Source: The Nation
Last December, Yogendra Yadav, the leader of the left-wing Swaraj India Party, published an open letter addressed to the Indian public ahead of the country’s upcoming general election. Part warning and part call to action, “This is not just a letter. It is a call from the heart,” it read. “It’s a call to change the destiny of our nation. I write because it’s not yet too late. I write because there is not much time.”
The letter criticized the government’s sectarianism while highlighting issues of growing agrarian distress and skyrocketing unemployment rates. “The equation for 2019 is clear,” Yadav wrote, explaining that Indians must choose between dividing the country on the basis of religion, or addressing the common problems faced by the country’s farmers and youths.
Because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hostility toward left-wing politics, dissent of this sort has been rare in recent years. And like Donald Trump or Brazil’s Jair Bolsanaro, Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have chipped away at India’s democratic institutions: sabotaging the Supreme Court bid of judges who have ruled against party leaders; threatening and strong-arming the resignation of journalists critical of the regime; and appointing right-wing ideologues to key university positions—all while rewriting primary- and secondary-school textbooks to obscure Islamic contributions to the country.