Thought Box



by HUMRA QURAISHI February 8 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins, 51 secs

Humra Quraishi wonders why the ruling party of the day needs to demolish opposition parties and diminish leaders, when it is already sure of winning the upcoming general elections 2024 with a thumping majority!

The way the Rahul Gandhi led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra is facing hurdle upon hurdle, points to sabotage. However, Rahul Gandhi is determined to carry on against all odds. But the question is this: Why is the Right-Wing government so rattled to see the masses participate in such large numbers, and so spontaneously? Their enthusiasm goes to show how popular Rahul Gandhi is! And also, that he is possibly the only leader at the national level who can counter the ploys and tactics being employed by the BJP with the use of the entire government machinery to decimate the opposition.

Let me tell you, the relentless campaign of the BJP, for over more than ten years now, to diminish Rahul Gandhi’s stature has started to irk India’s people. After having seen the dismal performance of the government in the last decade of its reign, and having been at the receiving end of so much injustice, people at large can see through the bluff.

With the arrest of Hemant Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, also the sitting Chief Minister of Jharkhand at the time it was executed, people are apprehensive. There’s no doubt that fears are mounting about the upcoming elections and them being free and fair, because leaders from the opposition parties are targeted systematically in a bid to throttle democracy. If the government is so sure of returning for a third term, and if the vacuous words of the PM that the BJP will cross 370 seats in the 2024 general elections are true, why is there a need to demolish opposition leaders and their respective political parties?

Turbulent times are visible. In the recently held Mayor elections in Chandigarh, the brazen use of a government officer to manipulate the results against the INDIA alliance, so that the BJP could win, was captured on camera. How eight votes were rendered invalid was for everyone to see. Even the highest court of law in the country has deemed the incident as a ‘mockery of democracy’. Senior opposition leaders are beginning to forewarn that the atmosphere will be further vitiated because the BJP can see itself losing in the elections despite all the control it has on the mass media and therefore the narrative. The people of India can see through the chicanery at play.  

Common men and women are being targeted on a daily basis, more so if they belong to the disadvantaged or minority communities. Who’s there to listen to the citizens in these extreme times of unemployment and hopelessness? And, to further deepen the wounds, homes and small businesses like shops and establishments, even those resting in the heritage properties that have belonged to the poor, and given them livelihoods for generations, are being mindlessly bulldozed, razed to the ground, in the name of development.

Scores of activists, retired civil servants, lawyers and ordinary people are questioning the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) because there is no transparency whatsoever. Neither can accountability be expected. To beat this monster, the people of India must wake up and foresee a future for their children, which is none. They must introspect to know how much their religious fervour will give them other than the dopamine fix that won’t last beyond the election season.

On another note, I hoped for the Padma Vibhushan to be awarded to the beautiful Vyjayanthimala Bali much before her 90th birthday. Besides being a talented dancer and actor, she is among the most graceful and impressive personalities of India. I first met her in the spring of 1990 when I interviewed her at the Kamani Auditorium in New Delhi, where she was rehearsing for her solo performance ‘Om Shantih! Om Shantih! Om Shantih!’

Dressed casually in a cotton salwar kameez, with her short hair tied firmly back in a pony-tail, she talked spontaneously whilst checking the music, directing the floor manager and inspecting the slides. Not the least ruffled, she kept talking to me. She said, “Through this form of art, my dance, I want to convey the message of peace. I carry my ‘Om Shantih’ books, manuscripts on dance, everywhere. I am doing a research-study on the traditional temple dance forms. I am curious and want every detail explained to me through scholars and pundits. I’m concentrating only on the ancient forms, for why go creating new forms when there are so many of the ancient…I feel there is something spiritual about Bharatanatyam, otherwise how could it have survived through the ravages of time. I have so many thoughts brimming in my head and time just passes off in a twinkle.”

As a shy five-year-old Vyjayanthimala Bali had performed for the Pope in Rome. As a studious “introvert”, class ten student, her dance performance in Madras caught the attention of the producers of AVM production and her first film ‘Bahaar’ left audiences spellbound! Of course, 54 or more of her films continued to do the same until 1968 when she got married. She told me, “Thereafter I did not retire, but I relinquished films.”

Later she represented the South Madras constituency as a Member of Parliament. When asked what made her decide to join politics, she said, “Well, my husband thought I had the makings of a politician, so he wanted me to join politics. In fact, it happened slowly…in the beginning we toured Tamil Nadu and saw the chaos spread around, we witnessed how funds were being misused, also people’s disillusionment with the administration. Wherever we toured we saw for ourselves another reality: how people loved Mrs Indira Gandhi. So, when we visited New Delhi and met Mrs. Gandhi we told her the state of affairs in Tamil Nadu, and even told her about my own inclination towards joining politics. She smiled encouragingly…”

On whether there were any apprehensions, her being a former film star turning into full-time politician, she said: “People knew I am a serious person. It wasn’t that I was just about hopping from one profession to another. After all, I quit the film industry in 1968 and entered politics years later, in the early 1980s. Also, people knew about my integrity. So there was no problem." 

Talking about integrity, is there any left in politics to be seen today? While the government of the day is calling leaders of oppositions corrupt, it seems to be unaware that its own slip is showing. The dark cloud of the many of its own sagas hang over its head, its own acts of corruption and misuse of power for which it will be made answerable one day.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.