Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Why BJP will never accept that CAA NRC protests are real

Kartik Dayanand Boddapati - Minduread - CAA NRC

This blogpost is available as a video on YouTube as well as Facebook. It's my first attempt at video blogging. 



You prefer reading it the usual way; then here it is:

Someone wrote to me recently on Twitter, saying he enjoys all my tweets there except for when I criticize Narendra Modi. His Blood Pressure goes up it seems.

We both laughed…but I also realized that it’s not just his problem. I get pissed off too, when I see people blindly defending some dumb action of the government.

Is it safe to say we both are in the same boat? Maybe – maybe not.

It depends on whether we are looking at events in isolation or looking at the big picture. The CAA and NRC debate is a classic example of the same.

Most sensible people could put 2 and 2 together and see what this combo could do, and they protested. Whereas others chose to only look at the narrow picture – a part of the issue – and they continue to ask - how does CAA affect any Indian? It is only for refugees of 3 countries.

They are basically parroting what the government has been telling us.

However, many started seeing the big picture, thanks to Amit Shah’s speeches which clearly explain the chronology of events; yet, that’s a tough idea to comprehend – of discriminating a section of the society.

That’s not possible we think; but this government hasn’t given people the confidence that it can be trusted with such things.

If demonetization can happen overnight, and if Article 370 can be revoked in Kashmir overnight. And if Devendra Fadnavis can be sworn in early in the morning - by revoking President’s rule via an ordinance - without anyone’s notice - neither the media nor other political parties, what stops them from not misusing the CAA and NRC framework? 


There is doubt in people’s minds – this government is up to some mischief is what they think.

The trend is clear and is worrying if seen as a sequence of cascading events.

However, the main reason why I post this blog is to highlight a particular aspect of the CAA and NRC protests – an aspect that is linked to the blood pressure issue that I mentioned at the beginning and about why our government is adamant to accept this as a true people’s revolt.

To highlight my point, I’ll start with a hypothetical scenario.

Here it goes….


Let’s assume I am a user of Airtel, the mobile network.

The company announces a new policy which I think is really bad and is not as per the initial plan I signed up for. I expect them to look into my issue. So, I pick up the phone and call their customer service.

There is no response. I try again.

This time…to my surprise, there is a cross connection and I am connected to another customer who seems to be super happy with what Airtel has to offer.

He starts explaining to me why this new policy is so good for me. I politely say thanks and hang up the phone and try to reach Airtel again. But this happy customer keeps coming in the way, again and again. He starts mocking me and starts calling me an agent of Vodaphone.

AGENT OF VODAPHONE? I scratch my head.

He says I am spreading false propaganda about Airtel and its policies.

In the meanwhile, Airtel CEO gives speeches as to why his new policy is so good, and yes...he accuses those protesting to be agents of Vodaphone too and that we can be identified by the types of phones we use.

I am not alone; there are thousands of people out there like me, protesting.

And worst of all Airtel decides to remove the outgoing calls and internet facility on my phone so that I can’t complain further.

In frustration I go and stand outside the Airtel office to share my grievance - but no, section 144 is imposed, and police starts a lathi charge. My voice is shut down.

And this happy customer keeps coming back to me, and this time tells me to ‘Go to Post Office’.

What the hell???


I am a customer of Airtel. WHERE AND HOW DID THIS POST OFFICE COME INTO THE PICTURE?

And what does Vodaphone have anything to do with it?

Everything’s a mess. I am lost. How did we end up in this situation?

Hold on a minute…

The same experience could hypothetically repeat with another service like say, an Amazon or a Swiggy, or any other store both online and offline. Or, it could be the government!

Well, this is not hypothetical anymore.

What I mentioned is exactly what’s happening now with our government and us.

You might say: But those are businesses, and this is the government; they are very different. Governments are elected by the people unlike companies that are driven by market forces, or what we call as capitalism.

Ok…for a moment, think why the top companies became so popular.

That’s because a majority of people found them to be useful and chose these companies over the competition. It’s very much similar to our elections.
There’s one major difference though.

In capitalism – if I am not happy with the service, I have an option to switch my loyalties overnight to someone who provides me a better or a fair service.

In a democracy - I need to wait for 5 years to vote for an alternative party that might give me a better ser
vice.

Democracy is basically capitalism without the consequences…else they are the same.

So, what do I do if I am not happy with what my government is doing? Close my eyes and wait for another 5 years; or fight for better services from the existing government.

The answer is obvious right. We fight for our rights.

This also answers the often-repeated question when it comes to Modi and the BJP: Who is the alternative? The opposition is dead…they say. We can’t trust anyone else.

Guess what? That’s fine.

You really don’t need an alternative if whoever is in power is held accountable. Doesn’t matter which party is in power as long as they serve the people well.

But, is our government showing that accountability?

NOPE!

Instead of calming people and reassuring them, they have confused them further through mixed messaging – PM says something, and the Home Minister says something else – what’s the truth?

They have also unleashed an army of trolls, as a diversion tactic to take our attention away. These IT cell trolls are basically providing cover fire to the government to dodge accountability.

Government’s approach towards the current protests are very worrisome; filled with denial and arrogance.

This stems from a far more fundamental problem that they have. It’s linked to how they came to power in 2014.

There are two elements to this story: 1. Congress, and 2. The People.

Congress:
BJP came in as an alternative to the Congress in 2014. Their slogan was Congress mukth Bharath. BJP’s existence and very survival is linked to the downfall of the Congress.

It’s like Voldemort’s relation with Harry Potter – they can’t live apart.

People:
And how did this trust deficit in the Congress manifest in the first place?

It was because of a people’s movement – led by the IAC team, Anna Hazare, Kejriwal and co, and the general public online and offline.

We the people, with our new-found power through social media were able to bring down the mighty Congress to its knees.

What Modi did was to occupy the vacuum that we created in the political arena.


Otherwise there’s no way Modi would be where he is today.

Now, when those very same people are against him – he knows that’s not a good sign.


What does he do in defense – invokes Congress time and again – blames the protests on Congress – as if the people don’t have brains of their own.

Because he knows – if people could bring down the Congress, they could do it again with the BJP.

This fear has translated into arrogance.

We didn’t even have to wait till the CAA protests to realize that. Remember the FTII protests in 2015 – it went on and on but the govt never budged; they had to have it their way. That was the first sign that this government would do everything to scuttle people’s voices – it had to be their way or no way.

That’s when we saw the emergence of terms like tukde tukde gang, Khan market gang, award wapsi gang, intolerance gang, urban naxals, and so on. Any dissenting voice was branded as anti-national. They know how powerful these voices could get.

With the current CAA and NRC scenario the govt has put itself in a spot by prematurely attributing the protests to Congress. 
Seeing the scale of the protests they are in a catch-22 situation now.

If the protests continue to grow bigger – they will have to accept that Congress still matters.


And if they say Congress is irrelevant then it is people’s revolt against them, which is an even bigger problem to accept.

So, the government is doing everything in its power to make sure this revolt dies – there is no way they are going to come out shining from this unless they accept their mistake.

Till then they will try to distract and divert people’s attention – the troll army is already doing a good job of it and many are getting influenced.

PR campaigns are also doing their job to discredit these protests as violent and unconstitutional.

Their focus is only on those few violent clashes while the majority of the protests across the country have been very peaceful. It is an issue of selective focus by the media as well as the government.

Violence is absolutely not acceptable; we know it as well as the government does; but they focus only on that because it brings a bad name to this movement. It’s a diversion tactic again.

This whole thing can be solved if the government decides to be truthful and builds some trust through a proper outreach program instead of the current blame game.

People mostly supported this government in all their earlier decisions, no matter how bad they were, they never hit the streets.

Now they’ve had enough and are letting the government know.

Modi government has to deal with it instead of denying the existence of such a revolt.

Dear Government,

Listen to the student, listen to the common man, listen to the people of this country.

Calm them down. They are your people. You are responsible for them too and not just those that say yes to everything you say or do.

And those protesting against the protestors – screaming “Goli maaro saalon ko” won’t help anyone.

The government is anyways not able to convince people, you please don’t come in between and make it worse.

And please don’t ask us to “Go to Post Office”, sorry, I mean Pakistan.

Let’s please keep our collective Blood Pressures under control. The one that needs to answer is the government; not you; not the trolls.

Thank you and wish you all a fantastic new year!

Cheers!!!
Kartik Dayanand Boddapati


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