We, concerned citizens of India, are alarmed by the divisive, abusive and violent Lok Sabha election campaign that has just been concluded. Throughout the campaign, the Bharatiya Janata Party under Narendra Modi’s leadership has been especially virulent in ridiculing and insulting religious and sexual minorities, dalits and people with disabilities. Communal forces represented and endorsed by BJP and Modi also work against the interests and rights of cultural and linguistic minorities, adivasis and women across communities. BJP under Modi has also threatened constitutional bodies like the Election Commission. Dissenting voices have been intimidated and asked to leave the country.
The collusion of big corporates with rank communal and authoritarian ideas, visible starkly in the poll campaign, will seep into the structures of governance if a Modi-led NDA government is formed. All opponents to this brand of politics will be hounded and hunted, as they indeed have been in Gujarat. It is only reasonable to anticipate that the policies of discrimination and ghettoisation practiced by Modi’s government in Gujarat will become the national norm. Even more disturbingly, much of the mainstream media today is not only acting pliant, they are carrying a barrage of misleading facts to promote Modi, leading to legitimate fears that they may further abandon their watchdog role.
In this alarming scenario, it is imperative that you, the secular elected members of parliament ensure that the Constitution and its values, and indeed, the future of this nation, are protected. After all, secularism is not just a catchword in election manifestos. It is the backbone of our democracy.
There is nothing inevitable about the rise of Modi to Prime Ministership. The keys to formation of government in Delhi are held by all of you. We now remind some of you of the promises you have made to the people of India to stand against communalism and uphold secularism during this election campaign, which we have reproduced here. We, along with millions of citizens, voted for you because of these promises.
We appeal to you and all other secular parties to come together to ensure the formation of a secular government, and prevent the formation of a Narendra Modi-led BJP/NDA central government.
We gave you our votes. We hope you will honour our trust.
Aditi Mangaldas, Dancer
Aditya Mukherjee, professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Emeritus Professor, Kolkata
Anand Patwardhan, Documentary Filmmaker
Aneesh Pradhan, Tabla Maestro
Anil Sadgopal, Former Dean, Faculty of Education, Delhi University, Bhopal
Anthoniraj Thumma, Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches, Hyderabad
Anusha Khan, Media Professional
Anusha Rizvi, Writer-Director
Atul Sood, professor of economics
C. P. Chandrasekhar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
DN Jha, Retd Professor
Fr Cedric Prakash SJ, human rights activist, Ahmedabad
Githa Hariharan, writer, Delhi
Hansal Mehta, writer-director
Harbans Mukhia, former Professor of History and Rector, JNU, National Fellow, ICHR
Janaki Nair, professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Javed Anand, activist Mumbai
Jayati Ghosh, professor of economics
Kabir Khan, Director
KamayaI Bali Mahabal, Feminist and Human rights activist
Kundan Shah, Director
Mahesh Bhatt, director-producer
Mahesh Murthy, Adman-Entrepreneur
Maya Krishna Rao, theatre artist
Mridula Mukherjee, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Nirmalangshu Mukherji, Teacher, Delhi University
Prabhat Patnaik, professor of economics
Rappai Poothokaren, S.J., Ahmedabad
Robert Miranda, Bishop of Gulbarga
Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Professor of Linguistics and English
Shabnam Hashmi, social activist, Anhad
Shohini Ghosh, professor and filmmaker
Shubha Mudgal, singer-musician
Tabish Khair, writer and academic
Vijay Krishna Acharya ‘Victor’, Writer-Director
Vineet Tiwari, Gen. Secretary, MP Progressive Writers Association, Indore
Vivan Sundaram, artist
Yug Mohit Chaudhry, Lawyer, Mumbai
Zoya Hasan, professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
And 900 others from across India