Only recently five states of India, viz., UP, Uttarakhand and Punjab in the northern part ; Goa in the west and Manipur in the east, had held elections to their state assemblies and new governments formed thereupon. The parliamentary parties and a large section of the monopoly-sponsored media kept themselves busy with beating the drums on these elections spread over the country, before and after the elections. After its win in four states, barring Punjab, the BJP, seated in power in the Union government, along with the RSS and all its other wings are harping upon a jingoism, a show of strength, as if to establish that they have come to win over the entire country or that the people of the whole country have turned over to their side. Whatever be the substance in the assertion, not only common people, wailing and whimpering under the yoke of price rise, unemployment, insecurity of life and livelihood, but also those who have the minimum democratic senses and values have been gripped by a deep sense of concern and anxiety. They feel it an urgent necessity to assess and reassess independently what people have seen, what they have done and what they may need to do in future.
BJP wins in four states, and how
For instance, soon after the election people found that the BJP, the party in power in the Union government, also formed the state governments in four among five states referred. How? Media did report on ‘how’. But soon those were in the back stage. The media started a hype (for readers’ reference, media comments are left within single quotes) with headings like ‘Road to 2019’ , ‘Modi Wave on an Upswing’ or such others. And what was the reality? Let us first see, how was the wave behaving in Goa and Manipur. There was a hung assembly in each case; no party had the clear majority, though in both the states the Congress was the largest party. And in such cases, normally the Governor is expected to ask the largest party, that is, the one winning the largest number of seats, to prove its ability, that is, the majority to form a government. But this time it was different. In both the states, as media reported, the BJP ‘deftly outmanoeuvred’ the Congress. For instance, admitting that ‘no one has got a clear mandate’ in Goa , the BJP trailing behind the Congress by a margin of 4 seats, underlined a different criterion that they had ‘won the largest voteshare (32.5%)’ which is no point of consideration in this case. But there was something more. It has been explicitly clear in print and electronic media that just as in so many earlier cases, this time too there has been rampant horse-trading, with hundreds of thousands of rupees changing hands and many of those thus purchased made honourable ministers with plump portfolios. Anyway, so much for the ‘wave’ and democracy in Goa and Manipur!
Election results in UP, Uttarakhand and Punjab were different requiring no such measures to adopt. In Punjab, the BJP along with the SAD, its major partner in the last government, lost face. To whom? To the Congress which had run the government in the state for over a decade before the SAD replaced it banking heavily on the grievous charges of corruption, nepotism and what not against the Congress ministry. And that same Congress is back again in Punjab with a mere 38% mandate from the voters. Should the people of Punjab expect things to change? In a just reverse scene, in the hilly state of Uttarakhand, the Congress has been routed and the BJP managed to secure 57 seats out of 70. Naturally, the CM from Congress while submitting his resignation could by no means admit heavy charges of corruption against his government. Instead he saluted ‘Modi kranti (revolution) and the EVM chamatkar (magic)’. Here again people of the state will have to wait to see how and what wind of change blows through the hills.
Definitely UP was at the centre stage, being the largest of the five states in question with a 403-seated assembly and being politically important with its chequered past in which casteism, communalism monitored many equations of parliamentary parties. Here, the BJP, led by Narendra Modi, the PM of the country, could manage to get a ‘record landslide victory’ with 321 winning members Obviously, the BJP formed the government and as its chief minister, the party selected Yogi Adityanath, a ‘Hindutva hardliner’, and a BJP leader widely known for his frequent arrogant and aggressive Hindutvawadi, and often directly anti-Muslim pronounce-ments that tended even to be invectives. Incidentally, the saffron-clad Yogi is also a multimillionaire, as he has declared to the EC. To assist him, the BJP chose two deputy chief ministers keeping the caste equation of the state in mind. So there was everything: Hindutvawadi grip of the RSS-BJP and caste corrections.
Notwithstanding media hype, landslide victory did not mean landslide support
However, as mentioned, the powerful section of media, from print to electronic, fuelled and backed in full by the monopolists, decided to harp continually on the singular theme of how perfect were the elections and how significant had been the results. They seem to have discovered the ‘tallest prime minister’ in the history of the country. Only they refrained from recounting how, notwithstanding so many verbose restrictions and rules made by the Election Commission, money from the monopolists and their corporate world flowed endlessly. This money created propaganda machinery; purchased opponents, employed musclemen to terrorize people; it created paid news including opinion polls; it mesmerized the abjectly impoverished people living virtually at the bottom of human subsistence so that they fall easy prey to any offer, to any pittance giving them even some relief for a flash. That is why, though demonetization devastated small and medium industries and businesses as well as life of middle class and poor people in cities and towns and villages all over the country, though relentless attacks on minority communities and dalits continue unabated before , during and after the elections, though every day every moment of people’s life is plagued with the problems of sky-high prices, ever-rising unemployment, mindless violence and atrocities upon people, more so women and children, liberal offer for money or freebies may particularly allure the wretchedly poor as the last straw, be it as briefest transient relief in their life-long drudgery of servitude and hopelessness, as peoples’ moral backbone has already been shattered by the rulers.
Yet the situation has reached such a pass, people’s resentment has become so intense, though dormant, that even freebies or offers, pledges in speeches and pamphlets from any party could not help the contending parties attain their goal smoothly. Nowhere and none of the victors could earn more than 46% of votes polled. Even an ocean of liquid cash could not bring about more than this. Thus even in UP, the state of ‘record landslide victory’, officially the turnout of voters could reach hardly 60% , a figure that remains close to the figures of 2002, and 2012 elections. It also confirms that nearly half of the eligible voters or adult population did not care to vote. Then again of those who voted, only 39.7% were in favour of the winning party, the BJP. It means only 23.82 % of voters or adult population supported the BJP. For SP, BSP and Congress, the three other major parties, the figures ran as 13.08%, 13.32% and 3.72% respectively. So ‘landslide’ victory did not mean ‘landslide’ support of people. Even in Punjab the Congress had only a 38% mandate. In Goa, as mentioned the BJP earned only 32.5% of votes polled. In Uttarakhand, it got 46.5% in a 65.64% turnout (30.52%). In Manipur, the BJP got 36.3%, the Congress 35.1%. In UP, based mainly on caste or communal equation, the different parties cashed in on their vote-banks. Their mutual split merely favoured the more organized BJP to push through the crowd and emerge victorious with only 23.82 % votes. Even such huge gush of money, so crafty vote-bank equations and not even the weird EVM could pull the figures beyond where it got to. And here it requires dealing another important point.
Weird EVM stands exposed and must be shunned
It has become a trend of late that during any major election campaign, the powerful section of media project only the parties favoured by and serving this or that section of the ruling monopolists, the ruling capitalist class. The media carefully leave out the parties or forces that stand really for people in their stead, that launch movements on the burning problems of their life and livelihood, and that take election battles as part of their sustained united struggle of toiling people. Even such sections of media could not hold it back, that there have been serious allegations on the performance and efficacy of the EVM. These allegations are of such a kind that cannot be proved easily; they are not done on the streets, booths or counting centres. It involves only a secretive handful nexus of highest level of monopoly houses- administrative personnel- policy making leading politicians- top notch technical experts who take any bait for any assignment to give effect to any desired programming. Unfortunately for them, the allegation has not remained in words only, this time it has come out in the open in presence of high level election officers (MP state chief electoral officer), the district collector and returning officer. In a demonstration on the functioning and efficiency of and EVM- VVPAT ( voter verifiable paper audit trail) in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind ahead of the 9 April Assembly bypoll, the machines had recorded voting and dispensed slips only in favour of the BJP, notwithstanding whichever button was pressed. This is what the defeated CM of Uttarakhand might have referred to as ‘EVM chamatkar’ or some leaders alleged immediately after the UP results had come out. As the major bourgeois parties of the state, national or regional, like the SP, BSP, Congress and others were affected, the issue was raised in the parliament and representative of 16 parties met the President on the issue. The same allegations were also raised in the past by people whose opinions cannot be just discarded or ignored. Hence it appears that it is high time to raise the demand of doing away completely with the EVM business and go back to paper ballots, as it has been done even in countries like France, Germany or partially also in the USA.
Anyway, record breaking victory was not accompanied with record breaking turnouts. Rather results were eye-brow raising, as no pre-poll, or exit-poll analyses, or post-poll apathetic mood in common people all around the country did match with the record victory of a party, which people are supposed to have stood in favour of. Such was the scene behind all these elections eulogized by media hype.
Mismatch between hype for election and its results and people’s experience
And what was the background in which these elections took place? Leave aside the effects of the recent demonetization drive, common poor and middle class people of the entire country are plagued with limitless problems in their life and livelihood. The Indian capitalist state has simply brought them unending spate of back-breaking measures. Price of every essential commodity is continually rising exorbitantly; frequent spurt in the price of fuel itself acts as the fuel to this price rise. People, more so the youth, face gaping industrial recession, consequent terrible rise in unemployment, under-employment contractualization and extreme scarcity of permanent really gainful employment. The tax burden is already back-bending for people, cunningly imposed as indirect taxes. Contrarily, monopolists and their corporate are liberally provided with tax and other reliefs. Poor peasants suffer from non-remunerative price of their products, ever-increasing loan, helplessness in face of natural calamities and hazards. Without respite, they chose to tread an endless series of suicides. Insatiable greed of private investors for profit, shameless commercialization act as stranglehold on essential welfare services like education, healthcare, sanitation, civic amenities. Horrid human-trafficking and atrocities, particularly upon women and children, have wiped out even the minimum security of life. And all these thrive under the direct supervision of an unholy, ignominiously corrupt nexus of administration-bureaucracy- political leaders – big businessmen – musclemen in the payroll of people in power. Over and above these the ruling capitalist class fan up all kinds of divisive traits of racial hatred, ethnic enmity, casteist discrimination, and religious fundamentalism gradually gaining strength in the majority community. Added to these, during their three-year long present rule in the Union government, the different wings of the ruling RSS-BJP combine have already created an ambience of terror within the country through series of incidents, like love jihad, attempts to conversion in the name of ghar wapsi, individual killing of radical minded personalities, lynching on the plea of beef-eating or cow-slaughtering, vicious attack on students, even teachers standing in support of free thinking or in opposition to the student wing of the ruling party and so on. Though the account is the briefest, it shows the background of social-cultural-political-economic scenes upon which the recent elections to the five state assemblies took place.
Hypes on election by the major media aided and abetted by their sponsor ruling monopolists, bourgeois parties, even the social democrats do not however, mention that throughout the election campaign in all the states concerned there had not been any serious meaningful political campaign concerning any of the problems referred above. Even the glaringly disastrous effects of demonetization or mindless killing of people on this or that pretext were glossed over. The media were replete with sensational narration of mutual bickering among the major parties in fray, their shameless manipulations and manoeuvring to form electoral combinations harping on caste- creed- communal issues, throwing aside all principles and norms, even taking resort to falsehood or cooked up data. A glaring case in point was India’s growth figure. The BJP led by Modi now and then spoke of development they were ushering in. But on that issue too, the claim of 7% growth reported by CSO (Central Statistical Organization) had presupposed a remarkable rise in consumer spending in a period when the country was reeling with the effect of cash drought from demonetization. Besides, it was and is a time when business houses did not and are not taking loans from banks. Even the data (on 31 March 2017) from commerce and industry of the Union government, showed that the growth rate of eight infrastructure sectors ( contributing 38% to total industrial production) ‘slipped to over one-year low of one % in February 2017’. For all these and still other reasons, the celebrated growth figure is being considered as a result of manipulation through a change in the very method of calculating GDP. The most important and decisive point is that people’s daily experience did not match with this claim of optimistic growth to take it with any seriousness. Sensing that the BJP leadership promptly switched back to their one-point agenda, and that was directed at bringing about a total polarization on the basis of religious faith, the agenda of Hindutva that they have kept always up their sleeve. No party in the fray came out and dared to condemn this approach of the BJP.
People of India have long ago been acquainted with coinages like the BJP practising hard Hindutva and others like the Congress relying on soft Hindutva. But that stage appears to be over. Courtesy the two century long rule of the British imperialists, the country has not only been divided into two on religion, into both India and Pakistan, but the miserable life of impoverished illiterate, hopeless common people have been interspersed with terrible communal riots. In independent India, the ruling capitalist class have always tried to breed disunity among people so that they may not stand united against the exploitative capitalist system. The bourgeois parliamentary parties, not excluding even the social democrats going as Marxists, have , for all practical purposes, been playing now and then politics based on petty interests of different creeds-castes-communities thus trying to allure this or that section of people as their assured vote-bank. They are acting as branded subservient forces of the ruling class having nothing to add positively to people’s interests. Rather, the more the capitalist system has sunk into decadence, the elections and these parties involved in the process are becoming totally bereft of any ideology-principles and democratic norms. The ideological-political debates that were usual once even in bourgeois elections are totally abandoned with the parliamentary parties taking to mutual bickering without politics or even minimum sense of humanity and values ; always being pitted against each other for the sake of power and pelf and in the last resort, acting prone to be purchased with fat purses and perks. But now the situation is tending to reach its nadir, the bottom-most bottom. It appears that, whatever extent of democratic secular ambience was existing in the country, is being attacked. The Indians took pride in their bid to have developed unity in diversity; that also is being slighted at. Rather the united country is being pushed towards a calamity in which its varied religious, linguistic, ethnic, racial communities are being pitted against one another. And over and above all these, with the BJP in the Union government and managing to earn the power of ruling four more states, including UP, the largest state, the situation tends to become worse.
Indulgence in out-and-out obsolete ideas and incitement of aggressive religious fanaticism
The BJP has formed the governments in four states. And with that, have the party along with the RSS, its ideological-organizational mainstay and other wings and organizations, started to take themselves as the all-powerful monarchs of the country? Already they had created an ambience of terror, referred above. Now after these elections they are trying to give shape to ideas and concepts that have long been accepted as obsolete in the country. And in what way? Are they not asserting their views like some fatwas , which act they would themselves repudiate? Are they not declaring their agenda at such a pitch and ferocity as to create terror in people to make them shrink back from staging any opposition? What good to people back-broken with poverty, price burden, unemployment would be brought by the way the new-born UP government came down against slaughter houses banning those in course? Does not their so-called anti-Romeo squads on the streets of cities ‘valourise celibacy and demonise love and romance’ ? Will it not thwart the course of healthy, natural, ethical form of love, passion and sex, instead fanning up obnoxious perversions and immoral acts thereby destroying even the vestiges of moral-ethical strength, youth of the day still bear? Whom will it help, other than the exploiter, oppressor and tormentor who always desire youth to become bereft of ethical-moral backbone to be turned into dehumanized robots? Is it not with the same ulterior goal that the ruling forces have started revamping the issue of Rammandir at Ayodhya forcefully or are fomenting religious fanaticism, whose essence is clearly anti-Muslim bias? Are they taking it for granted that power has placed them above laws? And does that idea make them hell bent upon consolidating a polarization on communal ground further with an eye towards future elections? Is this the way democracy works? Does not democracy demand that there must be broadest possible representation of different sections of people in representative legislative bodies?
Since independence India has grown into a bourgeois democratic country with thousand and one limitations and with a parliamentary system still determining the course of governance. And there cannot be any doubt that in such a set-up, a parliament needs be treated as a secular functionary with people irrespective of their religion, caste, creed, language etc., enjoying the right to be represented there. But the BJP craze for polarization has gone to such an extent that they did not care to field one single candidate from the minority community in UP. Even if there are one or two candidates here and there, do they justify the basic one-sided approach? Does not this attitude recall that it is marked with the same mindset that Hitler had once borne?
At this point we feel we should raise another vital issue. We have narrated above, how the elections were won and governments formed; and how thereafter the victors are posing all powerful. And then whom have they chosen as the head of the government in a state like UP? Is it very difficult to get at the real reason lying behind this choice? Can people erase from their memories what he had said, how he had talked, with what vengeance he had attacked those who do not bear the same faith as his? It cannot be denied that in course of history, the personal conduct, pronouncements, language, even dresses do matter a lot for the characters who rise to represent and govern people. This is particularly important and true for a vast country like ours where people have so many cultural traits, speak in such different languages, wear such different dresses and so on?
In the seven-decade long history of parliamentary democracy in India, the governments run by different parties, despite their failings and clearly from the standpoint of the ruling class, had to stand for and preach the idea of a peaceful world. It is true that for some time in the past, one could note a distinct change in this attitude, which seems to reaching its height with the present BJP government. The eagerness with which the government steps out to develop relations with the war-monger US imperialist government, presently headed by a leader like Trump, as also with Zionist Israel, the closest ally of the US imperialists, amply demonstrates that the BJP government prefers to tread path of maintaining closeness with forces of war rather than those of peace. The haste and vigour with which the military-industry complex of Indian economy is being reinforced only suggest that the ruling clique of monopolists-military-bureaucracy expect their subservient political manager, the government, to take the road towards a war-industry. The crisis-ridden capitalist economy will then thrive on producing war materials and the government purchasing them or selling them out even to the world market. It may fit with the expansionist attitude of the ruling Indian monopolists which have already attained imperialist character with aspirations to rise to the status of at least a regional superpower. But such an attitude will not speak favourably with the peace-loving people and countries of the world.
Parties professing democracy face unavoidable task of developing powerful united movement for democracy itself
The other political parties that adorn the Indian parliament, have proved by this time beyond doubt that they too are keen at playing subservient to the ruling class for pelf and power. Right now, they have lost their grip on the situation. But is it not high time for those parties to note how administrative fascism is striking its roots into the ground of the country from behind the garb of fanatic Hindutva which declares to give effect to their agenda even by force, even going beyond the laws of the land? Once successful it will turn into the greatest menace mankind and humanity know of and would not spare any force against it. So it requires to be thwarted at the earliest and for that it requires unity of parties and forces that truly profess to stand for democracy. Such unity can not be effected without the leftist parties asserting adequately to act as the core of such an effort and to stand as the binding force. It must be taken note of that people are in search of powerful alternative to stand by them to solve the burning problems of their life. In fact besides SUCI (C) no other party seems keen to undertake the task. This leads people to step into the trap of the self-defeating paths of election and choosing from amongst the parties in the fray, though clearly a vast majority of common people might not opt for the force whom the election result declares as the winner. The tasks before the political parties entail that people are provided with courage, leadership and direction based on correct ideological orientation. With unambiguous concrete ideological and cultural leadership for developing struggle to free people from oppression and terror and religious fanaticism tending to be fascistic, the parties must forge a real alternative of united force. It is a matter of real concern that these vital tasks are finding the least attention.
The recent assembly elections in the five states and their results need to be judged on the basis of above analysis. In the background lies the world capitalism in its most decadent stage. For its survival it is treading the path towards fascism from behind the façade of parliamentary democracy. One must note that fascism does not necessarily mean military dictatorship. It creeps and crawls, chanting slogans of democracy, election and parliament and so on to hoodwink people and tag them behind its counter-revolutionary move. The situation thus demands that people irrespective of caste-creed-religion-language and race etc., develop under the correct revolutionary leadership powerful mass movements one after another on the different burning problems of their life, always keeping before the struggles the ultimate goal of overthrowing capitalism at the stroke of revolution. The situation further demands that people realize the concrete situation they are placed in, which today calls for the widest possible unity of people. A united vigorous mass movement is the only choice that remains before people.