Defending the Indefensible

Today saffronites believe that it is their time to shine and so Prime Minister Modi is on the rampage. It’s a riot—cash riot. But political parties, not excluding left parties look reluctant to go beyond going to make some noises in parliament. The hard fact is that no political party is clean. It doesn’t matter whether they are major or minor. For ordinary people it is a nightmare they never faced before. They cannot utilise their hard-earned money because 86 percent of currency in circulation has become unless after Modi’s ‘historic’ announcement of demonetisation on November 8. Interestingly the captains of industry barring Ratan Tata, have so far shown no interest in demonetisation drive. Nor do they bother about much publicised propaganda about ‘war on black money’. Modi’s pre-election promise of bringing back black money stashed away in foreign banks proved futile. And this time too big sharks will go unhurt, making small fries scapegoats in the demonetisation move that lacks any sound logic.

Surprisingly, the left, otherwise bereft of any meaningful agitational agenda, has not seriously taken to the streets to expose Modi’s diversionary tactics in demonetisation gambit—a sure receipe for economic disaster.

Demonetisation  has failed to pacify Kashmir. But it has affected ordinary people most. They find it increasingly difficult to cope with continual erosion in real wages. And now senior citizens are doubly affected because of sudden reduction in interest rates for term deposits. It’s a deliberate plan to disempower people by the backdoor. The reason is simple : the situation is desperate because they cannot touch the real culprits—politicians, bureaucrats, traders and industrialists. Indian black money in Swiss Banks amounts to as much as $1,456 billion. In practical terms the amount is reportedly more than the deposits by all other countries put together. At no point of time did the persons in power in New Delhi ever make any serious attempt to punish the guilty. After all Congress is the chief architect of black money though they are now crying themselves hoarse about the black tragedy. And former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not really out of context when he said it was a monumental management failure. If they are shedding crocodile tears today over the death of 60 persons in front of bank gates, it is because they face a difficult task to keep their own house in order.

The Modis have vested interests in demonetisation drive. But the point at issue is why the left is failing to call a spade a spade. Even after two weeks since the announcement of demonetisation by Modi, the situation remains grave leading to economic slowdown at every level. In truth the situation is worsening with every passing day. If anything left parties have once again shown their bankruptcy at a time of crisis that is heading towards catastrophe.

Democracy under Modi is the worst form of authoritarianism bordering on dictatorship. Multi-party culture makes little sense these days though Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is a front of many parties and not all of them are outwardly rightist in outlook. But they are just passengers, having no say over government decision-making process as if they are more than satisfied from privileges they are enjoying by the courtesy of Modi. For non-left opposition parties, they are no less guilty than the ruling parties in effectively backing the corporate lobby which is essentially responsible for generating black money.

Behaviour of the left is anything but intriguing. They know fully well that their agitation in parliament is too weak to force the Modi government to roll-back the atrocious decision of promulgating economic emergency without officially declaring it. For all practical purposes Left is now a political platform for the privileged. Bank unions controlled by them could have played a significant role in blunting Modi’s ‘surgical strike’ against people. No, they didn’t. Not that the ‘note-issue’ has affected only middle class people, it has jeopardised livelihood of daily wage labourers, peasants, virtually halting activities in agriculture and informal sector. It could be an occasion to organise the unorganised in the unorganised sector. No, they are talking about ATMs and all that. Official left, otherwise heavily dependent on middle class and lower middle class wage earners for their electoral success is sure to lose their traditional vote bank as bypoll results in Bengal show. Workers no longer support the so-called working class parties. Nor would peasants oblige them in rural body elections. Bank unions are only interested in their pay-scale revision and other related matters. They could have forced the Centre to behave rationally in rationalising currency circulation in mitigating people’s woes. They didn’t. They never think anything beyond their sectarian interests.

Modi’s party—Bharatiya Janata Party may derive comfort from discomfort of its political rivals in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere. But common people are in a famine-like situation. Perhaps they have overplayed the communal card, including the ‘triple talaq’ issue, too early. So they need this apparently innocuous economic attrition against vulnerable sections of society—dalits, minorities and tribals. But this strategy is unlikely to deliver in the long run because as per Keynes’s words ‘‘in the long run, we are all dead’’—it is going to backfire as initial euphoria over ‘unearthing’ black money is vanishing.


Vol. 49, No.22, Dec 4 - 10, 2016