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'Modi is not on the trajectory of dictatorship'

May 23, 2019 18:12 IST

'I am more worried about the BJP as I see lot of marginalisation of top leaders in the BJP.'
'I am really worried about the terminal decline of the Congress. And the greatest tragedy is that there are so many good people in the Congress.'
'It will take a couple of years, but this is the most appropriate time for a new political party and leadership to emerge.'

Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

A week before the election results, Kanpur-based political analyst Dr A K Verma wrote in The Print that the Mahagathbandhan between the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party would not be able to match up to the Bharatiya Janata Party.

It is clear that Verma's prediction has come true and that the Mahagathbandhan hasn't made much of a dent to the BJP, and it may end up with more than 50 seats.

"The Opposition needs to build a new narrative to take on Modi in the future," Dr Verma, director, Centre for the Study of Society and Politics, Kanpur, tells Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com.

The Opposition has said this victory owes to the Hindutva wave with a blend of nationalism.

That is the problem of people who think like that. Our political parties have always made this realisation to Muslims that they are minorities and they are different from the rest of us.

We have great friendship with Muslims and when we hear and see such things, it is ridiculous. Unfortunately, by doing such politics, it only embarrasses the Muslims more.

Here in Uttar Pradesh we have a history of the Ganga Yamuna tehzeeb. Muslims too are convinced that the Modi government's delivery system has worked well, but of course, there is some corruption at the state level.

There is no discrimination against Muslims as far as delivery is concerned from the government's side to them on social schemes.

So you feel there is nothing communal about Modi's victory?

I don't think caste and the communal factor worked in his victory.

The BJP has improved its vote share in Muslim-dominated constituencies in Uttar Pradesh and in some places they are going above the 50 per cent vote share.

Muslim women voters are voting for the BJP. They are receiving benefits of the Pradhan Mantri Yojana schemes. So why should we see this victory as a binary, from the Hindu-Muslim viewpoint? After all, everybody is a citizen of India.

 

Figures say 41 lakh minorities got subsidised loans for houses under the Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana.

That is what Prime Minister Modi has been saying all the time. He says people call him communal, but his development is secular.

Earlier, parties used to favour a particular caste, but this is the first time people have realised that Prime Minister Modi is above board. People are amazed why Modi has been given anti-Muslim tag.

What about lynching of Muslims by gau rakshaks?

Will you attribute all this to Modi?

I am not attributing it to him, but hasn't he given a free hand to gau rakshaks?

He has not given them a free hand. He is strong against them. He is not allowing this nonsense at the grass root level.

Our country is big and maybe there are these things happening. If an ordinary man who is linked to the BJP does these things (lynching), then people blame Modi.

People realise that lower functionaries here and there might have misbehaved, but that has been condemned by the top leadership.

What about Pragya Thakur who called Nathuram Godse a deshbhakt?

The party is not endorsing her stance. As far as giving a ticket is concerned, has she not been let off by the court?

She is out on bail.

So many people are out on bail. And if you are out on bail, that does not mean you are a convict.

You cannot have double standards for this community and that community. I have sent a proposal to the Election Commission whereby anyone with criminal antecedents must not contest elections.

Why do you think the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party did not win huge numbers? Have people overcome caste politics in Uttar Pradesh?

I am surprised that they may get 20 seats in Uttar Pradesh. I have been saying that the transfer of votes does not take place.

What has Modi delivered to the rural voters in Uttar Pradesh for them to trust him so?

Two things you can see with your naked eye.

One is the toilets, which have been built (under the Swachh Bharat programme). And these toilets are not on paper, but you can actually see it.

The second is the Beti Padhao Beti Bachao campaign. Women feel very good about that.

Also, Muslim women are very excited about the triple talaq issue.

It is true that in many cases, triple talaq does not actually take place, but the sword of Damocles is always hanging over Muslim women. It is a great terror for them.

There is a huge sweep of Muslim women votes for the BJP.

And if you go to the rural areas, people will show you their bank pass book and how much money has been deposited in their accounts.

People have made their homes, and all these things can be seen.

IMAGE: A BJP supporter in New Delhi gets a sticker applied on his hand as others celebrate after learning about the election results. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

People are known to have received Rs 235,000 from the Prandhan Mantri Aawas Yojana.

And Ayushman Bharat, too, as there are many poor people have been treated for free even if they did not have money. These things are settling down at the grassroots.

And whosoever is the beneficiary would tell 100 people that he got money from the PM's office. This gives confidence among rural people in the delivery system of the Modi government.

Of course, I don't say it is absolutely free of corruption as there is some kind of cut in villages.

Why is it that magazines like Time called Modi a great divider?

Have you read Andy Marino's political biography of Modi? It is a must read. He is a British scholar who stayed in India for seven years and wrote a book. It is very impressive. I wrote to that man to inform him that it is a great book and he has done a great service to the people of India.

Modi has been the carrying the burden of his past. My take is that he is very harsh when it comes to Left and Extreme Right politics and therefore, he is punished by both. But he is well connected to the ground.

In the future, do you think it will be very difficult for the Opposition to take on Modi?

It will take a couple of years, but this is the most appropriate time for a new political party and leadership to emerge. I don't know why the Congress party is stuck to Rahul Gandhi as they are damaging themselves.

We need an Opposition party in a democracy and I feel really bad about this.

I am really worried about the terminal decline of the Congress. And the greatest tragedy is that there are so many good people in the Congress.

Critics say now dictatorship has come to India. What do you have to say to that?

That is a traditional response and a very bookish response. We had experienced this during the time of Indira Gandhi too. She was authoritarian and she introduced the Emergency. Otherwise, she brought in many initiatives which were very good.

I feel Modi is not on that trajectory of dictatorship. He has a connect with people. Through Mann Ki Baat, he is trying to reach out to people.

I am more worried about the BJP as I see lot of marginalisation of other top leaders in the BJP. That happens in democratic parties.

There are no jobs and the state of farmers is very bad. But it looks like everyone supported Modi.

When you add almost one Australia's population in our country every year, no government can practically give jobs to everyone.

Modi's alternative idea of employment is about entrepreneurship. If you cannot get a government job start your business.

You have to come out of the mindset of a job and the 10 to 5 concept. I am telling my students to come out of that psyche. People must get employment and they must earn something.

Like frying pakodas as Modi said...?

It is just a metaphor. He did not mean it.

I will give you an example of an alternate job. I go for my morning walk and I see students from a college with the blood testing machine and sugar testing machine. They charge Rs 10 for blood pressure and Rs 20 for sugar checking.

They end up meeting 1,500 people in the garden and at the end of the day they earn Rs 1,000. These are the things that are an alternative model of employment.

After all, what is a job? It is just to earn money for survival.

SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF / Rediff.com
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