IN the past few days, fresh evidence of Modi-era scams have mounted rapidly. And to draw attention away from Modi’s gifts of joblessness and scams, BJP leaders are daily making speeches trying to alternatively intimidate the electorate and focus its attention on Islamophobic hate instead. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court and EC give the appearance of being toothless and partisan in their failure to act against such unconstitutional intimidation and hate speech.
A French publication Le Monde has exposed the fact that soon after Anil Ambani snagged the offset contracts in the Rafale deal, France waived taxes worth 1200 crore owed by a French-registered company belonging to Anil Ambani. The Ambani company was in deep financial trouble, and the tax waiver came as a life-saver for it. Why did France waive such massive taxes so generously and Dassault grant offsets to Ambani instead of HAL? Was it because the Indian PM Modi had, in exchange, weakened the Rafale deal, raising prices per jet, and doing away with transfer of technology; sovereign guarantee, and anti-corruption clauses?
What did Modi get in return for brokering this sweetheart deal for his crony Anil Ambani? We cannot yet know - because Modi’s Electoral Bonds scheme (under which the BJP got 95% of Bonds) has ensured that donors to the BJP’s election campaign remain secret! The Supreme Court, belatedly hearing the Electoral Bonds matter, ordered that parties submit details of donors in a “sealed envelope” to the EC - thus ensuring that the voting public will not get to know which Indian and foreign donors may be seeking to repay or buy the BJP’s loyalty by donating funds to its election campaign.
Meanwhile, opposing the bail plea of a defence agent in an ongoing hearing, the Enforcement Directorate told the Court that no less than 36 businessmen, including Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Sandesara brothers, have fled from the country in the recent past. It has also emerged that 80% of write offs of bank loans by rogue borrowers in the past decade came in the last five years - i.e during Modi rule. It seems that the Modi regime’s main achievement has been its “Corporate Loot Service” (Corporate Loot Seva) and “Loot and Scoot” (Looto Aur Bhago Seva) scheme for corporate cronies!
Meanwhile, the BJP leadership is indulging in unprecedentedly blatant violations of the Model Code of Conduct, communal bigotry and bullying of voters. PM Modi has asked for votes in the name of the armed forces and declared that it was an insult to Hindus to accuse even a single Hindu of terrorism. UP CM Yogi Adityanath has tried to poison and polarise the electorate with his Ali vs Bajrangbali talk. Shah has tried to brand minorities as ‘infiltrators’. Union Minister Maneka Gandhi and a Gujarat BJP MLA Ramesh Katara have threatened discrimination against those who fail to vote for BJP. Kerala BJP Chief said that Muslim men can be identified by stripping them naked. Sakshi Maharaj said he would curse those who did not vote for BJP while BJP’s Bangalore candidate Tejaswi Surya said those who did not vote for Modi are anti-national. In Tripura, handwritten death threats accompanied by severed chicken heads are being found on the homes of Left voters, warning them that they will be killed if they vote.
The Election Commission’s and Supreme Court’s response in these matters has been hesitant, weak, and partisan. The Supreme Court ordered the EC to act against Adityanath, Mayawati and Azam Khan, after which the EC debarred them from campaigning for a few days. Subsequently the EC also debated Maneka Gandhi from campaigning for a few days. Azam Khan’s “khakhi knickers” remarks were distasteful and condemnable if applied to Jayaprada. But why has the EC not reacted to the far more hateful remarks of Sasidharan suggesting that Muslim men can be identified by stripping them? Mayawati’s remarks - appealing to minorities to vote for the Alliance rather than the Congress - certainly do not constitute polarising hate speech against any community nor an appeal for votes in the name of religion. To equate these remarks with the communal slurs, hate-mongering and voter intimidation by BJP leaders.
Moreover, the silence of both the Supreme Court and the EC on the speeches of Modi and Shah tells its own tale. Shah, the President of BJP and candidate from Gandhinagar, declared that the BJP would implement a National Registration of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Bill, to “seek out and give citizenship to every Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist refugee and weed out every infiltrator.” In effect, Shah is saying that every Muslim and Christian in India (whether a citizen, immigrant worker or refugee) will be branded a suspected “infiltrator” rounded up, put in detention camps, stripped of voting rights and forced to prove their citizenship - while every Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist immigrant will be considered a refugee and given citizenship! There can be no clearer statement of communal and fascist intent. Just as Shah is saying no Hindu can ever be an “infiltrator”, Modi is saying no Hindu (not even those who commit bombs blasts and targeted assassinations) can ever be a terrorist.
The fact that the Supreme Court and Election Commission are choosing to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to these dangerous and unconstitutional statements weakens India’s democratic electoral process. The CPIML has written to the ECI pointing out that going by past precedent (the Bal Thackeray case), all these instances of hate speech and Model Code violations deserve debarment from elections for several years.
If the ECI will not punish the BJP’s hate-mongering, fear-mongering and sheer thuggery, India’s voters must and will! India will vote to elect MPs and a Government that is answerable and accountable to people - and punish the Modi regime and BJP for its arrogant attacks on India’s democracy and Constitution.