April 06, 2014

RSS/BJP Pumps in Huge Money

General Elections 2014

THE manner in which the RSS/BJP is pumping in monetary and material resources in the current campaign to ensure the success of its prime ministerial aspirant to head the future Indian government after the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections is, indeed, unprecedented. According to some, it is allegedly estimated that the recently enhanced Election Commission’s limit on expenditures per candidate per constituency of Rs 70 lakh has already been far exceeded (totalling all 542 constituencies) by the RSS/BJP in projecting their PM aspirant alone. If the expenditure generally incurred by the BJP as a political party on its propaganda and on its other candidates nationwide is added, then already more than double of the EC limit would have been exceeded per constituency. The volume of money and resources already spent are, indeed, humongous – a scale that independent India has never seen before. That they are able to get away with such expenditures without any scrutiny is because of a serious flaw in our law. Currently, there is no limit on the expenditures incurred by a political party on its election campaign. The CPI(M) had all along demanded that like a limit fixed for a candidate’s expenditure, a limit must be fixed for party expenditures. Not surprisingly, no other national political party agreed with our suggestion! As a result, political parties with access to lesser resources, though with greater support amongst the people, suffer due to the current rules governing the electoral process in our country. There are restrictions placed on wall writings, postering and other means of less expensive propaganda while the more expensive ones like media advertisements, paid news, paid opinion polls, hiring helicopters and private jets to ferry party leaders for campaign have virtually no restrictions imposed. Indian democracy is, in today’s conditions, rapidly degenerating into democracy as a right that can only be exercised by the moneyed and the privileged. This does not auger well for the future of our democracy. It is high time that the Election Commission must suggest changes in the law, if necessary, to ensure that Indian democracy will continue to retain its character as ordained in our constitution and based on universal suffrage, irrespective of the monetary or wealth status of an individual. What also merits an investigation is from where are these resources coming? These are so huge that if they are invested in building our much-needed economic infrastructure, lakhs of additional jobs can be created. That the RSS/BJP is able to marshal such resources clearly points towards their undisguised eagerness to not let go of this opportunity to control the reins of the central government in pursuit of their long-standing ideological project of converting the secular democratic character of the Indian Republic into their version of a rabidly intolerant fascistic `Hindu Rashtra’. They see today an opportunity for an unfolding of their vision which they could not on the earlier occasions when the BJP formed a government at the centre. In 1996, the Vajpayee-led BJP government which had, in its Election Manifesto, the core Hindutva agenda as its central objective could not attract any support outside of itself in the parliament and was defeated on the floor of the house after 13 days. Even during this short period, especially when the confidence vote debate was going on in the Lok Sabha and it was imminent that the BJP would loose the vote, the Vajpayee government went ahead and signed the infamous `power purchase agreement’ with the now bankrupt and defunct multinational corporation, Enron. Indeed, their commitment to `crony capitalism’ has been ever so consistent! In 1998, after seriously compromising with its hardcore Hindutva agenda, Vajpayee once again formed the government. It lasted for 13 months this time, falling when AIADMK withdrew its support. It is only in 1999 when the BJP was forced to put its hardcore Hindutva agenda on the backburner that it could muster allies for a majority and run the government for a full term. In 2004, the RSS mounted a similar campaign, though on a scale much lower than today, on `shining India’ and `feel good factor’ prompting many an opinion pollster to forecast a landslide victory for the BJP. That all this came a cropper as the results were declared is a part of recorded history today. However, in 2014 elections, the RSS sees an opportunity of coming closest to controlling the reins of the central government without needing to substantially compromise on its core agenda. In order to achieve this, it has perfected the adaptation of the insidious Nazi fascist propaganda methods to Indian conditions. There are two principal elements in such a propaganda strategy. First is to mercilessly distort history in order to project the `correctness’ of their objectives. The second is to create an `enemy’ as distinct from the identity that they represent – like Hitler’s criminal animosity against the Jews in order to establish the superiority of the Aryan race. In Indian conditions, the effort is to generate such animosity against religious minorities, particularly the Muslims, in order to establish the superiority of the Hindus. This latter aspect is further required to be strengthened to try and unify the vast diversity of the `Hindu’ fold, particularly the victims of caste-based social oppression, into a unified monolithic Hindu society. This is nothing else but an expression of the worst form of vote bank politics – seeking Hindu consolidation by spreading hostility against other religious minorities. The current campaign led by the RSS/BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant is the classic unfolding of such a strategy. He had recently thundered asking the people to give him 300 members of parliament, so that the world will have no option but to listen to India. The world has always listened to India since the dawn of civilization. It listened not because of India’s armed might or material wealth. It listened because of India’s strength of ideas. It is this strength that has evolved into the modern idea of India – a country unique and unprecedented in terms of its social plurality and manifold diversity. The RSS vision, far from strengthening this character of India, is the surest recipe to destroy India’s inherent strength. It is the surest recipe to destroy this idea of India. Following his historical gaffes like the ancient Buddhist centre Taxila is in Bihar (it is in today’s Pakistan), that Alexander invaded India and died on the banks of the Ganges, that Bhagat Singh had spent a long time incarcerated in the `Kala Pani’ in the Andamans etc etc, he has now claimed that the legendary musician of Emperor Akbar’s court, Tansen, learnt music in his birth place! These are not mere expressions of lack of historical knowledge. These are insidious attempts to suggest that everything that is noteworthy in Indian history has its Hindu origins. The RSS/BJP’s PM aspirant is also increasingly displaying the fascistic megalomaniac character when he declared that the country is awaiting “Kamal (Lotus, the BJP’s election symbol) and Modi”. This is the RSS objective, eagerly lapped up by sections of India Inc. who are looking upon this PM aspirant as the `messiah’ – the person chosen to deliver – to deliver greater opportunities for merciless profit maximization. The very choice of Varanasi as the chosen constituency nakedly suggests the advancing of the communal agenda. If indeed there is a “wave” in their favour, then why did the RSS/BJP insist on displacing a veteran former BJP president from his sitting seat to vacate it for this `messiah’? In a wave, he could have won from any constituency, isn’t it? As noted in these columns in the past, this is a brazen effort to sharpen communal polarisation. Such are the dangers that loom ahead. As far as the basic issues concerning the continuous deterioration in the quality of life of the vast mass of our people, the solutions offered by the RSS/BJP are no different from those followed by the government so far since the 1998 NDA government and subsequent UPA governments. What the Indian people require both to safeguard our rich and unique historical legacy and culture and to advance our civilisational levels is an alternative – non-Congress, non-BJP economic policy direction. This is what that must follow the 2014 general elections. (April 2, 2013)