Thursday, 20 January, 2022
HomeOpinionModi’s India has gone from intolerant to insecure nationalism: Prithviraj Chavan

Modi’s India has gone from intolerant to insecure nationalism: Prithviraj Chavan

The Modi government’s handling of the farmers’ protest is denting our liberal democracy. Every citizen has a voice.

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What India and the world are witnessing right now are two fascinating yet obnoxious sides of our democracy. On one side, close to a million farmers are agitating in nail-biting cold against the three farm laws that were hurriedly passed by the Narendra Modi government flouting all democratic procedures and norms. On the other side, Prime Minister Modi and his ministers are trying to demean, defame and demonise agitating farmers by all possible means. The latest jibe came directly from the Prime Minister mocking certain protesters as “andolan jivis” — loosely translated as those thriving on agitation.

None of the responsible elected representatives in the history of India has ridiculed agitators from the floor of Parliament. In fact, peaceful agitation is the bedrock of Indian democracy and a tool used by freedom fighters during the struggle for independence from British rule.

The kisan andolan

This farmers’ agitation is turning out to be unique in many ways. Since November last year, farmers, mostly old, have marched towards Delhi. Roads have been blocked, national highways dug up, water canons deployed and tear gas shells burst to prevent farmers from reaching Delhi. They have been branded as ‘Khalistani’, ‘anti-national’, and ‘secessionist’. At several protesting sites, water supply and access to basic hygiene facilities have been cut off due to blockades by State authorities.

The agitation has gone on for over 70 days and has caused the death of more than 130 farmers. Yet, the Union government remains adamant. More vitriolic steps have been undertaken — borders barricaded using concrete walls, iron nails on roads and concertina wires installed by police authorities. No previous peaceful agitation in India has ever been met with such brutality and repression.

Also read: Modi govt has lost farm laws battle, now raising Sikh separatist bogey will be a grave error

Democracy backsliding

Clearly, this has dented our standing as a liberal democracy. India is rapidly descending into the category of a “flawed democracy” according to the recently published 2020 Democracy Index by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Interestingly, India’s slide in the Democracy Index coincides with the political rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

In 2014, India ranked 27 with a score of 7.92. Gradually, it fell to the 53rd position last year with a score of 6.61. The sustained stifling of dissent, the introduction of a religious test for citizenship, the emergence of a pliant media, a passive judiciary and the Centre’s discernible apathy towards parliamentary deliberations have raised the spectre of serious democratic backsliding in India.

Also read: Narendra Modi is ruling India as if it was another state and he is still a chief minister

From intolerant to insecure nationalism

This inhumane brutality with the farmers has attracted the attention of global leaders and celebrities. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and some British MPs raised their concern about the prolonged farmers’ agitation. But the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) was quick to dismiss these concerns by terming the protest as an internal matter. However, recent tweets by Rihanna, a US-based pop star, and Greta Thunberg, a teenage climate activist, rattled the Indian government. The MEA’s response was unprecedented. It is clear evidence of disquiet at the highest echelons of power.     

In a democracy, agitation is aimed at collective self-determination. Freedom of speech and expression form the basic tenet of any democratic agitation. Each citizen is entitled to a vote and voice in democratic governance. Stifling the collective voice of the people will only further destroy democracy in India.

Prithviraj Chavan is the former chief minister of Maharashtra. Views are personal.

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  1. Haha … close to a million farmers on protest ” …hahah ha. Not reality check…
    Hardly few hundreds……& not actuall farmers…

  2. One of the few leaders in Congress whom people (including me) respect. It is sad to see such an intellectual person writes such an article which has no basis from the ground realty. Prithivraj Ji only needed to talk to the people around him and He would know what the others think about the Farmers protects and Modi Govt.
    Anyways all the best to Prithivraj sir and to quote from the Batman movie “Prithivraj Chauhan is a leader Congress requires but doesn’t deserve”.

  3. “Every citizen has a voice.” – does this include rioting, destruction of public property, blocking national highways & causing economic loss of 100s of crores, injuring 400 policemen and insulting the Tiranga?
    Is this Congress definition of “Every citizen has a voice.”?

  4. “Prithviraj Chavan is the former chief minister of Maharashtra. Views are personal.”

    Of course! There are 1,380,004,384 more personal views, that matter too, I suppose.

  5. GANDHIJI’s last words were “HEY RAM ” whereas a party who claimed his legacy gives an affidavit in COURT that SHRI RAM is a myth.

    HINDUS believe in education and science and prosperity and don’t believe in conversion and must vote for a party which will not discriminate against HINDUS and protect their progressive culture from RIOTERS AND PROSELYTIZERS.

  6. Dear Prithviraj ji, it will be better had you pointed flaw in the law. In all sectors, private players are encouraged. Please give sound reasons why agri should not have private players and direct buy-sell. You rhetorics of harsh winter is non-starter. By your logic, any group of people don’t agree with govt should come to roads, block all sort of movement across busy streets and clamour for withdrawal of policy. That will be legitimate peaceful protest! Why don’t you ponder over responsibility of state govts for improved functioning of APMC. This is battle between powerful lobby with govt for they know business is for them to lose and they are not ready to compete. World has changed and nimble organizations survive. Competition can come from any side.
    When UPA was in power, the govt used all it’s might within city limits to crush protesters under Baba Ramdev. Where were you then? They were sitting in Ram Lila ground with valid permissions. Today they have broken so many rules, inconvenienced fellow citizens.
    Congress specializes in creating problems and be part of problems, you drag on issues far too long before any solution can be brought. Please introspect, you are not connected with majority of aspiring population who have lost confidence in your party’s credibility. Be subject specifical, rather all you are focussed on is anti-Modi. It has not helped you neither will help you. Show people better way of doing things, you are obsessed with criticism only. Maharashtra mai kaun se jhande gaad diye aapki sarkar ne!!
    In the name of opposition, you ( you = Congress) has eroded it’s credibility and it is sad. A party that can do wonders is simply unwilling to do homework and fight it out with new narrative. Be part of setting the agenda than responding to BJP.

  7. People like Prithviraj have no any backbone but Gulams if a family. Can he think independently and tell us why this so called farmers agitation is ON when Govt has agreed to keep the Laws in abeyance ? That reveals it’s a fight of anti-national elements to destabily Govt working to take out Nation out of rut created by Congress for decades due to family oriented rule.

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