GST Protest

Is the end in sight?

Wind of dissent developing against Modi regime. Economic whims of Modinomics will trigger serious, longterm political implications

The current scenario looks like, India’s Modi regime has run out of steam. First time since its euphoric victory in May 2014, it is on a back-foot, even to the extent of backtracking some of its much touted policy economic decisions. Undoubtedly, even within Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), dissension is out and vocal on Demonetisation (Currency Ban) and Goods and Services Tax (GST), making Modi and his coterie vulnerable. Though it may be bit too early to predict BJP’s fortune in 2019 General Elections, for the first time in three years, on a general scale one could see winds of dissent developing against the Party wielding power for the so called monolith of Hindutva.

In a country as diverse as India with all its socio political complexities, the Sangh Parivar (RSS and its innumerable affiliates) continue their divisive civil strife agenda through out the country, through Cow Vigilantism, Religious Minority bashing, Islamophobia, Nationalist Jingoism and Caste atrocities on Dalits and Tribals in the name of “One Nation- One Culture”. Given the vast geographical expanse of this continent sized country, many horrible and brutal instances of sectarian violence go unnoticed or hardly reported. Only very few incidents such as of Gauri Lankesh, a prominent left wing female journalist from Bangalore, who was shot dead recently made international news. While these instances continue to one degree or the other, but appear to have become sporadic.

At the same time, Modi has come under fire not just from politicians for the problems created by demonetisation and the implementation of the GST, but even the trader community, his greatest supporters, are angry. While the BJP spin doctors try hard to campaign about how both these

initiatives have actually achieved a lot – the banishment of black money, reduction in terrorism and fake currency, a switch over to digital currency – have failed in the face of harsh realities on the ground. Small businesses are folding up and people are losing jobs. Even the BJP’s own MPs are now beginning to talk about it and this could have political repercussions in Gujarat which is currently going for elections in December this year.

Thanks to the fumbling of Modi & Co., economy for the first time in many years, is the single most talked about subject in India today. The state of the Indian economy is in shambles, Growth is at a three year low, at just 5.7 per cent (if inflation is taken to consideration this figure would be 3.2). Jobs all around are declining, in fact the famous gab of Modi, creating 2 million jobs every year, has become a street corner joke today!

Many economists, including from the BJP camp believe that the combination of demonetisation and the GST implementation have only added to the problem. In October, former finance minister during the first NDA stint, Yashwant Sinha went public with scathing criticism of the way the economy is being handled – he doesn’t believe it will be fixed by 2019, the time of the next General election. Arun Shourie, who is held in high esteem in the BJP circles minced no words, earlier seen as an advisor to Modi, called Demonetisation as the “Largest Money-Laundering Scheme Ever”.



While in general, the traditional opposition to BJP and Sangh Parivar coming from Congress and the other regional satraps is woefully disunited, they failed to even put up a credible, united electoral opposition in Uttar Pradesh, resulting in Yogi Adityanath, a rabid Muslim hater, saffron clad monk of BJP becoming the Chief Minister, with an overwhelming three-quarter majority of 325 seats majority in a 403 seats local assembly.

This rout of the entire opposition, is a significant booster to Modi’s regime, which was to a great extent handicapped hitherto in the parliamentary arithmetic to push the important finance and other pro rich reforms bills. It did not have the necessary numbers in the Upper House, but with its sweeping victory in Uttar Pradesh, it is poised to have an upper hand in the coming period.

While BJP did take advantage of the cacophonous campaign by projecting Demonetisation as being a measure to flush out the Black Money and to stop “terror funding”, in UP this misleading campaign paid dividends, where historically this state with a 200 million plus population has always been poisoned by anti-Muslim high shrill rhetoric. With the contentious Babri Mosque – Ayodhya Temple raked again, and the chief campaigner Yogi Adityanath (currently Chief Minister) spewing venom by bringing in cantankerous arguments against Taj Mahal being a Shiva Temple et al, the UP election was a cake walk for the BJP, given the Caste driven electorate and the divided and paralysed opposition.

One can be overwhelmed in a situation like India, which is not a country but a diverse continent size of India, and could get bogged down in ‘parliamentary cretinism’, this is true of many on the left, including the two big communist parties, who have utterly failed to build a strategy to build a working class opposition to the regime of Modi and his aggressive Capitalist policies.

If one looks back at the wasted opportunities, where the Working Class showed immense capacity to struggle and strike was manifested in the 180 million strong General Strike on September 2nd last year, just two months later Modi brought in the whimsical and blundering policy of banning and taking out 86% cash out of circulation. For weeks on, a significant number adult population stood in queues to exchange old notes to new, in the stampede and stress more than 180 people last their lives, many bank workers and small businessmen committed suicide.

The left, particularly the two big communist parties, who control more than 80% of the Bank Workers through their affiliated unions, did not even lift a little finger. Later, during when the GST was introduced this year , they utterly failed to lead the people to oppose the disastrous policy, instead through their columns in Party Organs suggested tweaks to stave off the impending crisis.

It is no exaggeration to say that Revolution and Counter Revolution are going hand in hand, the only unfortunate caveat is the absence of a Party that can take advantage of the revolutionary potential in the objective situation.

Jagadish Chandra