The BJP government came to power with an absolute majority under the slogan "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas". While there were many factors that led to the right-wing's mandate, "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas" was a promise, among others, which the electorate bought into. Now about two years into its term, BJP government seems to have ignored its promise and is taking the country for a ride with its preaching on nationalism.
"Sabka Saath" meaning "with everyone" was never in the ideology of the "Hindutva" and "majoritarianism" driven BJP and its parent RSS. Hence, when the BJP coined this slogan, it took many by surprise. Many were particularly sceptical of the BJP's promise and now, their fears are starting to come true as the BJP tries to spew its communal agenda in every sphere of governance, while alienating majority of the population by stripping them of their basic rights.
The saffron brigade is known to be against the minorities, and from the beginning, they were never in the "Sabka Saath" the BJP had promised. Igniting Hindu-Muslim conflicts and banking on communal tensions has been an active political strategy of the BJP to get Hindu votes - be it Vadodara riots, Trilokpuri riots, the attack on churches in Delhi, Muzaffarnagar riots or countless other untold communal incidents.
BJP MP Yogi Adiyanath kicked up the "Love-Jihad" conspiracy to flare up communal tensions and instill fear among Muslims and non-conformist Hindus. Union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti has been repeatedly indulging in hate speech in all her public meetings and during the Delhi elections she asked voters to choose between "Ramzaadon (Ram's children)" and "Haramzaadon (bastards)". The saffron outfit continues to support her unabated, thereby making its intentions clear.
The other section that the BJP has sidelined are the farmers. To please its corporate friends, the government took the ordinance route twice to amend the Land Acquisition Bill and weaken the rights of farmers. It decided let go of the amendments only after Opposition parties refused to budge to its bulldozing tactics and the BJP itself saw the potential damage the amended Bill could do to the then forthcoming Bihar elections.
Besides, nothing much was done to alleviate the suffering of the farmers during last year's drought. Billionaires like Vijay Mallya could get away with debt amounting to thousands of crores, but marginalised farmers with much smaller debts have been harassed day and night. As per the NCRB, as many as 5,650 farmers had committed suicide in 2014-15. Bihar's referendum clearly signalled the people's frustration with the BJP for not sticking to its mandate and the vote was a castigation of its destructive politics.
Students are also peeved with the high-handedness of the government. The views of students find no place in the policy of the government and they are constantly picked up for having dissenting opinions or liberal views. In Pune, FTII students had protested for more than 139 days against the appointment of "inept candidates" to manage the institution. The I&B ministry failed to heed to the voice of students and they eventually had to give up. Down south, IIT Madras banned its student association Ambedkar-Periyar study circle after the HRD ministry wrote to the institution complaining about the liberal ideas the association propagated on campus. The BJP government is more interested in policing universities rather than support them as spaces for innovation and discussion of ideas.
Just last month, the suicide of Dalit student Rohith Vemula had shaken the conscience of the masses and it emerged that he was repeatedly ostracised for being a Dalit and for invoking the ideology of Ambedkar on campus. Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya had termed Hyderabad University as a "den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics", effectively terming those espoused to Ambedkarite thoughts and demanding annihilation of caste as anti-nationals. This was not an isolated case where the BJP had played to its casteist instincts and acted against Dalit interests. Union minister VK Singh made denigrating remarks equating the death of a Dalit boy to that of a canine.
Two BJP states, Rajasthan and Haryana, passed legislations requiring candidates contesting Panchayat elections to have minimum educational qualifications. The educational clause was especially detrimental to potential Dalit candidates, for their literacy levels are far lower than the rest - just in Haryana, 67.5 per cent of SC women and 62.1 per cent of SC men became ineligible.
The educational clause also barred many women from contesting local body elections; given their literacy levels were equally low. With these discriminatory legislations, the BJP completely disregards the existence and participation of Dalits and women in nation building. Violence against women was a sensitive issue during the elections but it has long since been forgotten. BJP representatives have been making disparaging statements demeaning the status of women; Karnataka BJP leader KS Eshwarappa stated "If someone drags and rapes you, what can we do?", showing no concern for the grave issue.
The BJP dispensation has ignored minorities, driven farmers to suicide, enraged students, ostracised Dalits, victimised women- and they make up about 80 per cent of India's population, if not more. If 80 per cent of people do not matter, how would it be "Sabka Saath" and who does this government function for? It is no mystery and it is everyone's guess the RSS agenda of Hindu rashtra, in which purity matters more than humanity and intolerance over tolerance.
Even the promise of "Sabka Vikas", meaning "development for all", has come to be a wishful thinking, with 80 per cent of Indians out of BJP's radar. Next, no real development has fructified since the BJP has come to power. In fact, people are undergoing more pain now than before and there is little constructive action to put the economy on track. The NPAs of banks have been increasing, stock market has been crashing, jobs are not to be seen, investments have come to a halt and prices of essential goods are increasing. These days, dhall costs about Rs 200 per kilo and it has become unaffordable to the masses.
The only people who seem to have enjoyed any vikas are Adani, who was given a $1 billon credit by SBI, and the Ambanis, whose 16010-crore loan in the loss making RGTIL was restructured. The aam admi is still waiting for any vikas and given the misplaced priorities of RSS-driven BJP, it could well be a distant dream.
With the poll promise long forgotten and ignored, the BJP is trying to shift the debate to one of emotional theatrics in the garb of nationalism. The government has targeted JNU and has arrested its students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition. Right after, we heard the home minister, HRD minister and other BJP leaders professing to act strongly against anti-national forces. It is ironical that the saffron party that takes active pursuit to undermine the constitutional rights and freedom of 80 per cent of India's population actually goes around validating our nationalist instincts. If any, it is BJP that is anti-national in every sense.
Hitler wrecked havoc in Germany by weakening democratic institutions and passing Nuremberg laws to racially divide the society and the rest as we know, is history. Now in India, we are seeing a repeat of the same history in different forms.
In Germany it was anti-Semitism, and here BJP is employing Hindu-nationalism to divide the Indian people as nationalists and anti-nationalists. The means might be different, but the goal is same - to emotionally fool people in the name of nationalism and give little space for logic and rationale to see through the virulent campaign that threatens the rights conferred by our Constitution.
The right to freedom of speech and life is threatened under the current dispensation. Matters of private interest, be it eating beef, religion or women wearing jeans, are politicised to drive home the message that constitutionally granted freedom is not necessarily guaranteed. We need to be vigilant to safeguard our freedom and not let the saffron brigade send us to lunatic asylum in their remaining three years.