How PM Modi just pulled a fast one on us
We wonder what he actually meant by 'na khaunga, na khaane dunga'.
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Poll promises, like a scrumptious pie, leave a lingering aftertaste. So, when Narendra Modi, as BJP's PM candidate, let out the now-famous 2014 general election slogan "na khaunga, na khaane dunga", it stayed on voters' minds.
Four years down the line, the same voters, especially farmers, Dalits, Muslims and the unemployed youth, are out in protest against the Modi government for blinding their judgement with a rich potion of poorly kept promises.
So, when the PM on Thursday (April 12) led a hunger strike to expose Congress’ “undemocratic style of functioning and divisive politics and anti-development agenda”, the country — with 270 million people living below the international poverty line — found it hard to gulp down the irony.
Many wondered what the PM actually meant by "na khaunga, na khaane dunga".
Image credit: DailyO
According to PM Modi, the people who couldn’t gain power in 2014 "don’t want the country to move forward. They didn’t let Parliament work for a single day. They killed democracy... They don't want the nation to develop."
It's the same plank of "development for all" - Sabka Saath and Sabka Vikas - with which the BJP succeeded in securing a massive mandate in 2014 general elections and later. PM Modi knows it's time again to sell the same dream with more elections waiting to decide his government's fate.
But for how long can you sell the same dreams? Apparently, in India, it's easy to recycle dreams and sell them to the same people again and again, just like the previous governments had done in the past.
In November 2016, the country saw the most radical economic change. Although it proved to be back-breaking for the poor, the people of the country played along and assisted the government that claimed it to be a successful "experiment". (And you thought only guinea pigs are experimental tools).
The illusion of the go-go economy that the PM created has been ripped apart in various reports and analyses. While almost everyone, including his supporters, agrees that demonetisation was a big failure, the PM refuses to acknowledge that his policy gambles, which now include a badly implemented GST, have sucked the nation's economy dry and slowed down India’s "meteoric" growth.
There is more damning evidence to nail the PM's lies and promises.
Added to that, the increasing share of non-performing loans (NPLs) in the banking sector is reason enough to indicate what led to the growth slowdown.
Even though the impact of GST and demonetisation is slowly fading away, the economy is yet to realise their benefits — more so with the albatross of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) hanging around the nation's neck.
Yet, there is no slowdown on the BJP's inflated rhetoric.
It didn't matter to the PM Modi that thousands of farmers walked close to 200km to draw attention to the agrarian crisis, to ask for what is theirs - their right to survive.
It didn't matter to the PM when Dalits and Muslims lost their livelihood following the ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter, which the Centre has now reportedly sought to withdraw.
It doesn't need much understanding of the economy to gauge the real motive behind the ill-conceived restrictions on livestock trade. It was clear the ban was intended to hit hard industries such as leather that mostly employ Muslims and Dalits.
According to a Reuters report last year, the Modi government’s ban on the trade of cattle for slaughter "threatened $4 billion in annual beef exports and millions of jobs if the government didn't revoke the stoppage".
So, when the BJP and its affiliates unleashed this economic terror in the form of gau rakshaks, it was the Muslims and Dalits who were the most affected.
According to another Reuters investigation, the "organised attempt at stealing livelihoods of Muslims" had a sinister design to seize their cattle and sell them off to Hindu farmers or cow shelters.
The November 7 report said: “Hindu nationalists are beating up Muslim farmers and seizing their cows on the grounds that the animals are headed for the slaughterhouse. But there’s another side to this religiously-tinged violence: The stolen cows are being given to Hindu farmers.”
The same investigation said that as many as 1,90,000 cows were seized, stolen, forcibly acquired from Muslims since 2014 in such cow terrorism incidents.
The aggression on the PM's much-hated "pink economy" proved to be politically rewarding for the BJP in making India "Congress-mukt" with massive election wins in state after state. The government, in ample measure, showed where its concerns lie and with whom.
So, it's not surprising when Hindutva forces conspire to drive out nomadic shepherd communities with the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl, the prime minister doesn't even feel the need to break his silence or to stage a hunger strike in protest.
If it's about democracy and India's development, there is more damning evidence to nail the PM's lies and promises.
The PM famously promised 10 million jobs and instead offered pakoda-selling as an alternative, further leading one to doubt the real intent of his "na khaunga, na khane doonga" promise. Damning figures on the employment crisis only go on to strengthen the doubts. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), an independent think tank, as many as 31 million jobless people were looking for employment opportunities as of February this year. The unemployment rate in India — nearly two-thirds of the jobless are under 35 years old — hit its highest level in 16 months in March at 6.23 per cent.
So, when the prime minister of the country and his huge brigade of supporters decide to stage a hunger strike to save Indian democracy and expose the Opposition's anti-development agenda, it surely seems like he is pulling a fast one on us.