Hundreds of activists, academics, writers, concerned citizens have signed on an open letter that is an appeal to voters of Uttar Pradesh. The appeal puts on record that the past five years of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule in Uttar Pradesh have been “marked with brute state violence and abdication of transparency and accountability apart from brazen misogyny, bigotry and Islamophobia and communal polarisation which are at an all-time peak. Violence based on caste prejudice is the new normal.”
The letter states that the nation is at a critical juncture where the results of the Assembly elections, especially in Uttar Pradesh, “will decide whether some measure of push back to the forces of authoritarianism and majoritarianism is possible or whether there is a slide back to further darkness.” The activists have made an “impassioned appeal to our fellow citizens to, as a first step towards reclaiming the soul and spirit of India, and to save the soul of our nation from being permanently scarred by attempts to undermine our Constitution and assaults on what we hold most dear, to vote decisively in UP.”
The activists and eminent citizens who have signed the appeal include, Admiral Ramdas, Lalita Ramdas, Aruna Roy, Dr. Vasanthi Devi, RB Sreekumar (IPS, former DGP, Gujarat), Prof Harbans Mukhia, Amit Bhaduri (Prof Emeritus (resigned) JNU), Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan (Ex-Chairman, Delhi Minorities Commission), Dr. Muniza Khan (Social Scientist & Researcher), Teesta Setalvad (Journalist, Educationist, Activist), Javed Anand (Journalist and Activist), Javed Akhtar (Poet, Lyricist, Screenwriter, Activist), Prof. Vasanthi Raman (Academic), Dr. Ram Puniyani and scores of activists who are living and working in Uttar Pradesh.
They ask the electors to cast their votes “for India’s Constitution, diversity and pluralism and so that all Indians are allowed the right to live with dignity and equality and not be subjugated by violence, hate and fear.” The letter recalls how in the last few years, in UP as elsewhere “concerted attacks on freedom of expression, imposition of a theocratic state, unchecked mob-lynchings, state-sanctioned terror against the most vulnerable sections of society, and corporatisation of India’s national assets” have been reported. The activists add that the “BJP-led government has created a pervasive atmosphere of fear and all-consuming hatred, which has infiltrated homes. A culture of impunity rules within the law enforcement machinery and the streets,” and that this is a part of the larger “sustained regressive agenda is to impose an intolerant, mono-culture and destroy our rich and diversified social fabric.”
The appeal takes on the issue head on and states, “We do not wish to see it a day more in office. This is, thus, an appeal to all thinking citizens to see through their subterfuge and vote for change” and that “the BJP has been quite vocal about its practises of misogyny, bigotry and Islamophobia and communal polarisation is at an all-time peak. Violence based on caste prejudice is the new normal. Terms like love-jihad, gau hatyare, tukde-tukde gang or urban Naxals are coined to incite violence on any flimsy ground against Dalits, Muslims, intellectuals, social activists, artists, writers and vulnerable sections of society. And in almost all the cases the perpetrators of crime and violence have no fear of law and are allowed to go scot free.”
The appeal also highlights how “Ordinances are brought in breach of established parliamentary norms to polarise the polity. Fake encounters are considered a part of normal policing. In a nutshell, the rule of law is dead.”
The appeal requests fellow citizens to “vote against the BJP, and vote strategically for whichever party stands the best chance of defeating the BJP in your region” and also on “the day of voting, do keep a check on any violations of electoral laws. This is perhaps the most important election that India has ever faced.”
The appeal may be read here: