Translated from Axomiya by Biswajit K. Bora
Finally the BJP have formed their government after coming to power for the second time under the leadership of Narendra Modi with a landslide victory. There is nothing to be surprised though, it was a certainty – it was inevitable. But a few were foolishly expecting that the BJP would not able to come to power this time. They have now realised that there are fundamental flaws in their political thinking. Forget about the recently concluded election, there is hardly any possibility that the BJP would lose in the next two or three elections. Firstly, because of the very character of the BJP’s politics; and secondly, because of a lack of any alternative political force. After a few years when the people will get bored of the BJP, only then doors will be open for any other political party’s electoral possibility. But if strong alternative political forces do not arise until that time, the BJP will keep drawing the votes. It is difficult to predict too accurately about the next two or three terms, but it is certain that the immense mass support for the BJP will not dwindle in the near future.
Factors like an endless supply of money and incessant publicity by the media have majorly contributed to the BJP’s victory. But it will be an error to think that those are the only factors behind the BJP’s victory – it conceals the true politics of the BJP. It goes without saying that the BJP and the Sangh Parivar are the most organised and ideologically unified force in contemporary India. There is no other political force that can be compared to the BJP and the Sangh Parivar on these grounds. To come to power by winning the election is not the sole motive of the BJP – it is the political wing of the Sangh Parivar, and under the leadership of the RSS, the Sangh Parivar have been doing massive cultural-political works to establish a Hindu Rashtra in India since the second decade of the twentieth century. The BJP’s victory in 2019 truly fulfils the social movement carried out by the Sangh Parivar for many decades. Therefore this victory is not an evanescent one. The Sangh Parivar, made up of the RSS and hundreds of other Hindutva organisations have dedicated to the propagation of Hindu nationalism in all echelons of society in entire India. And the BJP’s task is to advance that project of Hindu nationalism on the political front. On the other hand, in the new economic and political conditions in the nineties of the last century, an acute alliance was formed between Hindu nationalism and neoliberalism. Since then, the BJP have been representing the ideologies of both Hindu nationalism and neoliberalism. Narendra Modi had emerged as the popular model of these two ideologies – after that, Modi became the symbolic face of the BJP! After they had come to power in 2014, the BJP put extreme efforts to realise this joint agenda. Now that they have come to power for the second successive term, it can be safely said that their efforts would become more aggressive and extreme. Now, Hindu nationalism has established its ideological hegemony in India. In such a situation, it cannot be expected that any other party than the BJP would be successful in electoral politics.
A political party is born of a social movement, as a reflection or representative of a social force, either a social group in power to preserve state power in their hands or a social group trying to seize state power. Advancing the politics of that social group becomes the motive of the party. The life force of the party remains strong until the party is organically connected to that social force. On the other hand, the party’s downfall is assured when it becomes a bureaucratic organisation detached from its social force. In contemporary Indian politics, it is observed that this holds true in the case of the BJP and their opposition parties, predominantly the Indian National Congress. The dangerous force of Hindu nationalism that has risen across India is what the BJP carry in its heart. The RSS and other Hindutva organisations are strengthening and spreading this force across the entire country at grass-root levels. These organisations are successfully implementing a strategy to hide the questions of casteism, gender, ethnicity etc. under the veil of Hindu nationalism. On the other hand, the economically, politically, and culturally hegemonic class in Indian society is the urban middle class. And nowadays this Hindu majority class, especially the tech-savvy youth of this class, is the chief crusader of Hindu nationalism. The BJP could easily establish their social hegemony because of the backing of this class. Therefore, in short, the BJP organically represent a titanic social force. But the Congress, the chief opposition party does not have backing of any social force. The Congress have now become a mummified and useless political party who have no future possibility to come back to power. Once upon a time, the Congress came to life in India’s struggle for independence as the carrier of the dreams and hopes of that struggle. It could assimilate into it the myriad political forces of various regions as well as the voices of the many classes in society. Therefore it could become the platform for the entire Indian society without any opposition. But gradually from the seventies onward, the Congress party started to weaken as a result of the Indian society and politics moving into a different phase than that of the previous decades. It became a hollow yet huge bureaucratic system. Yet it managed to survive with arrogance because of its grand structure and a lack of any alternative political force. The gradual rise of the BJP as a fundamental political force ensured that the Congress would inevitably lose its stature. The neoliberalism that the Congress had introduced was taken to the extreme by the BJP, the half-baked Hindutva that the Congress had maintained to keep its Hindu vote bank was devoured by the BJP’s extreme Hindutva. Now it has become a sombre question that who will go back to the Congress! That the system named the Congress would once again be able to raise its head and a resilient social force would once again back it, is a futile hope at best.
What is left then are the small regional political parties. On a general note, the current position of the regional parties is that of survival of the self – their goal is to safeguard their regions from the BJP’s aggression. But the BJP is an elephant in must that would leave no stone unturned to assert its dominance – the BJP would without doubt cross those previously inaccessible thresholds, the invasion into the All India Trinamool Congress’s stronghold in West Bengal being a case in point. Politics in South India might slightly differ, but South Indian politics cannot significantly influence Indian politics – at best, it would safeguard its own regional interests. It should be noted that the BJP’s politics is universal and inclusive, at least in the context of their vision of an undivided Hindu Rashtra – no lesser, self-absorbed politics can pose a fundamental challenge to it. The character of other political parties may also be analysed accordingly. The Aam Aadmi Party is a party to safeguard the rights and interests of urban citizens according to the principles of a welfare state – it does not have any acceptance outside its base, nor does the party seem ambitious enough to stake a claim outside Delhi. Likewise, the narrow caste-centric politics of the SP or the BSP has been subsumed by the BJP’s politics of Hindu nationalism. At this point, it is important to mention the politics of the left parties. Essentially, the left parties are the only political force to ideologically challenge the BJP. These parties and other left forces have taken clear stand against Hindu nationalism and neoliberalism. But the problem is that currently there is no chance for the left parties to be successful in electoral politics. Following age old, orthodox ideas, these parties could never understood the nature of culture – they remain confined to vulgar economism. They do not have anything to cater to the contemporary middle class – therefore they are compelled to work for the marginal workers-peasants. Unless they could reinvent themselves as relevant in these times, they would continue to fail to become a strong political force in the future.
The BJP’s successive victory this year after 2014 has ushered in a new era in Indian politics. Not only has it opened up ways for strengthening the foundation of Hindu nationalism on ideological level but also changed the grammar of electoral politics altogether. It has also marked an end to traditional psephology, the study and scientific analysis of elections and trends in voting. It has proved that it is meaningless to predict election results by analysing what have till now been regarded as decisive factors – voter profiles in a constituency, various economic-political issues, etc. The politics of the BJP operates on an epic scale – it is useless to thoroughly analyse and discuss trivial issues. Whatever is blowing in the wind, whatever is the heartbeat of popular culture, is the result of the election. That is to say that, the changing politics demands a similar approach from us too.
That the BJP have formed their government again means that the Hindutva Rathayatyra will now carry on with in all its glory. The times will get darker for the democratic-progressive forces. Yet, they will have to continue their resistance, their struggle for the people, for truth. They will have to consider long-term plans and strategies to form a political alternative. The democratic-progressive forces will have to prepare themselves for that. It might be a wishful thinking at present, but at the same time, there is no alternative in front of us.