Giving BJP a walkover

In UP, there was no real counter to its communal-nationalism or economic policies

Written by Prakash Karat | Published:March 13, 2017 1:21 am
UP election results, Uttarakhand election results, election results, election BJP, BJP victorious, Congress defeat, UP SP-Congress defeat, indian express news BJP workers carry a giant cut-out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they celebrate the party’s victory in the UP and Uttarakhand Assembly elections, at the party headquarters in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist(PTI3_11_2017_000231B)

The results of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections mark a significant moment in Indian politics. Though there were elections to four other state assemblies, it is the Uttar Pradesh elections which have a major and immediate bearing on the direction of Indian politics.

Firstly, what the sweeping victory of the BJP in the biggest state of the country means in political terms, is that the right-wing offensive, which began with the Lok Sabha elections of May 2014, continues undiminished. The BJP victory was not surprising, but the scale of the success was unexpected. The BJP had polled an unprecedented 42.3 per cent of the vote in the Lok Sabha election, winning 71 out of the 80 seats in the state. Even if there was a four to five per cent swing away from the BJP, it would still have won a majority in the assembly. But what was unexpected was the BJP maintaining the momentum gained in 2014. There has been only a fractional drop from the percentage polled then.

Consolidation of the BJP’s political influence in the biggest and most populated state in India along with its big victory in Uttarakhand, and notwithstanding the setback for the Akali-BJP alliance in Punjab, have underlined the fact that there has been a basic shift in the political balance of forces since the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP has displaced the Congress as the largest national party, though it has not achieved the one-party dominance that the Congress had till the early 1970s.

There is widespread disappointment amongst the secular and democratic forces in the country at this stunning result. But what is required is to have a hard look at the various assumptions which led to expectations that the BJP would be defeated in the UP elections.

There was the facile assumption that all that is required to defeat the BJP is for the major secular parties to come together, like it happened in Bihar. That such an aggregation of all the non-BJP parties is not feasible everywhere has been underlined by the UP experience and the fiasco of the SP-Congress alliance. Just as it was unrealistic to have expected the SP and the BSP to come together since there are irreconcilable differences between various non-BJP parties. Alliances based on a common platform and policies are what can be striven for.

At a basic level, there has been a failure to understand the nature of the appeal that Narendra Modi had for the UP electorate. It is obvious that Modi indulged in communal rhetoric during the election campaign. The more blatant references to kabristan and shamshan and targeting of Muslims as beneficiaries of appeasement were all part of the Modi-Shah campaign. But this communal pitch was couched within a “nationalist” appeal which has influenced large parts of the UP electorate. The “nationalism” projected by the BJP-RSS combine was permeated by Hindutva communalism and national chauvinism but it nevertheless was able to rouse nationalist feelings amongst significant sections of the people cutting across caste lines. The secular opposition parties were unable to offer any counter-narrative to this nationalist offensive.

In Uttar Pradesh, there was no real alternative to counter the BJP’s communal-nationalism or Modi’s economic policies. Take, for instance, demonetisation, which for three months before the elections was a major issue that had a direct impact on the lives of the people. The worst affected in terms of loss of livelihoods, jobs, and incomes were the urban poor, unorganised workers, small farmers and agricultural workers. Modi was able to project demonetisation as a nationalist measure to flush out black money – which is mainly in the hands of the rich. There was no counter-narrative which was taken to the people or protests organised.

In Uttar Pradesh, both the major parties, the SP and the BSP, confined themselves to making statements and protests in Parliament. No popular mobilisation or mass protests were even attempted by these parties. This was in sharp contrast to how the Left parties mobilised people to protest this onslaught on the livelihoods of the people in states where they are strong, like in Kerala.

What is required is a clear cut alternative political and ideological platform to the BJP and the RSS. This requires both a political alternative to Hindutva communalism and an alternative policy platform to neo-liberal policies. Muscular Hindu nationalism has to be countered by a firm secular, anti-imperialist nationalism.

The victory in Uttar Pradesh will encourage the aggressive activities of the RSS and its outfits. The fusion of neo-liberalism and Hindutva will be cemented with more support from big business. This presages more attacks on secular values, freedom of expression and democratic rights. The growing authoritarianism, reinforced by electoral success, will have to be resisted and fought back through united movements in all spheres.

But this, by itself, is insufficient. There has to be an alternative economic, social and political programme which has to be based on a Left and democratic vision. Such a programme will be the springboard for mass mobilisation and people’s movements. That alone will throw up an effective political alternative to Modi and the BJP.

The writer is a member of the politburo of the CPI(M)

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  1. A
    Aditya
    Mar 13, 2017 at 7:02 pm
    Please explain secular and democratic. Being pro muslim (giving them sops) is secular? Dividing the voters on caste and creed is democratic? It seems every time you says secular it always seems to mean pro muslims. Or am I missing something?
    Reply
    1. I
      indian
      Mar 14, 2017 at 2:26 am
      Lol. Good luck.
      Reply
      1. I
        IslamForFoools
        Mar 13, 2017 at 11:56 pm
        Everything related to Hinduism is called as COMMUNAL and everything related to Islam is called as SECULAR, and I respect Elamite it is exactly OPPOSITE. This is why Hindus must work towards making this country Hindu nation. Imagine India without caste and most importantly without Islam. It will be heaven.
        Reply
        1. I
          IslamForFoools
          Mar 13, 2017 at 11:57 pm
          Everything related to Hinduism is called as COMMUNAL and everything related to Islam is called as SECULAR, and In reality it is exactly OPPOSITE. This is why Hindus must work towards making this country Hindu nation. Imagine India without caste and most importantly without Islam. It will be heaven. A progressive humane society.
          Reply
          1. C
            Comm.Y.K.
            Mar 13, 2017 at 6:20 pm
            P.K. Your " by date" is long gone by in last century to be effective will have to melt and reprocess the matter for twenty first century.
            Reply
            1. K
              Kanu Patel
              Mar 14, 2017 at 12:10 am
              INDIAN mes are inherent secular. When politicians preach and talk to them for secularism,they feel hurt and react. It was the mistake of INDIRA to add that tag in consution for political purpose. Socialism is also policy and the principle of democracy. That tag is also a mistake. If those tags were necessary, Dr. Babasaheb had kept them in consution. These all were politically motivated steps for which you all have to reply to the mes.
              Reply
              1. K
                Kanu Patel
                Mar 13, 2017 at 11:56 pm
                The leaders who failed to develop their home state , are not the right persons to write,guide and analise other states. They have lost the ground. They are like book worms only.
                Reply
                1. K
                  Kanu Patel
                  Mar 13, 2017 at 11:48 pm
                  Why the ifs and buts ? Opposition failed to understand the ground realities and expectations of the mes. When PM told that the police stations are acting as party offices ,it was the voice of the mes. It is a red signal for the left in Kerala if they go the same way to miss use the police stations with prejudice atude. Better he should guide his party for Kerala instead of the analysis of UP.
                  Reply
                  1. K
                    Kiran
                    Mar 13, 2017 at 2:52 am
                    Only reason these leftist parasites survived in India is because of their unholy grip on the Insutions like media, education and entertainment and ability to set national discourse. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Now with Social media and free market, People have broad range of platforms to get news, education and entertainment. They can analyze and derive the truth themselves and they are able to see through the fake news and lies spread by the commies. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The influence of free market and social media cannot be stopped and will continue to increase. This is very ominous news for commies and there is no reversing the trend.
                    Reply
                    1. M
                      MyTake
                      Mar 14, 2017 at 9:43 pm
                      [In UP, there was no real counter to its communal-nationalism or economic policies]lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Singing communal song again? Isn't what happened is the best anti-communal thing ever could happen in India? lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;These politicians are the problem, if anything! People live in peace and harmony until a poly-trickian will come and remind which caste and religion one belongs! These anti-people characters should be chased out of India!
                      Reply
                      1. P
                        PPrasad78
                        Mar 13, 2017 at 9:34 am
                        Instead of being too concerned with so called aggressive activities of the RSS and communalism of Hindutva forces, Prakash Karat should request his Chinese Masters to go easy on their brutalization of their Uighur Muslims minorities and the Tibetan people !
                        Reply
                        1. R
                          Rajat
                          Mar 13, 2017 at 12:19 pm
                          Left liberal jokers still not able to digest the drubbing. Shameless fellows.
                          Reply
                          1. M
                            MediaWantsHinduGenocide
                            Mar 13, 2017 at 4:27 am
                            Prakash karat tere ma ki ch000t bulla k Baal, stop killing Hindu brothers and sisters in Kerala
                            Reply
                            1. O
                              Obama progressive
                              Mar 13, 2017 at 6:16 pm
                              Commies same plaudes and same slogans while you line your pockets selling your souls to China you vile creatures
                              Reply
                              1. O
                                Obama progressive
                                Mar 13, 2017 at 6:15 pm
                                Please the same slogan the same commie plaudes for ages looting the nation sell it off to China is all you know
                                Reply
                                1. K
                                  K SHESHU
                                  Mar 13, 2017 at 2:30 pm
                                  At least now, will the left take some responsibility??
                                  Reply
                                  1. A
                                    abdulhafiz lakhani
                                    Mar 14, 2017 at 7:34 am
                                    lt;br/gt;e-after-up-result-haunts-gujarat-politics/lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*REGARDS *lt;br/gt;*EDITOR GUJARAT SIYASAT *lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;*AHMEDABAD GUJARAT *
                                    Reply
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                                      Aditya
                                      Mar 15, 2017 at 3:52 am
                                      One of the most educated state - Kerala and still the people don't have common sense and so stupid they don't read world affairs that even USSR went down under teh burden of communists. Communists in world over were responsible for most political killings and suppression of freedom of speech and democracy. People in Kerala don't even look around and see that their state is left behind while TN and Karnataka are getting much ahead. What is used of the education if they cannot even think and can make intelligent choices. They are worst than the illiterate of Bihar or UP who still make better choices than the so called educated cl of Kerala or WB
                                      Reply
                                      1. A
                                        ak dev
                                        Mar 13, 2017 at 10:26 pm
                                        An atheist can be a Hindu as well as Hinduism supports more than one way of belief systems. Atheists belief systems is based on science and its just one way of Hinduism.
                                        Reply
                                        1. A
                                          ak dev
                                          Mar 13, 2017 at 3:26 am
                                          It was Nehru's who allowed leftists to control media, education and other insutions. Nehru appointed leftists to head the various insutions and recklessly ignore views contrary to leftists' views.
                                          Reply
                                          1. A
                                            ak dev
                                            Mar 13, 2017 at 3:20 am
                                            Leftists and Congees both are at death bad. Before they reinvent themselves, they have to vanish first in the current form.
                                            Reply
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