Having narrowly retained power in Tripura, the Modi government has launched an all-out offensive against the opposition by using the lethal combination of street power, propaganda and state power that has become the hallmark of this fascist regime. After relatively peaceful elections in Tripura, the Sangh brigade has unleashed a renewed reign of post-poll terror, vendetta and violence in the state, targeting opposition parties, their voters and even the fact-finding team of Left and Congress MPs and MLAs who were on a visit to the terror-stricken state. At the same time, to blunt the oppositional edge of the TIPRA Motha, the regional party which emerged in the elections as the leading non-BJP party in the state assembly, the Modi government has apparently agreed to appoint an interlocutor to find a ‘constitutional solution’ to the party’s demands.
In Meghalaya, the BJP had fought the elections separately after denouncing the National People’s Party-led government in the state of which it was a partner as being one of the most corrupt. Elections over, the BJP, which could win only two seats, has once again joined the same NPP to be part of the government. We have not forgotten the BJP’s corruption charges against Himanta Biswa Sarma when he was the number two in the Congress government led by Tarun Gogoi. After Himanta Biswa Sarma was inducted into the BJP, Amit Shah, when confronted by the media about the corruption charges against him, refused to answer the question and brazenly told the press that such questions should not be asked! Today Himanta Biswa Sarma is not just the current BJP CM of Assam and chief of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance, he is the spearhead of the Sangh brigade’s fascist offensive in the North-East.
Joining the BJP has become the most rewarding insurance scheme for every leader accused of corruption and various other crimes. In fact, several BJP leaders openly boast about their immunity from investigation by any central agency. In Karnataka, pressure had to be mounted by Lokayukta employees to ensure a raid at the office of the son of a powerful BJP MLA which yielded Rs 6 crore cash. In Madhya Pradesh, the Lokayukta is being rendered defunct as the government does not give permission to frame charges in spite of investigations yielding enough evidence. While the BJP has thus become the surest sanctuary for the corrupt, the Modi government keeps hounding out the opposition with central agencies like ED and CBI which have now been totally weaponised by the regime to serve its political agenda. Almost all opposition parties, especially those in power, are at the receiving end of this brazen Modi regime campaign of vendetta and persecution.
Ahead of the 2024 elections, the Modi regime is particularly worried about the political realignment in Bihar. In 2015 when the BJP had to contest the Assembly elections without the support of Nitish Kumar’s JDU, its tally had dipped to 53 seats. The regime then managed to break the JDU-RJD alliance by raking up corruption charges against the RJD leadership and the reunited BJP-JDU-LJP combine swept the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Bihar. With the JDU again joining the RJD-Left-Congress grand alliance in 2022, the BJP is working overtime to try and break the Bihar alliance. The three-pronged strategy aims at destabilising the government, discrediting the alliance and engineering a pro-BJP political realignment by splitting parties and roping in new allies. Old cases have been reopened to target the entire family of Lalu Prasad Yadav. Even fake videos have been shot in Patna and made viral on social media to concoct a false narrative of Bihari workers being beaten up and killed in Tamil Nadu even as the ruling alliance in Bihar befriends the ruling party in Tamil Nadu.
The government uses the ED raids to create the spectacle of an anti-corruption crusade much like the November 2016 demonetisation which was projected as a war on black money. These raids are widely propagated and often while the ED does not make any official statement as to the actual outcome of a raid, a perception of corruption is created by the media with unverified claims of assets seized by citing unnamed ‘sources’. According to the government’s own admission in Parliament, of the 5422 cases of money-laundering taken up by the ED till 31 March 2022, chargesheets were filed only in 992 cases and only 23 accused have been convicted. Clearly much of the ED exercise is aimed at manipulating public perception through propaganda, intimidating and discrediting political opponents and silencing critical voices in the media. It is also instructive to note that like most institutions and agencies, the ED too is being run by a hand-picked bureaucrat. The government amended the law in November 2021 to extend the two-year fixed tenure of ED and CBI chiefs to five years and then granted a record third extension in violation of the Supreme Court order to the current ED chief Sanjay Mishra.
It is no longer sufficient to describe the vindictive and repressive reign of the Modi government as an undeclared Emergency. It is an unbridled Emergency and if the people of India and the opposition cannot rein it in, we are heading towards a brazen display of dictatorial rule. In the 1970s, India had the wherewithal to get rid of the Emergency and move on. India in the 2020s must again generate and assert that democratic popular will to stop the growing fascist demolition of parliamentary democracy.