Though the advent of Modi was no surprise but the thumping numerical majority with which he has romped into the corridors of power has upset all calculations. BJP’s vote share went up by 12% touching 31.8% nationally.
The simple yet comfortable majority of 282 seats for BJP on its own and in addition the strength of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) comprising of Shiv Sena, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and other smaller parties with 54 seats heralds an unmistakable right turn which is gleefully welcomed by the big business, Media houses, Corporates nationally and internationally.
Congress’s terminal fall
So unpopular was the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government and so terrible its record of governance that the party has justifiably suffered the worst defeat in its 129-year history. It lost 162 seats, and did not even manage to touch the double digits in any state. Many of its veterans could not manage to win their long held constituencies which were traditionally considered as Congress party strong holds. In ten states; Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkand, it drew an absolute blank. More significant is the fact that its vote share went down to a pathetic 19.8% nationally.
They’ve lost everywhere, but in Delhi, the Congress has faced a clear rout. All its seven sitting MPs from the state, three of whom were cabinet ministers, lost to the BJP. The party got fewer votes even than the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which came second in all the seven seats.
While it can be argued that the parliamentary left represented by the CPI(M), CPI, RSP & Forward Block that formed the ‘Left Front’, hardly had any legislative presence out side the three states of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, but the near decimation of CPI(M) in West Bengal in this 2014 elections speaks volumes of the declining influence of the skewed ideology of these parties that neither challenged the neo-liberal Capitalism of the Congress or the right wing communalism of the BJP.
Their grossly mistaken strategy of building the the so-called “Secular Democratic Front” against Congress & BJP has fallen flat on its face. Their “strategic” allies such as Samajwadi Party(SP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal (United), Janata Dal (Secular), TDP, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) All India DMK (AIADMK), Biju Janata Dal (BJD)etc., are all feudal, petty bourgeois parties who are in varying degrees intrinsically following Congress’s Capitalism and BJP’s Communal policies to their advantage, none of these “friends” of the CPI(M) led left came to the rescue to go along with the chimera of the idea of Third Front. In fact Jayalalitha of AIADMK and Naveen Patnaik of BJD were the most brutal in ditching these “Marxist” high priests who were offering them leadership of the government in case of their fathoming of a “Secular, Democratic and Third Front’s” victory.
The very signature tune of the CPI(M) itself that “there is no alternative to capitalism” led its regime to the grotesque situation of shooting down the peasants who brought them to power in West Bengal during the infamous Singur – Nandigram struggle against land acquisition of 2007-2008. These Stalinist parties in their enthusiasm to serve capitalism better than capitalists themselves have now been reduced to now just nine members in the parliament. While the CPI could not even open its account in West Bengal with a mere 2.3% of votes , RSP and Forward Block also have drawn blank with a token presence with 0.8% & 0.3% of votes. The CPI(M) is on the verge of loosing its National Party status as its vote share is reduced to a dismal 3.2% nationally.
The BJP ‘s tally of two seats equalling that of the CPI-M is a telling comment on the plight of the Left parties in West Bengal. While CPI(M) could only manage to retain 22.8% of votes loosing 10.3% vote share (In 2009 it got 33.1%), but it is the BJP ‘s impressive 17% vote share in West Bengal that signals the rightward shift of even West Bengal which was hitherto considered as the bastion of the Left. The BJP in these elections has primarily reaped electoral profit at the cost of the CPI-M and not the Trinamool Congress.
AAP which raised a lot of heat & dust in the run-up to the General Elections of 2014, has had a mixed bag in this newly coined phrase TsuNaMo elections ( the Modi cheerleaders comparing the election fortunes to the disastrous Tsunami!) In its first National Elections, Aam Aadmi Party will have 4 MPs in Parliament, all from the state of Punjab, with an impressive 24.5% vote-share bagging a spectacular 33.73 lakh votes. And enhanced its percentage share in Delhi to 32.9% by getting 27.22 lakh votes (up from 28.2% in the December 2013 assembly elections)though it did not pick up any seat. The party has got over 1.1 crore votes polled in its favour across the country with a vote share of 2.2%.
The disappointing factor of AAP’s results were the failure of single one of the contestants from People’s Struggle background from across the country to gain any significant votes. Mass leaders such as S P Udayakumar (15314 Votes), Pushparayan (26 476 Votes), Medha Patkar (76451 Votes), Dayamani Barla (11822 Votes) etc., who have led determined struggles on issues such as Nuclear Plants, Adivasi Rights, anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation and who have categorically identified with the struggles of the landless, poor, Dalith and Slum Dwellers who had long held the view that it is futile to go parliamentary way, but threw their lot with the formation of AAP, which was and is a strange mishmash for a political entity.
Aspirational or Apprehensive
Modi cheerleaders and bourgeois economists are touting the verdict as the vote from aspirational growth generation who are the direct beneficiaries of neo-liberal reforms in the last two decades. They are interpreting this vote for Modi as the vote for decisive and more aggressive economic reforms. Another aspect of their slant is that the clear majority for Modi’s BJP is nothing but the end of fractious mandates for the coalitions of the last three decades.
It is true that BJP’s pre-poll allies have pulled in enough numbers for the BJP -led National Democratic Alliance to occupy six out of every ten seats in the Lok Sabha– a ‘super majority’ as some have called it, even though less than one-third of voters have backed the BJP and and not more than 40% have voted for the NDA.
This is the first time since 1952 that the religious minorities have not counted in determining as to who rules in New Delhi. And, coupled with the fact of the near-decimation suffered by the Left Front, the BSP and the SP, it is easy to conclude that, for now, oppositional voices have lost out. The irony of the mature and world’s largest democracy this time round is that there is no official opposition in the Indian parliament , none of the parties including the out going Congress have crossed the 10% of seats mark to qualify for being a recognised opposition party.
The Modi wave did sweep through Uttar Pradesh, where it also managed to draw away significant number of voters from Samajawadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, and of course in Bihar too.
In Uttara Pradesh, where communal and upper caste polarisation was the repertoire Amit Shah the points man of Modi orchestrated for delivering votes in this key state, which has historically determined who rules India.
Though not threadbare discussed in the media the Muzafar Nagar riots of August/September 2013,was a well orchestrated heinous act to derive political dividends, which the BJP has had a major share. With this background of a bloody riot where the clashes between the Hindu and Muslim communities resulted in at least 62 deaths including 42 Muslims and 20 Hindus and injured 93 and left more than 50,000 Muslims displaced, BJP gaining 71 and its ally Apna Dal 2 out of 80 parliamentary seats in Uttara Pradesh is clearly an indication of how macabre and blood stained is this new government.
More than any where else it was in Uttar Pradesh and in the rest of the north Indian belt where there was no holds barred approach by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). This election was the first time the RSS had come out of its self-imposed burqa/purdah of being just a “cultural” organisation and had pitched in wholeheartedly for a Modi victory, its erstwhile Pracharak (Full-time campaigner). The proof of this war like campaign can be seen in the figures of near absence of Muslim parliamentarians in the 16th Lok Sabha (Parliament), for a population of 138 million Muslims the new Lok Sabha will have the fewest Muslim parliamentarians since the one elected in 1952, with just 21 of them emerging victorious in the polls. The BJP itself does not have a single MP from the minority community.
There can be no denying of the fact that this victory of Modi is based on an unadulterated communally polarised vote; there is no secret that the minorities, especially the Muslims, were deeply apprehensive of a Modi victory and did everything possible to defeat the BJP.
Where did the Dalith vote go?
Along side the religious polarisation, it appears to be a rewrite of caste equations, empirically it can be argued that the Daliths abandoned Mayawati and her Bahujan Samaj Party, which failed to open its account. Aware that Daliths were being poached by BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Mayawathi was jittery after the fourth phase when her feedback was that Daliths were flocking to Modi. Her second major constituency, Muslims, also failed to come to her rescue.
BSP’s vote share in Uttara Pradesh went down to 19.6% from the 27.4% in 2009.
Hoping against the hope many in the progressive circles expected a repeat of 2004 results where especially the Daliths and Muslims en-block had voted against the BJP and exposed the shallowness of the “India Shining”. With a combination of factors, especially with the caste and communal polarisation to the advantage of the BJP, the psyche of Muslims, Daliths, Adivasis and the urban poor was in a state of flux and was surely affected by the big business media blitz which sold Modi as a messiah for all the ills in the society.
Modi & BJP have for the time have not harped on the divisive issues directly as such, but have only tom-tomed ” DEVELOPMENT” albeit Gujarat Model, which is highly questionable without any scrutiny whatsoever. Juxtaposed to the abysmal failure of the Congress rule which was once the darling of the Corporates, could go thus far and no further in relation to pro business economic reforms. Congress, though fast eroding, its traditional social base of farmers, marginal peasants, poor and the religious minorities, though being the chosen party of the big bourgeoisie historically, can in no way play a Thatcherite role of quick paced reforms.
BJP and Modi on the other hand do not have same compulsions of being seen as the party of the left of centre and hence indecisive. Being traditionally seen as traders party it has always advocated a rightist line being out rightly critical of Nehruvian Mixed Economy model. Combined with it the belligerence of its unabashed majoritarian Hindu supremacist ideology has now endeared them to the growing affluent middle classes and of course the Indian Corporates themselves.
Presently stagnating with a mere 4.5% GDP growth, with huge fiscal deficit in the Indian economy, Modi’s magic wand rhetoric of Growth and Development has undoubtedly put his marauder past on the back burner, both the national and international bourgeois have welcomed his advent enthusiastically. The stock markets in India have risen sharply on the very day of the spectacular results for Modi. The benchmark Sensex jumped at the opening of trading on 16th May, climbing more than 4.5 per cent to an intra-day record and breaching the symbolic 25,000 level, the strongest opening for the Indian markets in five years. The rupee strengthened above Rs59 to the dollar to its highest point since mid-2013. Rakesh Jhunjunwala, considered to be the Stock Market Guru in India has said “Markets Heading for Mother of All Bull Runs that will last for 10 to 20 years”
Strategically, Modi has projected a rather soft Hinduthva for now. Whether this style will continue to prevail will largely depend on how his government will succeed in delivering economic growth. If he can quickly achieve positive results on the economic front and revive growth and create jobs, and can thus remain popular – the economy is definitely his top priority – then the development plank will be sufficient for him. Fortunately for him the indications of a partial recovery of the world economy may give him some breathing space. If, however, he is not successful on the economic front, there will be strong criticism not just amongst the liberals but in his own camp. He may then resort to the Hindutva – based polarisation strategy.
Opposition & Resistance!
There is absolutely no doubt that the victory of MODI & BJP is a decisive right ward shift, first of its kind in the Indian political scenario. What ever may the development & growth hype that the bombarding Media wants the people to believe, it doesn’t alter the fact that the overwhelming majority of 1.25 billion population of India still lives on ₹ 20 a day (1/3 of a $). That’s where the seething anger will erupt in the weeks and months ahead.
Yes, the communal & caste polarisation in the society does pose a serious challenge to working peoples unity in their fight against neo-liberal policies which will be much aggressively be pursued by this professedly right of centre administration. But mere liberal platitudes and window dressing of secularism, communal harmony will do no good to instil confidence in the poor and down trodden when their lives and livelihoods are attacked in the name of development or under the bogey of fighting terror.
The Socialists, Marxists and genuine class fighters will have to forge unity of alliances based on class, down trodden castes, urban & rural poor, student youth, peasants, fisher people, tribals, women, and minorities based on religion, sexuality, language and nationality. Which should not only take up the struggles of the unemployed, under employed and low paid youth for better wages and conditions, but put forward a programme of defence committees to defend the various communities which will come under attack.
Marxists and Socialists under the organisational banner of New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) through its prime campaigns of ₹ 100/hr. minimum Living Wage campaign, Tamil Solidarity, Campaign to Reclaim Democracy will be forging ahead to build a class alternative to the brazenly pro rich political parties that infest this land mass called India.
Jagadish G Chandra
New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India)