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Failed prophet of propaganda? As Covid-19 death toll grows, so does Modi popularity

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Prime Minister Narendra Modi represents contradictory character of Hindutva politics. The political history of so-called Hindu nationalism has not been consistent, even though it has helped shape national and international capital in India with the help of the state power.
No doubt, people of India have been beguiled by Modi’s propaganda claims that he is taking the nation towards the resolution of the country’s problems. The groundless optimism has not taken much time to reveal its hopeless character. All his promises and claims have been discredited by tragic realities of everyday life.
Aggressive nationalism has set aside people’s agenda in order to grab headlines on cow vigilantism, terrorism, love jihad, cultural and moral policing of the young generation, and so on. Present failures are being blamed on past governments. People have hoped for too long for solutions, even as corporates flourished and people faced hunger, joblessness, and cultural policing seeking to test patriotism.
Currently, India is at the brink of becoming the hotspot of Covid-19. The Modi government is planning to lift the lockdown when the coronavirus is all set to reach its peak. The unavoidable lockdown was imposed when the coronavirus spread was minimal. This reflects lack of reasonable planning and long-term vision in managing crisis.
The unplanned and authoritarian lockdown was imposed by the Modi government, which failed miserably to control the spread of coronavirus. It is contributing to death and destitution of majority of poor and marginalised migrant workers. It stripes away the citizenship and dignity of human lives in India.
It is a Modi-made and Modi-led public health disaster in making. Yet, the showman in Modi continues with his deceptive propaganda. Directionless policy decisions of the Modi government, explosion of misinformation, combined with Hindutva hangover with pseudo-science, has created new challenges for India in its resolve against the pandemic. It undermines India’s credibility and international image.
The secular, multicultural democratic dividend alone can help shape India and the future of Indians during crisis. The future of India depends on its people irrespective of their religious, regional, cultural and social background. Empowering people and enlarging democratic space is central to transform India into a successful welfare state.
Food security, public health, education, and sustainable development are some of the central issues Indians face today. It is within this context that India needs planned interventions by mobilising its own internal resources.
India lacks infrastructure to mobilise its own natural and human resources. So, it is imperative for the policy makers to create sustainable infrastructure with a long-term vision that can generate mass employment and other sources of income for the people even during the pandemics.
The success depends on sustainable leadership that empowers people with clear flow of progressive and scientific information. Yet, the Modi government continues to follow the narrow vision of RSS. It has not missed any opportunity to blame the religious minorities for the spread of coronavirus. The result is, as the death toll grows due to Covid-19 grows, so does Modi’s popularity due to propaganda.
The Modi government has created a massive tax regime for the masses but given huge tax relief to the corporations. The neoliberal economists in Modi government have failed to understand the objectives of taxation as a concept and an economic tool.
Taxes should be used to increase public investment to increase productive infrastructure for economic growth and development. They should be used to augment social welfare of the masses by controlling market mechanisms. They can help in creating economic stability by reducing inequalities and inflationary pressures. However, the Modi government has failed to achieve basic objectives of taxation.
 Alternative political forces can't be repressed for ever. It is time to struggle together to save the idea of India from the current ruinous path
The corporates are the real beneficiaries of taxation policies of the Modi government. It has failed to provide any form of relief to the masses. It has surrendered to the Indian industrial capitalist class by withdrawing the policy of mandatory wage pay during the lockdown period.
While the Central government has surrendered before the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), the BJP-led state governments in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have abolished important legal protection for workers. This way, the Modi government has sought to enable conditions of bonded labour.
The post-colonial Indian state as a political entity is the product of anti-colonial struggles of the working class. But the state in India today has been taken over by the upper caste and class population in Indian society. It serves the purposes of industrial capitalist class and feudal landed elites. It does not represent the Indian working classes.
It is the farmers, youths, migrants, labourers, women, Dalits and the tribals, who produce everything, yet they suffer from misery in the midst of plenty. They produce food but die in hunger. Migrants build cities, malls, hotels but live without a roof over their head. They build hospitals but die in illness without basic medical facilities.
The lockdown period is a time for self-reflection and realisation for the working class, that they need to work for their own emancipation from the bondages of work within a system that does not give opportunities for a dignified life.
There is a need to understand that the Hindutva regime is losing control over very objectives. It promised strong leadership, economic prosperity and national security. But it has failed to achieve these three important promises it had made in the election manifesto.
Now, the Modi government is using the coronavirus lockdown to control the masses by putting student leaders, human rights activists and opposition leaders in prison. It is destroying Indian democracy by controlling the masses in the pretext of stopping the spread of coronavirus.
In reality, the directionless lockdown has failed to achieve its desired objectives. The Modi regime is turning against the people of India, accusing the non-existent opposition parties for the failure of the government. It is ruining constitutionally approved well established norms and institutions of policy and governance in India, as a result of which people are facing a very uncertain future.
However, alternative political forces cannot be repressed for ever. It is time to struggle together to save the idea of India from the ruinous path led by BJP and RSS. India can only revive its progressive and democratic path by mobilising its own resources with the help of its own people.
It needs change of political leadership, direction and ideological revamp to ensure its multicultural ethos. The establishment of social harmony, devolution of power to people and economic decentralisation can only help India to the path of economic growth and development. It is important to realise that peace and prosperity move together.
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*Coventry University, UK

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