July 10, 2022

BJP Era: Drive for One Party Dictatorship

THE drive to establish one-party authoritarian rule was clearly expressed by the union home minister, Amit Shah, at the national executive meeting of the BJP held in Hyderabad on July 2-3. Moving the political resolution, Amit Shah said that the next 30-40 years will be the era of the BJP in India. It is a small mercy that he did not talk about BJP rule for the next thousand years in the style of the Third Reich. 

However, three or four decades of the “BJP era” would be sufficient to transform India into a one-party Hindutva dictatorship.

Amit Shah also boasted in the speech that the BJP would end family rule in West Bengal and Telangana and come to power in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Kerala. The confidence that he exuded about this “operation capture” obviously stemmed from the success in toppling the MVA government in Maharashtra and installing a BJP-controlled government there. 

The destabilisation of a non-BJP government was taken to a new level in Maharashtra.  It is no more confined to bribery of MLAs and horse-trading using huge amounts of money.  Apart from such conventional methods, the full weight of the State and its institutions and agencies were brought into play to break up the Shiv Sena and the government in the state.

As the operation topple unfolded in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court itself facilitated the defection of the Shiv Sena MLAs by preventing their disqualification. The court stayed the duration of the show-cause notice issued by the deputy speaker of the assembly to 16 MLAs asking them why they should not be disqualified.  The Supreme Court extended the period for replying to the notice given to the legislators by more than two weeks, thereby making the whole move infructuous.  This goes against the letter and spirit of the anti-defection law as the process of deciding on disqualification falls within the jurisdiction solely of the legislature and the scope for judicial review comes only after the decision-making process is complete. 

If the higher judiciary behaved in this fashion, the role of the governor was more blatant.  The governor, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, had not allowed the election of the speaker to the legislative assembly for nearly 17 months during the tenure of MVA government by citing some litigation going on regarding some rules.  However, with the new BJP-rebel Sena government being sworn-in, the governor found no problem in fixing the date for the election of the speaker two days hence.  Throughout the tenure of the MVA government, the governor behaved more like an RSS functionary. 

An important weapon used against the MVA government was the central agencies, particularly the Enforcement Directorate (ED).  The ED was deployed to investigate and arraign several Shiv Sena and NCP leaders. Two of the ministers belonging to the NCP were put in jail under the draconian money laundering charges.  Escaping the persecution of the central agencies became a compelling reason to defect to the side of the BJP.

It is armed with the various instruments of the State – the governor, central agencies and judiciary – that Amit Shah has proclaimed that no state can be immune to the conquering drive of the BJP. If states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala are to be won over, that cannot be done through political activities, but only by the use of the full armoury of the State.  There can be only “one nation, one party”.

What the BJP era portends was seen in the ominous developments that occurred in the days preceding the BJP national executive meeting. The authoritarian juggernaut rolled on with the incarceration of Teesta Setalvad and R B Sreekumar as punishment for their temerity in approaching the highest court for justice for the victims of the Gujarat pogrom of 2002.  The arrest of Mohammed Zubair and the filing of false cases for his independent journalism and fact-checking was a clear signal that the regime will continue its crackdown on the independent media.  The BJP era will ensure a pliant media and no place for dissenting views. 

While the Hindutva outfits continue to stoke anti-Muslim sentiments and create a permanent divide in society, there has been the unexpected discovery of the BJP harbouring Muslim extremists. It has been found that one of the two assailants, Mohammad Riaz Akhtari, who killed Kanhaiya Lal, the tailor in Udaipur is a member of the BJP minority wing.  More seriously, a Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Talib Hussain Shah, who was arrested in Jammu was found to have been the social media head of the BJP in Jammu. The BJP seems to be the home for extremists of all hues; after all, communal polarisation can be heightened when there are extremist activities from both sides.  For a party which prides itself in championing Hindu interests, the presence of Muslim extremists-terrorists in its ranks seems to be a case of unity of the opposites.

That Amit Shah’s communal-authoritarian vision of a new BJP era is not just rhetoric was confirmed by his leader’s exhortations in the public meeting. Modi wants Hyderabad to become Bhagyanagar. This does not signify just a change in the name of a city – it is the marker for a new Hindutva era.


(July 6, 2022)