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Bastar. An abstract name of some strange place where there is Naxalism. And therefore a place to be avoided, to be dreaded and mostly ignored. Not a land of a people who love, have children, earn livelihoods, make houses, sing, dance and celebrate. Not a land of everyday interpersonal conflicts, a tiff with a neighbour, a fight with the spouse. Not a land where children play, tease and bruise their knees. Not a land where people can dream of a future.

Just some dark hinterland, a version of Western World’s Africa right here in India.

I bring Bastar to light. Here.

Bastar is a district in Chhattisgarh. The total area is 4029.98 sq kms. It has a population of 1,411,614 humans (as per Census 2011). 70% of this population are Adivasis belonging to multiple tribes. Chhattisgarh has the 4th largest forest land in India with 44.21% of land cover. Many sections of Bastar are poorly developed with no pucca roads and few medical facilities. Traditionally, Adivasis have depended on forest products for their livelihood. In more recent times, agriculture is a mainstay for many.

There are four main issues that should concern us as regards Bastar: 1) Adivasi rights; 2) Rights of the forests; 3) The future of Bastar; and 4) Who speaks for whom?

Adivasi Rights

Way before Naxalism became active, Adivasis often found themselves on the wrong side of forest officers. These officers had been using their authority to make life difficult for Adivasis to continue with their livelihoods. There was intimidation, rampant corruption and frequent sexual abuse.

After the spread of Naxalism and the subsequent attempts of the State to crush their rise, the many failed strategies like Salwa Judum, the everyday Adivasi has become tainted as either a possible Naxalite or a police sympathizer. S/he is born into this taint, unable to make a choice to be apolitical or non-ideological. Nor even to question State or Naxalism. With state control over media and public opinion outside of Bastar, there is a lurking assumption that every Adivasi is indeed a potential Naxalite. Erased by birth, erased by residence.

What has, therefore, followed is dehumanization of Adivasis by clumping them under a label and reducing them to an object that needs to be controlled. And mansplainers are extremely good in explaining in their daddy-voices on how one can’t trust the locals, how Naxalism has infiltrated the community and that therefore State violence is the only way out.

But Adivasis are citizens of India. They are given the same constitutional rights as all of us. They are protected by the Constitution. And no matter what we opiniate, there cannot be a localised need-based convenient interpretation or occasional reference to law. It basically means they are afforded the same freedoms that we have taken for granted — like right to freedom, right against exploitation, right to constitutional remedies, right to life. They are afforded the same human rights guaranteed by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations.

And yet time and again, irrespective of Government, it has been trampled in Bastar. For e.g. when Soni Sori, an Adivasi teacher spoke up in support of her nephew Lingaram Kodopi, a fearless talented journalist, she was arrested.  Cases were filed against her that led to arrest, torture and brutal sexual abuse. If it were not for the activists who followed up and publicized the gross human rights violation, we would have never heard of Soni Sori.  The courts have now cleared her of all the cases. She, in turn, has become a go-to-person who gives courage to women who have been exploited and sexually abused to speak up.

The question before us is why was she tortured? Even if for a moment we assumed she was a Naxalite, does that warrant sexual abuse and torture? Why were the Constitutional rights so openly flouted and yet key officers were not called to question?

Not only Soni Sori, but hundreds of other Adivasis have been wrongfully confined, false cases heaped on them and reports of torture have emerged from more than one place.

More recently, Bela Bhatia wrote about rampant rape of Adivasi women and random detention and assault of men in The Pegdapalli Files. This report is worth your time. For her efforts to expose the human rights violation, Bela Bhatia has been threatened and slandered.

Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JagLAG) that worked for the legal rights of Adivasis have been evicted. Journalists who reported on Constitutional violation of Adivasis rights to life, dignity and property have been silenced – either by intimidation or arrest. As the India Today long story “Life in the Red” shows, journalists are reporting under the shadow of fear.

In absence of activists and journalists, we will never hear the other side of the story, the one beyond what the State machinery wants us to know.

Soni Sori campaign
Soni Sori campaign

Rights of the Forests

Chhattisgarh boasts of some of the densest forest cover in India. It is also rich in minerals, rich in natural resources. But that forest cover is quickly being depleted. Between 2011 and 2013, there is reduction of 19 sq kms (1 sq km= 100 football fields) of forest area in Bastar district alone.

Whereas Forests cannot speak for themselves, we the Citizens should ask why the forests are being cut down indiscriminately. One of the major reasons is mining. The area is rich in minerals, coal and other natural resources. A second reason is movement of Adivasis in giving up traditional forest-dependent livelihoods in favour of clearing land for agriculture which is facilitated by the State. The third reason that is cited is to evict Naxalites from these forests.

Forests hold rich biodiversity. Forests protect landscape from erosion, from multiple natural disasters, and provide oxygen to the world. How is it that under our watch the forests are being cut down and there is not more than a whisper of dissent? Except that of locals and human rights groups like Amnesty India.

Who gains by cutting the forests? The locals or big mining corporations and their corrupt nexus with politicians?

Future of Bastar

Like it or not, Naxalism arose as a counter to the atrocities committed by rich landlords. If you read Hello Bastar by Rahul Pandita, you will know several stories of the horrifying crimes committed by the land-owning upper caste groups on landless. A systematic way in which groups of people were kept illiterate, under-developed, in poverty and complete dependence on the land-owning groups.

Like it or not, Naxalism empowered the marginalized, as Bela Bhatia said and I paraphrase, to name the crimes as injustice rather than fate. It is a different thing that Naxalism quickly veered into violence that consumed the very people they were fighting for. It pushed the locals into a state where they could no longer make choices, but remain in that uncertain diplomatic silence on issues.

So if we assume Mission 2016 will succeed and Naxalism will end, the question before is who will benefit from it? Will Adivasis regain rights over the land and rights to dignity? Will they have a voice in their own development and all issues that pertain to their district, to their community? Will they now begin to receive fair and just trials or will they be massacred as possible Naxalites? Will they be empowered to document injustice and successful get constitutionally-guaranteed remedies?

Or will it pave the path for multinational and big mining groups to set up shops, to make rich richer.

This is the question that we should ask. For Bastar deserves (as every land does) a prosperous, healthy and peaceful future. And the constitution guarantees that India is a democracy -- of the people, for the people, by the people. And Bastar is not an abstract name of a land, it is the breath of a people.

Who Speaks for Whom?

Why do activists speak? Is it because they have no other work to do? Are they mere noise makers disturbing the monolithic State narrative of what is happening on ground—the hurrays for the many surrenders of Maoists, the encounters that are supposed to have killed “dreaded” Naxalites, and the legitimacy of Mission 2016. Minus of course the erring journalists, the outspoken researchers, lawyers and activists. The manufacture of a public opinion -- that if you want to end Naxalism, it is given that there will be collaterals of a legitimate war, a.k.a ‘some’ Adivasis will die.

Democracy requires and is maintained by dissent. In a democracy, there can never be a single narrative. There are multiple truths jostling with each other for significance. A process that forces us to not move into easy judgments, but glimpse and empathise with the complex human lives caught in a complex web of power struggles.

And why should it concern those outside Bastar, in other words ‘us’? Don’t we all have own problems in life, our everyday struggles to make ends meet or aspirations to meet a dream? Don’t we have own interpersonal and organization conflicts to deal with?

Why should we? Because as Rahul Pandita had said in a tweet  in context of journalists and so have others, Chhattisgarh is a lab for brutal policies. You succeed in Chhattisgarh, you develop a formula, you set a precedent and then you can implement it in other parts of the country.

Then we must bring down this laboratory and return Bastar to the protection of our Constitution. Now. We have to ensure the protection, freedom of expression and dissent for local activists like Soni Sori and the many outspoken journalists of Bastar so that they, in turn, may stand up for their community.

There are three ways to support people of Bastar:

  1. Search for news on Bastar and please make yourself aware. Share news, talk about it, write about it.
  2. Follow human rights groups like Amnesty India or National Human Rights Commission and support them as needed.
  3. As a citizen, participate in the #OneMillionPostCardCampaign and send an e-card to Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Dr. Raman Singh asking him to bring CBI and Supreme Court to investigate matters that concern people of Bastar and Soni Sori. Let your voice be heard. http://goo.gl/forms/rvTT6CyHbI

Thank you for taking time to read this post fully. Bastar does need you!

Some information is referenced from Hello Bastar by Rahul Pandita.

Featured image by Pankaj Oudhia

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This post began life as an attempt to boost the response to the latest wave of targeted violence and/or State-sponsored suppression of civil liberties in Chhattisgarh. Even as I typed away, trying to summarize the ever-mounting brutality in that state, the news breaking from the University of Hyderabad took centre-stage. Every day this past week I have been reflecting on the horrors unfolding in India. Whether Chhattisgarh, or Jharkhand, UP or Hyderabad there is only the sense that the various agencies of the central and state governments are brazen in their attempts in maintaining control of their narrative, either through commission or omission.

The War against Scholarship

The Central Government's Ministry of Human Resources & Development seems to be waging its own war against universities across the country. The earlier controversy at FTII was just the curtain raiser - the Ministry recanted on its decision to stop Non-NET Fellowships last year after massive protests from students across the country. But now it seems to be opening that can of worms all over again - with the current fire directed at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. However, over and beyond the critical question of supporting research is the amount of control being handed to the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The massive blow-up of sloganeering at a student event at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (even if it was about the controversial hanging of Afzal Guru), now appears to have been kicked off by the ABVP inviting media teams to campus, possibly without permission from the necessary authorities. Even as student leaders from other campus bodies were arrested (and subsequently released on bail), no questions were asked of the ABVP's leadership, with them seeming to get implicit support even from the Central Cabinet. This has emboldened them to become the government's henchmen on various campuses.

Which brings us to the grim episode as yet unfolding at the Hyderabad Central University. This too, started last year, with the shocking apathy of university officials towards Dalit research scholars leading to the suicide of #RohithVemula. The central player in that episode, the Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile, was suspended pending investigation into his abetment of Rohith's suicide. Strangely, he made an unannounced return to campus, in what appears to be a carefully orchestrated move. Again, it is important to note that on his return, Podile had the ABVP's support, as noted by many of the student protestors.

The other thread throughout this narrative is the inordinate, disproportionate amount of violence by the State. If Delhi witnessed scenes of lathicharge, water-cannoning, etc. during the UGC protests, the violence against the #HCU students seems to on a different scale altogether. It is almost shocking to think that this latter bout of violence has, up to the time of writing this, not received even one statement of censure from any state or central government official. Add to this the fact that the police detained and questioned protestors in Chennai (for attempting a hunger strike) and Mumbai as well.

As I write this, Pune's Fergusson College is becoming the latest theatre in ABVP's war for control of campuses India-wide. In this, the ABVP is only following the #BJP, whose gameplan to be India's politics new singular force was signaled by Amit Shah when he first took over as the BJP President. To be fair, there were some ABVP members who found the whole JNU fiasco, particularly the assault by the lawyers at Patiala House, revolting enough to step down.

Highlighting the Real Issues

The issue of student scholarship must be seen in the light of whom it affects most. The most-telling characteristic of the student politics at JNU and HCU is that they empower students from the most marginalized sections of society who would otherwise hardly get such an opportunity.  Their battle must therefore be seen against the backdrop of the various conflicts being fought in the remotest parts of India. As the journalist P Sainath said when speaking at JNU after the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, JNU was now fighting the criminalization of dissent that had long been fought by India's poorest and most disempowered.

In Chhattisgarh, the State has continuously waged war against the tribals in the quest to make mineral resources available to corporates - this war is older than the state of #Chhattisgarh itself. Much of the most critical reportage on the circumstances in the state are already beginning to look dated, although their relevance is as yet intact, with on-ground situation mostly remaining intact, until now. Commentators now see a "Mission 2016", particularly in #Bastar, wherein any and every agency that attempts to speak for the tribals is flushed out of the State - the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group has been forced out, likewise doctors and journalists. Those two bravest of local voices - Soni Sori and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi are being attacked more insidiously now, but continue to speak. As do other local activists and lawyers like Bela Bhatia and Shalini Gera continue to hold their ground, even as they too are targeted by the government.

In Maharashtra, the impact of the irrigation crisis has now been compounded by the crippling drought that affects a large swathe of the state. The famed Section 144 of the Criminal Penal Code, is now imposed in places like Latur prevent riots over water. Latur's MLA, meanwhile, has disappeared leaving even his party whip in the legislature clueless. On the other hand, the state's Attorney-General, Shreehari Aney, has resigned his office after the legislature found controversial his support for separate statehood for Vidarbha and Marathwada (Latur falls in Marathwada, btw). Mr. Aney is now planning to take his protest to Jantar Mantar. It is useful to remember that Devendra Fadnavis sought his mandate in Maharashtra on this very promise.

The list goes on - the state of Orissa now fights the very people it is supposed to represent to get mining rights for POSCO in Niyamgiri, while Jharkhand's cow vigilantism seems to find support at the highest echelons of government. There are famine-related horror stories coming in from Bundelkhand,

Response

The purpose of this article is to not to recount a litany of horrors,  but to highlight the urgent need for responses. The resignation of Mr. Aney, the Orissa government's lawsuit, the ABVP members' resignations can all be seen as alarm bells of one kind or another. The journalist Prem Shankhar Jha also highlighted the worsening situation of India's Muslims vis-a-vis education and unemployment.

The students of various institutions have also shown the way, by becoming a credible opposition to the whip being wielded by government.

It is now essential that empathetic citizens also raise their voices. In Bastar, when journalists found no one to carry their stories, they went online, posting stories on Facebook. Suresh Ediga and Bhavana Nissima are now using social media to leverage public support for the initiatives of Soni Sori, through their  #OneMillionPostCardCampaign for #Bastar. Similarly, most of the news from Hyderabad has come out through Facebook, with the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice -UoH carrying content on its page.

The violence highlighted here runs across caste, class and (religious) community lines, especially in the run-up to elections. There is a visible attempt to communalize violence that isn't communal to begin with. Ultimately, these issues, along with those of land and water, will affect each and every one of us. I ask, beg, request, that readers at least broadcast any and every effort at combating these issues, if not supporting them in every way possible. Good night and good luck!

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The best and most important learnings are best done from the mistakes of others.

~ Anonymous

Detail from Cloister Conspiracy, a sculpture by Philip Jackson, pictured during his one man exhibition Sacred and Profane, at the Bishop's Palace in Wells, Somerset. Detail from Cloister Conspiracy, a sculpture by Philip Jackson, pictured during his one man exhibition Sacred and Profane, at the Bishop's Palace in Wells, Somerset.

Considering how many women make mistakes getting justice for themselves, here are some quick tips for getting the scales of media justice to tip in your favor.
Step 1: Choose your court. Media or law?

Explanation: Cases drag on for years in media courts and justice is like a distant lighthouse - usually on the other end of the rocks where your ship flounders. Media courts, on the other hand love to dispense justice and live in the moment. 
Tabadtob insaaf!
Your case will be over within the week! If at all it is not dismissed on sight.
Read on. The following document explains how to apply successfully in media courts.
Step 2: Choose your assaulter carefully.

Explanation: Some groups of people do not commit wrongs. Other groups of people do horrendous wrongs. Therefore, it is in your interest to get assaulted by those who do wrongs instead of those who don't. And for heaven's sake don't accuse media. That will get buried faster than a rotting body in a mafia don's backyard.
Only exception is, of course media that has been declared wrong. Like Tehelka or something. Take your cues from ... never mind.
Step: 3: Avoid police stations

Explanation: Do not rescue yourself. Wait for someone to rescue you and force action instead of brazenly speaking up for yourself. Women demanding their own rights is what we want for our FUTURE... right now, unless you want your attention seeking nature exposed, you had best wait for someone to explain to others how you were violated. Plain fact of the matter is that if you are ashamed of yourself, great! If you don't blame yourself, you'll get blamed for seeking attention. I mean who wouldn't love people noticing their humiliation, right? So wait to be noticed when someone is free.
Step 4: Avoid proofs, remain anonymous

Explanation: Do not go to doctors while examination can prove the crime against you. That is the old fashioned "court of law" method. See the Mumbai Gang Rape of photojournalist. Proofs got her attackers nailed, but media mostly yawned once that part started. They recovered stones from Soni Sori's body. Thenga. The reason for this probably is that doctors and forensics professionals probably don't have the idle time to appear on talk shows, so the attention deficit media moves on to more affordable headlines like a grasshopper on cocaine. The key parts of the crime against you must be of the "he said, she said" variety, so that available panel experts can cover them, whatever they are.
Step 5: Most important - GIVE MEDIA EXCLUSIVES!!!

Explanation: You can be as wronged as you like, but the real key to getting media to get justice for you is for you to also give them something they want. Media wants TRPs. Media wants exclusives. Leave your suicide note in your bedroom, where reporters can get it from cops and cover to the point of hysteria. Try nice leaks that can be published as they are to avoid reporter overwork syndrome. Try leaking CDs of accusations. India TV will butcher your assaulter on prime time.
== Afterthought ==
What happens if you ignore these rules?

Don't be like Tanu Sharma. Who Tanu Sharma? Some attention seeker. Do you see her in news headlines?

Accusing media of harassment? The first rule of the fight club is you don't talk about the fight club. This is almost as bad as accusing Harish Bhatia of Dainik Bhaskar of exploiting female employees. Bet you didn't hear such blasphemy either! Are you crazy? No talking about the fight club. Do a Radia tapes on it right now. Raised to the burial power of a paid news report.
Worse! Facebook update as a suicide note? Seriously? That is almost as bad as a forwarded SMS as official resignation that even trumps legal contracts. Now if it was a Youtube video of a suicide attempt, perhaps it could be forgiven. Better still, a media only event.

Now they are saying Tanu Sharma needs psychiatric attention. Obviously! Why would a woman who works for India TV not *willingly* socialize with powerful people for money? You think they are running a media house or something?

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BJP making ad hominem accusations is hardly a new thing. Anyone who opposes BJP is subject to vile and unsubstantiated accusations. Unsubstantiated, to non-BJP people, but perhaps in the eye of BJP, they are true when they evaluate people according to what they know as "truth".

When you show someone a scalpel, a barber may recognize it as a shaving tool, a surgeon may see it as a surgery tool, a murderer may see it as a murder tool. Every scalpel is not a shaving tool, just like every computer isn't a gaming toy. We comprehend the world through the lens of what we know. It stands to reason that a party that doesn't believe in the Indian constitution understands all criticism as "anti-national" or a party that taps foreign funding imagines other entities being foreign funded and harming India on the say-so of some foreign agenda.

The nature of the unconscious mind is such that the more we deny something about ourselves to appear to be good, the more we imagine those we hate to be shamelessly doing what we deny out of shame. If coughing is a way I use to avoid answering something or a distraction from lies I tell, I imagine someone I dislike to be lying i they cough, while claiming to always be truthful myself.

Our shadow aspect manifests in our perceptions of the world. The things we deny about ourselves are those we overreact to.

Here are several things BJP criticized loudly, only to be found to be doing it later.

N D Tiwari shows the character of Congress... or not?

Rajnath singh sitting with N D Tiwari
N D Tiwari endorses Rajnath Singh as candidate for Lucknow

When the scandal with N D Tiwari's son blew up, BJP's Social Media teams were all over it with crude jokes about his character, and by extension the morality of Congress. So now Rajnath Singh is being endorsed by N D Tiwari. What does that say about his character and by extension the BJP? Does BJP really think N D Tiwari's character is bad enough that they shouldn't associate with him? Will BJP distance itself from his endorsement of Rajnath Singh as their candidate for Lucknow? Don't hold your breath.

Who got Ford Foundation funding?

BJP accuses AAP of being foreign funded - particularly from Ford Foundation, believing Ford Foundation to be a CIA front. Now here's the deal. Ford foundation provided funding to the NGO Kabir for three years from 2009-11. This lets BJP supporters claim "AAP" is supported by the Ford Foundation, when AAP was not even formed, let alone getting funding. AAP maintains that it has not received any foreign funding. Ford Foundation or otherwise. AAP does not see Ford Foundation as an extension of CIA destablizing India.

Ford Foundation maintains that it has been funding humanitarian projects in India almost since independence. The Ford Foundation website shows grants to GEER, in 2002, the chairman of which is Narendra Modi. Everyone knows that the Gujarat riots happened in 2002, under Narendra Modi's watch. Not to mention that unrest backed by the US of A usually supports right wing extremists (even at the cost of empowering Al Qaeda), but not communists. So is that what BJP is saying? That because a Modi led organization got funding to destabilize India, that means AAP must have got it for same reasons? They can chill. So far AAP hasn't shown any interest in destabilizing India.

Unless of course BJP counts as India the corporations funding their high voltage off the record bling election campaigns.

Who does Ansari support?

Mukhtar Ansari had offered support to AAP, which AAP did not accept. BJP claimed that this was proof of AAP and Kejriwal's mafia connections. Then, Mukhtar Ansari's brother Afzal Ansari praised Narendra Modi and said Muslims would be safe under BJP led by Modi. Was this proof of BJP-Modi's mafia connections? Modi or BJP have not refused or distanced from this statement to the best of my knowledge.

 Are Indian Muslims Pakistan supporters?

BJP often insinuates that this is so. From not so subtle allegations to indirectly target Muslims by speaking about "Miyan Musharraf" post Gujarat riots, to Giriraj Singh's statement that Modi critics will have to go to Pakistan when Modi comes to power. There are countless social media trolls making far more direct accusations and spreading hate. BJP disinformation propaganda routinely shows Muslim flags as Indian Muslims hoisting Pakistan's flag in India. Or they show Pakistani Muslims hoisting Pakistan flag or burning Indian flag to be Indian Muslims. It is not ignorance, as any effort to correct the disinformation is studiously ignored and the hate deliberately incited about Indian Muslims.

But is it Indian Muslims hoisting the Pakistan flag?

On 1st Januart 2012, someone hoisted a Pakistani flag in front of the Tahsildar office at Sindagi in Karnataka. There were protests in front of the Tehsildar office about this anti-national action. Yet it turned out to be Sri Ram Sene activists who were arrested. Sri Ram Sene is a pro-Hindutva organization, whose leader Pramod Muthalik (also famous for the pub attack) also got briefly inducted into the BJP a few weeks back till the embarrassed BJP had to refuse him membership from the outrage and ridicule they faced. But wait. That is not all. Shri Ram Sene seniors spoke off the record saying that those arrested were not their members, but those of the RSS, but the police were under pressure for keeping the RSS name out of the picture. In any case, it were Hindutva zealots raising Pakistani flag, not Indian Muslims.

Are AAP Maoist supporters?

BJP claims names like Prashant Bhushan, Soni Sori, Binayak Sen and Sabyasachi Panda to claim that AAP is full of Maoist supporters. Strangely, BJP seems to never be harmed by the Maoists. The Congress leadership in Chattisgarh was conveniently wiped out in time for Assembly elections, but no record of a BJP leader coming to any harm. Modi toured the same region and gave 7 speeches with massive. BJP and RSS cadre mobilized to encourage voting. No attacks in spite of BJP being the ruling party and closer to crony capitalists in the region. Twitter reports indicate that BJP campaigning in Gadchiroli went better than expected. I imagine they dislike the Maoists of Odisha and Andhra and such, but then the regular people there hardly like BJP any better.

For BJP, speaking of any wrong done against the Maoists is being a Maoist supporter. They may campaign for you, frame innocent tribals for opposing crony capitalist exploitation, brand a free legal service for framed tribals languishing in jail as "Maoist supporters", Maoist affected districts in Chattisgarh may double under their rule, leaders may hob nob with businessmen with known links to Maoists (including one being arrested while in a BJP leader's car..., but others are evil if you talk about rights of tribals opposing crony "development" framed as Maoists. Because everyone knows, the real danger in a Maoist is not illegal actions, but being seen as a human. Hain na?

Do only other parties rope in religious leaders for vote banks?

If you listen to BJP propaganda, you'd imagine the only vote bank in the country is Muslims. The majority religion is too disrupted and disinterested in survival, so BJP will make it live, whether it wants to or not. Yet the Hindutva issue has constantly been BJP's vote bank. Get people paranoid and voting for BJP to save themselves from Muslims. Ramdev was recently caught on camera speaking with BJP leader Mahant Chand Nath. BJP leader Chand Nath clearly talks about money with Ramdev in a slow pitched volume, the Yoga guru is heard carefully whispering to Nath to not talk about all this here as they were surrounded with cameras and recorders which can record their conversation. So not only does BJP leverage religious beliefs to promote themselves, they also do it with supposedly non-BJP religious leaders with money involved.

This, of course is apart from the active and criminal participation of religious leaders in the organized and criminal Babri Masjid demolition - which continues to be a BJP election issue and is included in the manifesto.

Does Congress take India's border security lightly?

Probably, but the BJP has hardly done any better. It has released terrorists in return for hijacked Indians. Same terrorists who went on to attack the Indian Embassy and murder Daniel Pearl among other attacks. They explain this as necessary to protect lives of Indians held hostage by terrorists. There is no similar explanation for the lack of retaliation after the Kaluchak Massacre (google it) in spite of needling the UPA government repeatedly over not taking an aggressive stance (read war) after 26/11.

If this were not enough, the Operation Westend saw BJP willing to endorse a non-existent product for the Indian Army to make a corrupt profit and the Kargil coffin scam saw a willingness to profit from dead soldiers too. So once more you have BJP accusing others of what they are guilty of, but defiantly claim own character to be above reproach.

Does BJP respect the Army?

A BJP troll taunting anyone bringing up issues of human rights abuses by the Indian Army is a common sight. What is less visible is their insulting view of the Army as an inherently cruel and illegal organization, where the shame of human rights abuses done by a few who are breaking protocol must be borne by all soldiers - however upright. Apparently, it is like the "religious support" - law abiding members of target group - whether religion or Army are tarred with the same brush as criminal zealots.

But is that really respect?

In Jammu, Modi ridiculed the UPA governance as "Jai jawan, mar kisan" implying that soldiers get favor that is denied to farmers - or in other words, disproportionately more. But is the Army really the recipient of more than its due? Normally, BJP would scream NO and blame UPA for ignoring the Army - unless it was a speech addressing the people of a place that has endured cabin fever from Army presence for long. Then it is very convenient to use "Jai jawan" as sarcastic criticism. One off, you'd think this was merely a misunderstanding or an evil person like me choosing the wrong interpretation. But more recently, Modi spoke with Traders, indirectly encouraging them to risk the global market saying traders are better at risk taking than the Army - a completely unrequired [second] unfavorable comparison of the Army within a month.

What about FDI in Retail?

In theory, BJP opposes FDI in retail. Yet is it about opposing RTI in Retail being chalked up as a UPA2 achievement or will they continue to oppose the FDI in retail if they come to power? There are considerable indications that this is a cash cow Modi is interested in (as long as it isn't the UPA profiting from it). It is less about the impact of FDI in retail on Indian traders and more about the rivalry with Congress in getting credit for a major source of foreign investment for India. Walmart was already in partnership with Bharti in wholesale in Gujarat when the ruckus on FDI in retail blew up. And the plans for expansion continue unabated (now for retail as well).

***************

The list is endless, and will most likely keep getting updated, since I haven't even scratched the surface of BJP duplicity.

Feel free to add your favorite ones in comments, so other readers can read them. I will add as many as I can when updating this post.

My rift with what passes off for the voice of Indian feminists in public space grows. This time, over reckless grandstanding with LGBT rights.

It has come to my attention that India's feminists have made LGBT rights an election issue. It is unclear how many of these feminists belong to the LGBT community (I don't either) and what gives them the right to decide such things for others when they insist in women having their own voice.

Indian feminists increasingly appear to be bloated on their own sense of self importance bestowed by a media happy to trigger thoughts of violence against women for TRPs under the guise of condemning it. Not unlike the mandatory rape scene of a certain class of films from when I used to watch films (long ago).

The idea of LGBT rights as an election issue is not just reckless, it is engineered to harm LGBT rights.

India is the country where you have all major religions of the country - normally squabbling till your teeth ache - standing shoulder to shoulder to prevent LGBT rights, a right wing that is potentially on the verge of taking control of the country and the idea seems to be to point out to the homophobic majority who the people are who will make their every homophobic paranoia come true if elected. And then they vote for the country they want. Try getting a vote for your right to wear what you want in Saudi Arabia. Or heck India will do. If others should't have the right to decide your dress, who died and made you God that you grant others the right to decide whether LGBT should have rights or not? Why not let Khaps decide your rights then?

Some religious zealot doing this, I can understand. The right to decide by mob whether an individual has rights. Feminists engineering this with pride? Have all the brains gone on collective vacation?

How many rights are going to be sacrificed by air heads greedy for the next grand stand in media? Media is patriarchy, because it is driven by TRP and male controlled corporates and politicians. Instead of some slim young professional "people like us" handpicked individual case with a story that sells, bring up marital rape, domestic violence, tribal women instead of only Soni Sori, a 42 year old mother of five from some slum raped and watch your halo wilt and TRPs drop and you find the earth under your feet. That is where the women of India are.

The LGBT community is somewhere below that in public perception. They are not even understood as persons deserving of rights, let alone persons whose rights should be legalized. Unlike half of society being women, they are tiny numbers scattered all over the country. Not even concentrated in one constituency. What bright idea was it to make their rights open to debate and the subject of a standoff. What gives any idiot the right to make someone's fundamental right the subject of debate?

What is the consequence if Modi wins and LGBT rights are thrown in the dustbin and the clear verdict is people would have voted if they wanted such things in society? More talk shows? What should the community do? Who is to prevent enforcement of section 377 claiming mandate of the people?

Votes should be for people's needs, not their right to impose their prejudices on others or grant rights, as though an LGBT person's right to have sex with who they like is a concession given to them by the heterosexual majority. A democratic government must govern to make the people thrive, but must also govern for reform - whether voters like it or not. You get your jobs and decreased inflation and whatever shit, and you shut up and obey a law that says people who are not you have rights too. Just like you. Not up for vote. Country belongs to all and all have freedom to be and thrive in it. You can't protect minorities by throwing them at the mercy of a majority that actively persecutes them.

Which is what you do, when you make LGBT rights a matter people can vote for or against.

Idiot bubblegum feminists.