The 2014 general elections saw a major shift in the political landscape of India. With parties taking the electoral stage by storm, a number of appeals by different personalities in academia and the media industry also saw an inorganic spike. A section of artists taking a critical stand on Narendra Modi had put out an appeal to vote against the BJP in the 2014 general elections. The appeal urged the voters to vote for a ‘secular party’.
The 2019 general election is also seeing similar tactics by different groups. As per the website artistuniteindia, around 700 theater artists have come together to issue an appeal to the voters to vote against BJP in the upcoming general elections.
The artists claimed that the current constitutionally elected government is a threat to institutions and the constitution. They also claimed that political discourse has been suppressed by the current Government. They appealed “That very idea of India is under threat. Today, song, dance, laughter is under threat. Today, our beloved Constitution is under threat. The institutions that have to nurture argument, debate and dissent have been suffocated. To question, to call out lies, to speak the truth, is branded ‘anti-national’. The seeds of hatred have entered our food, prayers and festivals.”
The timing of the creation of this platform clearly shows that it was created keeping in mind the 2019 elections. The Whois lookup also indicated that the registrant to be based in Canada.
Taking potshots at BJP and Hinduism, they claimed that the Modi government has facilitated ‘looting of government recourses.’ They also claimed that the present government has helped industrialists to grow their business and wealth and the poor have become poorer, in Narendra Modi’s regime. “The BJP, which came to power five years ago with the promise of development, has given free rein to Hindutva goons to indulge in the politics of hate and violence.”
However, discrepancies in the list of artists have already surfaced. The 7th and 8th name on the list seems to be of the same person, which surely harms the credibility of the appeal and authenticity of the claim of ‘artists united against Modi government’.
And ‘Abhijit’ is not the only duplicate entry in the list, as a matter of fact, the entire list is littered with duplicate entries.
The artists in their final lines have appealed “Our appeal – vote bigotry, hatred, and apathy out of power. Vote against the BJP and its allies. Vote to empower the weakest, protect liberty, protect the environment, and foster scientific thinking. Vote for secular democratic, inclusive India. Vote for the freedom to dream. Vote wisely.”
Connected to ground realities, the voters were successful in maneuvering around these appeals with prudence. In 2014, NDA won on a whopping 336 seats with the BJP scoring victory in 282 seats. Since then, India has been seeing a number of attempts by different entities to discredit the Modi Government, which many have termed conspicuous and agenda driven.
This comes after 100 filmmakers came out with a similar appeal against the Modi government on the same platform, which met with sharp criticism from senior Bollywood personalities. Another discrepancy had emerged in that list as well. A filmmaker named in the list had emphatically denied signing such document.
Madhur Bhandarkar a senior filmmaker in Bollywood had tweeted “Shocking to see some colleagues, under the garb of stopping so-called divisive forces, are themselves dividing a secular place like Bollywood.”
Shocking to see some colleagues , under garb of stopping so-called divisive forces, are themselves dividing a secular place like Bollywood.
— Madhur Bhandarkar (@imbhandarkar) April 16, 2014
With the polling dates approaching, attempts by different groups to take on the political stage and make political appeals against or for any party are sure to hinder the spirit of the elections. These groups present a dangerous trend towards political utilization of non-government establishments to garner political and electoral benefits. The 2019 general elections will be seeing crores of voters exercising their franchise to seal the fate of the nation, such tactics which deviate from core issues and focus on unsubstantiated narratives is something Indian voters have to be wary of in the 2019 general elections and the elections to come.
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