Five Years of Saffron Rule in Karnataka
Edited by Ambrose Pinto
Manak Publications Pvt. Ltd
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347 pages, Rs. 500
Reviewed by Maqbool Ahmed Siraj
Golden Age of Criminality
r Justice Michael F. Saldanha says the five-year rule was a golden age of criminality as elite offences went up by 400%. The government increased the outlay on advertisement to the media by 23% within a short duration of coming to power.
r The government kept up the refrain of industrial growth but the reality is that there was 8% migration of industry out of Karnataka due to power shortage or corruption.
r Chief Minister Yeddyurappa donated Rs. 3,400 to Mutts and Temples. His successor Sadananda Gowda added another Rs. 107 crore during his short tenure while the third CM Shettar donated Rs. 100 crore.
r Custodial deaths increased by 38%.
r Fake encounters rose by 42%.
r In 40% of the dowry death cases, the police forcibly closed the case as accidental or suicide.
r Violation of building norms in cities rose phenomenally. In case of commercial buildings, the illegally built space is on an average 250%. This has led to choking of the state.
r According to research conducted by PRAGATI money lost everyday in Karnataka due to corruption in Government is Rs. 40 crores. Impact of Rs. 40 crores lost per day leads to a loss of more than Rs. 80,000 crores in annual GDP for the State.
r During the five-year BJP rule, 65,289 illegal structures in Bangalore city were able to get a stay on and thereby protected from demolition.
r A Sichrem report demonstrates that while conviction rate fell all across the spectrum of crimes against women”rapes, molestations, dowry deaths, domestic cruelty, sexual harassment et al”the case of moral policing by vigilante group went up.
Source: Five Years of Saffron Rule in Karnataka
The resounding rejection of the BJP’s claim for another term to rule Karnataka was more owing to its misrule, corruption, factional feuds, and incapacity to perceive popular aspirations. But it is pertinent not to forget the intensely pernicious impact the saffron party has left as its political legacy. Unless the saffron ideology is expurgated from the system lock, stock and barrel, there are prospects of the stumps sending out fresh branches into the air.
Five Years of Saffron Rule in Karnataka edited by Ambrose Pinto is a resounding indictment of the BJP’s rule in the State, first ever to fall into the kitty of the party till then thought to be embedded in the Hindi belt and states in the western India. With churches coming under attack, vigilante groups going overboard with their moral policing campaign in coastal district and the legislature passing draconian laws to put people’s dietary habits under scanner, the five-year rule constitutes a dark chapter of Karnataka. But to BJP’s misfortune, this was not all. Often the excesses with the marginal groups such as minorities are crime not heinous enough to punish their rulers, as is evident in Gujarat. The saffron party may have been forgiven for all that. But People saw the BJP in its true colours, in total contradiction to its theory of Ram Rajya. Not only that the party failed to give the state any semblance of governance, it surpassed in corruption and misrule than any other party. Global Investment Meets were proof enough that the party was chummy with the global monopolies more than any other parties. The rule was thus a conglomeration of communal policies, casteist hegemony, all out prostration before the international finance and rampant corruption.
The BJP’s major failings came on the governance front. Not only was the government unstable and thereby vulnerable to the unreasonable demands for free reign on the State’s natural resources by infamous Reddy brothers, but was open to all kinds of blackmail by odd MLAs propping up the government in its early. But there was no rest thereafter too. Inner squabbles saw to it that the party changed three Chief Ministers, dumping into the wastebin Mr. Yeddyurappa, the man responsible for ushering the party into power in the State. Corruption rose phenomenally. Justice Saldanha’s paper quotes two politicians who had invested Rs. 35,000 crores in malls and other shopping centres in a businesswise nondescript city like Shimoga.
Journalist Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed has traced the growth of the BJP in Karnataka during the last few decades. Commuanalism had been an ever-present reality in Karnataka, but it took overt manifestation as the government of the state took to partisan stances in matters where administration is expected to come down heavily against mischief mongers. Between 17th august and 21st September 2009, churches in 11 districts were vandalized. When churches were attacked, the police would appear on the scene only to prevent retaliation from the victims.
Not to be missed was the BJP’s hypocrisy in pontificating morals. While birthday parties were attacked and women were subjected to humiliation, three MLAs were found reviewing pornographic video clips on the cellphone inside the Assembly. Incidentally one one among them was a minister from Mangalore, the area ravaged by the moralising brigades.
Egalitarian concerns of Christians have always viewed as a hindrance for the Hindutva bodies in inducting of Dalits into the grand fold of Hindus. Their educational and health institution, by rendering yeoman service have proved to be a bottleneck in wooing them back into the fold. It is why canard of proselytisation has often been used against Christians and their Church organizations to attack them. But allegations to this effect were heard from high seat of justice and administration during the period.
Musab Iqbal dwelling upon cut-throat competition for TRP ratings in the media, dissects the mindset behind stereotyping certain communities. He traces its origin to non-representation of several components of the Indian social spectrum in the media. The BJP Government threw at least 14 parties to the mediapersons at a cost of Rs. 20 lakh and above. RSS mouthpiece Hosadigantha was given the status of State Newspaper. Some none to be taken seriously dailies were offered industrial sheds. Perpetrators of communal atrocities were given protection and newspaper blaring the pro-BJP messages were blessed with State largesse. Iqbal concludes that patronage has influenced the public discourse on important issues.
On another extreme independent-minded journalists like Shahina and Soorinje, who exposed the misdoings of the saffron parivar, were intimidated by planting of tendentious police report in the popular newspapers about them. This led the International Federation of journalists to comment that the State was out to silence fair and independent reporting.
Iqbal cites four of the 14 defining characteristics of a Fascist state being evident in Karnataka i.e., identification of enemies as a unifying cause for the people and to push them into a patriotic frenzy; direct and indirect control of media to curb ‘truth production’; interwining of religion with the government; building bridges between industrial and business aristocracy and the government to ensure that parties favourable to them only get and stay into power.
Journalist S. Bageshree from The Hindu takes a look at the ingress of saffron content into textbooks. Curiously, in a tale a tiger takes a vow never to eat cow meat. A 5th std textbook says cow slaughter was banned in vedic period while the evidence produced by historian Dr. D. N. Jha points to the contrary. Reference to syncretic shrines were erased. Saffron touch was given to history of origin of certain cities such Bidar, the kingdom of Bahamani sultans. The textbooks attributes the name to “Vidhura Nagar” or “Bidururu Pura”.
Kuldip Nayar in his preface says the BJP wants to capture 160 seats in 2014 elections. The party feels that it can capture these many seats to remain at the head of the NDA and will be able to carry its allies. But Modi having thrown his hat into the ring, the BJP faces the dilemma as to how to achieve this as allies will not feel sufficiently persuaded to be with BJP in case it is led by Modi. There are already straws in the wind as how the alliances would shape up in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.
Clifton Rosario and Aravind Narrain have analysed the three flashpoints viz, attack on churches, bill to prohibit the cow slaughter inclusive of the entire range of bovine meat, and intention to ban religious conversion. Subhash Ghatade delineates the sowing of communal poison in the State apparatus in India with the international attempts to target Muslim community and tag it with terror campaigns.
Incidents like Pakistani flag hoisting on Tahsildar’s office only manifest Hindutva organisation’s mental bankruptcy and attempts to impersonate ‘the other’. It sometimes proves a self goal.
A good deal of typos do leave a bitter taste. But the work deserves to be commended for its stupendous documentation of the events during the last five years of BJP’s rule in Karnataka.
The beauty of the analysis lies in objective dissection of the BJP’s fiasco on several front, administrative, governance, social and economic, development goals, besides of course shibboleths which held down the party into an ideological swamp.