By Sitaram Yechury
PRIME Minister Narendra Modi betrays a sense of desperation in the shrill campaign that he is conducting in these general elections. Earlier, in a speech at Latur in Maharashtra, he called for people to vote for the BJP in the name of the Pulwama martyrs. The Election Commission’s action against this speech is still awaited. On April 21, the last day of campaigning in Gujarat, Modi said, had Pakistan not returned the Indian Air Force pilot, then it would have been a qatal ki raat (night of slaughter). Ironically, on March 1, the day Pakistan returned Indian Air Force pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, the US President, Donald Trump spoke to the global media at Hanoi in Vietnam, where he was present for the US-DPRK summit, that world should expect, shortly, good news regarding India-Pakistan tensions. This was said a few hours before Abhinandan was returned by Pakistan!
Again, in another rally at Barmer in Rajasthan, Modi said: “India has stopped the policy of getting scared of Pakistan’s threats, every other day they used to say `we have nuclear button’. What do we have then? Have we kept it for Diwali?”
Such brazen invocation of armed forces, threats of nuclear war in order to garner votes, is an act of complete desperation by Modi, as on all other issues the electorate is determined to oust this government.
PEOPLE’S LIVELIHOOD DESTROYED
The fact is that the BJP-RSS, under Narendra Modi’s leadership, is simply unable to face public anger against the drastic fall in people’s livelihood status. There has been a systematic all-round attack on the quality of life of the people during the last five years. Having assumed the control over the central government, while promising achhe din, the illusory balloons that Modi had floated in the 2014 campaign have all burst one after another.
Even after doctoring the statistics to inflate India’s GDP growth rate, it registered the lowest this year during the last five years. As against the promise of creating 10 crorenew jobs during the last five years, unemployment today has reached the highest levels in the last five decades. The Centre for Monitoring of Indian Economy (CMIE) has estimated that post-demonetisation, there was a loss of 50 lakh jobs directly. Additionally, nearly 1.5 crore people’s livelihood has been destroyed.
Agricultural distress continues to mount. Modi has betrayed the promise of a minimum support price being at least one and a half times more than the total production cost. He further betrayed the promise of a one-time loan waiver, so that the farmers are not pushed into committing distress suicides. During the last five years, agricultural growth has fallen drastically accompanied by an increase in distress suicides by farmers.
Industry continued to stagnate during most of these five years and is now showing a decline. The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) shows a declining trend. In February 2019, industrial growth fell to 0.1 per cent compared to 1.7 per cent in January 2019. In January 2018, industrial growth rate was 6.9 per cent. Modi’s 2014 promise was to ensure an annual industrial growth rate of 12 to 14 per cent! The capital goods sector is an indicator of our economic health. In February 2019, this (capital goods) contracted by 8.8 per cent over the minus 3.4 per cent growth in January 2019.
Despite all the hype over the slogan Make in India, the total inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) during these five years was 28 per cent of all capital inflows into the country. The rest of the 72 per cent inflows were all speculative, into the financial markets. This compares very poorly with the earlier period of five years, when FDI inflow were 48 per cent between 2009 and 2014.
Despite all hullabaloo of expanding India’s exports, the trade deficit, i.e., the difference between what India imports and exports, stood at a record high of $ 176 billion in 2018-19.
The livelihood conditions of vast sections of our people, including the middle class, has drastically fallen due to the relentless rise in the prices of petroleum products. Additionally, between 2014 and 2018, the prices of ten essential commodities rose by an average of 7.5 per cent – sugar costing Rs 24 a kg rose to Rs 42 in 2018; dal costing Rs47/kg in 2014 is now over Rs 70/kg; milk Rs 36/litre is now over Rs. 45/litre. These are all-India averages.
Refusing to provide any relief to the people over this relentless economic onslaught and, particularly refusing to undertake a one-time loan waiver for our beleaguered annadatas(farmers), the Modi government has now written off Rs 5,55,603 crores during the last five years of loans taken by corporate cronies from our banks. Eighty per cent of such loans waived during the last decade have been done under this Modi government. TheModi government refuses to reveal the names of those whose loans have been waived. This secrecy is meant to protect the sources of its political funding, concealing the worst form of crony capitalism that India has ever seen. The Enforcement Directorate has now revealed that 36 of the mega looters of our public money have left the country seeking shelter abroad. This means that the Modi government has permitted those who have looted our public money to escape scot-free foreclosing all possibilities of such loot being recovered and culprits punished.
UNSCRUPULOUS EMOTIVE CAMPAIGN
Unable to meet the people’s anger over this assault on their daily life and fearing a rejection at the ballot, Narendra Modi has now mounted the most unscrupulous aggressive campaign over the fight against terror and the sacrifices of our armed forces as the means to muster people’s support. In the process, he and the BJP-RSS combine violated with impunity the guidelines of the Model Code of Conduct laid down by the Election Commission. Does one need to go far to reason why the Election Commission is allowing such a violation of its own guidelines?
Let us examine the emotive claims now being made by Modi.
Claim: Eliminated cross-border terrorism.
Reality: Modi became the Prime Minister boasting that he had a 56 inch chest capable of defeating Pakistan’s efforts at engineering cross-border terrorism. Today he is frenetically campaigning that he has succeeded in instilling a sense of fright in terrorists. But, then what are the facts?
Compared to the period 2009-14, in 2014-19 under Narendra Modi, the number of terror attacks in India rose from 109 to 626 and the ceasefire violations by Pakistan rose from 563 to 5596. The number of our security forces martyred increased from 139 to 483; the number of civilians who have been killed by terrorist attacks rose from 12 to 210.
Modi government’s Jammu and Kashmir policy led to an alarming rise in numbers of local youths joining militant groups. This rose from 16 in 2014 to 191 in 2018.
Post the terrorist attack at Uri military base, surgical strikes were conducted by Indian Army. Modi and the BJP government claimed to have demolished the cross-border terrorism facilitates and boasted that there would not be any further terrorist attacks from across the border. Then came the Pulwama terrorist attack that killed 40 of our CRPFjawans. Following this, when the Indian Air Force successfully targeted terrorist bases inside Pakistan in Balakot, we were all told that India had successfully paralysed, if not eliminated, all future terrorist attacks. Post-Balakot, terrorist attacks have continued and more security personnel have been martyred. Terrorist attacks have also injured civilians with bombs being planted in busy civilian areas in Jammu region of J&K.
This is the reality of Mr Modi’s 56 inch chest!
Claim: Modi frightens Pakistan.
Reality: It is an established fact that fundamentalism of all hues only feed each other. The claim that Pakistan is scared of the BJP/RSS and Narendra Modi is completely contrary to the facts. In fact, Muslim fundamentalism and Hindu communalism feed on each other and draw strength from each other.
Way back in 1999, on the eve of the general elections that were held after the then BJP government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee lost its majority on the Floor of the Lok Sabha, the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba was asked whom they would like to see win in the 1999 general election in India. It’s information secretary said, “The BJP suits us. Within a year they have made us into a nuclear and missile power. Lashkar-e-Tayyeba is getting a good response because of the BJP’s statements. It is much better than before. We pray to God that they come to power again. Then we will emerge even stronger”. (Hindustan Times,July 19, 1999)
In a book, Spy Chronicles, jointly written by two former spymasters – Pakistan’s former Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General (Retired) AsadDurrani and India’s former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief A S Dulat; AsadDurrani says that Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is a more preferred choice for the ISI. He says: “The reaction in Pakistan to Modi’s election as the PM was that it served India right. Let Modi take care of India, destroy its image, and possibly destroy its inner balance.” The ISI’s choice of who should win in the Indian elections is, thus, clear.
Virtually confirming this, on April 10, 2019, Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, a day before the first phase of voting began, gave an endorsement to Indian Prime Minister,Narendra Modi. He expressed before a host of foreign media journalists that he hopes that Modi will win because India-Pakistan peace will have “a better chance”.
Need anything more be said, Mr Modi, as to whom Pakistan prefers to win in India? The stronger Hindutva communalism becomes in India, the stronger will become Muslim fundamentalism in Pakistan. In fact, they are “made for each other”.
Indian people will surely see through this emotion rousing and exercise their vote on the basis of their day-to-day life experience during the last five years.
The defeat of this BJP government looks imminent, paving the way for an alternative secular government, post-elections.
Article appearing in the forthcoming issue of People’s Democracy dated April 22-28, 2019. Its being published here with the permission of the author.