Back to Square One

An entire anti-national mythology has been built around the projection of the dissenting opposition forces as a dangerous 'other', including old enemy image of the minority community. But the opposition in general has failed miserably to put up a united face against the fascistic Modi regime that continually promotes this anti-national myth to silence any voice of protest. All their tall talk of a grand alliance against the Modi phenomenon has lost its relevance because there is no possibility of any united fight against the saffron establishment in the ensuing parliamentary poll even in political sensitive states that will decide the fate of 17th parliament. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance does hardly look united even in their traditional areas of 'united culture'. Nor is it progressive any more even in terms of bashing Modi's economic agenda, particularly demonetisation and GST. Their electoral equation in Kashmir speaks volumes about their seriousness to fight Modi and his brigade. The National Conference of Abdullah family has succeeded in managing a limited understanding in seat-sharing in Kashmir with Congress as they would fight separately but 'friendly' in three crucial seats. In states where opposition parties, rather regional parties are strong, they are talking in multiple voices as elections are approaching very fast. In the end Modi's party may laugh the last laugh. In reality constituencies are more like British era fiefdoms and small subedars are reluctant to show magnanimity to their grand old patriarch—Congress.

All parliamentary opposition parties, including left parties, are in unison in criticising the Modi government for systematic dismantling of constitutional structures and curtailment of whatever remains of democratic space but their criticism is so vague that it can hardly make any lasting impact on voters. The very existence of Constitutional Republic is at stake and it requires a broad-based mass organising; mere electoral permutations and combinations cannot guarantee it. To grill Modi for not creating jobs is one thing but to mobilise masses against Modi's economic policies that are responsible for elimination of jobs in a situation of jobless growth is quite another. Pakistan-bashing is not the only weapon that the Modi dispensation is utilising to contain the Opposition and influence voters, and assiduously nursing an atmosphere of jingoism. Pakistan apart China too now foots their bill. The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) which claims to represent seven crore traders across the country has announced to launch a nationwide campaign to boycott Chinese goods to protest China's blocking the declaration of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). In truth Beijing has blocked the UNSC resolution for the fourth time to protect Jais-e-Mohammed chief—this time it was the France-sponsored resolution. That China will veto for the fifth time if it comes again at UNSC is a hard reality. To make it a point to hamper bilateral trade relations with China is anything but lunatic.

If anything Indian traders are themselves to blame for flooding Indian markets with Chinese goods which, after all, are cheaper by any standard. Consumers generally purchase them without bothering about quality. No doubt because of cheap imports from China, a large number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the major employers of traditionally skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labourers, have vanished. As a large number of items including electronics, electrical products, mobiles and hardware goods are imported from China, it is not that easy to replace them with domestic production lines which are anything but adequate. CAIT has also asked the government to levy 300 percent to 500 percent customs duty on imports from China. But they simply forget that China too has option to retaliate by imposing similar measures to cripple Indian exports in a situation where trade imbalance with China is an agonising factor. And the Modi government cannot do much officially, at least so long as they abide by WTO rules. Maybe, CAIT being a frontal outfit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is playing with the gallery to please Modi and it remains to be seen whether Pakistan and China can save the situation for Modi's Party—BJP.

The overall slowdown of economic activity coupled with rising prices of essential commodities has made the life of vast majority of people more miserable than ever before while staggering unemployment crisis has reached an explosive stage. Opposition is in total disarray as they are now talking about post-poll alliance, not pre-poll grand alliance. Congress is hoping somewhat against hope that anti-BJP forces will come together post the parliamentary polls. If today they have failed to forge a grand alliance against BJP due to "compulsions", tomorrow after the poll, they will have another set of compulsions leaving the field wide open for bargaining and counter-bargaining. In all probability it will be a good season for donkey traders as once the Late Charan Singh replaced the term 'horse trading' with 'donkey trading'. What deepens illegitimacy of Modi's rule is no secret but people don't vote their anger and reason spontaneously.


Vol. 51, No. 39, Mar 31 - Apr 6, 2019