Regardless of the election result, India’s future has been decided
In the liberal view of things, the ongoing Lok Sabha election will decide India’s future.
It will decide whether India will become a Hindu-first state with reduced civil liberties and intolerance of minorities or be dragged back to its old state of sometimes wavering secularism but a general agreement to cohabitation and tolerance.
I want to tell my fellow liberals that it is too late. That decision has already been made.
There are three possibilities when votes are counted on May 23: another term for Narendra Modi, a fractured mandate — both distinct possibilities; or the return of the Congress and ascension of Rahul Gandhi, which in my view is a more remote prospect.
Another strong mandate for Modi would almost certainly mean an official push to declare India a Hindu Rashtra, a crackdown on dissenters and independent media, the further rise of — and special favours to — select tycoons, the end of special status to Jammu and Kashmir and the prospect of an open rebellion in the crown of India.
Even if Modi fails, the Hindu view of life will predominate, civil liberties may be further eroded, and minorities will likely find themselves pushed to evolve a new contract with their country.
A new government could recover some ground here, if it is determined to, by rolling back the deliberate, institutionalized misuse of the law and technology.
But even a government wedded to tolerance will find it difficult to turn back the widening electoral acceptance of sectarian hate and assaults on liberty.
A government can try to ensure the Constitution is protected, but it is bound to eventually fail or succumb if the people endorse its manipulation.
The threat to civil liberties and hostility to minorities indeed accelerated and acquired full voice during Modi’s term in office, but many precedents set before his time had widespread public approval and have been liberally used by non-BJP state governments, including — and especially — those run by the Congress.
When lies are the truth
Last week, an amiable, silver-haired Uttar Pradesh taxi driver in Mumbai was peacefully discussing old Hindi film songs with my wife when I made the mistake of asking him whom he would vote for.
“BJP BJP, BJP!” he began to chant.
When I told him we were from South India, a place with limited BJP influence, his eyes blazed, and he said, “Anyone who is a desh bhakt, a patriot, will vote for the BJP.”
How is lynching and harassment of minorities patriotic, I asked.
He was beyond reason.
“There was no progress for 70 years,” he said, parroting a theme made popular by Modi and quoted as a fact on social media.
“Do you know the condition this country was in when we got independence?” I asked.
He was shouting by now.
“Do you know why that was?” he said. “It was because Mahatma Gandhi gave away Rs1,000 crore to the Muslims, to Pakistan. Everyone knows this.”
India has reached a point where lies are the truth, and few are bothered by the fact that a BJP candidate declares Gandhi’s assassin a patriot, as terror accused Pragya Singh Thakur did on May 16 and finds immediate support.
If we still think these people represent the fringe of Indian thought, we may not know our country very well.
Perhaps, we never did.
Source Regardless of the election result, India’s future has been decided
Indian markets cheer Modi’s likely return to the power Indian market