Friday, May 16, 2014

2014 Election Results - A Quick Analysis

The verdict is out. The BJP led by Modi has got a comfortable majority on its own and with its alliance partners almost a two-thirds majority, the latter being critical because they can make fundamental constitutional amendments with that kind of numbers. 

What are the implications of such a victory? 
Before I get into that a brief on the character/background of the BJP. BJP is the political front of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) which is a Hindu Nationalist organization very similar to the SS of the Nazis. The RSS has grassroots cadre which protects the Hindu cultural and social traditions, and through this cadre they propagate hate for other communities, especially Muslim and Christian. Other communities like Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains are not seen by them as communities having a separate identity but as sects of Hinduism. It is a highly conservative organization with a command structure like the army and was founded by Keshav Hegdewar a medical doctor who was inspired by Adolf Hitler. It started as a Hindu social organization to protect Hinduism from the Islamic and Christian influences but soon became a kind of paramilitary organization developing disciplined Hindu cadres using military training learning from the Nazis. Hindu supremeism (and at that point upper caste) became its core value. During British colonial rule their target was the British government and British culture but post Independence given the dominance of the Congress party which was promoting a secular India and not supporting the concept of Hindu nationhood they floated the Jana Sangh party to contest elections against the Congress. 

The Congress leadership viewed the RSS as an extremist organization and banned it a number of times and thus prevented the Jana Sangh from flowering. Post 1977 after the Indira Gandhi imposed National Emergency (2 years when all fundamental rights were suspended) the Jana Sangh merged into the Janata Party alliance of all anti-Congress parties, including the left. But that alliance did not last very long and splits happened leading to the emergence of the BJP. It was only in the late eighties that the RSS became aggressive in pushing the BJP to take a strong Hindu nationalist stance what we call Hindutva in India and this led to the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh wherin BJP leaders backed by cadres of the RSS and its violent outfits like the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. That was the turning point in BJPs growth trajectory. It had captured the larger Hindu mindset and thenceforth Hindutva became its core value in its politics. Such a political ideology has grown from strength to strength and the current election results demonstrate this very well - the Hindu vote, especially upper and middle caste, has consolidated itself behind BJP.

The RSS has played a key role to make this happen in these elections first by seconding all its cadre to BJP but more importantly in the Nazi style promoted an individual through selling the Modi brand as though Modi was fighting a Presidential election. And this clicked with the masses because the incumbent PM was projected as a weakling controlled by remote control by the Congress party President, and hence it created a desire amongst masses for a strong leader to stall the policy paralysis and push "development and growth" (synonymous with the so called Gujarat model of Modi) hard. The results also show that the BJP has broken the caste based regional parties in north and central India by creating a schism between the Congress and the regional parties thus splitting the lower caste and dalit votes that gave a strategic advantage to the BJP and this explains the huge number of seats the BJP won in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where all the caste based regional parties (Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Janata Dal United etc.) have been decimated. And the Congress has been virtually decimated from across the country reduced to less than 50 seats in contrast to the more than 200 they had in the last Lok Sabha (see the link below, a map which reveals the wide reach of saffron, the colour associated with the BJP).

So what are the implications of such an election result? The much hyped Gujarat model of Modi will be at the centre of their economic policy. What this means is that private business will be promoted in a big way using state resources. Land, especially rural land, will be taken away from farmers, adivasis, dalits and urban slum settlements with minimal compensation and handed over to select industrialists at throwaway prices if not free for "development"; mining contracts will be given freely by taking away land from rural and tribal communities, and crony capitalism will get a huge  boost. Taxation, especially for business, will be liberalized, tax expenditures will be increased, social sector expenditures like health, education and especially food and employment security will be drastically reduced and private partnerships or outright pravatization will be promoted. The BJP (and especially Modi) is clearly opposed to the NREGS and food security as they feel that such "charities" are dehumanizing. So according to Modispeak people should in the true Gujarati ethos engage in dhanda or business and not be subject to humiliation of state sponsored job guarantees and food subsidies.

On the human rights and socio-cultural front new challenges would be presented. Minorities, especially Muslims and Christians, on one hand and dalits and adivasis on the other hand would face further exclusion and their human rights threatened. There would be a push for Hindu nationalism and prominence to the Hindu ethos and culture as Indian or Bhartiya and the non-Hindus would be expected to fall in line in the name of inclusion. 

Transparency and accountability that had seen major gains since the Right to Information Act was put in place is likely to see reversals if not outright dismissal. To keep the gains would require stronger civil society vigilance and activism. Budgets for the social sectors would also be threatened because of the expected leverage towards privatization. Stronger efforts by civil society would need to be made to not only protect these budgets but also to demand larger shares, especially for health, education , food security, livelihoods and pensions.

With the lotus (the BJP election symbol) fully afloat and blooming progressive civil society would need to mobilize strategically and effectively to see that the new regime does not overstep our constitutional rights and social benefits that we have a right over as tax payers and citizens. To conclude an extract from a poem Onus is On Us (anonymous):
They might have the seats, the two seventy two
But the country belongs to me and to you
And we are a billion people, a billion and plus

At the end of the day the onus is on us


  1. Dear Ravi,

    A thought provoking article. I would add on some bad signals to what you have said about 2/3 majority. In addition, there are some positive situation which cannot be overlooked. For example, their strength in RajyaSabha, the President's background can be somewhat uneasy. They would have a long long plan also so BJP would take slow but definitive steps. We need a serious introspection about what has made this possible with overwhelming turnovers of voters. How the common man has a bharosa over one's own demolish-er? If we consider that the saffron has duped the 'common man', we are insulting en masse, the common man's astuteness and pragmatism for survival. If we blame saffron to dupe the common man, we are expecting a dacoit to be a saint. At best, I see an absence of alternative - a void, a main cause. It is not the we billion which has failed. It is we, the Left or even left of center which has failed to convince the one billion that we have an answer. The onus is literally on us.