Mother of all ballots (180 mil, 117 seats, 04/24)

Tomorrow is a most  crucial day for the republic.
If you are one of the 180 million voters who plan to exercise their responsibilities as citizens, please pay attention to this last minute message (see below) from a (Christian) Father (Fraser Mascarenhas, Principal, St Xaviers College, Mumbai) to his (mostly Hindu) students.

An interesting point that needs highlighting, is the difference between Muslims and Christians in their attitude to Modi. Amongst the activists and intellectuals (Mascarenhas included) there is of course complete unanimity, an united wall against the Great Satan. 

However at the community level there are stark differences. The upper-caste Kerala Christians (Syrians) are publicly backing Modi (votes not so much), so are a large section of Goan Christians (votes will make a difference). There is no (apparent) solidarity with tribal, dalit Christians who may face an onslaught from Hindutva forces post elections. 

In contrast, the only muslims who will be freely voting for Modi are the Bohras of Gujarat/Maharashtra and the Shias in Uttar Pradesh. The Bohras are businessmen and are voting based on caste interests (as opposed to the interests of the Ummah), while Shias will vote due to their grievances against Sunnis (there is no Ummah).  


Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday lampooned St Xavier’s College
principal, Frazer Mascarenhas, for writing a message to his students
criticizing the Gujarat development model and praising the flagship
schemes of Congress-led UPA government.

Mascarenhas has apparently written a message to his student saying,
“All the Human Development Index indicators and the cultural
polarization of the population show that Gujarat has had a terrible
experience in the last ten years.”

“As opposed to this, efforts
like the Rojgar Yojana and the Food Security Act have been called
“election sops”. However, some of our best social scientists like
Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze have supported these as necessary in the
emergency economic situation the country and the world is facing.” . “The
country is grateful that committed activists like Aruna Roy and Shailesh
Gandhi have worked with the government to initiate and sustain the
Right to Information Act which makes accountability possible. Corruption
still needs to be addressed effectively, but since it is so prevalent
at every level of society, it will take civil society long agonizing
efforts to root it out,” he further stated.


out at the principal of St Xavier’s College Mumbai for his
controversial advisory to students which is critical of Narendra Modi’s
‘Gujarat Model’ of development, BJP on Wednesday complained to the
Election Commission.

Demanding an ‘immediate withdrawal of the
statement’ issued by Father Frazer Mascarenhas, BJP alleged that the
principal’s email to students is a violation of model code of conduct.

In its letter to the Election Commission, BJP wrote, “Xaviers is a go ..

A letter addressed to students by Father Frazer Mascarenhas, principal
of St Xavier’s College, criticising the Gujarat model of development
triggered a storm with strong reactions coming in from across the
spectrum. The BJP filed a complaint on Wednesday with the Election
Commission against him saying that the letter which was published on the
college website violated the model code of conduct because the college
is government-aided.

In his letter which does not directly name any individual or political
party, Father Mascarenhas’ urged students to “choose well” and exercise a
“reasoned choice of individuals and political parties who promise to
work for a real quality of life”. The letter speaks about the poor human
development indicators in Gujarat, including education and rights of
the tribals. “So what lessons does a reflection on the approaching
elections teach us? The prospect of an alliance of corporate capital and
communal forces coming to power constitutes a real threat to the future
of our secular democracy,” his letter read.

Prominent alumni from St Xavier’s college also joined the debate.
Theatre personality Alyque Padamse said: “This is a democracy. People
have a right to air their views.” Former Attorney General of India Soli
Sorabjee, while saying that Mascarenhas had not misused his position as
principal, he should have refrained from making a public statement. “St
Xavier’s College has been an institution which has been aplolitical. It
shouldn’t dabble in politics.

At St Xavier’s College, many students supported their principal. TYBA
student Rujuta Sabnis said that there was nothing wrong in what he had
done. “It’s good that he’s making sure we’re getting the right
information. Anyway, everything he has said is true,” she said.

However, some others were not impressed. “While I love Father
Mascarenhas mostly and what he teaches us, I feel this is a way to
influence students by using his authority. I am not a first-time voter
but there are many in my college who are. The letter does not make a
difference to me as I have already made up my mind but it could
influence many others,” said an MSc student who did not want her
identity to be disclosed.


Brown Pundits