Bonapartism of Modi

There was a time when the interests of the Congress-led Government of India were identified with those of the Tatas and Birlas, not of the broad masses of the people. Gone are the days of Tatas and Birlas. They hardly get focused in the media. Now the Ambanis and Adanis, who have many billions of outstanding bank debts with no sign of repayment, have come to dominate the scene. Latest revelations about the scandalous Rafale deal, whatever the legality or otherwise of the deal, have exposed the unholy nexus between the Ambanis and the Modi government.

There are some cases which are just too big to handle. There are so many wheels within wheels that investigating even a single spoke or link could overturn the whole chariot. If that happens, too many secrets will tumble out, too many reputations would be ruined and there will be too much of collateral damage. Especially in an election year. Hence, the best course of action in such cases is to take no action. Or, tactics of go slow will do. This is the stern advice that Arun Jaitley is giving the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Videocon loan fraud case.

Even though he is on medical leave undergoing treatment thousands of miles away, he was concerned enough to shout out a shrill warning to the CBI— "investigative adventurism" is the heavily loaded term he used to describe the case registered by the CBI against ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon Group head Venugopal Dhoot for criminal conspiracy and fraud.

Despite the fact that CBI does not come under the jurisdiction of the Finance Ministry and in spite of currently not actually being the Finance Minister in any case, Jaitley probably thought that unless he acts immediately to rein-in the overzealous CBI investigators, nobody will. In truth Jaitley's statement was interpreted in the oppositions camp as a clear signal to the CBI to go slow.

The failures of the Modi government on issues like employment creation, just prices for farmers, recovery of bank debts etc are too glaring. Everybody except the diehard supporters of Modi will only laugh at the assertion of Piyush Goyal and since the GDP is growing, employment must be increasing. Mr Goyal is perhaps wilfully ignorant of the concept of jobless growth. Projecting a false picture of economic advance by statistical manipulation and suppression of data collected by representative organisations indicates a desperate situation for Narendra Modi. Farmers continue to commit suicides, but they are rising in revolts as well here and there. The cracks of the Modi administration are showing up in many other events. Hence Modi has no option but to fall back upon the weapon of aggressive Hindutva, whose essence is the 'othering' of Muslims, Christians and dalits. Also bashing dalits means bashing human rights activists throughout the country. The othering is constantly accompanied by brutal suppression of all voices of dissent with the help of the police and other organs of state power. This aggressive Hindutva and display of fascist methods thus may be considered a crisis-driven response to the growing popular resentment. And now the Kashmir tragedy has given them a golden opportunity to communa-lise political atmosphere across the country while ordinary Kashmiris are paying the price for no fault their own. A witch-hunt has begun to harass Kashmiri students studying in different universities. A fear psychosis seems to have gripped the entire Kashmir valley.

But there are some questions meriting serious attention. Talks of opposition unity are very much in the news and the anti-BJP parties are busy negotiating over seat adjustments for the coming Lok Sabha polls. Even if Narendra Modi and his party are unseated in the coming polls despite corporate backing, it is not guaranteed that the roots of aggressive Hindutva and corruption will be wiped out. Over decades, it has been witnessed, that corruption has become an integral part of India's mainstream politics. So in criminalisation of politics the neo-liberal agenda now being vigorously pursued by the Modi regime is a legacy of the past. Right to food, employment, quality education and old age pension etc should be brought to the fore along with remunerative prices for farmers and decent wages for all sorts of workers and unconditional release of all imprisoned human rights activists. If the accumulated wealth of the top one percent of the population is moderately taxed, provision of finance for the fulfilment of these objectives can be made without much difficulty. Those who are doing well in this era of globalisation will not, however, favourably look upon it, they are not going to gain.

Along with aggressive Hindutva, various stupid and ridiculous suggestions about the scientific achievements of ancient India are being paraded, and those who wrote scholarly treatises on this subject are being insulted. But can they be effectively countered by Rahul Gandhi's soft Hindutva? The notion of soft Hindutva was peddled first by M K Gandhi in politics and he had to pay the price by being killed by a Hindu fanatic. This lesson should not be lost in Rahul Gandhi and his fellow travellers. For one thing mob lynching is now a new form of communal violence and polarisation. It is aimed at striking fear in the vulnerable communities and establish the hegemony of the majority or the powerful. The result is uncontrolled violence perpetrated by political goons enjoying sometime overt support of the state and other times tacit approval. All this heralds a complete collapse of rule of law and poses a formidable challenge to constitutional democracy. But for the time being, however, ousting Modi and his party from power is the immediate need, because that will help make the political situation somewhat more tolerant. ooo


Vol. 51, No.34, Feb 24 - Mar 2, 2019