Ruthless attacks on his political opponents, unleashing the central agencies against social and cultural activists, and the latest to add to the long list of oppressed, the journalists, is mostly Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking revenge on his past. Till he was installed as the chief minister of Gujarat, he was a non-entity in the political circles and even his own partymen did not treat him as equal and with empathy.
His revenge reminisces the actions of BSP supremo Mayawati, when she came to power in early nineties in Uttar Pradesh. As Modi wears clothes costing lakhs of rupees and enjoying a royal life, which even the former maharajas and princes would envy, Mayawati had developed a penchant for gold ornaments and costly dresses. There are many similarities between the two. If Mayawati has been quite ruthless to her other leaders, Modi also does not have respect for his party leaders and colleagues.
It ought to be not forgotten that after becoming the prime minister, Modi sidelined the patriarch of the party LK Advani and cut to size veterans like Murli Manohar Joshi and other leaders. As Mayawati disliked the idea that any others should be seen as her competitor, so has been case with Modi.
This is nothing unusual. A man of Modi’s social background is always sceptical of the potential danger and challenge to his political survival. No BJP leader could speak to his face and counsel him wisely. Any leader venturing to do so is perceived as a potential threat to the power and stature of Modi.
Modi is known for his Golden Silence. He prefers not to speak on any of the issues of national importance. This he does not to be caught in an embarrassing situation and on the wrong side. He is scared that in case his words fail to evoke proper and positive response, his image, which he has prepared with assiduous and sustained efforts, would be ruined. He did not speak in the case of Manipur even while the state was on the verge of civil war and is still in the grip of deathly violence. He knew that opening mouth on Manipur would endanger his reputation and image. The RSS and Hindu supporters would get angry and eventually he would lose the support based on which he has been enjoying power.
His silence failed to conceal his real intentions and dilemma. His silence might have been interpreted by the BJP ecosystem and his bhaktas in some other means and manners, the global fraternity had come to know and this was the reason that the world largely remained silent about the unrest in Manipur between the predominantly Hindu Meitei, who form a bare majority in the state, and the mostly Christian Naga and Kuki tribes.
Promoting liberté, égalité, and fraternité has been the main motto of the Indian democracy, but Modi did not prefer to practice these three ideals. For him these have the potential to give rise to a new power centre, a new leader who could challenge his hegemony.
Silencing and torturing the opposition leaders is the integral party of this design. Two other factors have been of more importance: his being from Gujarat and also belonging to OBC section. Indian politics has traditionally been dictated and controlled by the north Indian leaders, especially from Uttar Pradesh. Allowing them space would have amounted to inviting problem for Modi. He preferred to keep them under thumb. He played the politics of OBC and Dalits, but the RSS design to treat them as Hindus was a major deterrent for him. He knew it, tried to chalk out his own independent path, but could not dare to cross the strategy of the RSS. It was primarily due to this, he could not build his strong base in the OBCs, nor assimilate them in the Hindu mainstream.
It is an open secret that he ruthlessly used the Enforcement Directorate, CBI and IT to force the opposition not to raise their voice against him and his leadership. During his chief ministership, when Gujarat was witnessing the worst pogrom and nearly 2000 Muslims were killed by the Hindu bigots and mercenaries, he had come to know the utility and effectiveness of the police force. It was during his stay Gujarat witnessed a number of encounters, till date which remain unsolved.
After the 2019 Lok Sabha election when the opposition forces and parties started raising their voices against him, he effectively used the police force against them. It is a known fact that police force has been polarised and the worst communalised has been Delhi Police. Modi had in fact turned the central agencies and Delhi Police into entities resembling Hitler’s Gestapo.
The silence and passive attitude of the opposition leaders towards Modi’s use of police lasted over six years of his rule. It was only after Rahul Gandhi took to streets and organised Bharat Jodo Yatra that they came out of their stupor. A good number of academics, intellectuals and social and rights activists were jailed, but they did not raise their voice. Their inertness and fear of being tortured was clearly manifest in their inaction during these years. These people were even scared to seek legal relief. Some activists had raised the issue of ED cannot act like a law unto itself, but their anguish and concern did not get wide support.
Three years ago 84-year-old Jharkhand-based tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy breathed his last while in custody. Though some activists raised this issue, it failed to shake the conscience of the secular and democratic people. His death exposed the state’s negligence and inability to protect prisoners. Swamy, a Parkinson’s patient, was deprived of the most basic facilities – one of which was a sipper to drink water from. Quite significantly, President Draupadi Murmu during her Governorship of Jharkhand knew him as a puritan social worker committed to Gandhian ideology.
Nevertheless, only yesterday while hearing a petition the Supreme Court severely lashed out at the ED and charged it with trying to “behave like a law unto itself”. The apex court also directed the E to maintain stringent standards of probity, fairness and not be vindictive in its functioning. ED practice of not informing the so called accused of the charges against him, was also questioned by the SC. It took serious exception to the ED officer orally reading out the grounds of arrest to the accused without supplying them with a written copy of the grounds for their arrest.
The bench said: “It speaks volumes about the ED and reflects poorly on their style of functioning, especially since the agency is charged with preserving the financial security of the country.” It added: “The ED has to be transparent, above board and conform to pristine standards of fairness and probity and not be vindictive in its stand.”
Laying down norms for the entire country, the bench held: “We hold that it will be necessary for a copy of grounds of arrest to be furnished to the accused at the time of arrest.” The Court held that such a right is a constitutional right under Article 22(1) as it enables the accused to take legal counsel based on written grounds of arrest. No doubt the judgement came on a plea by Pankaj Bansal and Basant Bansal, Directors of M3M real estate group, who had challenged an order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which declined to set aside their arrest by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
But this verdict has come as a great relief to the political and social activists who across the country were being targeted by the Modi and his government for raising their voice. Underlining that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is “not expected to be vindictive in its conduct”, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the agency must furnish the grounds of arrest in writing to the accused at the time of arrest.
There is one more similarity between Mayawati and Modi. The Jatavs, the main supporters of Mayawati, lent their sustenance to her, nonetheless nurse a hurt feeling that she has not done anything for them. Similar has been the case with Modi. He too has not done anything concrete for the OBC people. The caste survey would have provided him with the opportunity to assess the real strength of the OBCs. But at the behest of RSS, he dropped the move as it would have harmed the Hindutva politics of RSS and its design to present itself as the spokesperson of the 80 per cent of the Indians. By resorting to this, he virtually denied the benefits of social justice to the OBCs, EBC and other backward castes. It is beyond comprehension how could a champion of OBC and EBC cause forget the basic fact that the poor and Dalits are the worst sufferers of the political and economic hegemony and exploitation of the rich and feudal people. (IPA Service)