Strategy of Inaction

In Indian Parliamentary culture opposition has lost its relevance.India is now a ‘one-party democracy’ with the mega sign board of
‘biggest democracy of the world’’. It’s a democracy without democrats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has succeeded in establishing its authoritarian rule while refusing to allow opposition parties minimum political space to articulate democratic aspirations of the people. They have been systematically implementing anti-people policies without being seriously opposed by the opposition. All of them have taken the Modi phenomenon as a fait accompli. Demonetisation, Digitisation, Aadhar and now GST—all are against the interests of ordinary people. And opposition parties are mute spectators. They just discuss how demonetisation has adversely affected informal sector and a large number of low-paid workers and employees, for the sake of discussion. Digitisation has thrust upon people extra monetary burden and technological hazards much to the satisfaction of domestic corporate lobby and their foreign collaborators. And Aadhar is a dangerous issue threatening India’s security and sovereignty. Opposition parties, including left parties have given the Modi dispensation a walkover while allowing the government to bulldoze the public with Aadhar.

Aadhar was originally conceived by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government of Manmohan Singh and the Unique Identification Authority of India was created by a notification dated January 28, 2009, by the Planning Commission. The hard fact is that the Planning Commission doesn’t exist anymore. At that time the BJP opposed Aadhar tooth and nail on specious ground of losing privacy and sovereignty. The same arguments are still valid but the BJP administration is now fanatically pursuing Aadhar at every level. As they have no majority in Upper House, the Jaitleys made the Aadhar Bill an Act—Act No 16 of 2016—by way of Money Bill which they did in total disregard to constitutional provisions. Joyram Ramesh of Congress challenged the bill on technical grounds only to lose track in the middle. A number of voluntary organisations and individuals filed public interest petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the legality of the Act and its illegal implementation. Initially the Supreme Court gave ruling in favour of petitioners by not making it mandatory but in course of time the apex court too declined to take harsh measures against the erring government though the Modi dispensation violated court orders frequently without bothering about public outcry. The government has virtually made Aadhar mandatory for every citizen through a series of back-door manoeuvres. The idea of Aadhar has reached the stage of perversion as it is now mandatory to visit the Tirupati Temple.

No state government barring one or two, opposed Modi’s fanatic zeal to impose Aadhar at any cost. As for political parties the less said the better. Even left parties these days look reluctant to oppose Modi’s anti-people policies. They just occasionally raise some secondary issues, without doing much in the streets. Right now they are making some Dharnas (sit-ins) near New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, to lodge their protest against cattle ban. They are ‘national parties’ without any national issue on their agenda.

For all practical purposes Goods and Services Tax (GST) is going to push price spiral affecting consumption of the common man. Already LPG cylinders cost Rs 32 more while a number of medicines will be out of bound for low-wage earners. In the footwear and leather goods sector consumers will feel the pinch as prices are set to increase by 5 percent to 7 percent because of two tax slabs of 5 percent and 18 percent.

The way 4-slab tax structure has been constructed is out and out inflationary that will seriously affect the economy and people. Small traders are opposing GST but the government is adamant. For the persons in power ‘small is not beautiful’. They are happy that market is upbeat and sensex is buoyant.

Even communist parties, not to speak of reactionary regional parties like Telugu Desham, have nothing to do against market euphoria. Their sole point of agitation revolves around communalism and secularism, without doing anything concrete to fight religious fundamentalism that is at the core of communal polarisation on which the BJP depends for vote. The leftists have all along been maintaining a kind of double standard in condemning fundamentalism. They see danger only in Hindu fundamentalism while ignoring the danger of its counter-part. Communalism cannot be checked simply by issuing pious statements and doing nothing in the field. Communal virus has been latent in society since the 1940s and it cannot be destroyed by periodically issuing some harsh words against the BJP—the eternal villain for spreading communal politics. Slightest provocation can create communal flare-up anywhere in the country as the recent happenings in Bengal show. Toilers must be united against their common enemy—economic injustice without which no communal harmony will be achieved even in the distant future, notwithstanding repeated drum-beats of secularism by the so-called secular forces. In the yester years communalism was defeated in areas of intense peasant struggles. But the peasant question has virtually vanished even from the programme of left parties. There is no party that is seriously committed to mass movement, they just react to spontaneity which is no answer to Modi’s steam-roller.

Right now all are busy to divert public attention to a meaningless exercise—presidential election. By fielding a dalit candidate the saffronites hope to win support of the dalit community. And Sonia Gandhi’s Congress has done the same thing by fielding a woman dalit candidate with a dynastic background. It’s a fight between a millionaire dalit and a billionaire dalit. Ordinary dalits who are at the receiving end in social and economic activities will hardly benefit from this tokenism. Tragically there is no political party that could say a spade is spade. All opposition parties are too impotent and politically bankrupt to deliver.

Vol. 50, No.2, Jul 16 - 22, 2017