What the state of the country is when Narendra Modi's government completes five years of rule and how far the promises given to the country's populace have been fulfilled, are clearly in evidence in the report brought out by the global voluntary body Oxfam on the eve of the World Economic Forum annual summit being held in Davos.
Perhaps it is too early to forget the boastful promises of BJP and coalition parties - on which they garnered the votes mainly by capitalizing on the nation-wide wave of Gandhian Anna Hazare's hunger strike in the capital against the then UPA government sinking the country in corruption. The Modi-led alliance promised that it would wipe out corruption and would bring back the lacs of crores of rupees held in foreign banks by India's super-rich. That this was only a campaign rhetoric to pocket votes, that the forces behind the promise of honey were the gang of Ambani and Adani and that the Modi leadership's main agenda was protection of their interests, was all pointed out by the those who had knowledge of national politics. But all such voices fell on deaf ears of the frustrated people. And now? The super-rich of India who form 1% of the population, increased their net worth by 39% in a year! In the year 2018 alone, the 18 billionaires of the country could earn Rs 2,200 crore a day. The topper among the multi-billionaires, Mukesh Ambani has a net worth of Rs 2.80 lac crores, whereas the total budgetary allocation of Modi government for basic needs like public health, cleanliness and water distribution is just Rs 2.08 lac crore. When 77 per cent of the total wealth of the country is in the hands of the big sharks forming 10 per cent of the population, the remaining 90 per cent are destined to partake of the 23 per cent and living in poverty and hardship. The Oxfam report highlights that the majority of this segment of the population have to struggle hard for one square meal a day and for their children's medicines.
Facts like these have never featured in the Mann ki Baat broadcasts held by prime minister Narendra Modi every month without fail. Nor has he ever offered any justification for his not having implemented even a single item of his sweet promises. While making his rare appearance in parliament, apart from the oratory on relatively minor topics like triple talaq, he hardly cares to touch on people's problems. And when the Opposition blamed him for having helped Ambani group out of the way in the Rafale purchase deal, the prime minister could not give a convincing explanation. Even if the parliamentary proceedings are interrupted for several days, he has nothing to lose. The reason is simple: as long as the billionaires who lavish funds for bringing him to power, to buy up media and to make people blind to their faults are in the fray, neither he nor his saffron brigade has anything to fear. And if there are those unable to bear the compunction and speak out the truth, there are enough black laws to muzzle them and put them behind bars, with enough lackeys in the government machinery to implement them without a tinge of humanity. With all the constitutional institutions being mortgaged to loyal parivar men, who should he fear? Still when, the Modi-Amit tasted defeat in the recent assembly elections in five states, that created some consternation in the saffron quarters.
As general elections draw closer, the sight of NDA partners leaving the boat one by one, has started boding ill for the BJP leadership. When opinion polls point to an unpleasant prospect, the camp is unable to hide the fear within. The fall in Modi's image together with rising graph of Rahul fastens their heartbeat. But now there is not enough time for fundamental change in policy or correction of errors. And they will not make a remedy either for their genetic deficiency. Then naturally the course open before them is to invoke some previously tested tactics with greater intensity: nothing other than resorting to the extreme Hindutva agenda through RSS. But this is not without the realization that the long-term ills of poverty, disease and unemployment are not suffered by their traditional adversaries - the religious minorities - alone, but their primary victims are the majority Hindus of the population themselves. The saffron school however is incapable of addressing the issues revealed in the report mentioned above in a humanitarian and democratic manner. That is why, like people fearing imminent death try latching on to any paddy straw, the sangh parivar are now trying all out to play up sensitive issues like women's entry into Sabarimala which is not at all a serious concern for the people at large.
Most recently, an Ayyappa samgamam (gathering of Ayyappa devotees) was held in Kerala's capital, which had no real religious or spiritual significance, enlisting as many caste organizations and factions as possible and with the blessing of god men. But nearly everyone in Kerala could read into that being used as a golden opportunity for political ends. By now, the chief prist of Sabarimala has closed the sanctum sancorum; the Supreme Court has adjourned sine die hearing the review petitions, too. Thus, who cannot figure out for whom the saranam calls are still being chanted.