The forthcoming general election to the seventeenth Lok Sabha presents an unprecedented scenario in front of concerned citizens and members of our civil society. Generally civic culture demands that while political parties and candidates may campaign for vote, members of civil society refrain from making public their political choice in the interest of cultivating a non-partisan public culture.
However, when the party in power for the last five years has threatened the very fabric of the democratic culture in the country, when autonomy of key institutions have been compromised with impunity, when an atmosphere of fear and hate has engulfed the public sphere, it becomes the duty of civil society to speak up to defend democracy in the first place.
In the last five years we have seen many unusual events fill our everyday life; ordinary citizens lynched for the food they eat and the God they pray, with silent inducement from powers that be; intellectuals and writers assassinated by indoctrinated criminal groups; writers, scholars and artists return the civilian honours and awards of merit received from state institutions; premier institutions and universities humiliated and ruined by imposition of unworthy stooges of ruling ideology; blatant interference and manipulation at the state level; ordinary people protesting an environmentally polluting industry shot down with far more sinister ruthlessness than there was in Jalianwala Bagh of colonial times; senior judges of the Supreme Court coming out in public to denounce the functioning of the apex court; the premier investigating agency compromised by the dramatic collusion of interests at the highest level erupting in public view; the economy destroyed with arbitrary and whimsical decisions of a few individuals at the helm of power with dire consequences for medium and small scale businesses and industries; reserve bank governors abruptly resigning; in general fear and intimidation gripping the functioning of most government institutions.
The citizens of this proud country comprising of one fifth of humanity, consisting of an ever-pluralizing rich array of cultures and identities, steadily treading the path of electoral democracy since the birth of the republic in 1950, cannot watch in apathy when such a historical flowering of democratic spirits destroyed in the winds of fascist hate mongering and fear. We have even had a MP from the ruling party croon that there would not be elections any more if they returned to power.
We the writers, academics, artists and citizens of Tamil Nadu appeal to all citizens to oust the Bharathiya Janata Party from power by not voting for the BJP and its allies in the forthcoming elections. Let our ballot send a message to all future governments not to trample on our rights, societal well-being and democratic cultures.