New Delhi: The battle for 2019 is not about replacing one government with another, says former Minister in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government Manish Tewari in his new book, and asks whether it will herald the demise of national ethos and the rise of a different vision of India.
The book, “Fables of Fractured Times”, a compendium of his published articles on subjects ranging from governance, media, economy, democracy and geopolitics, carries a new Introduction in which Tewari writes about the events leading up to the partition of India and then traces the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in mainstream politics.
He mentions that after UPA’s 10-year tenure, people were looking for a change and voted for “the Shangri La that the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate” promised. He claims that after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rise, “the ideological godfathers of the BJP and its myriad fellow travellers on the right” saw an opportunity to reopen the fundamental debate of 1947.
“For in their minds it had never been done and dusted, it had only been put in the backburner awaiting an opportunity to be resurrected at an opportune moment,” he writes, before mentioning that India had turned into an “informal majoritarian” state.
He says that the creative community was the “first to feel the heat” as they were compelled to self-censor because of an “environment of intimidation and coercion”, which resulted in the Award Wapsi campaign of returning the national honours in 2015 by leading artists, scientists and writers.
“Concurrently, insidious tendencies to perpetuate this reign of fear started manifesting themselves through Ghar Wapsi, Love Jihad and Bahu Lao, Beti Bachao paradigms.”
All through Modi government’s rule, Tewari maintains, lynchings continued unabated, while Modi’s silence was deafening. Tewari alleges that the NDA government at the centre “chose to do nothing and has allowed an atmosphere of hate and polarization to perpetuate itself”.
“Those who dared to raise their voice against this disturbing new normal in the country were seeking to be browbeaten and intimidated. A new vocabulary was deployed to muzzle dissent. It was almost decreed as anti-national to question the ruling party, seditious to query the government of the day and downright treasonous to ask questions of the establishment,” Tewari adds in the book from Konark Publishers.