Fiction Overtakes Religion in BJP Offensive

4 Min
Fiction Overtakes Religion in BJP Offensive

Atul Cowshish

Lately, an inevitable theme in the speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah has been about ‘conspiracies’ hatched by forces inimical towards India’s ‘growth story’ and its standing on the world stage.  

It is a nationalist narrative which can be used to counter the charge of excessive reliance on the old religious and Ram Mandir cards, which, of course, are not being discarded. The ground for the new offensive was prepared after pitching with some success the idea that India won ‘freedom’ not in August 1947 but in May 2014 which pitch forked India to an enviably high position on the world stage.

The Modi-Shah duet is faithfully amplified by the ruling party with ministers like Kiran Rijiju in the vanguard role. Notable support has also come from two high-ranking holders of constitutional positions—the presiding officers of the two Houses of Parliament. While Parliament is on, they show their concern about disturbances from the Opposition benches but rarely pull up the treasury benches for any lapses. It is simply unbelievable that the ruling party has no role whatsoever in derailing Parliamentary proceedings.  

It may be said that the Vice President and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha take positions out of their own convictions. But it raises eyebrows when large portions of observations made by an Opposition leader are expunged and a high constitutional authority talks about ‘doctored’ narratives of the Opposition leaders.  A new rule has emerged that criticism of the prime minister during proceedings in Parliament will not be recorded unless it is backed by authentication with documentary proof.

Objections of this nature militate against established traditions and rules in Parliament. Some are bound to suspect that the effort is directed at silencing the critics of the government and the prime minister. The intolerance of dissent has become a fact of life in today’s India.

It is not easy to understand all this hullabaloo, when the prime minister and his party, according to various ‘surveys’, enjoy more popular support than the Opposition.

These ‘surveys’ suggest that nothing, not even ‘conspiracies’ will have any adverse effect on the prime minister. Predictions of a third BJP sweep of the Lok Sabha polls in 2024 are already being made not only by ruling party supporters but also many critics.

But if anyone cares to reflect on what is being said to denounce the Opposition is that the self-serving BJP narrative of ‘conspiracy’ is totally false. Opposition parties cannot hatch ‘conspiracies’ in a regime where Big Brother is constantly watching.

There are enough people who will say that snooping is practiced with impunity. Remember the Pegasus controversy? It is there for all to see how scores of people who question the ruling party have been picked up on charges that fail to hold in the courts.

‘Conspiracy’ of a scale that can harm the executive head of the government, or damage the interests of the country cannot be hatched by one or two people huddling in an obscure corner. More than any previous government, the current one claims credit for taking to task all sorts of ‘anti-national’ elements—the ‘urban Naxals’, ‘Maoists’, the Left-leaning intellectuals and, of course, leaders of   parties who, it is alleged, have no love for their country.

It cannot be the government’s case that while it has done a great job in eliminating terrorists, insurgents, and all other mischief makers, it has singularly failed to nab the ‘conspirators’ in the Opposition camp. It is not an unfounded fear of arrest and various forms of harassment that haunts all those who refuse to sing the praise of the government.

Large scale arrests have taken of people on various charges in the last eight or nine years. To catch those who conspire against the nation would have been rather an easy thing to do. In any case, when the government claims to have considerably curbed—nay, eliminated—terrorists, insurgents and Maoists how come it is unable to do anything against those who are allegedly conspiring against the nation’s sovereignty and integrity?     

The government applauds the performance of the country’s intelligence apparatus. Ian Fleming did not create ‘OO7’ to keep an eye on political rivals. But the government of India and its security and intelligence agencies do take credit for curbing if not ending the activities of the insurgent groups and others who indulge in violence against innocent citizens. Jammu and Kashmir is now hailed as a peaceful heaven!

Amongst the more bizarre charges used in the ‘conspiracy’ narrative is the one that involves unnamed ‘foreign’ powers and media organisations like BBC. Obviously, the government is mighty upset with what the international media and rights organisations in friendly Western countries are saying. The government’s anger turns to frustration because much of what is said in criticism abroad is rooted in facts.

What heightens the frustration is the helplessness of the government in controlling the foreign media or organisations the way mainstream Indian media and most institutions have been. Abusing BBC in the vilest terms may warm the cockles of the followers of the ruling party but it will not succeed in bending the British media house.

In fact, it may lead to more stories and documentaries like the one on Gujarat 2002. It would not have escaped notice among Indian officials and leaders that despite a stepped up rhetoric of ‘conspiracy’ against India in the foreign press, stories critical of the Modi government and his policies continue to appear with disconcerting regularity###