Inauguration of Authoritarianism

With the saffron euphoria sweeping the four of the five states that went to polls recently, parliamentary opposition parties are in total disarray. But they are themselves to blame for what many think revival of ‘Modi wave’ despite anti-people policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA government. All are now worried about the 2019 parliamentary election as the media, both print and electronic, would like to project Uttar Pradesh election as dress rehearsal for 2019.

That so many people voted for Modi is really bone chilling. The adverse impact of demonetisation on the economy as also on people, is now being discussed less and less because these opposition parties that have no alternative vision of development, are too passive to motivate the people against the BJP juggernaut. Regionalism cannot be an agent of social transformation. Nor does casteism serve any purpose in the wider perspective of national interests. As the BJP now looks more ‘national’ in geographical terms than the main opposition Congress, regional and casteist outfits, have no option but to fall in line, partially or fully as dictated by the hegemonic saffron party. After Indira Gandhi, Modi is now the symbol of authoritarianism that could lead to Indian variant of fascistic culture, all in the name of people, rather poor people.

The market looks buyont because their darling is doing well to divert public attention from the real issues that affect life and livelihood of ordinary people. Opposition parties know well how government policies are being tailored by multinationals. But they will never oppose multinationals. Because they think, any criticism, not to speak of sustained movement against violation of laws and rules by multinationals, will put India’s economy in jeopardy. Even the communist left doesn’t see any political and ideological reason to oppose multinational capital that is destroying the very vitality of Indian economy as once colonial capital did. Donald Trump may be a blessing in disguise as multinationals may be forced to relocate their sweat shops to their country of origin. Not that multinationals are creating thousands of jobs every year in this country. To talk of nationalism without raising voice against plunder of natural resources of the country by the multinationals, is sheer hypocrisy. The Modis may be asked to prove their nationalist credential by clearly stating their stand on unlimited loot by multinationals. If they cannot do it they are definitely anti-national, they are compromising on national sovereignty. The Modis have perfected the art of Goebelism. And the people have begun to think the unthinkable—Modi will be their saviour. So trust in a manipulator is being reflected in assembly polls.

As for the left, their sole line of action against the BJP is to project it as the communal party, rather anti-Muslim party, as if communalism has no economic base. But secularism was not really the burning question before the electorate, both nationally and regionally as the recent assembly election showed. Not that the BJP didn’t use communal card in a subtle way in Uttar Pradesh and yet it managed to project itself as an engine of ‘growth and development’, because of bankruptcy of opposition parties. The minority community seems to have realised that allowing BJP to come to power is a kind of fire insurance against communal riots. Also, the so-called secularists just pay lip service to communal harmony without really playing any significant role in thwarting communal polarisation. Only a united struggle against a common enemy could thwart communal polarisation and unless they locate this common enemy in multinationals, no amount of jugglery against BJP brand of communalism will change the situation for the better.

In Manipur communalism was not an issue. Nor did people bother about BJP’s definition of nationalism. And yet Irom Sharmila lost the election very badly—she got only 90 votes. She fought the election on the issue of withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and finally she appeared to be the lone crusader against the de facto army rule. After all parliamentary game is not that simple; it is a complex function of too many contradictions, both major and minor. Emotion is no answer to the ground reality. The stake-holders in the Manipur assembly are not averse to continuation of AFSPA. So it seems. Man, Money, Muscle—all three are required to win election and Sharmila had none—she banked entirely on sentiments.

Interestingly, BJP’s campaign against Congress and Samajwadi Party etc for imposing dynastic culture was not without substance and concerned voters didn’t take it lightly. Then Congress is a prisoner of dynastic politics. And it is unlikely for them to get rid of it even if they find themselves further marginalised.

Despite BJP’s electoral success it is still a North India Party. Its fellow travellers in the South and West are parochial regionalists. But that is not the point at issue. Congress being the architect of neo-liberal economic management which now the BJP is faithfully implementing, cannot really disown its own agenda that is out and out pro-corporate. Corporate houses want speed in implementing neo-liberal policies and BJP foots the bill.

But the Left now being the part of ruling establishment in a state or two, is equally impotent in raising the slogan of ‘no to multinational capital’. Their double standard, rather double talk on every controversial issue is so blatant and naked that people have lost faith in their ability to challenge the rise of saffron power. Talking secularism round the year is too hollow to confront the economic base on which communal fascistic forces depend.

Neither practice by itself, nor theory by itself, is enough. This is not just about Modi or his party BJP. It is about subordinating objective facts and conditions to ideology in all spheres. Then facts alone cannot defeat ideology. Fascism doesn’t care about facts, science, history, tradition, reasoned arguments. In electoral gambling what matters most is the manipulative appeal to irrationability, emotions and prejudice.

Vol. 49, No.38, Mar 26 - April 1, 2017