Irony: Autocratic PM Modi Speaks Of "Democratic Rights"

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave an ironic speech on the 43rd anniversary of Emergency saying that democratic forces were curbed during emergency

Irony: Autocratic PM Modi Speaks Of "Democratic Rights"

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is by far the only head of the country who has not carried out two-way communication with the media. After coming into power in 2014, PM Modi has only given interviews with anchors who have never questioned his accountability on certain burning issues. Also, the channels which interviewed him are known for anything but pointing out flaws of the Modi government.

Very smartly, Modi has always managed to address the audience that he wishes to address, similar to that of today. Being a representative of Indian citizens, similar to United States President Donald Trump, Modi often uses Twitter as his official way of communication which is again a passive way to communicate.

While speaking on the 43rd anniversary of Emergency in Mumbai, Modi hit hard against late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her family blaming them for devaluing India’s constitution, misusing it, and disregarding the Judiciary.

During his speech, Modi tried to draw a picture of the events that happened while Emergency was imposed. From preventive arrests to dismissal of fundamental rights, PM Modi asserted every atrocity which the protestors had to face during that time and blamed Congress party for the same.

Indeed, Emergency was the darkest period in the Indian political history. The resistance of those who fought against the establishment and stood by the democratic rights and the Indian constitution will always be appreciated. However, during his speech, Modi reflected and narrated his pure hatred towards one party, one person, and her family but not the resistance.

Does The PM Demean The Opposition?

There is a difference between resistance or criticism and being downright insulting towards one’s opponents. This is not the first time that PM Modi has made degrading remarks and has got personal against office bearers, he thrashed Former PM Manmohan Singh on many occasions including the Former Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari.

During his TV interview with Karan Thapar in 2017, highlighting the real issue, Ansari spoke about the rising intolerance in India against the minorities. He said that there's unrest and a sense of insecurity among Muslims in the country, adding that the ambience of acceptance is under threat.

Reacting to this, while bidding farewell to Rajya Sabha chairman, Modi made an ill-bred remark on Ansari’s analysis and implied that Ansari had been a diplomat and had mostly interacted with West Asian countries (Muslim countries). After that, he was the Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), added Modi, saying that his thinking has been shaped according to that “atmosphere”. PM Modi further added that Ansari, when he became the chairman of Rajya Sabha, must have felt strange managing the house around people of different thought process (Non-muslims).  

Judiciary Was Intimidated

Speaking on the issue of “intimidated Judiciary” during the Emergency, Modi said that Indira Gandhi did not adhere to the courts and disregarded its decision. Well, if that was the case, more extreme situations have been recorded under Modi rule too - The Judge Loya Case in which a judge was allegedly killed while he was hearing the Sohrabuddin Fake Encounter Case at a CBI court and BJP President Amit Shah was a suspect in the same. Journalist Niranjan Takle broke the story with Caravan Magazine and in his report, he allegedly named Amit Shah in the murder of Justice Brijgopal Harkishan Loya.

A judge has been killed under Modi rule and a top politician who belongs to the ruling party has been named as the suspect. Despite this, Supreme Court dismissed petitions demanding an independent probe into this matter. First time in history, the apex court’s senior-most judges - including Justice J Chalmeshwar along with Justice Rajan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur, and Kurian Joseph - asserted media that democracy is in danger saying that this address comes in regard with the death of Judge Loya. While talking to the media, the four judges said that “SC must maintain its equanimity. Democracy will not survive without a free judiciary.” 

Misuse Of Constitution

While addressing the audience in Mumbai’s auditorium, Modi spoke about imposition of the Emergency rule as the misuse of Indian Constitution as the reason for imposing the same was cited that there is an internal threat to sovereignty and integrity of India. However, not only during Indira Gandhi's regime but also in all other regimes, the Indian state has misused its power and tried to curb the dissenters in one way or another and Modi government is not exceptional.

Recently, in a joint operation, the police booked five activists under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence and for their alleged Maoist links. Also, those who show resistance against the government, National Security Act (NSA) has been imposed against them across the country. While addressing a rally in Virar, campaigning for the Palghar bypoll, BJP leader Rita Bahuguna in May 2018 flaunted the fact that Uttar Pradesh government has imposed NSA on 500 people under CM Yogi Adityanath’s rule. In the tribal parts of India, many locals have been booked under sedition charge for refusing to give their land to the government. 

Media Censorship Imposed

Attacking Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister Modi stated that media freedom was curbed during the Emergency. The media is the fourth pillar of the democracy and when it does not stand for people and their issues while favouring the government, it is a direct threat to the democracy of a country. During the emergency, the media freedom was curbed and was forced to not report anything against Indira Gandhi's regime.

However, in a recent sting operation carried out by CobraPost, the real face of mainstream media including broadcast media along with print and digital media publications was exposed. All the major publications were ready to carry biased and paid content pushing forward the Hindutva agenda. Ahead of the upcoming elections, Cobrapost carried out its sting on 25 media houses and they all agreed to publish pro-government and pro-Hindutva content for money. The sting reports were not published by any mainstream publication or broadcast media.

Media houses face pressure from political groups and corporate-run media houses deter from posting factual reports against the government and its top politicians. Thus, recently, a few media publications took down their article against Amit Shah in which the report stated that bank with the BJP President as the director had collected highest amount  (₹745.59 crore in five days) of banned currency among other corporative banks during demonetisation. However, this has not happened for the first time. Earlier in July, a couple of leading publications removed published stories describing Amit Shah’s assets and Smriti Irani’s Educational Degree. 

Still A Messiah Of Democracy?

The ruling party has already polarised the country and trolls have taken over social media. Recently, trolls on Twitter criticised Union Minister Sushma Swaraj for transferring a passport officer from Lucknow after the couple tweeted to her, accusing Vikas Mishra, the officer, of bigotry and humiliating them for being an inter-faith couple. Trolling and threatening on social media has become very common. Earlier, the army of "nationalistic" trolls have abused people who do not talk in the interest of BJP and Modi. Now that, it has happened with his own cabinet minister,  PM Modi should have at least addressed the issue of trolling.

As per Narendra Modi, Congress is the party in which democracy doesn’t exist and nepotism prevails but what about BJP? No members other than Modi and Shah can express their dissatisfaction over any issue related to governance or party. Those, such as Yashwant Sinha, have criticised BJP government on its policy and he had to leave the party. It clearly states that Modi and Shah don’t adhere to any suggestions. Where is the democracy here?

PM Modi never cared to clarify on the Demonetisation move carried out by his government due to which almost 100 people died across the country. Supposedly, Modi is the only Prime Minister of a democratic country who hates the country's media. His autocratic personality reflects that he doesn’t like someone questioning his decisions and if you do, you're labelled as "anti-national".  

Modi has openly criticised Indian Media – a section of it which talks about issues pertaining to people – for their approach in covering the news. Earlier in 2016, speaking at the Ram Nath Goenka Awards, Modi said that every issue or death is linked with caste and religion. He intended to taunt the publications highlighting atrocities being committed against Dalits and other minorities in the country. To that, Indian Express Editor Raj Kamal Jha gave a fitting reply to Modi over his remarks, saying “Criticism from the government is a badge of honour.”

It is the responsibility of every Prime Minister and his government to address issues affecting commoners and certain sections of the society. However, it has not happened until now. Before winning the elections in 2014, Modi's speeches were strongly critical of the UPA government and catered to people's issues - from bringing back the black money from the Swiss Bank to stopping Terrorist attacks on the border. However, his governance has not been promising. It is for the people to realise now that Modi has actually not catered to any fundamental issue since he has come to power. The idea of a democracy shall be cherished with discussions, dialogues, and dissent. However, Modi's democracy has no space for this. Despite that, he criticises Indira Gandhi and calls her undemocratic, isn't that ironic? 

Note: This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. Mumbai Live neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.