No Smooth Sailing

Minimum stimulus, Maximum effect. targeting a defensive, if not passive, Congress seems to have produced the desired results in boosting Modi’s sagging image in the crucial state of Maharashtra. But despite humiliating defeat in the recently held assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana, Congress Party has reasons to enjoy the Modi moment because Modi, somewhat hopelessly demonstrates, almost in every sphere of administration that he has no option but to re-script the Congress script with a little bit of saffron touch here and there. Also, it is a fact of life that people want a change even if it is for the worse. And the fact was admitted by no less a person than Rahul Gandhi, the crown-prince in the Nehru dynasty, notwithstanding his pathetic performance in every election. Voters find no difference between the right and the left—or for that matter between the hindutva brigade and the so-called secular front comprising the motley crowd of official Marxists, casteists and reactionary regionalists. Surprisingly enough, every Congress debacle is strengthening the dynastic culture in the Congress camp instead of weakening it, albeit Rahul Gandhi’s continuing failures to motivate the rank and file as also the voters, have not dampened the enthusiasm of the psychophants. If there is a success credit goes to the Gandhi clan. But if there is a set-back, as it is the case at this juncture, they blame it on the collective leadership. Then it is the usual course of argument for the yes-men everywhere. Interestingly, dynasts think the Gandhi dynasty is not complete without a third Gandhi in the shadow cabinet and they are seriously trying to bring Priyanka Gandhi to improve the critical situation in the Congress Party. But these Gandhis are no answer to the sinking boat of Congress that cannot get back what it has lost—credibility as a national outfit—anytime soon.

In all fairness, Modi’s party—Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—is now a prisoner of Congress dilemma. More they try to show their difference with Congress, more they come closer to the legacy left by the Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh combine. They have not yet deviated from the neo-liberal course charted by the Congress regime. They are just running the Congress show with a saffron flag. And it is the main area of comfort for the Gandhis, who are struggling hard to keep their grip over the oldest party of the country.

The BJP’s public opposition to controversial Aadhaar, just on the eve of the 16th Parliamentary Poll, paved the way for articulating middle class support, yet in office Modi in league with his lawyer Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Home Minister Rajnath Singh is trying to reintroduce Aadhaar with some changes. And Sonia Gandhi will laugh the last laugh seeing her pet theme getting endorsement and that too, in such a short period. In plain language they don’t want to disturb any project that directly or indirectly benefit American companies.

As for black money the Modis have nothing new to offer—it is business as usual. Mr Jaitley is just playing with the gallery by black-mailing the Congress. The BJP is now dragging its feet on its key poll pledge to bring back money stashed away overseas by Indians. The hard reality is that these notorious and anti-national Indians belong to both Congress and BJP. The Jaitleys don’t really want to disclose the names of major account holders in foreign banks because it makes little sense to throw stones by sitting in glass houses. After all the saffronities are not saints; their ‘sainthood’ gets currency only in the temple-mosque dispute.

100 days’ work apart, the Modi dispensation is continuing Congress policies in every sphere. In the area of foreign policy too they look just a bit more pro-American than the Manmohan Singhs. All of them are over-enthusiastic about foreign investment and opening up, even at the cost of national interest and sovereignty. Their sole aim is to legalise the unlimited loot by corporate tycoons, all in the name of development a la Gujarat model.

Meanwhile they are likely to dilute the Supreme Court’s ruling that those convicted of serious criminal offences would be instantly disqualified from being an MP or an MLA. And in this regard both Congress and BJP are in the same boat because maximum number of tainted candidates with criminal records hail from these two parties. They are all law-makers—murderers, rapists, economic swindlers. Over-ruling the apex court’s summary dismissal of candidates having criminal background, the Election Commission now proposes that ‘at least in such criminal cases where the punishment is imprisonment of five years and if a person is accused of that and if charges have been framed by the competent magistrate at least six months before the scheduled date of election, they should be disqualified from contesting elections’.

Given national and international compulsions the BJP is desperately trying to get rid of hard hindutva rubber stamp and they are happy that secularists are failing to sell communal phobia. Secularists including casteist forces and leftists are in trouble because their sole political activity revolving around communal-secular divide does not hold much water anymore. If BJP loses its majoritarian communal status even by a fraction they will be deprived of targeting their common enemy in electioneering.

Despite continuing liberalisation of the economy the communist left in India finds no issue other than communalism to fight against. Judging by past records it seems to be their easy escape route to pursue the strategy of inaction and avoid hazards and risks of mass organising. People are really tired of secular jargons, they need jobs and peaceful atmosphere to assert their rights otherwise guaranteed by the constitution. All of them bother about fundamentalists, not about curtailment of fundamental rights of the people. The on-going depredation of natural resources has so harmed the eco-system and the marginalised people, particularly the tribals that the very survival of the vast masses of people living on the fringe, is questionable. There is an unmistakable commonality inherent in various forms of struggle including struggle for secular space, that are grounded in humanism.

Vol. 47, No. 17, Nov 2 - 8, 2014