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.