Since 2014, Modi government has attacked democracy in insidious ways. This attack has weakened institutional foundations of democracy in India. The government has subverted the bureaucracy, politicised the defence services, changed statistical models to suit itself.
It is a failed government, which has fooled people into believing that India has finally found its place under the sun. Grandiose schemes like the Bullet Train, even while the Railway system creaks and ordinary passengers suffer, smart cities and reckless public expenditure to build a personality cult around Prime Minister Narendra Modi are also aspects that need to be questioned.
This government must also go because of its criminal neglect of major public sector units. ONGC, a cash rich Navaratna company, has been milked by this government to bail out the Prime Minister’s pet company Gujarat Petroleum Development Corporation. Public Sector BSNL has been sacrificed at the altar of private telecom players, especially Reliance. Life Insurance Corporation has been forced to invest in companies in which ruling politicians have a stake. The plight of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and ordnance factories are also fairly well known.
So much so that employees of Air India, BSNL, etc. are finding it difficult to get their salary on time. How many more reasons must one cite to establish that Narendra Modi squandered a golden opportunity when the BJP became in 2014 the first political party in 30 years to secure a full majority in the Lok Sabha on its own?
He squandered his majority and he also squandered the opportunity provided by the sharp decline in price of international fuel prices between 2014 and 2017. This was the period when oil prices in the international market plunged from $140 a barrel to $35 a barrel. But in India, consumers continued to pay high prices for petroleum products.
The following are some of the reasons why voters must vote the Modi government out.
1. The Modi government for the first time has legitimised foreign funding and anonymous corporate donations to political parties in the form of electoral bonds.
2. The Modi regime has undermined institutions, subverted separation of powers and used executive power arbitrarily for sectarian and corrupt purposes.
3. It has diminished the legislative authority of Parliament, hidden information from parliamentary committees, and used Parliament as a platform for political abuse.
4. The use of CBI against political opponents, meddling in its functioning - including subverting its internal structure with the help of hand-picked officials is one of its infamous deeds.
5. It has lied to the judiciary, and interfered in judicial appointments with mala-fide intentions.
6. Governors appointed by it in states ruled by opposition parties have acted shamelessly as its agents.
7. The Cabinet system is in shambles, the principle of collective responsibility thrown to the winds. The PMO and a clutch of favoured officials and non-constitutional authorities such as the NSA have usurped power to take major decisions.
In states like UP, police have unleashed a reign of fake encounters. In scores of incidents involving public lynching of poor people transporting cows, the so-called cow-vigilantes filmed themselves carrying out these brutal acts
8. The Modi regime has tried to subvert the federal structure of the Union to concentrate central power.
9. Agencies such as the CBI, NIA, ED have been used opportunistically and politically.
10. The Modi regime has shamelessly subverted India’s criminal justice system. The use of Sedition law and the NSA against students, journalists and activists who question it has become pervasive.
11. Prosecution trials of Hindutva activists accused of terrorist acts have been wrecked from within. Upright officials have been victimised, and even judges threatened discreetly.
12. The file containing evidence on Aseemanand’s involvement in the (Malegaon blast case) disappeared. Crucial evidence on the death of Judge Loya and two of his friends was apparently ignored and the case was buried.
13. In states like UP, police have unleashed a reign of fake encounters. In scores of incidents involving public lynching of poor people transporting cows, the so-called cow-vigilantes filmed themselves carrying out these brutal acts.
14. The Modi regime has tried to destroy the autonomy of the RBI, NSSO and CBI. The autonomy of institutions such as the Election Commission, Central Information Commission, etc has been sought to be compromised.
15. Even more sinister is the attempt to drag the military and security organs into their political campaign.
16. The Modi regime has used state power to advance the totalitarian programme of the RSS and its affiliates. Marginalised communities have suffered the most from this policy.
17. Religious minorities have been threatened and attempts made to erode their political representation and constitutionally protected rights.
18. There have been a series of attacks on Dalits who question the caste system;
19. It tried to pass a communalism Citizenship Amendment bill which makes a mockery of the secular Constitution, and would have destroyed the delicate fabric of community relationships in North-East India.
20. The Prime Minister and BJP president have lied in public rallies and used offensive language against their political opponents. Its armies on social media have systematically circulated rumours and fake claims, and trolled critics of the government with hate messages in foul language including threats of rape and molestation.
21. In the aftermath of the Pulwama suicide bombing, RSS fronts (ABVP, VHP, Bajrang Dal) attacked innocent Kashmiri students and traders in places like Dehra Dun and undermined the Rule of law. This propaganda campaign was so poisonous that the CRPF command had to run a programme to counter the communal poison being spread on social media by the so-called patriots. Senior retired Armed Forces officers have denounced these attempts at politicising the Services. It is time to rise above political competition. Political parties can function only in a democratic institutional structure and popular culture. If Modi, the BJP and the RSS succeed in their plans, our democratic institutions will be destroyed, and political parties will become irrelevant.