Photo by ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP
Photo by ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shows no hesitation in using abusive language and making accusations against those who criticise him. His description of mahagathbandhan as a collective of the rich and corrupt people can be seen only as part of this strategy. In his eagerness to discredit mahagathbandhan, he forgot that his own party MPs and leaders were part of the opposition’s show of unity at Mamata Banerjee’s rally in Kolkata. A pertinent question is why his party did not take action against the three BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Shatrughan Sinha who participated in the rally if they were corrupt in the last three years or so when they have been raising their voice of protest against Modi.

Taking a jibe at the leaders present at the rally, Modi said, “Those who were on the dais in Kolkata were either son or daughter of a big wig or who wanted to make his son or daughter big in politics.” But Modi has himself inducted such people in his ministry. Jayant Sinha in the Modi ministry is the son of Yashwant Sinha, who incidentally at no stage pleaded for his induction. Instead Modi did it on his own for simply slighting Sinha. And the junior Sinha was being used to offend his father.

Modi also dismissed the unity show as an alliance of corruption, negativity and instability, saying while the parties assembled at the rally have “money power”, the Bharatiya Janata Party has “people’s power.” Just after the day of the Opposition rally, Modi was addressing BJP’s booth-level workers from Lok Sabha constituencies of Kolhapur, Hatkanangle, Madha and Satara in Maharashtra and South Goa through video-conference. His speech, in fact, reflected his nervousness. The more he was turning aggressive against his adversaries, the more it reflected the uneasiness that has gripped his psyche.

Modi has been facing allegations of corruption in the Rafale plane deal with France after former French president Francois Hollande was quoted as saying New Delhi had influenced the choice of a local partner. Modi is accused of overpaying for the planes and not being transparent. If Modi could cherish the desire to continue as the prime minister, the Opposition parties can, in their own right, work together to prevent it. This is what the leaders from over a dozen Opposition parties gathered in Kolkata on Saturday did. They vowed to put up a united fight in the coming Lok Sabha elections and oust Modi from power.

Modi is distressed at the prospect of the Opposition managing to come together. He was hoping to use various tactics of keep them split. But so far he has not been able to inflict any damage. Opposition leaders are demanding the use of ballot papers instead of the electronic voting machines which, they said, were the source of “all sorts of malpractices.” He took a swipe at the Opposition’s Save Democracy slogan. “Parties which do not have even a single trace of democracy are making long speeches to mislead the people in this country on democracy,” he told party workers in Maharashtra. But the brute reality is the country and democracy are facing threats from the Modi government.

Lynching, evicting the minorities from their homes and silencing them through the use of force, denying the right to dissent are just some of the ways the Modi government is using to subvert democratic institutions in the country. The slapping of sedition charge against the JNU students is the latest in the series, but the court pulled up Delhi police for filing the charge sheet without the sanction of the competent authority, which is the Delhi government.

Arun Srivastava is a freelance journalist. Views are personal.

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