As the Lok Sabha election is around the corner, more than 800 theater artists in India have appealed to the voters to vote out the divisive politics from power, referring to the hateful politics of BJP government under PM Narendra Modi.
The joint statement in 12 languages (English, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Assamese, Telugu, Panjabi, Konkani,Urdu, and Gujarati) and the names of the signatories have been released. As on April 8, more than 800 artists had signed the appeal. They include top actors such as Amol Palekar, Girish Karnad, Mita Vasisht, and Naseeruddin Shah.
Since colonial times, according to their statement, Indian theater makers have celebrated India’s diversity through their work. The statement adds that theater makers in India have a long and proud tradition of standing against forces of religious sectarianism, chauvinism, narrowness, and irrationality.
Today, according to their statement, the very idea of India is under threat. Today, song, dance, laughter is under threat. Today, our beloved Constitution is under threat. The institutions that have to nurture argument, debate, and dissent have been suffocated, the statement adds.
To question, to call out lies, to speak the truth, is branded ‘anti-national’. The seeds of hatred have entered our food, prayers, and festivals, the artists complain about the despotic Modi government. “The ways in which this hatred has seeped into our daily fabric are alarming and it has to STOP.”
The coming elections are without doubt the most critical in the history of independent India. A democracy must empower its weakest, its most marginalized. A democracy cannot function without questioning, debate, and a vibrant opposition.
All this is being concertedly eroded by the current government. The BJP, which came to power five years ago with the promise of development, has given free rein to Hindutva goons to indulge in the politics of hate and violence, the artists assert in their statement.
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The man (Modi) who was portrayed as the savior of the nation five years ago has destroyed the livelihoods of millions through his policies. He promised to bring back black money; instead, rogues have looted the country and run away. The wealth of the rich has grown astronomically, while the poor have become even poorer.
“We, theater practitioners of India, appeal to the people of India to help safeguard the Constitution and our secular ethos. We appeal to our fellow citizens to vote for love and compassion, for equality and social justice, and to defeat the forces of darkness and barbarism,” the artists appealed.
“Our appeal – vote bigotry, hatred, and apathy out of power. Vote against the BJP and its allies. Vote to empower the weakest, protect liberty, protect the environment, and foster scientific thinking. Vote for secular democratic, inclusive India. Vote for the freedom to dream. Vote wisely.”
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