Warnings galore; make thyself sure

By Abdiel Susngi

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” Proverbs 22:3
The election results in Meghalaya and the developments that followed should be seen as micro level reflections and projections of what is going to unfold in the rest of the country in the not so distant future.
The success of the NPP in forming the government in the state, the coming of MDA 2.0, is in itself a blessing to the BJP; and why should it not be so, when the BJP finds no opposition in the NPP and its allies that are so readily unwilling to oppose any aspect of its ‘one size fits all’ approach? It is also safe to say that the BJP is content with having only two members in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, since the other members of MDA 2.0 are already its most effective minions, who may as well openly declare their secret allegiance to the BJP, which in actuality is no secret at all. And whenever the BJP hears the mention of the NPP, it is common knowledge that the BJP hears itself being called in its anglicised form. There is also no shame for the BJP in piggyback riding the so called home grown parties, so long as its agenda is served, and so long as it can make its way to the green plateau that is Meghalaya.
The largest experiment in socio – political engineering in the North East took place in Meghalaya, and it was a success; voters, especially those in the Khasi Hills who had to bear the brunt of the majority of excesses of MDA-1 were hoodwinked into electing the supposed former friends of the NPP, who were so candid in their opposition against the NPP during the election campaigns. Then suddenly, and most unfortunately, we were treated to a short play of sorts, the script of which had been penned with nothing but misdirection in mind and the sole purpose of which was to pave the way for the NPP’s prodigals to return home, to give birth to MDA 2.0; a dream that became a reality with the blessings of the BJP, the first party to run to the open embrace of the NPP.
The coming of MDA 2.0 is an additional note in the victory song of the BJP in the North East, joining the majoritarian chorus with Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tripura and Nagaland. Such developments have only strengthened the BJP, emboldening it to work harder for Hindu Rashtra though not in full force and colour as of yet, but in sure instalments. The Sangh Parivar’s confidence in the BJP as its poster child may have never been as bright as it is today; for it is clear that it is just a matter of time and apathy before the North East is coloured Saffron, in gradual strokes and tints.
The National Government under the BJP has already shown its undying commitment to undo the Socialist, Secular and Democratic nature of the Indian State, and if possible to change the Constitution itself. The attacks on the Judiciary, with the tailored aim of undoing the Collegiate system for the selection of judges to the Supreme Court, had even attracted the frowns of veteran members of the BJP like Arun Shourie, who in an interview with The Wire urged the Supreme Court to ‘behave as if it is at war with the Executive in defence of the Constitution.’ But, the BJP does not seem to budge!
The announcement to implement the National Education Policy was done without ever tabling it in the Parliament (while pushing for the same during the pandemic period so as to escape scrutiny), which is a blatant overreach and betrays the BJP’s wild craze for singularisation and homogenisation; an espousing of the “one size fits all” formula; inviting criticism and opposition from many conscientious academicians, statesmen, and even legislative assemblies committed to democratic values and federalism: Yet the BJP does not seem to budge!
Then there is the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), the dreaded scream of a policy that, when implemented, would transform the BJP’s dream for homogenisation into a penetrating shadow that would engulf the civil, religious, and cultural peculiarities of the many communities that have learnt to accept the Indian State as their own. The threat perceived by the different minorities cannot be simply brushed aside as insignificantly short-sighted because their apprehensions, knowingly or unknowingly, are genuinely akin to the materialised apprehensions of the so many ‘oppressed others’ in previous periods of history. Yet the BJP does not seem to budge!
There are also the many attempts by the BJP and its proxies to move antithetical to the values and guarantees of liberty in belief, faith, conscience and worship (Part III, vide. Articles 25 – 28), guaranteed by the Constitution of India with the relentless attempts to pass anti – conversion laws, restrict religious expression and worship, issue notices with the intent to intimidate churches and missions, and the like. As of 2023, India ranks 11 in the category of extreme religious persecution of Christians, according to the World Watch List 2023 published by Open Doors. While the persecution of Christians in India has been on the rise since 1999, as observed by Human Rights Watch, according to organisations like Voice of the Martyrs, Persecution Relief, Alliance Defending Freedom, etc. persecutions have only heightened since 2014. While many may scoff at the statistics and data, and even malign such information as foreign propaganda, it would be wise to first interact with Indian Missions to know the ground reality. However, while Christians are identified as the most persecuted religious group, other religious groups and communities face persecution in India, attracting negative world opinion: Yet, still, the BJP does not seem to budge.
At this point, a brief but pertinent, and even ominous, reminder should be made concerning the amendment of the Constitution. It is important to note that Constitutional Amendments require the approval of both houses of parliament (where the BJP is comfortably seated) and the ratification by half of the state legislatures (and that is not much of a hurdle for the BJP) Well, one may refer to the famous Supreme Court ruling in the Kesavananda Bharati Case in 1973 that restricted the parliament’s powers to amend what could be termed as the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution. However, unfortunately the phrase ‘basic structure’ was invoked without expressing its meaning, and therefore, it is open to interpretation. Considering the tussle between the Central Government and the Supreme Court at present, and the ambition of the government, the latter may have its way and infiltration could well happen, thereby, weakening the position of the Constitution’s guardian, a premonition that should best never be realised, and we have to understand that the BJP does not seem to budge!
Coming back to our beloved Meghalaya, we are glad to still have political parties that refuse to support MDA 2.0, and we pray that they remain to do so; however, it is disappointing to know that as of now the opposition is fractured, and there is no Leader of the Opposition as yet. The INC and the AITC have well established themselves as two of the most anti- fascist, anti – majoritarian and anti-BJP parties in India today. The emergence and success of the VPP as a neo-Khasi ethno-nationalist, populist, moralistic, grassroots party with shades of social democratic distinctives have shocked many of the aspiring political pundits of our state, and its staunch opposition to the NPP and the BJP have placed it on a level field with the INC and the AITC, even though the common ground these three find themselves on seems to be non – extant, at least to the leadership of the three parties!
Ideology is not the only basis for alliances, nor is particularistic identity; common issues and common threats are valid grounds for alliances as well! Clinging to tribal centricism in its most extreme sense is not congenial for the state; pushed to its most extreme limits, it will breed secessionist tendencies, and we are all too familiar of how such tendencies end here in the North – East: they drown in the tide of freshly minted notes. Therefore, there is a need to look above and beyond the dissimilarities and end contentions, for it is wise to identify that the similarities are glaring and prominent, not hidden but ignored.
The BJP will not budge, it is resolved not to; the only option for democratic and liberal forces is to present a united front, a demand that may seem too high and difficult but a demand that must urgently be met!
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me. – Martin Niemoller (1892 – 1984)

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