The much-awaited and much-discussed Gujarat assembly election 2017 results are out and as anticipated by the majority of the democratic and progressive camp, the BJP, once more, won the election by using the age-old Hindutva strategy to polarise the voters to sweep the polls. The BJP has won 99 seats out of 182 in the Gujarat assembly election 2017, in comparison to the 115 seats it won in 2012. This fall in numbers is blamed upon the anti-incumbency wave that is getting stronger against the BJP at the rural areas of Gujarat.
In the Gujarat assembly election 2017, the Congress has managed to secure some more seats and reach the tally of 77 from 61 in 2012. The party managers and its cheerleaders are celebrating its marginal improvement in seat tally, while the liberal-democrats are experiencing a gloomy mood in their camp. For many the fact that the Congress has won some more seats is a self-consolation prize, while many so-called “radicals” and Ambedkarites are celebrating the victory of Jignesh Mevani, a Dalit-rights leader, who got elected due to the Congress support to him.
Even though a lot of opposition politicians are blaming the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) for the victory of the BJP, there is still a huge shortfall in the BJP’s poll tally in comparison to its performance in 2012, which the analysts and reporters are attributing to anti-incumbency factors caused by the BJP government’s hostility to the Patidar movement, the massive Dalit upsurge in 2016 and the dual factors of demonetisation and GST rollout.
Though the reservation demands of the Patidar movement was crushed with brute force by the then Anandiben Patel-led Gujarat government, the loyalty of the elite feudal landlord Patidars towards the RSS-led Hindutva camp didn’t erode and in many constituencies where the Patidars are in large numbers, the BJP got an easy ride.
Despite the support of the decision-maker landlord class, the BJP couldn’t get any support from the poor and landless peasants, the tribals and the working class of Gujarat. The anti-incumbency wave have been stronger against the misrule of the party, which could only speak about Aurangzeb, Khilji, Pakistan and Muslim conspiracy to win the election in Gujarat.
However, even after that level of anti-incumbency wave, especially in Saurashtra, where 77 per cent of the farmer voters and 55 per cent of the Patidar voters live, and where the Congress managed to win 15 seats while the BJP lost 13 seats, the BJP’s victorious cavalcade couldn’t be derailed in the whole state, which made Narendra Modi smile as the final victor and showed that the BJP and the RSS will manage to sweep the 2019 election with absolute ease.
Though the Congress Party is trying hard to project its defeat in positive lights, the Gujarat assembly election showed clearly that the BJP cannot be defeated, even amidst extreme anti-incumbency waves, due to its clever manipulation of facts, usage of communal polarisation tactics, open usage of Islamophobia and its reliance on xenophobia to win elections. Unlike the other parliamentary parties that follow a pre-set template to campaign for elections and talk about issues, the BJP and other affiliates of the RSS can openly use religious bigotry to influence the politically backward section of the country, who are in the majority. The strong propaganda campaign by the RSS affiliates at the village and booth level in favour of a Hindu Rashtra has captivated more poor and lower-middle class people than what the secular rhetoric of other political parties could.
Gujarat assembly election 2017 reiterated the political truth that the fascist powers can seize power in any country using the parliamentary route but they can’t be defeated through the same path, as the fascists, in India’s case the Hindutva fascists, resort to xenophobia and appeals to the raw jingoistic passion of the politically backward and reactionary ideology engulfed masses.
In a country like India, especially in a state like Gujarat, where a large section of the people remain aloof from the light of education and political consciousness and are under the obligation to choose between two of the arch-reactionary political parties of the country-the BJP and the Congress, the parties that don’t differ anywhere in policy except for the open endorsement of Hindutva fascist policies, it becomes extremely easy to manipulate their verdict and polarise them using xenophobia and jingoism, in which the BJP and Narendra Modi are experts.
When the Congress was determined to reach the tally of 120 in Gujarat assembly election 2017 and started a vigorous campaign against Narendra Modi on his home turf, borrowing the political support of the Hardik Patel-led Patidar movement, the Jignesh Mevani-led Dalit movement against Brahminical fascist oppression and the Alpesh Thakor-led OBC lobby, a section of the corporate media and a large section of the Indian liberal democrats harped their aspiration upon these political double dealers and expected them to wean the support of the majority of the people in Gujarat, who support the Hindutva camp ardently, to win the election easily.
As we have discussed in this article, the Congress or the opposition in general didn’t talk about the plight of the Muslim community and made them politically irrelevant in Gujarat, which is infamous for its state-endorsed apartheid against the Muslim community and also infamous for the anti-Muslim genocide organised by the RSS-VHP-Bajrang Dal nexus in February-March 2002 under the patronage of the state government, led by Narendra Modi.
To immune itself from the accusations of “Muslim appeasement” levelled by the BJP and the Hindutva hate mongers, the Congress, going against its hard-built sham secular image, took the soft Hindutva model and its leader Rahul Gandhi kept visiting one temple after another to woo the upper-caste elite Hindu voters. Gandhi even went to the extent of showing his “janewa”, a sign of being an upper-caste signoria, to woo the Hindu voters, playing well in the trap laid by the RSS-led Hindutva camp.
The sign was clear, for the Congress the values of secularism lost its sheen long back, when Indira Gandhi adopted the policy of Muslim persecution and legitimisation of Hindutva elements. The veil that the Congress used to cover itself since decades, is now off and the monstrous communal bigotry-filled appearance of the Congress became public to the minority communities of Gujarat. They could see that the party that express so much concern for the minorities in public, can easily dispose off the community for petty political gains during electoral stints.
By endorsing the Congress Party’s support to his candidature and by building up a joint platform with those, who sent military to the world’s most revered Gurdwara to kill hundreds of Sikhs, incited and led one of the ghastly anti-minority pogroms of India in 1984, opened the gates of the Babri Masjid and helped the BJP to find its political oxygen, sent armed forces to kill the tribal people and evict them from their lands and forests to help big corporations plunder the resources and labour of the country, self-styled Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani showed that he doesn’t care for the values of social justice about which he is vocal periodically and he can simply betray the cause of Dalit liberation from Brahminical-feudal rule in return of greater share in the political power.
The defeat of the Congress in the Gujarat assembly election 2017, which the lapdog media of the Modi regime is portraying as a mandate for the “development” agenda and the “Gujarat model” that the BJP is now replicating in all states to incite communal riots, genocides and state-sponsored pogroms, is actually a clear writing on the wall that the BJP and the Hindutva fascist juggernaut cannot be defeated by mere poll strategies or by fighting elections.
The problem of Hindutva fascism is deeply rooted inside the socio-economic problems of India, namely its semi-colonial and semi-feudal status, which makes the feudal landlords, the comprador and crony capitalists and the foreign corporations the absolute rulers of the country. Unless these rulers, who are the main lifeline of the RSS-led Hindutva camp and the biggest support bloc of Narendra Modi’s fascist regime are uprooted from Indian soil through massive people’s democratic struggle for a new, free and egalitarian society, the Hindutva fascist RSS and its offspring like the BJP will manage to sweep elections, like the Gujarat assembly election 2017 and the parliamentary opposition will only be able to spread pessimism throughout the country and thereby weaken the moral of the workers and peasants, who form the core of the force that has the potential to bring forth great changes in the Indian political arena.