People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 41

October 13, 2013






BJP Speaks with Forked Tongue



ONE the hallmarks of the RSS/BJP leaders’ conduct is to speak with a forked tongue.  Their conduct based on such duplicity is nothing new. Recall the belligerent and provocative exhortions that L K Advani made during his infamous `rath yatra’ preceding the demolition of the Babri Masjid. He used to thunder, “Mandir wahin banayenge”. This could only be done by demolishing the Babri Masjid in the first place. He was, thus, directly provoking an onslaught on the centuries old Babri Masjid. Subsequent to the demolition, however, Advani repeats ad-nauseum, till date that December 6, 1992  was the saddest day in his life! Ironically, preceding the launch of his infamous `rath yatra’, L K Advani was calling for a ‘national debate on secularism’. 


Not to be left behind, the RSS/BJP’s current prime ministerial aspirant, given his adversoral relationship with Advani, is perfecting the art of the double speak.  Having presided over the 2002 communal carnage in Gujarat, he recently proclaimed to an audience of students in Delhi - pahale shauchalaya, phir devalaya – build toilets before you build temples.  He was echoing a similar comment made by union rural development minister, Jairam Ramesh, in April this year.


Such assertions could be considered as laudable but for the dismal record of sanitation, in Gujarat, under the BJP’s leadership. The India Rural Development Report 2012-13 (more on this later) shows that one in every five rural households in the country has none of the three basic facilities – drinking water, electricity and sanitation – while only about 18 percent have access to all three.  The situation in Gujarat is no better with just a quarter of the households having access to all three, while Kerala has 71 percent, and 13 other states rank higher.  A community based organisation fighting for the rights of the scavenging community, Manav Garima, conducted a survey recently and found that there are 126 spots where manual scavenging is practiced under the aegis of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.  This practice continues in violation of the 1993 Act that provides punishment for those employing manual scavengers.  In response to the National Human Rights Commission, the Gujarat government had replied that it is very serious in the effective implementation of the 1993 Act and that there is no manual scavenger in Gujarat (sic).  This track record underlines the vacuity of the Gujarat chief minister’s comments and classic double speak as his declared objective is the pursuit of aggressive Hindutva and its hard core agenda.


The RSS/BJP’s much hyped campaign of “vibrant Gujarat” has been punctured with a slew of facts that show that Gujarat is well below the national average on all human development indicators. The so-called Gujarat model has been further demolished by the recent report of the `Committee for Evolving a Composite Development Index of States’ headed by the governor of the Reserve Bank of India, as noted in this column last week. So much for Gujarat’s `vibrancy’ under the BJP rule!


It must be recollected that the RSS/BJP organised protest actions outside the rural development minister’s residence against his similar comments. The BJP’s spokesman had then said that such comments would “destroy the fine fabric of religion and faith”. Predictably, VHP leader Pravin Togadia has promptly reacted sharply to such `toilets/temples’ comments by the Gujarat chief minister, calling them “nothing short of an insult to the Hindu society”.  He went on to say, “we are stunned and shocked to hear about the unnecessary mention of temples ….We too believe in the need for better hygiene.  But the way temples were dragged was uncalled for”.  Recalling the protests against the union minister, he went on to say, “We expect the BJP to once again rise to the occasion and condemn the statement made by its own prime ministerial candidate”.


Such duplicity must be seen in tandem with the outcry of support  that this prime ministerial aspirant is receiving from sections of  India Inc.  They are projecting him as one who will unabashedly  carry forward the agenda of neo-liberal economic reforms  aggressively.  Recollect that it was the BJP-led NDA government under A B Vajpayee that heralded  the illusion of `shining India’ and  the `feel good factor’.  Thus, they consolidated the creation of  two Indias with a  growing hiatus between them.  This process of enriching the rich and impoverishing the poor has continued to strengthen over the years.


This is confirmed  by two media news items  that appeared on the same day in September 2013.  The first was the news of a global wealth and investment report that showed  India as recording the second highest increase in high net worth individuals (HNI) – those having investable assets of over $ 1 million – in the world.  The HNI population grew by 22.2 percent  in 2012  while their wealth increased at a rate of 23.4 percent.  These 1,53,000 HNIs together hold assets worth $ 589 billion – 0.001275 percent of our population holding assets between a third and a half  of our  GDP! 


The second is concerning the All India Rural Development Report we referred to above.  It shows that the proportion of self-employed people in agriculture, ie, cultivators, is shrinking even as large numbers shift to non-farm jobs on insecure terms. Of the 42 percent engaged in non-farm employment, most are engaged in unskilled jobs such as construction and trade. Even among those engaged in manufacturing, most are casual labourers with economic security.

The report says that in the last decade, public investment in agriculture has remained stagnant at about 3 percent of the agricultural GDP and the consequent crisis in agriculture is reflected in growing farmer suicides. The numbers rose from over 10,700 cultivators in 1995 to over 17,000 by 2009. Indebtedness and crop failure have been blamed for most of the suicides.

Notwithstanding all the hypes being generated of direct transfer of benefits to the people, this report shows that the proportion of rural households availing any banking services was just 54 percent in 2011. A look at the loans disbursed by commercial banks to farmers showed that marginal farmers accounted for the lowest disbursement, Rs 42,600 crore, while a smaller number of medium and large farmers got over Rs 73,000 crore.  So much for the concern for the poor! 

The curse of malnutrition continues to plague rural India. Data on calorie intake  shows that from 2,153 calories, consumption has steadily decreased to just 2,020 calories in 2009-10 indicating distress as most people would not be willingly consuming less.

In health too, the report says, rural India fared badly with over 28 percent not accessing treatment as they could not afford to. This proportion goes up to 37 percent for SCs and 32 percent for STs. Larger proportions of these two groups use government health facilities compared to other social groups. Hence poor public health infrastructure coupled with large-scale privatisation, making access unaffordable, hits them hardest. Despite the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), rural healthcare suffers from the lack of qualified personnel at every level from paramedics to doctors and specialists and requires greater investment in physical infrastructure too.

Despite high rural enrolment, the proportion of students in an age group attending school fell steadily from 78 percent at the primary level to just 29 percent at the higher secondary level in 2009-10, according to the report. Learning levels were also poor with less than half the students in class V being able to read letters and words and books of class I and II. Less than half the students in class VIII could recognise numbers and do addition and subtraction.

This is the reality of the two Indias as confirmed by official reports. It is this trajectory  that India Inc. wants to carry forward aggressively and is hoping that the BJP prime ministerial aspirant  would deliver. 

It is this deadly cocktail of the sharpening  of communal polarisation (noted in these columns in the past few weeks) and vigorously pursuing  the agenda of neo-liberal economic reforms  that is the recipe for sure disaster for Indian people’s livelihood and for the unity and integrity of our country undermining  the secular democratic foundations of the modern Republic.  This has to be prevented in order to carry forward the struggles for the creation of a better India for our people and for the country. 

(October 9, 2013)