It’s election year and the political parties are gearing up for the battle of the ballot that would come a few months later. The electoral machinations are already working, as the ongoing Karnataka spectacle shows. High-pitched rhetoric that has started across the political spectrum. This is the age of coalition politics, and the overtures of one party to another is interesting to watch. Bollywood, political-style with smuggling of MLAs and the drama of horse-trading.
Along with the Karnataka tamasha and the UP marriage of convenience between the SP and the BSP to fight tooth-and-nail the Yogidom of the BJP, the highlights of the sideshow is the CBI shuffle and the still unraveling issue of the sedition chargesheet that’s been leveled against the JNU students after three years. Indeed, the Modi government has come all out to prove its might against those who the BJP thinks are just enemies of the government.
The couple of instances seemingly show what the government is seeking in terms of its own political philosophy of controlling important institutions such as the CBI and the judiciary by any means possible and also proving itself as defender of national interests. It all proves that the BJP juggernaut is rightly on the path of destroying all that it considers as roadblocks or of nuisance value. The government will spare no one that stands upright in challenging the government on any issue. Despite the dissenting voices against promoting two of its choices of judges to the Supreme Court, the government has shown its in-your-face attitude. The Rafael humdrum is still up in the air.
The Modi government rode to power on the chariot of Hinduvta and on some yet unfulfilled promises. The economic and social landscape of the nation does not show a happy picture. The RBI crisis has cast a long shadow on the functioning of the government in economic matters.
Demonetisation and GST has rebounded with devastating effects that have severely damaged the government’s confidence to solve the financial ills affecting the country.
In the social sphere, the reservation and the citizenship (amendment) bills have raised the eyebrows of the critically-minded people who feel that these type of preferential policies are nothing more than sops for vote-catching among the upper-caste Hindus and the Assamese, respectively. The BJP managed to swipe aside the long-ruling Congress in 2016.
The whole dynamics of preferential policies has been turned around to suit the “new poor”, those deemed economically-poor under the parameters laid by the government. It pushes further down those who fall under the categories of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes for whom the compensatory policies were addressed in the Constitution’s Article 17, which reads, “Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability shall be an offense punishable in accordance with the law.” The Parliament, in 1955, passed “The Untouchability Offense Act.” Even after 70 years of Independence, Dalits are still craving for freedom.
A recent example is of the government turning a blind eye to those involved in the mob violence unleashed by the “cow vigilantes” during which a police officer, Subodh Kumar Singh, and a 18-year-old protester were killed in UP. The cause is said to be the slaughter of a cow, as the revered animal has suddenly come into the consciousness of the ideology-driven BJP.
The outspoken Dalit scholar, Dr Kancha Illaiah, has called the strong-arm tactics of the Hindutva brigade as “spiritual fascism” whose enemies are the Muslims and Christians. The Hindu-Muslim tension has rendered India into a perpetual cauldron of ethnic strife. The political implication of hatred between the two communities is that the country is on tenterhooks all the time. There are other ethnic fissures that one hopes time will patch up. Though belonging to same race and religion, Andhra Pradesh was split, creating India’s 29th state, Telangana. The reason: JOBS.
Regionalism is a tenacious issue, with each state asking for its own quota for its “locals”. Jobs is also a problem in Goa. That the State has become a magnet for out-of-state tourists who camp out in open spaces as well as do their daily hygienic routines is another headache. Definitely, it has Goans worried and seems they have reached the dead-end as no solution is in sight. However, some hard actions need to be taken by respective agencies to prevent Goa from going down the drain (or down the Mandovi!). If Goa must remain as a tourist destination for foreigners, quick action is called for the preservation of its once-pristine landscape.
Will the newly-formed umbrella group, Goemcho Avaz, work as a pressure group to force the BJP government to do as what some other states have done for its locals? If socio-economic change is sought, then solidarity among the people is imperative. The Opinion Poll anniversary just passed, but its lessons need to be re-learnt to save Goa.
(Eugene Correia is a senior journalist who worked for The Hindu, and The Free Press Journal)