Money and media power of corporate along with the muscle power of Hindutva forces had propelled Modi led BJP to power on the strength of the decimation of the then ruling Congress. But like their other products, the life of Modi wave manufactured by corporate has been short. Elections held after assumption of power by Modi led BJP Govt. at the Centre, in state after state across the country have brought home this simple truth. Uttarakhand, Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, the electorally crucial state of UP and Gujarat whose name has been appended to the model propagated throughout the country over the year before Parliamentary elections, all have voted to exorcise the ghost of Modi wave.
Corporate media’s spin doctors had exerted much to portray the massive defeat of ruling Congress as a positive vote for Modi led BJP and his so-called Gujarat model of development. Rejection was portrayed as affirmation. Ruling Congress, with its leadership engrossed in somehow ensuring dynastic succession and its Govt. mired in corruption and perceived as such by the people, was rejected by the people who groaned under deteriorating conditions of existence with sharp rise in prices of essential commodities, increasing unemployment and job losses, worsening conditions of peasantry, increasing attacks on women, dalits and tribals.
Through their money and media, corporate short-circuited people’s grievances and their yearning for change. Corporate too were dissatisfied by the UPA Govt.’s inability to deliver what they considered should have been a must do by the Govt. to increase their profits and satiate their insatiable greed. They found in the Hindutva of RSS-BJP a useful tool to divert attention from the implementation of their anti-people agenda and to divide the people to pre-empt any determined struggle by them, with deep reservoir of majority communalism in state structure coming in handy. Gujarat’s Modi with his record of massacring 2000 Muslims in Gujarat and unabashedly throwing resources and public money of the state to corporate, was hailed as an answer to the problems, to deliver on what Manmohan Singh promised but could not implement beyond a point. 2014 parliamentary elections witnessed an unprecedented media blitzkrieg.
The disconnect between people’s expectations and corporate agenda could not have been more glaring. People expected (and Modi promised) that prices of essential commodities would be reined in, employment would rise and their economic hardships would ease. They wanted urgent action and hoped that Modi would honour his commitment to usher in better days from the day he became Prime Minister. Nothing of the kind happened. Rather than the sweet and honey promised before elections, Modi Govt. started administering one bitter pill after another. Price rise, rather than being reined in, galloped. Not only results, even the very actions were missing. Realization started dawning that they had been hoodwinked by the corporate to buy their product by sheer advertizing.
On the other hand, corporate wanted Modi to hand over areas of mineral resources to them, water down labour laws to permit labour flexibility, hire and fire, low wages and lower safety at workplace, more FDIs in more sectors, squeezing of agriculture further, and to cut down expenditure on ‘wasteful’ subsidies i.e. for the people while increasing ‘productive’ subsidies i.e. to them. Modi Govt.’s Budget was in the direction of fulfilling these promises. Govt. moved alarmingly fast in trying to trim down labour laws and with alacrity to do away with changes in Land Acquisition Act which they had supported less than a year back. Vasundhara Raje moved to make Rajasthan as a new pioneer, moving changes in labour laws and proposing changes in LARR. Sectors after sectors witnessed opening / increasing the cap on FDI and overfulfilling of disinvestment targets of PSUs.
To overcome the people’s perception of ignoring their issues, Modi Govt. tried to substitute his exploits in foreign lands for paucity at home, to regale the people with rhetoric in place of performance, even beating his own drums.
For electoral performance, RSS-BJP relied on communal polarization particularly in the most populous province of UP. Jihad was launched against inter-community love, Jihadis being marshalled by Yogi Adityanath. It is any way difficult to change a winning formula and more so when you have nothing else to offer.
The electoral debacle spanning north, south, east and west, in places where BJP tried to use different recipes, shows the common current of people’s disillusionment having set in against Modi Govt. As the earlier scale of Congress defeat precluded any notion of local factors playing a dominant role, the scale of these reverses also precludes dominant role of local factors. For example BJP plank in UP, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan were different but with similar result. There is some role of the realignment of political and social forces, but the pride of place goes to disenchantment with Modi. Much is being made of BJP’s entry into Bengal assembly which ignores sharp decline in its votes compared to 2014 parliamentary elections. Decline of parliamentary left in West Bengal continues, but that is an old story now.
Ever since these defeats, particularly the latest one, BJP a la Congress with corporate media in tow is exerting to insulate Modi from the effects of these debacles. All victories are because of Modi even ABVP victory in DUSU elections and all losses are due to others including in his home state and even in his own constituency. Corporate has invested much in Modi and would not like their investments to turn bad so quickly. While they would preach patience to the people, they would increase pressure on Modi to deliver to them, particularly on natural resources. And for that, to increase police, paramilitary and military efforts against communist revolutionary forces and tribals who are opposing their take over of land with mineral resources.
The impatience of the people, including urban middle classes, noted in the analysis of results of parliamentary elections, 2014, is on open display.
The real imperative of the situation is to redouble efforts to build struggles of workers, peasantry and different sections of people against the offensive of Modi led BJP Govt. in favour of MNCs and corporate, against minorities particularly Muslims and against democratic rights of the people, particularly against Govt. offensive against revolutionary forces. Besides developing revolutionary struggles of peasantry including tribal, there is a need to unite all the forces to unleash a wave of struggles and usher in an upswing in people’s movements. Unity for struggle, in struggle and through struggle is the need of the hour both to defeat the Modi Govt.’s offensive and also defeat attacks on people by ruling classes.
Two trends are unmistakable: people’s yearning for change and their disillusionment with ruling class parties. The other is the dominant wish among people for change within the system, the latter also linked to the level of development of revolutionary struggles. Struggles alone can break this cycle, this repeated betrayal of people’s aspirations. Struggles alone can break the shackles about this anti-people system on people’s minds. And these chains must be broken for there are many horses, old and new, leaders discarded and not yet tried, waiting in ruling class stables to be harnessed.
These results point to the necessity of building such struggles and the situation is favourable for this.