A full-fledged attack has been initiated on the Congress Party by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders in which they have decided to target not only Rahul Gandhi and his mother and brother-in-low but also his grand mother. BJP which has been accused of undermining several institutions in the country including judiciary has decided to defend its record by citing the excesses committed forty years ago during the period when emergency was imposed by Mrs Indira Gandhi.
True excesses were committed during emergency but the debate is about what is happening today and how is past relevant. I hope BJP is not planning to charge the grand son for the alleged excesses committed by his grand mother. The country wants answers to the issues raised by four senior judges of the Supreme Court of India who haves spoken of attempts to undermine democracy by trying to undermine norms in the working of judicial bodies.
There are also other cases like trying to rewrite history, changing text books and interfering in the working of institutions. The offices of Constitutional bodies like Governors and others are being filled with party faithfuls. There are issues like lynching of men belonging to minority community and Harijans. The State of law and order, deterioration of situation in Kashmir and attempt to interfere in eating and dressing habits of people. There are also other issues like how persons guilty of having cheated banks of huge sums are being allowed to leave the country, which need answers .
The debate before the elections in 2019 should be on issues relating to what has been done in the last four years after Mr Modi was elected as Prime Minister and not on what happened forty years ago. In case the debate is pushed back to all issues relating to events in the last century the BJP will also have to answer why RSS and people committed to ideology of Hindutva did not participate in freedom struggle. They will also have to explain why people connected with them were accused of attack on the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi.
It is true the present Government has not imposed emergency which is very unlikely because people in the country, particularly young people have become more vigilant. The Constitution has also been amended to make use of emergency powers more difficult. What we have been witnessing is use of soft powers and concentration of powers, the growth of a single leader and treating opposition leaders as enemies and talk of finishing them for all times to come.
There are more signs of working as a supreme leader instead of a leader of a Democratic Party which has many leaders. There is need for BJP to ponder why its own allies are getting upset with the working of the BJP led alliance. Telugu Desam, one of the oldest allies, has walked out. Issues are that BJP withdrew from alliance Government in Jammu and Kashmir is being treated as enemy, Shiv Sena has announced to fight polls in 2019 on its own. Janata Dal in Bihar is feeling increasingly uncomfortable while Akali Dal in Punjab has accused BJP of ignoring their allies. As such BJP will have few allies by the time polls take place in 2019. Agreed that BJP has a majority at present in Lok Sabha and needs no outside help, but the same may not be the case after fresh poll.
It is time for BJP to address issues like Farmers distress and find out why farmers are denied Minimum procurement price, which is not being paid to them. Why farmers in Maharashtra are finding that milk price has fallen below the price of water. Why truck loads of tomatoes are being thrown away as there are no buyers. Talk of doubling the income of farmers makes no sense as they continue to suffer under the burden of loans. The urban areas are suffering because there are no jobs, as promise of generating lakhs of jobs has become a false promise.
Prime Minister Modi is popular and a man of action. In the remaining period, he should try to act to fulfil some of the promises made earlier instead of wasting energies in raking up what happened forty years ago. The country gave its verdict on what happened 40 years ago, it wants an answer to current happenings.
(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)