Political discourse is at it’s lowest point in the country, at least in my lifetime. The partisanship bias is unbelievable and people continue to support their side no matter what the evidence, there is no remorse even when they’re proved to have been spreading fake news. This is something that everyone — the parties and the voters/supporters are to be blamed for.

BJP has done a great job at spreading some specific messages with incredibly effective propaganda, and these messages are the primary reason that I can’t support the party anymore. But before we get into any of that, I’d like everyone to understand that no party is totally bad, and no party is totally good. All governments have done some good and messed up on some fronts. This government is no different.

The Good:

  1. Road construction is faster than it was earlier. There has been a change in methodology of counting road length, but even factoring that in it seems to be faster.
  2. Electricity connection increased — all villages electrified and people getting electricity for more hours. (Congress did electrify over 5 lakh villages and Modi ji finished the job by connecting the last 18k so, you can weigh the achievement as you like. Similarly the number of hours people get electricity has increased ever since independence, but it might be a larger increase during BJP).
  3. Upper level corruption is reduced — no huge cases at the ministerial level as of now (but the same was true of UPA I :/ ). Lower level seems to be about the same with increased amounts, no one seems to be able to control the thanedar, patwari et al.
  4. The Swachh Bharat Mission is a definite success — more toilets built than before and Swachhta is something embedded in people’s minds now.
  5. UJJWALA Yojana is a great initiative. How many people buy the second cylinder remains to be seen. The first one and a stove was free, but now people need to pay for it. The cost of cylinders has almost doubled since the government took over and now one costs more than Rs. 800
  6. Connectivity for the North East has undoubtedly increased. More trains, roads, flights and most importantly — the region is now discussed in the mainstream news channels.
  7. Law and order is reportedly better than it was under regional parties.

Feel free to add achievements you can think of in the comments below, also achievements necessarily have caveats, failures are absolute!

The Bad:

It takes decades and centuries to build systems and nations, the biggest failure I see in BJP is that it has destroyed some great things on very flimsy grounds.

  1. Electoral Bonds — It basically legalizes corruption and allows corporates & foreign powers to just buy our political parties. The bonds are anonymous so if a corporate says I’ll give you an electoral bond of 1,000 crore if you pass this specific policy, there will be no prosecution. There just is no way to establish quid pro quo with an anonymous instrument. This also explains how corruption is reduced at the Ministerial level — it isn’t per file/order, it is now like the US — at the policy level.
  2. Planning Commission Reports — this used to be a major source for data. They audited government schemes and stated how things are going. With that gone, there just is no choice but to believe whatever data the government gives you (CAG audits come out after a long time!). NITI Aayog doesn’t have this mandate and is basically a think tank and PR agency. Plan/Non-Plan distinction could be removed without removing this!
  3. Misuse of CBI and ED — it is being used for political purposes as far as I can see, but even if it isn’t the fear that these institutions will be unleashed on them if they speak up against anything Modi/Shah related is real. This is enough to kill dissent, an integral component of democracy.
  4. Failure to investigate Kalikho Pul’s suicide note, Judge Loya’s death, Sohrabuddin murder, the defense of an MLA accused of Rape who’s relative is accused of killing the girls father and FIR wasn’t registered for over an year..!
  5. Demonetization — it failed, but worse is BJP’s inability to accept that it failed. All propaganda of it cutting terror funding, reducing cash, eliminating corruption is just absurd. It also killed off businesses.
  6. GST Implementation — Implemented in a hurry and harmed business. Complicated structure, multiple rates on different items, complex filing… Hopefully it’ll stabilize in time, but it did cause harm. Failure to acknowledge that from BJP is extremely arrogant.
  7. The messed up foreign policy with pure grandstanding — China has a port in Sri Lanka, huge interests in Bangladesh and Pakistan — we’re surrounded, the failure in Maldives (Indian workers not getting visas anymore because of India’s foreign policy debacle) while Modi ji goes out to foreign countries and keeps saying Indians had no respect in the world before 2014 and now they’re supremely respected (This is nonsense. Indian respect in foreign countries was a direct result of our growing economy and IT sector, it hasn’t improved an ounce because of Modi. Might even have declined due to beef based lynchings, threats to journalists etc.)
  8. Failure of schemes and failure to acknowledge/course correct — Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, Make In India, Skill Development, Fasal Bima (look at reimbursements — the government is lining the pockets of insurance companies). Failure to acknowledge unemployment and farmers crisis — calling every real issue an opposition stunt.
  9. The high prices of Petrol and Diesel — Modi ji and all BJP ministers + supporters criticized Congress for it heavily and now all of them justify the high prices even though crude is cheaper than it was then! Just unacceptable.
  10. Failure to engage with the most important basic issues — Education and Healthcare. There is just nothing on education which is the nation’s biggest failure. Quality of government schools has deteriorated over the decades (ASER reports) and no action. They did nothing on Healthcare for 4 years, then Ayushman Bharat was announced — that scheme scares me more than nothing being done. Insurance schemes have a terrible track record and this is going the US route, which is a terrible destination for healthcare (watch Sicko by Michael Moore)!

You can add some and subtract some based on personal understanding of the issue, but this is my assessment. The Electoral Bonds thing is huge and hopefully the SC will strike it down! Every government has some failures and some bad decisions though, the bigger issue I have is more on morals than anything else.

The Ugly:

The real negative of this government is how it has affected the national discourse with a well considered strategy. This isn’t a failure, it’s the plan.

  1. It has discredited the media, so now every criticism is brushed off as a journalist who didn’t get paid by BJP or is on the payrolls of Congress. I know several journalists for whom the allegation can’t be true, but more importantly no one ever addresses the accusation or complaint — they just attack the person raising the issue and ignore the issue itself.
  2. It has peddled a narrative that nothing happened in India in 70 years. This is patently false and the mentality is harmful to the nation. This government spent over Rs. 4,000 crore of our taxpayer money on advertisements and now that will become the trend. Do small works and huge branding. He isn’t the first one to build roads — some of the best roads I’ve traveled on were pet projects of Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. India became an IT powerhouse from the 90s. It is easy to measure past performance and berate past leaders based on the circumstances of today, just one example of that:

Why did Congress not build toilets in 70 years? They couldn’t even do something so basic. This argument sounds logical and I believed it too, until I started reading India’s history. When we gained independence in 1947 we were an extremely poor country, we didn’t have the resources for even basic infrastructure and no capital. To counteract this PM Nehru went down the socialist path and created PSU’s. We had no capacity to build steel, so with the help of Russians the Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC), Ranchi was set up that made machines to make steel in India — without this we would have no steel, and consequently no infrastructure. That was the agenda — basic industries and infra. We had frequent droughts (aakaal), every 2–3 years and a large number of people starved to death. The priority was to feed the people, toilets were a luxury no one cared for. The Green Revolution happened and the food shortages disappeared by the 1990s — now we have a surplus problem. The toilet situation is exactly like people asking 25 years from now why Modi couldn’t make all houses in India air conditioned. That seems like a luxury today, toilets were also a luxury at some point of time. Maybe things could have happened sooner, maybe 10–15 years ago, but nothing happened in 70 years is a horrible lie to peddle.

  1. The spread and reliance on Fake News. There is some anti-BJP fake news too, but the pro-BJP and anti-opposition fake news outstrips that by miles in number and in reach. Some of it is supporters, but a lot of it comes from the party. It is often hateful and polarizing, which makes it even worse. The online news portals backed by this government are damaging society more than we know.
  2. Hindu khatre mein hai — they’ve ingrained it into the minds of people that Hindus and Hinduism are in danger, and that Modi is the only option to save ourselves. In reality Hindus have been living the same lives much before this government and nothing has changed except people’s mindset. Were we Hindus in danger in 2007? At least I didn’t hear about it everyday and I see no improvement in the condition of Hindus, just more fear mongering and hatred.
  3. Speak against the government and you’re anti-National and more recently, anti-Hindu. Legitimate criticism of the government is shut up with this labeling. Prove your nationalism, sing Vande Mataram everywhere (even though BJP leaders don’t know the words themselves, they’ll force you to sing it!). I’m a proud nationalist and my nationalism won’t allow me to let anyone force me to showcase it! I will sing the national anthem and national song with pride when the occasion calls for it, or when I feel like it, but I won’t let anyone force me to sing it based on their whims!
  4. Running news channels that are owned by BJP leaders who’s sole job is to debate Hindu-Muslim, National-Antinational, India-Pakistan and derail the public discourse from issues and logic into polarizing emotions. You all know exactly which ones, and you all even know the debaters who’re being rewarded for spewing the vilest propaganda.
  5. The polarization — the message of development is gone. BJP’s strategy for the next election is polarization and inciting pseudo nationalism. Modi ji has basically said it himself in speeches — Jinnah; Nehru; Congress leaders didn’t meet Bhagat Singh in jail (fake news from the PM himself!); INC leaders met leaders in Pakistan to defeat Modi in Gujarat; Yogi ji’s speech on how Maharana Pratap was greater than Akbar; JNU students are anti-national they’ll #TukdeTukdeChurChur India — this is all propaganda constructed for a very specific purpose — polarize and win elections — it isn’t the stuff I want to be hearing from my leaders and I refuse to follow anyone who is willing to let the nation burn in riots for political gain.

These are just some of the instances of how BJP is pushing the national discourse in a dark corner. This isn’t something I signed up for and it totally isn’t something I can support. That is why I am resigning from BJP.

PS: I supported BJP since 2013 because Narendra Modi ji seemed like a ray of hope for India and I believed in his message of development — that message and the hope are now both gone. The negatives of this Narendra Modi and Amit Shah government now outweigh the positives for me, but that is a decision that every voter needs to make individually. Just know that history and reality are complicated. Buying into simplistic propaganda and espousing cult like unquestioning faith are the worst thing you can do — it is against the interests of democracy and of this nation.

You all have your own decisions to make as the elections approach. Best of luck with that. My only hope is that we can all live and work harmoniously together — and contribute towards making a better, stronger, poverty-free and developed India, no matter what party or ideology we support. Always remember that there are good people on both sides, the voter needs to support them and they need to support each other even when they are in different parties.

This piece first appeared on medium.com

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Chennai, Apr 23: Shane Watson brought back memories of last year's IPL final with a blazing knock that has now almost ensured a play-off berth for Chennai Super Kings as they beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by six wickets here Tuesday.

On a vastly improved Chepauk track, Watson roared back to form with an 96 off 53 balls as CSK stuttered a bit in end before winning in 19.5 overs.

Watson's innings studded with nine fours and half a dozen of sixes ensured that CSK have reached the cut-off limit of 16 points needed for the play-off even though they would like to finish in the top two.

Watson's innings would also be a relief for skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had urged the top order to finish matches.

A 77-run stand between Watson and Suresh Raina (38) created the platform and the former Australia all-rounder singlehandedly decimated the Sunrisers attack.

What made it more difficult for the Sunrisers was the fact that their strike bowler Rashid Khan was pulverised by Watson, who took him to the cleaners with 44 coming off his spell.

Sandeep Sharma was another bowler, who was handed severe punishment as he went for 54 in 3.5 overs. Sandeep repeatedly bowled short and Watson would gleefully pull him. Skipper Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/18 in 4 overs) had no option but to bowl the 19th over and left Sandeep with nine runs to defend.

However Kedar Jadhav literally finished the match with a six off the second ball that sealed the deal.

Earlier, the immensely talented Manish Pandey was back in his element as his unbeaten 83 off 49 balls powered Sunrisers Hyderabad to a fighting 175 for 3 after being put into bat.

Pandey and league's current leading run-scorer David Warner (57 off 45 balls) added 115 runs for the second wicket to lay the foundation for a decent score on what was the best batting track on offer at the Chepauk.

Veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh struck an early blow, having the in-form Jony Bairstow caught behind in the second over for a duck.

He was the most successful bowler with figures of 2 for 39 in four overs while Deepak Chahar picked up the wicket of Vijay Shankar (26 off 20 balls).

Despite the early dismissal of Bairstow, the visiting team didn't get tied down as the irrepressible Warner and Manish Pandey kept hitting those boundaries and sixes. They brought up the team's 50 in the sixth over.

Pandey who has not been in the best form, hit his straps, scoring freely and was not afraid to go over the top. Dhoni's shuffling of the bowlers didn't make much of an impact as Warner and Pandey kept attacking.

Pandey was the first to reach 50 in 25 balls, pulling one from Dwayne Bravo for a boundary.

Warner was a touch slower in comparison to Pandey, but didn't miss out when the opportunity presented itself and hit a couple of big sixes.

The pugnacious Warner fell against the run of play, victim of Dhoni's trademark lightning quick stumping off a Harbhajan delivery. The Australian, who is leading the run charts this season, fell for 57 (45 balls, 3x4, 2X6) after adding 115 runs for the second wicket with Pandey.