Fascsim cannot be an alternative to corruption in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election, feels Teesta Setalvad, a social activist fighting communalism.
She was invited by Goa-based Citizens’ Initiative on Communal Harmony to speak on ‘Politics of Development.’
Rather than going for the Bharatiya Janata Party led by Narendra Modi as an alternative to the corrupt UPA, she felt it would be better to send at least 30 to 40 independents to the Parliament, who would be the people’s voice.
The BJP and especially Modi is fascist in nature and would not allow debate, dialogue or dissent, said Setalvad, while explaining the whole development model of Modi in Gujarat since he is in power.
She also said the Hindu and Islamic fundamentalism are two sides of the same coin of communalism prevailing in the country today.
Though a country-wide hype is being created about Modi’s development model, in reality, Gujarat is much below in most of the social indicators, said Tesalvad, who fought fiercely the Gujarat government after 2003 genocide.
Growth rate of any state or the country cannot be decided by the share market but social indicators, which are far below average in Gujarat, pointed out Setalvad, the co-editor of a magazine – Communalism Combat.
Gujarat ranks eigth in growth rate, 18th in upliftment of the people Below Poverty Line, ninth in people having houses of concrete roof, 20th in sex ratio, 15th in literacy, seventh in implementing NREGA scheme and 18th in the infant mortality rate.
Gujarat is also fifth in providing employment but first in employing contract labour, pointed out Setalvad.
In terms of corruption, she said the Comptroller Auditor General of India has cited misappropiration of funds to the tune of Rs 60,000 crore.
Setalvad also asked why Modi has spent almost Rs 45 crore of the state government in a court battle to prevent independent-minded Justice Mehta from not taking over as Lokayukta of Gujarat.
Alleging that Modi is an autocrat and definitely not a democrat, the social acitivist also asked why murderer of his own BJP minister Haren Pandya is not brought to books till date.
Even the text books smell of fundamentalism which teach the students that Christians and Parsis are the foreigners, caste system is the best system and Sati is India’s tradition.
“Does India need such a person as the prime minister, who is completely fascist in nature and does not believe in any kind of democratic tradition”, she asked.
She also came down heavily on section of electronic media, especially the English TV channels, which are projecting Modi as a model of development.
But why these same channels are not prepared to debate upon Atul Sood’s book exposing Modi’s so called development model, she asked.
“The section of electronic media has sold their souls to the extreme right wing thinking and the corporate world”, she alleged.
While Modi talks about development, his right hand Amit Shah goes to Ayodhya, raising the issue of Rame Temple, which speaks for what the BJP is actually aiming at, pointed out Setalvad.
Besides bringing financial aspects of the political parteis under Right to Information, the journalist-turned-social ac tivist felt that even media should tell us where they are getting their funding from since they influence the society at large.
Adv Albertina Almeida, Adv Jatin Naik and Dr Samir Kelekar, who took initiative in getting Setalvad to Goa, were also on the stage.