The Prime Minister has fired his first salvo for the 2019 general elections through a set-up interview with news agency ANI. He claimed that 2018 has been a ‘shining year’ for India! The electoral results of the 2004, following the Vajpayee claim of “shining India” is there for all to see. PM Modi seems to be reading the ‘writing on the wall’!
In an interaction lasting more than one and half hours, the PM did not even once refer to the promises that he and the BJP made to the Indian people in 2014 and why even a single one of them has not been delivered so far. This is a post-truth propaganda exercise. In the process there was a large amount of disinformation that has been doled out.
Farm loan waiver
The most callous and inhuman of responses of the PM was to call a one-time farm loan waiver as a “lollipop”. This demand for a loan waiver had arisen as a result of widespread struggles of the peasantry who are groaning under crushing debt burdens. This is leading to an alarming rise in the distress suicides by our kisans. To prevent these unfortunate deaths, a onetime loan waiver would go a long way to protect our ‘annadata’. The widespread continuing struggles of the kisans all over the country has also been demanding what the Prime Minister promised in 2014 of declaring a minimum support price which will be one and half times higher than the cost of production. All these five years this has not been done. The deepening agrarian distress is directly due to the betrayal of the assurances given to rural India. These have impacted on non-agricultural sections as well in rural India as seen in the fall in rural incomes of the people in these areas.
Contrary to the entire experience of the Indian economy that has been devastated by the demonetisation tsunami, the Prime Minister claims this to be a success! Amazingly he has said that because of demonetisation the entire black money in the economy has now come into the banking system. There can be no greater falsification. What the prime minister did was to favour those who flouted the law and accumulated black money and provided them with an avenue to convert this black money into ‘white money’. He thus legalized such violation of the law instead of penalizing the violators and proceeding against them according to law.
In the process, demonetisation destroyed the informal economy in our country which generates the largest amount of employment after agriculture. The informal economy used to contribute substantially to the country’s GDP. Demonetisation simply destroyed the livelihood of crores of Indian people who were dependent on cash transactions. The fall in the country’s GDP and the crisis in the economy has been a direct result of this action by the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister held a special midnight session of parliament to announce the introduction of GST claiming that this would revolutionise the Indian economy and lead to a higher revenue through tax collections. He claimed that the tax net has widened. The number of people filing returns may have increased but tax collections have drastically fallen. Between April and December 2019, GST collections averaged Rs. 96,800 Cr as against the budgetary target of Rs. 1,06,300 Cr monthly. In the next three months GST collections must average Rs. 1,34,900 Cr to meet the budgetary target.
In this interview he continued to defend the GST and claimed that it has simplified the tax system and provided relief to a large number of people. This is preposterous. The manner in which the GST was implemented has seen the crippling of the medium, small and micro enterprises sector (MSME) which is one of the largest employment generators in the country. Crores of people have lost their livelihood sustenance. The PM further claimed that the GST has ensured that more than 500 items attract a zero tax rate. More than 490 of these items were all along in the bracket of zero tax and hence this claim is also preposterous.
There is not one word on the growing unemployment levels in the country by the Prime Minister. It was the Prime Minister who assured the Indian youth that his government would create two crore new jobs every year. By now ten crore additional jobs should have been created. Instead, what we have is largescale lay-offs, the destruction of the informal economy, the ruination of the MSME sector – all resulting in unprecedented growth of unemployment. It has been estimated that the unemployment situation is the worst that India is facing today during the last twenty years. Official statistics have been barred from being made public and the Labour Brueau annual reports have simply not been published because they would reveal this grim reality.
The majority of the Indian population is our youth. During these five years their future has plunged into insecurity and uncertainty. These youth are the builders of India’s future. Destroying their potential means the undermining of our future.
There was not one word by the Prime Minister over the loot of the Indian public sector banks during the tenure of this BJP government. Between 2014 and 2019, the loans taken by the corporates has quadrupled. All those who have fled the country refusing to pay back loans, the Prime Minister has promised to get them back. But till date not one of them is back. Instead of confiscating their assets and returning the amounts to the banks against loans taken by them, this BJP government has been regularly waiving off such corporate loans. Additionally, they have been offering the companies against whom such loans were taken and not returned, through an auction, to the highest bidder. This is called ‘hair cut’ policy that the PSU Banks are forced by the government to follow. Corporates are securing companies by paying 20 per cent or less than their asset values from the banks to which they have been mortgaged. And who are these corporates acquiring such assets at throwaway prices? The Prime Minister and his government’s cronies are the prime beneficiaries of such a ‘hair cut’ methodology.
The banks which have unscrupulously given such loans are now in a crisis. In order to recapitalize these banks, public money is being infused which again amounts to the loot of public money. First the deposits of crores of Indians in the banks is looted by granting such loans and then to overcome the consequent crisis of the banks public money is once again looted to recapitalize them.
Defending the controversial Rafale deal, the Prime Minister said that the Supreme Court has cleared this deal, hence there is no question of any corruption or a scam involved. He claimed that this is a clean deal and there is no money trail that can be located for a possible commission that could have been paid out. The money trail can never be located now because the Prime Minister and his government have amended the laws relating to funding of political parties and introduced the “electoral bonds”. Anyone can buy these bonds from a bank, give it to a political party, who can then encash these bonds with no questions being asked and no answers given. The Prime Minister and this BJP government, thus, legalized political corruption. That the BJP is the biggest beneficiary of this scam becomes apparent when out of Rs 222 crore first tranche of the electoral bonds issued by the banks, the BJP received more than Rs. 210 crore i.e. 94.5 per cent.
If the Prime Minister claims that the Rafale deal was overboard then why the refusal to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the deal? If the Prime Minister is confident why not let the JPC establish that there was nothing wrong with the deal? The very fact that the PM and the BJP vociferously oppose the constitution of the Joint Parliamentary Committee proves by itself that there is something that is being hidden both from the Indian parliament and the people.
Reserve Bank of India
The Prime Minister revealed that the RBI Governor sought to resign six to seven months before he actually did. This only confirms the fact that this governor handpicked by the PM after the former Governor Raghuram Rajan was eased out, was himself finding it very uncomfortable to deal with a government that is undermining the RBI’s independence and authority as the financial regulator.
PM and the government are targeting the central reserve fund of the RBI for withdrawal of huge amounts of money. This has become necessary according to the government in order to compensate falling tax revenues. After GST, the annual budgetary fiscal deficit target has already exceeded in the first seven months of this financial year. Secondly, more money is required to fully recapitalize the banks. On both these counts the RBI reserve fund is sought to be encroached upon. This would result in destabilizing the regulator severely impacting the fundamentals of our economy. This will have serious consequences on the financial markets that can trigger a new wave of financial and economic crisis in the country.
Sharpening Communal Polarisation
On the building of the Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, the Prime Minister has made a very diabolical statement. The PM says that only after the Supreme Court verdict in the ongoing case will the government consider the option of adopting a legal course either through an ordinance or legislation for building the temple. This is tantamount to pressurizing the court. In case an unfavourable verdict is given then the government will take recourse to legal options to circumvent the verdict. What the Prime Minister did not say is that the government would abide by the court verdict. What in fact he said is tantamount to declaring that the temple will be build irrespective of the court verdict.
This feeds into the overall campaign of communal polarization in the run up to the elections which is the mainstay of the government’s efforts to consolidate the Hindutva communal vote bank.
This is further confirmed by the Prime Minister’s comments on incidents of mob lynching. While verbally condemning such incidents, the Prime Minister was completely silent about why the law and order apparatus, mostly in the states ruled by the BJP, is not arresting or not proceeding against those who violate laws with impunity. The private armies in the name of cow protection or moral policing have grown under the sanction and patronage of the BJP governments in the states. There was not one word by the PM on the killings of Muslims and Dalits under one pretext or the other by these private armies. There was not one word by the PM on the spread of this atmosphere of hate and violence that is leading to the growing incidents of mob lynching.
There is not one word from the Prime Minister on the growing atrocities on women, the horrendous incidents of brutal child gang rapes and murders. There was not one word by the PM on why the legal cases against the perpetrators of such attacks against Dalits, Muslims and women are withdrawn by the BJP state governments while the victims continue to be persecuted, through such legal cases.
Triple Talaq & Sabarimala
The PM claimed that the triple talaq bill in parliament was an issue of gender equality and social justice and that his government was acting in order to give the constitutional right of equality to Muslim women. But when the same issue of gender equality was raised in relation to Sabarimala temple, the Prime Minister claimed that these are matters of faith and in fact virtually negated the Supreme Court verdict which in the name of the fundamental right of equality to women allowed women’s entry, hitherto disallowed, in the Sabarimala temple. This double speak clearly reconfirms the agenda of communal polarization. The BJP at the ground level in Kerala is doing precisely that by spreading unrest and violence.
The PM made an obvious statement that the Indian people will decide the course in these elections. Of course, they always do in all elections! It is increasingly becoming clear that the people in India are looking for a change and want this government out at any cost. It is this pressure from below that is forcing all secular parties in the country to come forward and work for the defeat of this government and the BJP in the forthcoming elections. This is primarily due to the growing discontent against the policies of this government and the massive surge in people’s struggles witnessed in the recent past. The forthcoming all India industrial strike on January 8 & 9 will once again show the unity of the working people in India. The call given by the kisan and agricultural labour organisations of a “Gramin Bharat Bandh” on these very days demonstrates the determination of the people for ousting this Modi government and to bring about a shift in policies that are pro-people. The Indian people do not want a neta (leader), they want niti (policies).
2019 elections will be a contest between the Prime Minister and his government and the people of India.
As Shakespeare once said, “ All the perfumes of Arabia cannot wash away the blood on your hands”, Mr. Prime Minster.