The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.—Karl Marx
Clearly the verdict is a resounding slap for the Indian National Congress. More particularly it is a punishment for the arrogance of Rahul Gandhi, I’d think,
People were fed up with the never ending scams, yes. The media went to town on the scandals, even while seeking to portray Narendra Modi as the Vikas Purush who could pull the country out of the morass the UPA had got the country into. Agreed. But more than anything else, the people were angry that the party thought that choreographed appearances by the prince every now and then could rake in votes, whether there was any follow up action or not.
So then it was a richly deserved snub for the party, but am only wondering whether the people have shot themselves in the foot. We are in for very troubled times on various fronts.
My Savukku colleague seems to think Modi won’t do anything that could rupture the social fabric too very much as he should be eager to prove his capacity to lead a diverse nation like India. He has always had his own agenda, my colleague argues in the Tamil piece. Many others too assert he would indeed turn out to be a vikas purush, a development man.
But then look at it this way. BJP is an ideology-driven party and is premised on Hindu supremacism. It has never had such a golden opportunity to impose its agenda on the entire nation. Loathed and viewed with suspicion by a majority of the Hindu voters, it has generally been on the margins. Even the horrid partition riots did not create for it any great following, thanks to the enlightened leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru. Both he and his successors could be justly accused of giving a leg up to minority communalism, but such panderings remained at a tolerable level. And so all the noises made by the parivaar had few takers. In any case whatever the corruption charges against successive Congress regimes, the media reaction was nothing like what we see in these 24 x 7 coverage, and so the revulsion was contained. Hence the Congress could stumble around because of its TINA factor, barring the Emergency disaster.
Rajiv Gandhi’s ghastly inaction during the 1984 riots was seen as an aberration though the Khalistanis kept up the heat. Eventually it was a Sikh police official who put down entire movement. But with none of the major culprits behind the riots punished, Rahul Gandhi could not even bring himself to say sorry, the scars still remain. All the same the Sikhs as a community don’t necessarily feel alienated – after all the party of Jawaharlal Nehru does not promote hostility to any section, whatever the Congress’s other failings.
The Rajiv government’s caving in to the mullah lobby in the Shah Bano case on the one hand and allowing the lock of the closed Babri Masjid to be broken open on the other did a far greater damage than the 1984 riots. It was such actions that set the stage for all the terrible things that followed, now climaxing in the Premiership of Narendra Modi.
The demolition of the Masjid proved a tragic turning point in the history of independent India. Domes tumbled, Uma Bhartis and Murli Manohar Joshis shrieked, Muslims were shocked, as did the saner sections, and the Muslim youth, already groaning under various disabilities, fell an easy prey to Wahabi preachings, What with the rise of Islamic terrorism the world over thanks to a confluence of circumstances, sections of Indian Muslims comfortably eased into the slots prepared for them by a number of international agencies. Thus one type of extremism fed on the other, and the air became foul with hate campaigns.
It was in such a backdrop Vajpayee became the PM. Still the BJP did not get any absolute majority, and he was only heading a coalition. Thanks to Kargil war the government that was toppled within a year came back to power with renewed mandate. Vajpayee did a relatively decent job of it, though his helplessness during the Godhra riots will remain a permanent blot on his career.
The NDA lost in 2004 probably because of inflation and because the trajectory of the economic growth was weighted in favour of the more privileged. Also perhaps because of the alliances forged by a wiser Congress. The entitlement regime of 2004-09 paid great dividends, and the UPA was re-elected with a greater majority.
Now that the Congress has been virtually annihilated, what next for the nation is the question. I started off arguing Modi could prove far more dangerous than he is perceived to be now. First it was during the Vajpayee regime the country saw the gory end of the Christian pastor Graham Steines and his two sons and the attacks on Christians in Dang in Gujarat not to mention Godhra. All kinds of bearded gentlemen who claimed to represent Hindus began to be entertained at the PM’s official residence, school and college curriculum was tampered with – in one word even while the so-called economic reforms were on, culturally the clock was being set back.
Now the RSS will be at it again, with a vengeance, from mandir to Kashmir. Personally am all for a uniform civil code, but any attempt on that front by the Modi government could trigger violent reactions.
Whether Modi goes overboard on any of the sensitive issues or not, surely he would seek to marginalize, vilify and persecute Muslims in ever so many subtle ways, Godhras or no. He might start with identifying and deporting all suspected illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, and could set his eyes on a hot pursuit of terrorists with incalculable consequences.
The parivaar has got a step in the door now, a power it had never wielded in the past. Why then should it fritter away such an undreamt of chance? You can bet it would seek to push Modi in highly questionable directions, provoking Muslim hotheads into acts of mindless terrorism. There is no knowing where the spiral will end.
I repeat troubled times are ahead, voters didn’t know what they were doing, and they are sure to reap a bitter harvest. It is for the progressive sections to put their heads together and limit the damage as much as possible.