During its five years in power, the BJP government led by Narendra Modi has put into practice the idea that Modi experimented with his Gujarat Model which is 'all is fair in the pursuit of winning elections, democracy be damned'. Governance, citizen welfare, social justice and rule of law have all become a casualty to the unadulterated ambition of Modi’s BJP to keep winning elections at all costs. Resistance to BJP is important on many of these counts but above all, it must be defeated for saving the basic tenants of a functioning democracy. The win for BJP’s opposition is important in 2019 elections lest the Indian democracy be reduced to a wretched and farcical theatre of elections like in many other absolutist states in the world.
It goes without saying that the present opposition to BJP has a chequered past.
Anyone familiar with the trajectories of various gathbandhans in the last twenty five years will know that one political figure and one party that have been steadfast in their opposition to BJP is Lalu Prasad Yadav and his Rashtriya Janata Dal. Laluji’s role has been central in forging a national resistance to the politics and ideology of the RSS that has gnawed at India’s soul bit by bit. No personal threat or pressures of electoral losses have wavered his resolve to fight the divisive and supremacist agenda of BJP. He dared to speak on issues that stalwarts skirted against. He stopped the juggernaut of BJP when it intimidated even the mighty national government. What makes this even more remarkable is that he has done this with the unwavering backing of the poorest and most marginalised sections of Indians. It is this that makes Yadav’s absence from 2019 elections an outrageous omission.
Observers would remember how RJD led by Yadav has consistently frustrated the BJP/RSS designs of undermining and ending reservations and other institutionalised initiatives for social justice. The aim of his enforced absence from active campaigning is to frustrate the principles of social justice, and has been brazenly owned by the regime through the submissions of its lawyers in the court. The devious intent of the regime became clearer when it did not oppose the bail to the terror accused Pragya Thakur, and went further to make her their party’s candidate from a parliamentary seat. This is not just against the principles of natural justice but flies in the face of social justice.
It has to be asked if the nation would not have outraged, had a forward caste leader from a big party been kept out of public sight at such a crucial juncture. We are sure that the electorate that has been denied a political dialogue with Yadav will eventually speak against this silence. When elections are done and dusted, the voters that care for social justice and the future of a secular, liberal democracy in India will judge the legacy of Lalu Prasad Yadav. For now, we leave it to the history to judge and remember him.