by Vijaykumar Patil
BELAGAVI, May 4: An unbiased and fair review of the prevailing socio-political-cultural order indicates that the nation is being pushed into a critical situation and confusing atmosphere, leading to a paradigm shift in the very concept of patriotism, further leading to redefining the very meaning of ‘nationalism’.
Retrospectively, this situation manifested into a strong ideological weapon when the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi was being projected as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and Hindutava new face or brand image more than four years ago with the then brand images of senior VHP leaders like Ashok Singhal and Praveen Todadia becoming dormant. It helped BJP led NDA, led by Mr.Modi and the party’s national president Amit Shah wresting the power from the Congress led UPA at the centre. Although its meaning and purpose visibly stood diluted to some extent over short period of time if the results of the recently held assembly elections in Prime Minister’s home state Gujarat wherein the BJP just managed to retain the power, it was and still being used as strongest ideological weapon to lure the voters under the pretext of nationalism and patriotism in elections.
Look at the unabated flow of messages being circulated in social media, all revolving between two persons, Mr.Modi and Congress national president Rahul Gandhi and his predecessor and mother Sonia Gandhi, and the entire Nehru-Gandhi family. Precisely, these messages further revolve around the issue of who is patriotic and who is not and emphatically suggest that all those who accept Mr.Modi as leader of the nation are likened to be patriots. Even a constructive and valid criticism of Modi government’s policies, its do’s and don’ts is viewed with high contempt and mercilessly dubbed as anti-India and unpatriotic.
Same contempt is held against the Congress and all its supporters, if not for other political parties for the fact that they, as individual, hold little threat to the BJP at the centre. There’s lot of content ridiculing Rahul Gandhi, projecting him as just an unfit and immature individual to lead the nation. The Congress is being berated as supporters of Jehadis and anti-nationals in public speeches.
Of late, now there are counter messages/texts pointing out at the do’s and don’ts and U-turn on the pre-poll promises made by BJP and Mr.Modi, where the latter is being projected as lier and someone who made tall promises with an eye on the office of Prime Minister but did very little to provide relief to the common man.
Interestingly, one of the off-shoots of this development is the emergence of what is being described as the tribe of ‘blind followers’, who not only blindly believe it but also forward and share such material among various professional and friends groups in the social media without ascertaining veracity of the claims made in these contents and expect them to be in affirmation too. The immediate victim of this trend has been the youth, who spend more time in browsing social media sites and sharing such messages instead of using their precious time in contributing to the growth and progress of the country.
The student community is not an exception when it comes to devoting substantial amount of time to be with the social media, which however, is a seriously a different issue to be pondered upon.
However, a fact which even the bitterest critic of Mr.Modi would not negate is that unlike in the past, patriotic sentiments have started finding a new expression among citizens, particularly the youth of the country although from the BJP’s point of view, thanks to failure of the Opposition to present a formidable and potential alternative leader to Mr.Modi if not to the BJP. What is being emphatically pushed across is that a vote to BJP is a vote to “Modi” and a vote to Congress is a vote anti-national?
But, will this emotional chord help BJP in Karnataka, which is moving closer to the D-Day, May 12 when the voters will walk to polling stations and decide who should be their representatives in the 224-member prestigious Karnataka legislative assembly and hand over their future into their hands for next five year (unless there are no mid-term polls)? Will the people of State buy BJP’s definition of nationalism ignoring the do’s and don’ts of the first-ever full-fledged BJP government in Karnataka that came to power under the leadership former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who had to quit the coveted office at Vidhana Soudha following charges of corruption, and the political instability the party gave under three chief ministers in five years during 2008-13? Or will they remain with the Congress ignoring its alleged compromise with corruption by diluting the strong Lokayukta? Or to what extent will they look as alternative to both the Congress and BJP at the JD(S), which has grown into a family enterprise, likened the dynastic rule similar to that of the Nehru-Gandhi family and allegedly reached a tacit understanding with the BJP in the current elections?
Ironically, in the process of defining and redefining patriotism and nationalism, the issues of development and progress, the plight of farmers and the problems of youth in search of employment are taking back-seat, although they find mention in all election/public speeches and media conferences. Bitter criticism, allegations and counter allegations of corruption and misrule, of broken promises and falsehoods are the common contents in election speeches. Apparently, public sentiments are getting meticulously transformed into an unusual electoral war between what has been vaguely categorised into two sections of patriots and unpatriots so as to encash it in the ensuing general elections to the Lok Sabha next year again?
But, for all practical purposes, polarization of voters on religious as well as on caste lines is more intense these days and hardly any political party stands out an exception to this threatening electoral politics. The hate campaigns through various mediums are only dividing further the truly pluralistic society for political gains. But, who has the answer to the question that when and how would the nation pay for political misadventures of sorts where grabbing political power by hook or crook is of supreme importance?