Black Friday 2014!


Ahmedabad: For a large section of India?s teeming millions, the massive victory on Friday by the right-wing Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) to the country?s Parliament is indeed a Black Friday.  While most pre-poll and exit-poll surveys were forecasting a victory for the BJP, none of them in fact predicted such a triumph for them and the near wipe-out of the Congress Party and their allies in the UPA.

The BJP, all are aware, have catapulted to power due to the aggressive (a Presidential “I-Me -Myself” style) campaigning by Narendra Modi ? who was anointed as PM candidate by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He also had an unlimited amount of money from the corporate sector.  The combination of all this was indeed a heady mix. The BJP finally made very calculated moves to polarize the Hindu vote- bank in different parts of the country; this has obviously paid great dividends.

On that Black Friday, and as a new Government takes over, the country therefore has three major concerns to deal with:

– Will the new Government under Modi?s leadership protect and preserve the cherished ideals of the Indian Constitution? It will surely not be easy for them to either tinker or tamper with the fundamentals of the Constitution, but going from the writings of the ideologues of the RSS mainly Savarkar, Golwalkar and Hedgewar, their desire of establishing a Hindu nation State may have finally brought them to the threshold.

– The second concern is the country?s pluralism. India takes great pride in its secular character, its diversity and the need and importance for inclusiveness at every possible level. Modi?s track record has been one of exclusiveness; there are the cosmetic gestures; there are symbols of those who are co-opted and compromised but a divide and rule policy, a ?we-and-they? attitude, and a feeling of majoritarianism will certainly spell doom for the country.

– The third concern is the institutionalization of corruption and the significant role played by the corporate sector in these elections. No one really knows how much money has been pumped into propaganda and advertisement for Modi. Conservative estimates put it at more than fifty five thousand crores of rupees. It may easily be double that amount. The irony is that one of the reasons that the Congress and the UPA were voted out of power was because of corruption; but now even greater corruption has brought the BJP into power. It is common knowledge that the corporate sector that supported Modi will now want to have its ?pay-back? time and this will have detrimental repercussions on the body polity of the country.

To top it all, the poor and the marginalized will be at the receiving end; with its pro-rich policies, the BJP will clearly side with the ‘haves’ of the country.The middle-class will obviously have no problem about this;but the growing gap between the rich and the poor will surely have a negative impact in the long-run.

As the saffron flag with the lotus symbol flies high, there is a very large section that is deeply concerned about the India of tomorrow!

(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)

Author: Fr Cedric Prakash sj