By D Surender Naik
India is passing through tough times, to name a few, economic slowdown, job crisis, social schisms, constitutional impropriety, continuous erosion of democratic conventions and practices and an unprecedented health crisis. Among the crises, the health crisis that we as a country are facing today is the most devastating as lakhs people are dying due to non-availability of quality health care. The incompetence of the current governments led by BJP at the centre and TRS in Telangana are at full display for everyone to see. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic exposed BJP and TRS to the hilt. Narendra Modi at the centre and KCR in Telangana have miserably failed in handling the health crisis caused by COVID-19. Their approach to deal with pandemic has been marked by unscientific temperament. Instead of focusing on developing health infrastructure, vaccine production, adequate supply of ventilators and medicines – Modi encouraged superstitious practices like clapping, beating utensils and lighting lamps and KCR followed the suit.
BJP on February 21, 2021 had also passed a resolution thanking Narendra Modi for effective handling of COVID-19 while the country is still confronting the pandemic. Given the state of affairs in the country, it can be said that both ruling and prominent opposition parties have failed to rise to the occasion. Together they have failed Indian democracy.
BJP govt at centre and TRS govt in Telangana have many parallels
The BJP government at the centre and TRS government in Telangana have many parallels. They are led by those who are good at public speaking. In fact it is the USP of both leaders. They are good at persuading people about what they say. They are popular in their own right. But when it comes to the content of their public addresses, it can be convincingly said that most of what they speak is nothing but trash. Their speeches are full of canards, misinformation and tall claims. Their speeches are proof of the fact that canards and lies can be believed by people provided the speaker is good at demagoguery.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the general election in 2014 assured of bringing black money stashed away in Swiss banks, two crore jobs annually, building hundred new smart cities across the country, etc. Similarly Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao also made tall claims that a job will be given to every household in the state, double bed room houses for all eligible citizens, three acre land to landless Dalits and Tribals and free education from KG to PG, enhancement of reservation to Tribals and Muslims from six to ten percent and four percent to twelve percent respectively, etc.
Now even after seven years of Modi and KCR rule at Centre and Telangana, the promises and claims made by them appear to be hollow. Both leaders have got a thumping mandate at hustings. They led their respective parties to victory in almost all subsequent elections since 2014 with few exceptions. Their leadership is unchallenged in their parties. Their style of functioning is authoritarian; both are known for muzzling criticism and press. What explains their popularity and success? Are they really popular? Is the “TINA” factor working in their favour? Or is it just hyperbole? Answers to all these questions can be found in several facts and evidences. The fact that today all prominent opposition parties with few exceptions have given up their space to pressure groups led by farmers, students and youth. It is these pressure groups who are really questioning the anti-people policies of the governments. Congress being the largest opposition party at the centre and in Telangana has taken backstage in such a manner that it intended to be so.
In the absence of credible opposition parties the people are forced to look up to BJP and TRS as an option at centre and in Telangana. In fact both BJP and TRS in their respective jurisdictions of influence have systematically demolished the image of opposition parties through pliant media and IT cells. On the other hand those who are questioning the government are labelled as anti-nationals. In some cases government’s investigative agencies are misused to silence the voices of criticism and dissent. As a result, most of the opposition parties are remaining silent instead of playing a role of constructive opposition. The inability of opposition parties to take on BJP and TRS also lies in the fact that almost all opposition parties are led by Manuwadi forces that have many things in common. Ideologically they are on the same footing. Their one point programme is to uphold the hegemony of Manuwadi forces in the system. The issues of Bahujans (Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Minorities) have never been on their agenda. This can be substantiated by the soft stance taken by opposition parties on the contentious issues like abolition of article 370, Law banning Triple Talaq, CAA, NRC and ten percent reservation to upper castes in the guise of economic backwardness. The opposition parties only made cursory criticism on these issues related to Bahujans. Their passive criticism and inability to put pressure on the government to rollback CAA and other anti-people legislations paved the way for the emergence of young leaders which is a welcome step for Indian politics. There is an acute shortage of genuine and credible leaders in India.
Amidst such a gloomy situation, there emerged a young Bahujan leader with a humble background to take on Modi’s juggernaut. He is Bhim Army founder and national president of Azad Samaj Party Chandrashekhar Azad an epitome of Bahujan aspirations. In fact the harsh stance against the BJP government at the centre was taken only by Azad. It is Azad who argued that the Bahujans will be real sufferers if NRC is implemented. He became the face of anti-CAA protests across the country. He was also sent to jail for his support to anti-CAA protests. All Bahujans looked up to him as their real leader with honesty and commitment. His active role in many movements that emerged as a result of anti-people policies of the government made the internationally acclaimed Time magazine to recognise him as one of the emerging global young leaders who are shaping the future.
Recognition by the Time magazine had come as a slap in the face of Indian media and political parties that are fully dominated by Manuwadi forces who have been deliberately ignoring Azad’s pro-people stances on various issues. This recognition confirmed the fact that truth always triumphs. Leaders like Azad have all the potential that is required to take on divisive and Manuwadi forces that have ruined this country for over seven decades since independence. The number of Azad’s admirers is swelling with each passing day because they see a ray of hope in him. His unflinching determination to fight for the cause of Bahujans and his commitment to tread the path set by Buddha, Mahatma Phule, Ambedkar and Kanshiram will enable him to realise the dream of Ambedkar’s idea of India. To put it in Kanshiram’s words “only those who talk about Bahujans, will rule the country”. Therefore only Bahujan politics is the way forward for the betterment of the country.
By D Surender Naik (Assistant Professor, Varanasi)