The whole country was discerning at the results of Gujarat Assembly Election. A conception has been brought forth that, this result is a presage of the 2019 Parliament Election. Although, an expectation of the same or a similar result throughout the country is not being predicted by everyone, however, it is undeniable that, be it BJP or the anti-BJP’s, the question of adopting the political line, will surely be adopted keeping Gujarat in mind.
To defeat BJP in Gujarat, the trio of Jignesh-Alpesh-Hardik, the three popular young leaders and there organizations — Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, OBC-SC-ST Ekta Manch and Patidar Anamat Andolan Samity, respectively, went for an alliance with the Indian National Congress. Such parties with completely dissenting ideologies even participated in the election either in the ticket of Congress or as the independent candidates supported by Congress. As a consequence, the electoral battle was summed up as the BJP versus Congress — a bilateral contest. The closed jolt has finally been resulted in a 99 seats for BJP and (77+3) for the Congress.
Some people have started saying that the victory march of Modi-Amit Shah pair is still undeterred, while some are upholding the ballad of upheaval of the Congress in the leadership of a ‘Neo-Rahul’. Evidently, the confusion in the political sphere has been increased many times. Be it Congress, or the regional parties, or be it the left parties — all are in a deep vacillation. What shall the alternative against the BJP be in the coming Parliamentary Election — an alliance led by the Congress, or a Third front, or will it be an anti-BJP ‘Maha-gathbandhan’ (Grand Alliance)? In the following one and half year, such prate will be intensified extremely, with peak-reaching TRP of the corporate media, inviting the euphoria of speculation trading, and the mountains of wealth for the corporates. But what about the people!
If the results of the Gujarat Election is investigated thoroughly (better to say, from the base level, not from the inflated standards set by the corporate media), some immensely different features are observed to come out, which become more strengthened when the results of Himachal Assembly Election are taken into consideration together with it.
In both the states Gujarat and Himachal, despite securing almost 49% votes (8% more than that of the Indian National Congress) to form the government, such percentages of votes have been decreased by 11% and 6%, respectively (decreasing from 60% and 54% respectively), compared to the 2014 Parliament Election. One should bear in mind that, the same was happened in the UP and Uttarakhand, where in spite of forming the government, BJP faced a significant drop in vote percentages, compared to the last Parliament Election. This reveals the fact that, the ‘Modi-Magic’ is losing its attraction continuously. Not only through the declination in the number of seats, but that the BJP leadership in Gujarat have also lost their acceptance among the mass, becomes evident, when the Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel is seen to win his seat by a tiny margin of 2200 votes only. Not only in Gujarat, but Himachal too experienced the same, where the projected Chief Minister candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal himself has lost his seat.
But what about those who are still considering Congress to be their pander against BJP, even in the current of anti-incumbency against its barbaric rule of more than two decades, who could not align its sail to reach the shore? As Rabindranath Tagore said, “their concern is an issue to be concerned of”!
On the other hand, what about the influence of the three youths, utilizing whom the Congress, although could not make it, but gained a lot? As an independent candidate supported by a Congress, Jignesh Mehwani won his seat by almost 20 thousand of votes, while Alpesh Thakur won his seat by about 18 thousand of votes in the election by participating with a ticket from the Indian National Congress. The most important is that Hardik Patel being under-aged to be a candidate in election couldn’t fight, however, utilizing his campaigns, Congress practically snatched the Surath seats from BJP, whereas it lost their yet won seats in middle Gujarat. The very question that arises regarding such fact is that: While the ages of 18+ ‘have’ the right to elect, why they ‘have not’ the right to be elected? This is the prime question regarding Hardik.
All these results make it explicit that, despite being depicted as BJP versus Congress apparently, the Gujarat election was not so simple for the common people. After the last two decades of BJP rule, in terms of the opportunity for the infants to go to school, Gujarat has secured the 33rd position among the 35 states and union territories, as reported by the Smriti Irani-led Ministry of Human Resource and Development. There are only 1250 primary health centres in the state of about 5 crores of population! The announced average wage of the skilled labourers is 8 thousand rupees per month. A more than 500 farmers have committed suicide every year on an average since last five years. The pathetic situation of the Dalits and Minorities is known to all. The corruptions of the leaders and ministers are overwhelming. In such a condition, evidently the people would burst out in anger and huff! Basically, BJP did exactly what has been done by the Congress throughout the country during last two decades — throwing off the living people in the grave of neoliberalism with a bestial art. Whatever debates the wise men and the political intelligentsia may raise, the fact that, for the common people the BJP and the Congress are nothing but the two sides of a single coin, can never be dismantled. To the people the election stands as: “Head you win, Tail I loss”!
But the three young leaders came to this podium with some new elements. OBC leader Alpesh, raised the voice of the oppressed mass in a right-wing manner and so finally drew his place inside the Congress in the current of anti-incumbency. If he continues in the same way, it is quite doubtful whether his distinct identity would be found in future. His demands will also meet an extinction following the gradual corrosions. Jignesh, on the contrary, came out as the voice of the dalits posing the class question into the centre. His slogan against BJP’s Hindutwa and class-exploitation was: “Gaai ka puchh tum rakho, hume hamari zameen do” (“Keep the tail of the cow in your hand, give us our land”). But to combat Fascism they have adopted the line of Maha-gathbandhan, grappling the Congress in one side and the initiative of Hardik in the other.
The voice, raised by Hardik for the reservation of upper-caste Patidaars, is one of the most despicable examples of the dominance of the upper-caste politics in post-colonial India, which has been attuned by Jignesh, who has brought in the dream of salvation of the downtrodden people, who had been repressed and exploited since thousands of years in the hands of those upper-castes. Despite securing a victory in his first election, it will be hard for Jignesh to sustain the faith of people over himself. On the other side, the key sponsor of the Patidaar movement has been the beniya groups of Gujarat, who are in a bargaining process with the Modi-government. Because, the recently initiated GST ensures snatching a significant fraction of the profit from these comparatively middle-categorized beniya groups (although they too are not so small at all) by the large corporates, although, the real bruise is leaning over the crores and crores of general people, every day in every hour during the purchase of even every little consumable. Hence, in the stalking-horse of hateful campaign and agitation of the aristocrat-reservation, a more hateful scrimmage is being continued among the capitalists themselves, which is nothing but an affray to acquire the right to exploit the toiling mass. As an obvious consequence, the policy of bourgeoisie solution has been adopted by the BJP, — some discounts in GST and 38 candidates with a surname of ‘Patel’; among whom, 24 won their seats. Utilizing Hardik’s campaign, the Congress, on the other side, nominated 35 ‘Patel’ candidates, 10 among whom could make it!
The final result is thus not mere bilateral, such as, between the win of BJP and the defeat of Congress. Amit Shah claimed before election an overwhelming majority securing 150 seats; however, BJP, although could save their government, lost a massive support of their own. Congress, on the other hand, despite making its number of seats increased, is left to stand on the opposition belt. And ‘everything’ of the ‘three musketeers’, — the key attraction of this election, has been left in the hand of future! Because, the battle was multi-directional, although, it brought out the three principal contradictions (not two) into the forefront. The extreme discontent of the exploited and persecuted mass against the ruling class in Gujarat, which is reflected as the anti-incumbency against BJP; the neoliberal exploitation and oppression on the people, which has functioned deeply against both the BJP and the Congress; and the conflict between the big corporates and the beniya groups of the province, where these two groups have desperately tried to champion their own cause utilizing the former two conflicts.
Instead of taking up conservatism as a reaction to neoliberalism, Fascism is holding its head up through much more aggressive implementation of neoliberalism itself. This is the current trend of fascism. Therefore it is an entirely ‘old-fangled’ concept to analyse this situation in a bilateral perspective, as ‘Fascism’ and ‘Anti-Fascist Grand-Alliance’. Even, there has been the anti-incumbency against BJP in Gujarat, however, such anti-incumbency in the other states is against the regional parties. Such a ‘Grand-Alliance’, in those states, will implode the sum of the anti-incumbency votes in favour of the BJP camp, ensuring its victory more explicitly. And isn’t the same we are experiencing day by day? ‘Anti-fascist Grand-alliance’ is nothing but a political opportunism, in the context of today’s India, which as a consequence will ensure the uprising of Fascism. If ‘Gujarat’ becomes the ‘Model’, the danger is awaiting at the door!
We made it clear in our previous article entitled ‘Hindu-Fascism or Something Else?’ (Jabardakhal, 6th December, 2017) that, “The present line to combat Fascism, uprising through BJP, must be a direct struggle against ‘Neoliberalism’…. In our country, neoliberalism has mostly harmed the agrarian-economy, from land loots to imposing utterly low price to the crops.” In the perspective of Gujarat election, we would like to venture to all of our struggling leftist comrades, that: while BJP has lost only 4 seats in the cities of Gujrat compared to the previous election, they have been thrown out in 18 seats in the rural belt!
The central axis against the current Fascist uprising of today’s BJP in India must be the organized peasant-movement.
Basudev Nag Chowdhury is a member of ‘People’s Brigade‘.
Translation: Aritra Basu