Ifs and buts of Elections 2019

I am not a psephologist, neither do I owe the ability to perfectly predict what goes on inside mind of Indians. Social scientists of variety have been at it to tell us who will win, whose winnability is it this time in Indian Parliamentary elections. Facebook’s, WhatsApp and so on, they are all over it. Hats off to their ability.

I got inspired and thought I will also try my hand at this very attractive vocation. So I asked the question to myself: who will win the General Elections 2019? I don’t have a clear cut answer and that is an answer in itself because it does not seem like a wave – a clean sweep that we saw in 2014. Then I went on to see what if

What if SP-BSP alliance wins around 40-45 seats in UP

What if Congress performs a little better in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh following their win in assembly elections thereby preventing 2014 repeat performance for BJP there

What if DMK-Congres combine performs well and takes away at least 75% seats in Tamil Nadu

What if Congress-JD(S) combine manage to get half of seats in Karnataka and Left does the same in Kerala

What if TMC wins around 34-36 seats in Bengal

What if North East does not repeat itself as 2014

With such ifs BJP may not retain the position it held in 2014. This would mean that some other political forces might form the next government. And given that it is all about ifs and buts this may or may not happen. What is important is to think about what will happen if there is a new government – new political forces who claim to represent a counter-narrative to the earlier regime?

Vote for ‘Change’ is after all not a vote for change

This is historic not because BJP has won the General Elections 2014 but because it decimated Gandhis, Samajwadi Party, Mayawati, Nitish Kumar, Lalu Yadav and the Left. Jayalalitha, Mamta Banerjee and Navin Pattnaik have somehow held onto their grounds. The Facebook, at least whose posts were visible to me, went silent once it became evident that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will win the General Elections. Maybe gradually they would reappear after introspecting into their arguments. The calculations and counter-calculations about how difficult it was for BJP to win also stopped. Maybe those who were claiming to having their ears to the ground need to concede that they did not have an inkling about the electoral battleground. This is a clean sweep with decimation of all political forces. The Left has been further marginalized and needs to do some serious introspection. As per the logic of representative democracy the nation wants Narendra Modi as Prime Minister and the ‘past’ did not really matter to people who voted. However, it may be argued that the candidate who wins an election, in fact, gets less votes than the combined will of others who do not want him/her to win. Hence, there is a substantial mass which did not want BJP to come to power. But that is all in the realm of speculation.

The vote is no doubt for change, as BJP says. However, what is tricky here is the idea of ‘change’ itself. The need for change appears in any situation when the existing conditions of existence are not satisfactory; when the status quo needs to be altered. Change in electoral democracy is conveyed in many ways – when drains are overflowing and political party in power does nothing people want a change; when farmers commit suicide due to agrarian crisis and the issue remains unaddressed people want change; when industry is not allowed freedom to do what they want to do they want change and so on and so forth. ‘Change’ as an idea, in other words, is used by different people located in different situations and it emerges out of where they locate themselves vis-a-vis the others as well. Hence, there is a movement for radical social change and there is momentary hullabaloo for change; there is a clamor to change the government which stifles the business and there are voices for change against those who take over people’s lands, mountains, forests and rivers. In the representative democracy when RSS or BJP say that it is a vote for change they are not mistaken. People did not vote for others for a reason – they thought BJP will bring about ‘change’ in their lives. Congress and its allies of different kind had led to devastation of people’s lives – their everyday affair was in shambles, from food inflation, to corruption, to unemployment to shamelessness of telling people that they can survive a day with Rs.32 or have food for Rs.12. But then why did BJP become the only alternative for people is something which needs serious rethinking.

Here, notably, what bourgeois politics and its version of democracy represented through electoral exercise does is that it modifies the idea of ‘change’ to not necessarily changing of status quo but to changing of the facade of the existing forms of governance. In other words, like the Parsonian framework they argue that the problems of hunger, poverty, corruption, violence against women, etc., can be resolved by tinkering with the different instruments/units of the system. The system is not wrong or responsible for all these problems but may be a new party or a new Prime Minister will resolve the problems. The effort is always to convince people that the problem is largely because of some mismanagement of the system, it is not because a few want to accumulate as much wealth as possible at the cost of others.

It is important to highlight that if an analysis of representative democracy continues to be done with reference to the cosmetic changes it would always yield erroneous analysis. What has to be understood is the fact that there is discontent with the existing order of things. And this discontent is due to the way the existing system through its aggressive and persistent focus ensures that a few keep getting rich at the cost of most. It is essentially because of how a farmer’s loan if unpaid is a crime but a corporate loan of over Rs.70,000 crore becomes an act of celebration. The discontent is because the system facilitates an easy life for the owners of capital at the cost of others. This discontent is not so much about secularism and communalism, which some political forces treat as if devoid of any politico-economic content. It is the fallacious understanding of ideas of secularism and social justice that has allowed under different garbs the basic questions to be scuttled by the electoral politics. It has failed to bring forth the idea that the oppressed communities need ultimately a politics that radically alters the nature of the existing system; that addresses the profound reasons for the discontent rather than its superficial textures.

It is amply clear that the misdeeds of a regime (Congress in this case) carried the potential of generating sufficient discontent. A situation had to be avoided by the corporate capital wherein an ‘unstable’ government is formed which may not accede to its demands and whimsical desires. Hence, the only option was to supplant Congress with BJP. It is this logic which saw money and resources being pumped into the election campaigns of the BJP and a little less into that of Congress. There is a fear of ‘instability’ because it would upset the existing arrangements whether it is about pricing of natural resources or taking away the benefit of tax waivers or subsidies to corporates. Though, this would also mean ‘change’ but that change has to be avoided in the interests of the corporate capital. Therefore, the vote for ‘change’ would continue to remain a farce. In fact, it is another means to ensure that the corporate capital has a way in dictating how the economy and politics of the nation should be. What this election has done is given a strong hand to the capitalist class to do what they would like to. This is the meaning of a ‘strong and stable’ government.

More of Anti Working Class Indian Left: Again Moving in the Same Direction

India will go to elections in 2014 and the battlelines are gradually getting drawn (or may be redrawn). And CPI(M) and CPI are once again looking for new allies. They are also planning to go back to what they have been doing all along – mistaking the aim of increasing seats in Parliaments for a working class offensive.

I fear these times because it is these times that would generate weird kind of alliances – unnatural and unthinkable ones. And what I fear most is the move that the Left would make – yes, specifically the two bigger parties – CPI (Communist Party of India) and CPI(M) [Communist Party of India (Marxist)]. They have been going everywhere, literally everywhere, to align with all kinds of forces. The excuse being only one – to safeguard secularism.

I have always wondered how does a party such as JD (U) which was till yesterday an ally of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) would become a secular party the day it leaves the alliance for reasons that we all know – and the reasons which have nothing to do with the secular/fascist credentials of BJP. This has now happened end number of times. It happened when it supported the National Front government from outside along with BJP. The issue for them becoming one (in a certain sense) was dynastic politics of Congress (which it will continue to have because it is not a ‘party’ with mass base but rather a coterie of some leftovers of past and the new messiahs of corporate governance and interests). Then they went with Rashtriya Janata Dal, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Telugu Desam Party… and so on and so forth. All in name of secularism. After surrendering whatever they did/had in the name of working class politics to the forces that most brazenly represented the forces of private capital what have they achieved are literally nothing – communal fascism remains a force (it remains, quite naturally, quiet and wakes up whenever it is required); and the Left mass base (even if it is of social democratic character) continues to slide. This obviously raises some questions in my mind:

1. Is it not possible to have rather an all Left alliance? We have seen it has not worked till now – whether agricultural laborers are massacred in hordes or whether the state goes on a declared war against working class – informalising the economy, taking away all benefits, doing away with pensions, privatizing all that is there in public sector, privatizing basic services of education and health, etc. All them – right from the tiniest of them to a relatively bigger one – live in their own world of arrogance as if they would lead the revolution when that day of judgement would arrive. One has seen this from micro-struggles within universities and factories to larger alliances on questions of macro-economy.

2. Is it too difficult to understand that alliances have dealt a blow to the Left politics because through these alliances one knowingly or unknowingly get into a political understanding that destroys the working class unity and the working class organization to resist the designs of private, corporate capital?

3. Is it beyond comprehension of these Left formations that the notions of ‘secularism’ or ‘justice’ can have meanings not necessarily floated by the bourgeois political formations? Is it possible to explicate these concepts from a working class perspective?

Unfortunately, they do not seem to get these questions or they may not be willing to reflect on them because of what they have become – essentially seeking pleasures of parliamentary politics. They are, in fact, now knee deep into it. Hence, constitutive historical processes are of no relevance to them.

These are the times when masses are looking for a Left alternative and not opportunistic alliances. The massive number that throngs to their rallies, which goes beyond even their imagination and expectation as was evident last year in the rallies in Bihar, are an indication of the discontent that is there against a system which is pushing them to last limits of misery and agony. They need a new hope not an alliance where the partners shift their allegiances overnight. What kind of anti-Congress, anti-BJP alliance is this when the partners were voting for privatization and against all working class yesterday in Parliament? Now after two decades of similar politics (since 1991) one should not expecting anything else from them.