The Lok Sabha Polls

Despite the bad economic situation and miserable failures on all fronts e.g. serious unemployment, agrarian distress, failure to recover Swiss Bank money, distress caused by demonetisation, failure of the 'Make in India' exhortations etc, Narendra Modi has returned to power with a resounding majority, and his party has been able to raise its share of votes considerably. Many explanations have been offered. One is disunity among the opposition parties and their failure to project somebody as the future Prime Minister. This explanation has some truth. In 1977, there was no projected Prime Minister, but there was the towering personality of Jayprakash Narayan, who demolished the audacity of Indira Gandhi and succeeded in bringing the opposition parties together. Now there is none. The bickering among the opposition parties have certainly helped the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies. Besides, there has been some sort of communal polarisation in many areas, targeting dalits, Muslims and Christians and this polarisation, cunningly crafted over many years, has largely succeeded. In West Bengal, the misrule of the Trinamul Congress (TMC), a mixture of despotism and corruption, has driven large numbers of non-Muslim voters towards the BJP. But this cannot explain the BJP's sweeping victories in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Gujarat, particularly because in the first four states, the BJP were ousted from power and in the fifth, it faced stiff contest in the last assembly polls. The influence of Pulwama, which at least reflects the failure of military intelligence-but not raised forcefully, has been there, but it is not enough.

It cannot be gainsaid that voters, whatever their lived reality, north of the Deccan and in Karnataka, have voted in droves in favour of Mr Modi. To put it more exactly, they have subscribed to the myths sold to them by the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) combine. But transforming a perception requires investment of huge amounts of money, and in this respect, the BJP has far outstripped others. The device of electoral bonds, which could effectively allow any one to donate money anonymously to a party of his choice without any system of checks and balances, has been effectively utilised. Where the largest portion of this money has gone is anybody's guess.

It goes without saying that the crises that plagued the economy are not going to subside and that the growing concentration of income, wealth and entitlements are not going to be lessened. So, there remains the need to highlight an alternative economic policy package, not any important iconic leader. Secondly, the grand narrative of nationalism, or fake nationalism, aimed at othering Muslims, Dalits and Christians, and serving the dictates of the US imperialists, must be fought tooth and nail. Since the project of Hindutva, a project of ideological hegemony over the polity, has the blessings of the corporate bourgeoisie that want to cripple the forces of diversity, an alternative is to raise the demands for decentralization of power and real federalism. Any perceptive person can realise that the BJP-RSS combine, whose real strength is the support of the corporate bourgeoisie and their foreign collaborators and masters, will oppose such decentralisation of the polity, because their declared aim is to set up a framework of 'one nation, one language and one culture'. It may be recalled that issues on decentralization of power were raised in the famous Anandpur Sahib resolution, and the convention process of 1986-87 on 'Communalism and Threat to Diversity'. The Left Front Government of West Bengal, after coming to power in 1977, also raised the issue of decentralization of power. Now all these have receded into the background. It is time to revive them in the face of stiff opposition from the corporate bourgeoisie and their political representatives, who will try every means at their disposal to subvert it by spreading fantasies of various sorts. Otherwise there is no way of preserving India's diversity in which lies its real unity.

It is true that with Narendra Modi's victory, the forces of destroyers of India's diversity have been strengthened. But even if Modi and his party had been defeated at he polls, these forces would have remained very much there and continued to operate with their huge money power. So, a programme of resisting communalism and advancing the cause of decentralization of power must aim at building movements, not only at contesting elections.

Vol. 51, No. 49, Jun 9 - 15, 2019