first_imgAlthough BJP is in the saddle of power at the Centre with a massive majority, three worrying issues are currently being discussed incessantly across the country – the economy, conduct of the media, and EVMs. The tactical silence of BJP on all these issues so far, is, however, bothering even their staunch supporters. The country is waiting to see if Modi would come out with new magic tricks again as is his wont. Modi and BJP used a magic wand of promises in 2014 to mesmerise the entire country and come to power. It was used again in the form of nationalism when their actions in demonetisation etc., caused immense harm to the country. Their hypnotic powers were extensively used to subdue RBI and every other institution. Of late, they have also succeeded in making the Election Commission act like a robot, obeying their commands. So much is their power of magic that people have defied logic. While a bad state of economy implies the end of an incumbent President in the US and elsewhere, the same hasn’t happened in India. Much disillusioned, more people have joined others to vote Modi to power again. Also Read – A staunch allyHowever, now it is time for Modi and Nirmala Sitharaman to take stock of the reality of our country’s economy and use all their magical skills to change things, since it is all authentic. GDP growth has slowed the most in the last five years. Considering the favourable conditions of lower oil prices since they came to power in 2014, 5.8 per cent growth in the last quarter of 2018-19 is far lower in real terms compared to the actual 7.3 per cent in the same period of UPA-II, in 2014. In fact, it has been the slowest in the last 20 quarters. Fearing a negative impact, the unemployment figures were kept hidden for long. Now, the public has come to know that it is around 6 per cent, a distressing high of 45 years. Demonetisation and drying of credit to medium and small enterprises as well as the unorganised sector have immensely contributed to the shrinking of jobs, along with a dip in the self-employment economy. FDI has come down. USA has ejected India from GSP, causing an annual loss of $5.6 billion dollars of exports, adding further to the woes of unemployment. Now, RBI has also come out with the long list of defaulters cheating the country to the tune of over Rs 70,000 crore in the recent past. Further, the average agricultural growth rate of 2.51 per cent from 2014 to 2017 represents a significant dip compared to the average 3.17 per cent growth in the previous decade from 2004 to 2014. In spite of having a good rainfall average in the last five years, farmers’ distress continues, indicating that the fault lies more in the form of market processes. The price support mechanisms for farmers’ produce are thus an area of concern. Do they really have any tricks to change things? Even if they do not, who is bothered? The media only sings of their positives, in unison. Also Read – Cuban pathosLike the judiciary, the independent media is also a pillar of democracy. But, with her/his professional pride being hurt, every conscientious journalist must be sulking at her/his present fate; since it is the publisher who calls the shots. It is rightly said, the freedom of the press is restricted to the pleasure of the publisher. And his pleasure is, in turn, shaped by the government in power. With his hypnotic spell, Modi has made their task much easier. They don’t have to work; don’t have to penetrate and get information; don’t have to expose and analyse. Overwhelmed by powerful scents, their power to scent information is put at rest. They are served information on a platter. Now, it is a blatant ‘His Master’s Voice’. Independent news from them has become a rarity. As a result, their TRPs are going down each day. And, people are browsing social media more often, increasing their TRP, even when the credibility of such news is questionable. In the past, court-poets of kings sang praises of the ruler even if he was a demon; not a word was ever spoken against him. Subsequent generations believed their eulogies to be true, even though untruths were written out of fear or to derive financial benefits. The present media appears to be no different. News, unpalatable to the government, is not reported or is underplayed, as it happened when Pragya eulogised Godse; when the municipal election results of Karnataka and Telangana were not favouring BJP and when ballot papers were used in place of EVMs. Such a result, following a thumping victory in the Lok Sabha elections, was not a surprise to this media for making news. They are so prejudiced in favour of the ruling party that SP and JD(S) have boycotted them. Congress has stopped interacting with them for a month’s period; may even make it permanent. With all this, eyebrows of people are being raised, and questions are cropping up in social media about the results of Lok Sabha elections as to whether EVMs have played their role in BJP’s victory. There have been constant questions on the functioning of EVMs – for their hacking, tampering, pre-fixing through programming. Videos are in circulation showing truckloads of EVMs at certain places which were not properly accounted for. The High Court Bench of Gwalior is seized with the matter of 20 lakh missing EVMs from the source, the details of which were obtained under RTI subsequent to the orders of Bombay High Court. Based on the details obtained from the EC website, Quint magazine has brought out revealing information that in over 370 constituencies that went to polls in the first four phases of the elections, the total votes shown were more than the votes polled; there is a discrepancy of a whopping 58 lakh votes. When they tried to ascertain more details, the information was suddenly removed from the website. Social media is also agog with allegations of pre-fixing of EVMs with a considerable number of votes in favour of BJP. The information being spread is that these EVMs function normally otherwise; but when the final tally is counted, the pre-fixed number would add to it. Such is the software programme that was used. People are reporting that when an entire mohalla had voted against BJP, it was found that all their votes went in favour of BJP in the final counting. Against this backdrop, EC not agreeing with opposition parties to implement the 5 per cent formula of SC for VVPAT use, in letter and spirit, in the counting process, raises further doubts. The demand of opposition parties was to go for the VVPAT counting first before the actual counting takes place so that in case of discrepancies, appropriate remedial action would be taken immediately. Incidents are too many to ignore. People are puzzled; even vocal supporters of BJP are flabbergasted. Initial hush-hush has changed to consternation to anger and to protests. Their voice is rising every day, and the protests are spreading to different places. Justice Kolbe Patil, an ex-judge of High Court, has also begun an agitation. So are some more ex-judges and professors. It looks like, it is turning out to be a nation-wide agitation. National media has the responsibility to unearth the facts to clear people’s doubts. They should have conducted their own journalistic investigations into this pressing issue. But, their silence is very intriguing. In the absence of any such efforts from them, and any authentic rebuttals from the concerned quarters, people tend to believe the stories being circulated on social media. One only wishes that it is all not true, since, if they are true, it is a great fraud on the electorate. It amounts to the criminal offences of cheating, fraud and theft, in addition to the offences under the Representation of People’s Act. The charges being serious, a convincing rebuttal would have served well. But, till now there are no firm denials either by the Election Commission or by BJP and the government. On the contrary, the open protest of one of the members of EC, Ashok Lavasa, for not recording his dissent, compounds doubts further. The government is already grappling with the exposed reality of our economy. But, more importantly, they should convincingly quell doubts in public minds about their alleged magical tricks with EVMs. Otherwise, the protests could snowball into a national movement. If at all it happens, the magic spell of Modi and Shah on domestic media may work for suppressing the news only within the country; but it cannot choke the voice of international media that would sully our image beyond repair. (Dr N Dilip Kumar is a retired IPS officer and a former member of Public Grievances Commission, Delhi. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img

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