production. Sadly, the government has failed to do anything on most of the promises made to farmers.

As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 11,360 farmers committed suicide in 2016 and 12,602 in 2015. Organised syndicates and groups are playing with the delivery mechanism of Food security Act meant for the poor and marginalised people. According to the report of CIPHET (Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology),in 2016, food grains worth Rs 92,000 crore meant for those under the ambit of National Food Security Act (NFSA) wasruined in the stock stations of Food Corporation of India.

It is a universally accepted fact that public health and education are the two most basic parameters by which to judge the governance of a ruling regime.A developing country like India, which aspires to take a giant leap and become the global leader,cannot go ahead without extraordinary performance on these fronts. It will not surprise anyone that here too the picture is quite dismal.

During its first budget after coming into power, the Modi government slashed the budget allocation of public health by 20 per cent. India is now spending only one percent of its yearly GDP on health while China spends 3 percent. Even Trump's USA spends 8.3 percent of its GDP on healthcare. One would have expected Modiji to have followed the footsteps of his friend at The White House but clearly when it comes to denying the masses any benefits, it is easy for Modi government to not follow any positive examples.

In education too, this RSS-directed government has cut the budget by 50 per cent between 2014 and 2018. In the budget of 2014-15, the share of education sector of the total budget was 6.15 percent, in 2017-18 it was reduced to 3.71 per cent. Moreover,higher educational institutions have been converted into battlegrounds. Critical voices of dissent are been silenced by the proxy administrators of the larger RSS family.

We must ask ourselves where this country is headed under this BJP government. The fight for 2019 is clear. It will be between Godse's idea of India represented by the RSS-BJP versus Gandhi and Ambedkar’s idea of India represented by secular and democratic forces.

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