Assembly Election 2018 Results Indicate the Peril of Hindutva Didn’t Perish
The Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Telangana and Rajasthan assembly election results are out and in all these states, the BJP appears to be a big loser in terms of the number of seats it has won. While the Congress secured a whopping majority by winning 68 out of 90 seats in the BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) led by K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) won a clear majority of 88 seats out of 119 in the youngest state’s election. The Mizo National Front (MNF) managed to oust the Congress from Mizoram by winning 26 seats, while the Congress could manage only five seats in the last state it was ruling in the North East. The BJP managed to win its first seat in Mizoram, while in Telangana it could only win one seat, a fall from its earlier tally of five seats.
These state assembly election results gave a fillip to the deteriorating spirit of the Congress and its supporter base, the right-wing and the centrist ‘liberals’ who love wearing the self-made ‘secular’ tag around their neck. Many of them, in a sheer jubilant mode, wrote-off the BJP’s prospect in the 2019 election by citing how the assembly elections, five months before the national general election, negated the halo of Modi’s and BJP’s invincibility in the strong fortresses of Hindutva fascism.
The data and facts available from the election results are, however, not that impressive when seen from an anti-Hindutva fascism perspective. The hallucination of the BJP, which is one of the many faces of the RSS, losing elections in the citadel of Hindutva due to strong anti-incumbency waves, is not going to last for long as the data shows that the voting pattern may have given the Congress a competitive edge but at the ideological front, Hindutva, Brahminical supremacy and Islamophobia are still quite potent to change the political narratives in these states.
While the Congress managed to fare extremely well in Madhya Pradesh and increase its tally from 58 in the outgoing assembly to 114, just two seats short of the magic figure of 116 required to form a government, the BJP, braving the storm of anti-incumbency and Congress’ blitzkrieg propaganda, still managed to retain 109 seats, which is a fall from its 2013 figure of 165. The party is short of seven seats in the race to the majority.
The Congress has won 114 seats in Madhya Pradesh assembly election with 15,595,153 (15.59 million) voters voting for the party, which translates into a vote share of 40.09 per cent. At the same time, though the BJP managed to win 109, five seats less than the Congress, it bagged 15,642,980 (15.64 million) votes, which is 41 per cent of the total votes. This arithmetic shows that even in the ballot box, the BJP has managed to get 47,827, or 0.01 per cent, more votes than the Congress, which means that the Congress didn’t get an ideological victory over the Hindutva fascist regime of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, but an accidental arithmetic supremacy.
Talking about ideology, this whole election saga of Madhya Pradesh experienced two different varieties of communalism from the warring camps. While the BJP continued spewing communal hatred against its favourite punching bag, the Muslims, the Congress adopted a very shameless soft-Hindutva approach, endorsing all reactionary policies and agenda of the RSS-led Sangh Parivar. From promising the building of cow shelters, commercial production of cow urine and dung cakes to the creation of a ‘spiritual’ ministry, it offered a platter full of options to the traditional BJP voters of the state to lure them into its fold.
With the selection of Kamal Nath, an accused in the 1984 anti-Sikh genocide, as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, the Congress completed its own vicious cycle of communalism. Countering the RSS’ brand of communalism with its own brand, the Congress proved how they are same like the BJP except for the vulgar and unapologetic vitriol mongering like the Sangh-trained bigots.
The Madhya Pradesh assembly election 2018 wasn’t a fight between secular values and the Hindutva fascist ideology, rather a friendly competition between two versions of Hindutva and Brahminical hegemony competing with each other. The same story was repeated in another Hindutva citadel, Rajasthan.
During the Rajasthan assembly election campaigning, a lot of predictions were made by the corporate-controlled mainstream media houses that a strong anti-incumbency wind, even within the hardcore support base of the BJP, was blowing in the state where Vasundhara Raje became chief minister in 2013 riding on high tides of anti-Congress sentiments.
Within a span of few years, the people of the state, especially the working class, the farmers, the students and youth, the toiled masses and other marginal and oppressed sections understood that the Vasundhara Raje-led regime in Rajasthan and the Narendra Modi-led regime in New Delhi are actually serving the interests of the big comprador capitalists, foreign monopoly and finance capital-owned corporations and big feudal landlords. The economic interests of the people were sacrificed by the BJP for the benefits of the handful of rich, crony supporters of the Modi regime.
During the strike of demonetisation, the economy of Rajasthan was badly affected a large number of people living in Rajasthan, including the migrant labourers from states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal, suffered a lot due to job cuts and fiscal contraction of the corporations. The farmers, small traders, working class bore the brunt of the so-called ‘surgical strike against black money’ while the real black money holders prospered more in the due course.
Throughout Rajasthan, a farmers’ movement, along with the movement of the tribal people against the BJP rule, became stronger and popular during the last leg of Vasundhara Raje’s rule. It was only through extreme communal vitriol, organised mob lynchings of Muslims by the cow terrorists from the saffron camp and by promoting few psychopath fanatics like Shambhu Lal Regar, who hacked and burned alive a Muslim man to death on camera while delivering a tirade filled with chauvinism and Islamophobia, the BJP tried to divert the mainstream political discourse towards extreme xenophobia, jingoism and bigotry.
When the state went to the polls, almost all surveys predicted the fall of the Vasundhara Raje government. Yet, to not give a chance to the incumbent chief minister and her coterie to portray it as ‘anti-Hindu’, a label that the Sangh Parivar often uses against its foes, the Congress adopted a strong pro-Hindutva strategy to safeguard a victory in the feudal heartland of Rajasthan.
Though it criticised the Hindutva fascist violence, the Gau Rakshak terrorism in New Delhi, in the fields of Rajasthan, especially in the heartland of cow vigilante terrorism Alwar, the Congress didn’t spend a word to condemn the gory atrocities committed against the Muslims.
By considering the violence meted out by the Gau Rakshaks as a simple problem of law and order, throughout its campaigning in Alwar and other parts of Rajasthan, the Congress didn’t dare to criticise the RSS’ Hindutva fascist agenda and its drive to divide the people on communal lines to secure the BJP’s vote bank.
Rather, the Congress itself vouched on behalf of the Hindutva ideology, spoke about cow protection and other topics that made it penetrate into the Hindutva-polarised camp and wean away a large-section of the support base that the RSS had brought under the saffron umbrella.
Still, even after so many manoeuvres and utmost compromises on the issue of Hindutva, the Congress couldn’t get a comfortable majority in the Rajasthan assembly election 2018. Out of 200 seats, 199 went to the poll and the Congress managed to win 99 seats, two short of the magic figure 101. The BJP, despite braving the anti-incumbency wave, managed to win 73 seats on its own. While Congress got 13,935,201 (13.93 million) votes, which is 39.3 per cent of the total votes cast, the BJP managed to get 13,757,502 (13.75 million) votes, which is 38.8 per cent of the total votes cast.
Despite the massive anti-incumbency wave, the Congress could only manage to win 177,699 more votes than the BJP, i.e. 0.5 per cent of more votes!
This tally shows that despite the Congress managing a lead in getting seats and the BJP failing to get its 2013 tally, the margin of victory is neither wide nor quite promising for the 2019 election.
Even after donning the Hindutva attire and giving privilege to the cow than human beings in a state that had the first of its kind of ‘cow ministry’, the Congress couldn’t manage to secure the massive number required for it to form a comfortable majority government in the state. The victory of the Congress can’t be therefore called the defeat of Hindutva fascism and the ushering of a new dawn in Rajasthan, rather it will be the peddling of old wine in a brand new bottle to hoodwink the basic masses.
The BJP, with Raman Singh at its helm, ruled Chhattisgarh for 15 years with absolute impunity by violating the Constitution and overriding the rights of the people, especially the tribal people. In these 15 years, the state unleashed not only violent wars to evict the tribal people from their villages and forests, in order to hand over the land to big mining giants, the government also imposed a carpet ban on thinking, critical thinking to be precise, to ensure that the dissent against the misrule of the BJP never takes a concrete political shape of a strong movement.
Throughout these 15 years, the BJP under Raman Singh committed several war crimes, including the crime of perpetrating massive state violence and state-sponsored militia violence on tribal people, which killed thousands of people, injured many and evicted people en-masse. The brutal atrocities of the Salwa Judum and the state’s forces during the Operation Green Hunt have turned the majority of tribal people against the government and strengthened the Maoists, who are waging an armed struggle against the government from the southern part of the state.
To oust Raman Singh and to end the tyranny of Hindutva fascism and corporate loot and plunder in Chhattisgarh, the Congress didn’t use any alternative agenda. The agenda of the Congress has remained similar to that of the BJP since Chhattisgarh came into existence. From starting the Salwa Judum under the notorious dead Congress leader Mahendra Karma to the formation of several urban and rural vigilante groups, the Congress has worked freely in coalition with the BJP and the RSS in Chhattisgarh to fight left-wing movement of the Maoists against the oppression laden on the tribal people.
Elections in Chhattisgarh, especially in the Maoist-dominated areas, take place under the shadow of the gun. The state forcefully gets the voting done at gunpoint to earn legitimacy in the tribal belt of the state. Throughout the campaigning phase, it looked like the BJP, powered by the support of the RSS and the VHP, is going to retain the seat for another five years. The Sangh outfits have proliferated their presence in the non-tribal areas and some tribal areas manifold in the last two decades. The Hindutva polarisation they’ve done at the grassroots helped the BJP in the last three terms to gain a comfortable majority.
The Congress was an underdog in the race, however, it managed to secure a comfortable majority in the state after 15 years by capitalising on the anti-incumbency factor and the Hindu discontent against Narendra Modi. Despite the high-pitch dissonance over the cow, ‘patriotism’ and bigotry, the Hindu society, especially the OBCs and the ostracised Dalits voted en masse against the BJP. The tilting of a section of mining barons towards the Congress from the RSS with a hope of ease in doing business and getting free land along with other freebies has also played a crucial role in the electoral routing of the BJP from Chhattisgarh.
Out of the total 90 seats, the Congress managed to win 68 seats while the BJP got only 15. Congress’ vote share in the Chhattisgarh is 43 per cent and the BJP has 33 per cent. It’s estimated that if Ajit Jogi’s Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (J) and BSP didn’t foray into the poll fray where they won five and two seats each with a poll share of 7.6 per cent (JCCJ) and 3.9 per cent (BSP) respectively, then these votes would’ve gone to the Congress and strengthened its position.
Despite a remarkable victory, the Congress has to worry about BJP’s existing support base that is 4.7 million strong and even a small portion within this base can instigate communal riots to polarise the people of the state once again before the 2019 general election and have Narendra Modi win a comfortable majority from the Chhattisgarh.
In Telangana, the BJP fought to build up an identity that will help it strengthen its grip on the youngest state and a crucial one for the Sangh’s southward expedition. Overlooking the people’s aspiration, the RSS and the BJP only focused on communalism to win the election. Yogi Adityanath’s promise of changing the names of Hyderabad and Karimnagar using Sanskritised Hindu nomenclature and the usual babbling by the RSS brass over a ‘worsening situation’ of Hindus in the state, etc., didn’t go well in the state where a lot of people, especially the Dalits and OBCs are angered over the BJP’s utmost Brahminical agenda.
KCR’s propaganda, in comparison to that of the BJP, was more focused and connected with the local population and was done in the language that the people understood. Thus, despite hoodwinking the people with false promises, the TRS still managed to get 88 seats in the 119-strong assembly. TRS got 97,00,749 (9.7 million) votes, i.e. 46.9 per cent of the total votes cast in the election, which is the largest tally of any political party in this election.
Though the Congress is second to the TRS in terms of numbers, 19 seats with 58,83,111 (5.8 million) votes and 28.4 per cent vote share, even after winning merely one seat, the BJP is the third and the last party to gain a million plus vote in the state. The BJP got 14,50,456 (1.45 million) votes, which is 7 per cent of the total votes cast and it has managed to fare better in terms of number of support/votes vis-a-vis the old players like the TDP (3.5 per cent votes), AIMIM (2.7 per cent votes) and the independents (3.3 per cent votes).
This 1.45 million existing support base of the BJP in Telangana and the victory of its lone MLA, the notorious Hindutva rabble-rouser and venomous hate monger T Raja Singh from the Goshamahal assembly constituency of Hyderabad, prove that the danger of communal polarisation isn’t eradicated from Telangana.
The endorsement of T Raja Singh, who has over 60 criminal cases against him, by Yogi Adityanath, who personally campaigned for him in Goshamahal constituency, helped the man to win popular support from the upper-caste bigots and xenophobic Hindus from other sections of the caste hierarchy.
T Raja Singh got 61,854 votes, 17,734 votes more than his nearest TRS rival Prem Singh Rathore. The support of these 61,854 people to the BJP’s Hindutva agenda, T Raja Singh’s vitriol against the Muslims and their endorsement of the RSS’ vision of a Hindutva fascism-ruled Indian union is ringing a vexing and eerie alarm.
Not all of these 1.4 million people who voted for the BJP in the Telangana state election are RSS’ members, however, most of them seem to be hardcore Hindutva supporter. In case we consider that out of these 1.4 million voters, 50 per cent were not Sangh members, then too, we are left with around 700,000 RSS militants and 700,000 Hindutva fascism supporters. This is maybe a minuscule portion of Telangana’s population of 36 million people, it can still pose serious law and order problems and allow the BJP instigate large-scale communal riots to pave its way towards a clean sweep in Telangana during 2019 general election.
The Mizoram assembly election was a tough test for both BJP and the Congress. While after winning state after state in the North East, the BJP has been eyeing to win the Christian-majority state where the churches of various denominations govern the lives of the people more strongly than in neighbouring Meghalaya, Nagaland and Manipur, the Congress desperately wanted to protect its ineffective, anti-people and corrupt government in the last of the states it ruled in the North East.
Out of the total 40 seats, the NDA ally and a member of the RSS-BJP sponsored North East Democratic Alliance, a conglomeration of turncoat opportunist political entities of North East India, the MNF won 26 seats and the former ruling party Congress had a drastic fall from 34 to only five seats.
The MNF got a whopping 37.6 per cent of the vote share, i.e. 237,305 total votes vis-a-vis 30.2 per cent and 190,412 votes of the Congress. Though the difference of vote share is 7.4 per cent, the MNF got a comfortable majority and the Congress couldn’t reach the double-digit figure.
Though the BJP managed to separately win one seat to enter the Mizoram Legislative Assembly for the first time, the party got a vote share of 8 per cent in the state, thanks to the switching of members from the Congress to the saffron fold in lieu of money and other benefits. The total votes cast in favour of the Hindutva fascist party in the Christian-majority state is 50,744, which is a worrying figure for those who advocate the separation of the church and the state in the hilly state.
The agenda of MNF has been to build roads and provide a socio-economic development programme for the people, which the president of the party, Zoramthanga said his new government will implement with utmost priority. While unemployment is high, followed by the menace of drug abuse, atrocities on women and a regressive control of the church that chokes the youth, the government of the MNF will keep dodging these problems, like the former governments and will keep a cordial relationship with the Modi regime and the NEDA though it will not include the BJP’s lone MLA in the government.
The 2018 election can be called an outburst of anti-incumbency factor against the BJP, however, how much of this anti-incumbency is exactly against the Hindutva fascist ideology of the RSS-BJP and how much of this is against the non-delivery on promises, require an in-depth analysis. The easy-to-blend liberals are labelling the victory of the Congress in the three BJP-ruled states and the latter’s total electoral routing in the rest two states eponymous of the victory of secularism against the Hindutva fascist ideology.
We have seen in the above analysis that how the Hindutva fascism-incensed masses are still voting for the BJP and keeping it politically alive through their endorsement. To totally defeat the Hindutva fascist rule of Narendra Modi and his ilk, it’s imperative to uproot the RSS’ influence and organisational presence from India by cutting down its supply line, i.e. deprive it from the donations flowing from feudalism, comprador capitalism and foreign monopoly and finance capital, which can only happen when the predatory semi-colonial and semi-feudal system, that is crippling India, will be overthrown and a people’s democratic, progressive, secular and pro-poor system will be established at its place.
The electoral politics in the Indian parliamentary periphery can’t offer the required bandwidth for this important change. It’s only through the collective struggle of the common, working and toiled masses that the ruling classes and their pawns like the RSS and BJP can be resisted, defeated and overthrown. Towards that goal, the democratic, progressive and secular forces must unite under a common banner of anti-fascism and intensify their struggle to hasten the doom of the evil empire.
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