The structure of the Indian state-machinery is designed in such a way that a political force, which is favoured by the majority of the ruling clique- the feudal landlords, big comprador and bureaucratic capitalists, foreign monopoly capital-owned corporations and banks – will be able to sweep elections, irrespective of the wave of public mood in the country. The recent results of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly election reinforced the fact that no political party can defeat a political bloc that is more favoured by the ruling clique through elections.
Despite immense anti-incumbency waves rising in the country against the misrule of the Modi regime, the BJP could sweep the state elections in these two states because of the support it received from the ruling classes viz-a-viz the support that the Congress Party managed to secure. The BJP also won the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly election 2017 due to its unapologetic usage of the Hindutva vitriol against the Muslims, Christians and the opposition, which it accused of being hand-in-glove with the Pakistani regime. Sheer xenophobia can reap excellent electoral benefits for fascist forces and the BJP has a proven track record on this.
If, as students of the amazing praxis of politics, we need to learn any lesson from the outcome of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly election 2017, then our most important lesson will be that the fascist powers are invincible, globally as well as in India, when countered through the banal and blunt parliamentary path. They can’t be annihilated, the seeds of communal hatred, bigotry and xenophobia that they sow deep inside the soil, cannot be uprooted through elections, rather the poisonous herbs that grow from those seeds toxify the soil severely, rendering it absolutely barren for any new greenery.
The system that the ruling classes have developed, through their years of diligent practice, maintained and consolidated by their hired bureaucrats to secure their grip on the Indian society and economy, cannot be used to defeat them and bring an end to their tyranny, which has led the Indian people into destitution, starvation and utmost economic crisis.
Rather the system has the safety valves and the immunity coverage that protects it from any such “within-the-system” onslaughts, resulting from the popular outrage against its representatives. The system managed to save itself even at the height of anti-incumbency during the post-emergency period by tweaking and tampering with the public mood and enrage by tapping it within the electoral system.
In the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly election 2017, the BJP was shielded from the public wrath by the love and admiration that the feudal landlords, the big comprador, crony and bureaucratic capitalists, and the big foreign monopoly and finance capital-owned corporations have for the Hindutva camp, especially due to its ability to drive a wedge between the people, pit one section of the population against another using vitriol and manipulative hate campaigns and the specialisation of the RSS in inciting communal carnage and pogroms. The results of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly election 2017 show that the BJP will remain the sole favourite representative of the ruling classes, which means the communal hatred and enmity prevailing in the air will increase significantly by the time the country goes for the Lok Sabha election of 2019.
During the election time, most of the political parties refrain from seeking votes directly by using the cover of religion, which only the RSS can do along with a host of Sangh outfits as they cover themselves as “cultural organisations” and are, therefore, free from Election Commission’s obligations. So was Shambhulal Raigir.
A Hindutva fascist henchman, Shambhulal Raigar, brutally lynched a hapless Muslim migrant worker in Rajsamand of Rajasthan, recorded the gruesome act and then circulated it through social media to Hindutva groups. He gave a statement in a temple before his surrender and called upon the Hindus of Gujarat, who, he said, can be victims of “love jihad” waged by Muslims, to vote unitedly in favour of Narendra Modi to protect the Hindu community from an “imminent” Islamic onslaught.
A nice way of marketing one’s electoral proposition in a subtle way. Communal hatred, in this case, marketed by a “fringe element” who is now a celebrity in the Hindutva camp and more youth are pledging to be like him under the guidance of the RSS. Modi couldn’t have lost the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly election 2017 when he enjoys the support of millions of the like of Shambhulal Raigir. For Narendra Modi, Muslim haters and killers like Shambhulal Raigir are the returns on investment made since years to yield a harvest of bigots throughout the country.
One needs to critically review the results of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly election 2017 to come to the conclusion that the BJP has actually managed to secure a large section of its vote bank, not by tampering with the EVMs, but by spreading the communal hatred against Muslims on a wholesale scale. Most of the upper-caste Hindu elites and middle-class households, the urban decision makers, and traders of Gujarat became ardent RSS supporters since 2002 because the organisation told them that it will provide them with a security cover from the “monstrous Muslims”.
The Hindu terrorist organisations flourished under the rule of Modi and the Gujarati society and government were remoulded to accept the changed, fascist reality and act accordingly in a society that is built on apartheid and xenophobia. The tall talk of the Congress Party or the liberal democrats that pinpointed the anger of the traders against the GST decision, was unfounded, as at the end of the day the traders, small and middle, who are also feeling the heat of an economic crisis, voted for Modi out of their religious compulsion – preventing Muslims from winning.
These communally carved policies on the stone plate of Gujarat helped the BJP to win the election in the state, while in Himachal Pradesh the intensified communal campaign and usage of jingoistic rhetoric by the prime minister helped in defeating the Congress in one of the fewest states it ruled in 2017. Himachal Pradesh also experienced a high tide of anti-incumbency against the Congress-led dispensation, which helped the BJP in driving the communal bandwagon to success.
The review of the results of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly election 2017 will show that the Congress couldn’t gain anything in the election with its own strength, except winning few of the traditional strong belts of the party in both states. The Congress could secure victory in those places in Gujarat where it tied up with the regional rebels like the Patidar Andolan and the Dalit or OBC movement. Without the wind of support from these quarters, the Congress would have been rendered in a worse position than it was in 2012.
Though the evidence proves that the BJP and its fraternal Hindutva fascist organisations had unapologetically used communal overtones to win the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly election 2017, the liberal-democrats and the parliamentary left still believes that the cavalcade of the fascist camp can be stopped through electoral battles only, when the BJP and the RSS have managed to communally polarise the Hindutva-inclined bureaucracy and even the Election Commission, which works as the saffron camp’s loyal lackey.
The liberal democrats and the parliamentary left still harp their hope upon the reactionary Congress Party to defeat the menace of Hindutva fascism. These forces believe (or may not believe but preach) and are trying to make people believe that real and drastic changes will come through the path of elections only and they ask the masses, who are getting disillusioned with the system, to still retain faith upon it, even when the system is failing repeatedly on the parameters set by the people.
Though the people showed in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly election 2017 that they are fed-up with the Congress’ claim of being a pious party than the BJP, the liberal-democrats and the parliamentary left are still using sheer hogwash to build up a positive image of the Congress before the masses so that it can be considered as the only alternative to the BJP on a national scale.
This attempt to build a positive image of the Congress Party, which the people of the country despise for its misrule of seven decades and its anti-people policies, is an act of treason. Rather than emphasising on building strong class-based struggles from the bottom of the pyramid, the left-democratic parliamentary bloc is trying to find the resolution of the fascist Hindutva camp’s rule in parliamentary arithmetic. The Congress has faced ignominious defeats in the past three and half years and it will continue to do so because the Congress and its leadership have clearly no distinguishing features from those of the BJP over policies and agendas.
Moreover, the self-styled radicals, the left and Ambedkarites, who are disconnected with the masses, kept saluting Jignesh Mevani for his poll victory in Gujarat, hiding the fact that Congress won the assembly seat for years and allowed its sitting MLA to stand down in favour of Mevani and allowed him to have a cake walk.
They are trying to dilute the fact that by winning an election and by agreeing to be a part of the system, which is built by the ruling classes, Jignesh Mevani will do nothing significant or revolutionary, but the toe the lines set by the ruling classes and only resort to rhetoric on the cause of the Dalit people, who are the victims of Brahminical apartheid in Gujarat and other states.
By highlighting the Gujarat assembly election result over the Himachal Pradesh assembly election result, these parliamentary opportunists are trying to hoodwink the people into believing that real resistance can be offered to the Hindutva fascists through elections by tailing the leadership of the Congress Party and its new president, Rahul Gandhi. This utmost ideological bankruptcy of the parliamentary left and the self-styled elitist radicals is going to help the fascists consolidate power at the grassroots and will seriously harm the cause of people’s movement.
As the electoral battle for the three states of North East India, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura will get nastier, over communal issues and anti-immigrant rhetoric, the Congress will be again looked upon by the BJP-bashing liberals as the harbinger of liberation from the reign of Narendra Modi.
However, severe anti-incumbency currents are flowing in these states, including the parliamentary left-ruled Tripura, and the people’s discontent with the misrule will provide the BJP with an optimum chance to win victory without any strong fight. The utmost corrupt and feudal-corporate lackey, Congress Party cannot stand against the BJP in the states like Meghalaya, Mizoram or Karnataka, where the party will feel the heat.
As the Hindutva camp marches towards making India a Hindu theocratic fascist state by 2022, the resistance of the people against the fascist onslaughts can’t rest its case on the goodwill of the electoral system. The broad masses of workers and peasants can’t look up at the reactionary Congress Party for leadership against the Hindutva fascist BJP, when it itself peddle softcore Hindutva and is an utmost reactionary organisation. Only a vanguard revolutionary organisation that represents the interests of the broad masses can lead the Indian people towards their goal of liberation from Hindutva fascism and the domination of foreign capital, comprador capitalists and feudal landlords.
The Indian people have been voting for decades with a hope to see a qualitative change in their lives. However, the elections remained, what Karl Marx called them in the 19th century – to have the people endorse, every four or five years, which representative of the ruling class will rule and exploit them.
The Congress has its own track record of goriest crimes against the people and so does the BJP. Fighting one venomous serpent using another is not a solution to free the country from the menace, rather it’s time to bring forth the mongoose that can actually bring a drastic change by annihilating the venomous snakes. The mongoose can only be the revolutionary struggle of the working class and peasantry against the fascist bloc. The broader the anti-fascist worker-peasant struggle can be built, by uniting different progressive, democratic and patriotic organisations, the greater will be its chance to defeat the Hindutva fascist camp and stop its caravan.
Until the people of the country, the broad masses of the workers and peasants are told, in clear terms, about the inefficiency of the system to resolve their issues but its pro-activeness in serving the big landlords, comprador capitalists and foreign capital, the people cannot be united under the banner of a united front against fascism.
The progressive and democratic forces must purge the wrong thinking within their ranks, which makes the Congress look cleaner and holier than the BJP, to accept the fact that all parliamentary political parties are loyal agents of the ruling classes and instead of overthrowing their evil rule, these parties work towards securing the system and allow it to exploit the common people every moment.
The results of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly election 2017 have shown us the futility of pursuing the parliamentary route to defeat the Hindutva fascist bandwagon that drives the BJP’s electoral success. The need of the hour is to build up a united front against the Modi regime and unite the broad masses of workers, peasants, toiled people, students, youth, minority and marginalised communities and women under it to launch a deeply thought-out and planned-out struggle against the Hindutva fascist RSS and the BJP.
A united struggle can only become successful if it’s spread at local and grassroots level with the aim of defeating the Hindutva fascists and their lackeys through people’s struggle at village and town levels so that the supply route to the fascist headquarters can be cut-off and the Hindutva fascists are isolated from the people.
The opposition forces must leave their inhibitions about joining a broad alliance against the Modi government at the ground level and must join it independently with the sole aim of bringing down the hate monger and communal fascist regime. The earliest this historic task is initiated and taken towards recognisable victory, the better the outcome can be. At least far better than what the consecutive election results, especially the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly election 2017 showed recently.
Neeladri Mukherjee is a former high school teacher and a Rabindra Sangeet lover. An M.A. in Political Science (not entire), Neeladri is a close observer of West Bengal politics, South Asian affairs and the trade union movement.