Skip to main content

Karnataka: Battleground for the Soul of India, which is sought to be manipulated in every possible way

Modi sharing dias with Reddy brothers
By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
The soul of India is in essence everything that makes up the greatness and wealth of India! From ancient history so vividly exemplified by the Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa civilizations to the temples of modern India so poignantly put by the statesman and first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru; from the pluralism of religions to the diversity of cultures; for centuries India has been a gastronomical delight serving every taste bud.
The sheer variety in our dress, film, dance, song, literature, languages put entire continents to shame; from the grandeur of the Himalayan range to a coastline , the length of it few countries possess, to forests rich with flora and fauna and bio-diversity at large; from visionary leaders like Gandhi and Ambedkar to courageous human rights and free speech defenders; from a Constitution which has its core values in justice, liberty, equality and fraternity for all to the idea of India which millions want to treasure and mainstream! All this and more embody the soul of India!
In the recent past, this soul has been ravaged, raped, corrupted, criminalized, communalized, and manipulated in every possible way. Perhaps never before there has been such an urgency to restore the essence of this soul; to enhance it; and not to leave it to fascists with their single-minded agenda of destroying it. Karnataka is today a battleground: a modern day Kurukshetra. Come May 12, the elections in the State will witness the battle for the soul of India.
Social media is bursting with messages, videos and cartoons; analysis and comments, about the Karnataka Elections. Several of the mainstream media have taken sides on expected lines. There are already some polls, forecasting the end results. There is a powerful Kannada video (FB/YoungINDYI), with English subtitles, which has gone viral!
The message is loud and clear “what we eat; what we wear; who we love; what we say: Should be our right! It is a video worth watching and sharing. It is all about how some fascist elements have taken law and order in their own hands. The outcome of the Karnataka elections will not only impact the soul of the country but will also define the India of tomorrow; besides, it is bound to have far-reaching consequences for the General Elections of 2019.
Recently (May 3) all major Indian channels highlighted the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared the stage in Bellary with Gali Somashekhara Reddy, who is the BJP candidate from the area. Known as the Reddy Brothers, Somashekara and his two siblings Karunakara (also a BJP candidate) and Janardhana (who is actively campaigning for the BJP) are regarded as some of the most corrupt persons in India.
It is common knowledge that all three have amassed an incredible amount of wealth (estimated to be at least Rs 35,000 crore) through largescale illegal and rapacious mining across the iron-ore-rich district of Bellary. All three brothers were lawmakers and Ministers when the BJP ruled Karnataka some time ago.
The PM thus sent an unequivocal message to all: the BJP will do anything to win the battle for the soul of Karnataka in the forthcoming elections, on May 12. In the past, as a smokescreen, in the run up to elections in some States, they cleverly played the development card. This time however, they have thrown all caution to the wind- neither development nor environmental concerns matter any longer.
The writ of the Reddy brothers with their money and muscle runs large in certain areas of Karnataka. Besides, choosing the scam tainted 75-year old Lingayat leader B.S. Yeddyurappa as the chief ministerial candidate of the party proves, that there is no one in the country, to rival the BJP in corruption. It is significant that the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in a recent report state that out of the 224 BJP candidates standing for elections in Karnataka 83 of them (37%) are those with a criminal background.
In Karnataka, the BJP-supported right-wing elements are doing all they can to destroy the sanctity and the rights guaranteed to every citizen by the Constitution. The State for years has been the bastion of the Congress and other secular parties, but in June 2008, the party won the State elections. There has been a downslide ever since. In September 2008, Christians and church institutions were attacked in Mangalore and other places across the State. Over the years, the BJP (even as opposition) has also played their communal agenda to the hilt, effectively dividing the people on religious and caste lines.
Recently, Sanjay Patil, a BJP legislator standing for elections from North Karnataka, amplified this agenda, when he vociferously proclaimed, This election is very important. It is not about roads, drinking water or gutters. This election is about Hindus and Muslims. Those who want to build the Babri Masjid, those who want to celebrate Tipu Jayanti, let them vote for the Congress. Those among you who want Shivaji Maharaj, those who want Sambhaji Maharaj, those who want to pray at a Lakshmi temple, you must vote for the BJP.
In the run-up to the elections, it was common knowledge that the right-wing elements were buying up people from different sections of society, just to split the votes of the other parties. The demonetization heist foisted by them on the nation provided them and their crony capitalists a windfall. Therefore, they do in fact have plenty of black money to buy up unsuspecting people and to continue with their divide-and-rule strategy.
A young ambitious Catholic doctor from Mangalore, who felt that the Congress had no time to listen to him very candidly said recently that the BJP has offered him a ticket for the next elections. Of course, they will do so! They will also make sure that this Christian will be made to stand from a constituency from where he is bound to lose; but would help in dividing the votes.
Freedom of speech and expression, has also taken a severe beating in Karnataka. The fascists have left no stone unturned to throttle anybody who takes a stand for justice and truth or for that, matter thinks differently. On 30 August 2015, eminent intellectual Prof MM Kalburgi was brutally murdered in Dharwad. On 5 September 2017, journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh was gunned down. Both Kalburgi and Lankesh were highly critical of the Sangh Parivar.
In 2015, Professor B.P. Mahesh Chandra Guru, dalit intellectual ( also a professor of journalism) offered an interpretation of the Ramayana, in which he said Ram was guilty of misogyny when he banished pregnant Sita to live alone in a forest. He used the Kannada word 'alemari' to describe Ram. Guru says, "I meant he was 'nomadic' or 'wandering. Eighteen months later, Guru spent eight days in a Mysore jail after some functionary (who was not present at the lecture) of a Hindutva group ‘Karunawu Sarvodaya Sene’, took offence at Guru's speech and filed a police complaint, claiming that his Hindu religious sentiments were hurt, since Guru called Ram a "loafer".
At first, Guru's bail plea was rejected and he was released only after he spent over a week in prison. Today Guru continues speaking out vehemently against those forces who trample freedom of speech and expression and destroy the intellectual fibre of the country.
Mangalore will never forget 24 January 2009 when a group of goons belonging to another extremist outfit the Sri Ram Sene barged into a pub, beat up young women and men, screaming at them for having loose morals. The group claimed that the women were violating traditional Indian values. Two women were hospitalized for the injuries they sustained. However, after more than nine years, a lower court in Karnataka on 13 March acquitted twenty- six of the attackers including the founder of the group, Pramod Muthalik for want of evidence.
This was indeed a travesty of justice. There is ample amount of video evidence to show how blatantly the goons had carried out the attack. Fortunately, a group of concerned citizens, the Citizens Forum for Mangalore Development’ has launched a massive campaign demanding that the state government appeal the ruling so that the cause of justice is served and the attackers are suitably punished.
The Sene over the years, with due patronage from the BJP/RSS combine, have arrogated on themselves to be the sole custodian of Hindu Culture They have made love jihad their main objective, attacking any couple in love, who belong to ‘different’ religions. In 2012, a group of them attacked a party of youngsters enjoying inside a private guesthouse in Mangalore and manhandled them, accusing them of indecency and violating Indian culture, all this, while mishandling and reportedly molesting the women themselves.
Last June, the ‘Sene’ made its opposition to an iftar hosted inside the ancient Udupi Sri Krishna temple by the head of the Pejawar Mutt, Sri Vishvesha Teertha Swamiji, and called for a statewide protest against it. The outfit couldnt swallow the bitter pill that at a time when their ilk the Hindutva forces were galvanizing themselves across the country and cow vigilantes were making headlines nearly every month, the Swamiji had invited both Hindus and Muslims to promote communal harmony.
The elections in Karnataka is no longer about an impartial, objective look at this or that national political party. It is about a more subjective and passionate look, at the future of India. When Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde said on 25 December 2017, in Bangalore, we are here to change the Constitution -- only a very few would have thought that he was talking through his hat. A victory for the BJP in Karnataka would be a significant step closer towards the realization of their main goal.
On some other points there might be little to choose from the two major parties. However, on the point of the Constitution, on the diversity of the country and on the pluralistic, secular fabric of the country, there can be very little doubt, on who is on the side of the people of the country. Karnataka today is indeed a battleground: for the soul of India!
---
*Indian human rights activist. Contact: cedricprakash@gmail.com

Comments

Anonymous said…
Fascists? More like Taaliban

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Custodial death of Muslim youth: Govt of India told to ratify UN convention on torture

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, West Bengal, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has drawn to the custodial death of a Muslim youth following his torture in police custody after registering a "false case" based on manufactured records. Seeking "proper investigation" the whole incident, Roy in his plea insists, the incident legitimizes his organisations' long-standing demand "for immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment." Text : Here I want to draw your kind attention to one incident of custodial torture by the Deganga police personnel and the subsequent custodial death of one Muslim man from the Other Backward Class community in Dum Dum Central Correctional Home. The name o