Category Archives: Politics

The Political gamble of demonitisation

I really do not know for sure, how much or in what way, demonetization will affect the economy or black money in the long run. But I do think that The Government of India will not back off from this move. On the contrary it will get even more aggressive on it and other such steps. It will just tweak some operational stuff to ease short term pain.

The National English TV media is not a very good indicator. Political parties, in poll bound states, are careful about how they attack the Government’s move. It is the political units with no stake in the forthcoming elections that are making the most noise. The congress in Punjab has avoided this issue and deftly continued its focus on SYL.

I suspect that the virulence of the opposition attack can also be seen as proportional to their discomfort with the political advantage the BJP can garner from this move. AAP will be particularly negatively affected as its vote bank is not caste or religion based and this move of the Centre may appeal to poorer sections of society that are angry at being left out of the benefits of economic growth. Worse, AAP woke up somewhat after congress workers started assisting people in long queues with water and tea etc.  Maken was quicker than Kejriwal in seeing that ‘on street’ advantage. There are murmurs that the poorer residents of the city are ‘not that angry’.

In a few days the people will forget the discomfort that they are currently going through and will remember this as a decisive move by Narendra Modi, against black money held by the rich. It is a big bold gamble NaMo has taken but a lot will depend on the BJP’s state units in the coming elections.

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The changing dynamics of global conflicts and Kashmiri youth

There is much debate on Kashmir, post the killing of the Kashmiri Youth Burhan Wani by the security forces. As each one in India takes stated positions and remains locked there we forget that the worldwide dynamics is different and extends beyond just the regular bhakt and liberal kind of spats that Indians indulge in on twitter and Fb.
One has to view the power dynamics in a globally connected world differently and beyond JNU –ABVP limited student politics. Kashmir is only a minor sub- construct, albeit closer.

Islamic militants, Taliban, ISIS, Al Qaeda etc, Communists, left intellectuals & Academics, are now a network within and cutting across pre-existing organised states and militaries. There are shades of course, but broadly this is the network that is pitted against the status quo of Elected Democratic Governments, Economies and Military in the West and in Asia. This network is in some cases highly organised and connected and in other cases loosely linked but broadly they are in the business of disrupting the current structures of organised state power (or take advantage of it if they can). They have sympathizers in the media and politics who are on the safer side of this combine with hard core Islamic militants comprising the other far end.

The internet and rapid connectivity allows this network to operate within states with militant cells and intellectual justifiers.

Conventional politics and state armed forces cannot easily take on this combine because it is everywhere in different forms. Except in China & Israel which will brutally shut them down, this ‘network’ operates in Islamic countries through religious groups and has the capacity to strike violently within, and does the same through militant sleeper cells in Non Islamic democracies in Europe, Africa and Asia as well. The Left offers justification for their actions as a legitimate act of counter violence to past wrongs

There are some Hindu and Christian militia in India and in U.S perhaps but they are toddlers in comparison, and neither have the weaponry, the explosive guerrilla warfare capacity of Islamic militants nor do they have the Left’s depth of reasoning and intellectual capacity to secure intellectual legitimacy for their  little ‘brigades & senas’. The Hindu right is troublesome indeed and has the potential to be a violent mob but it is led by petty ‘goondaas‘ who can be straightened in a local thana under an unfriendly political dispensation. They do not have the strategic depth of Islamic militancy nor support from the ‘intellectual class’

Which side is right or justified? The democratically elected ‘State’ or the’ Non State’ with its sense of being disenfranchised is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the conventional dynamics of conflict has changed and it will be interesting to watch in the future where this disruption leads.

Insofar as Kashmir is concerned it will remain in the place it is. No mainstream political party in India will offer self determination to Kashmir. Left leaning groups will escalate or reduce their criticism of the Government of India depending solely on the politics of which dispensation is in power and on China’s position on Indo Pak relations.

In Pakistan too, no party or their Army will change their stance and will keep on demanding Kashmiri territory for themselves while maintaining support to militancy and terrorist attacks in India which they can and do at will.

Kashmir will remain a theatre of conflict for some years, boiling at times and simmering at some.

For the kashmiri youth, there is little hope. Their violence will be romanticized by vested interests in India and In Pakistan. They will likely fail to see much viable interest other than an ordinary job, hatred for India and a sort of fairy tale attachment to Pakistan and the Arab world. Some with ambition will migrate out of the valley to India, the Emirates or to the west, for the rest there is not much.

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Oligarchy of the unelected

Why are politicians unable to stop people from carelessly breeding dengue causing mosquitoes year after year at home, why are politicians unable to get people to segregate waste, Why can they not even begin to solve the parking mess, why are politicians unable to get toilets made and maintained, why are politicians so ineffective as leaders who can challenge the writ of the Khap Panchayats

Why have politicians failed to build consensus in communities to reduce dowry deaths, why have politicians failed to do much on gender equity, sexual harassment at work till pushed into a corner by courts?  Why is this task being only done by activists? Why are politicians scared to take the rights of the LGBT community into parliament? Why do politicians think they will fail this test of humanity?

Now consider the following illustrations

  • The matter concerning Art of Living and its use of the Yamuna river bank has seen silence from politicians except the odd pot shot taken. Only activists are arguing on what is of paramount interest to millions. One would think it should rightly be elected leaders doing this job
  • Look at Gay rights- No politicians. Look at marital rape- The arguments are offered by activists and Babas

Are Politicians simply indifferent to and unconcerned about issues that bother us? Or are they simply without moral authority? Are they incapable of thinking and arguing for what is right?

Is there anything such as politician’s moral influence? They take pot shots but they do not argue. I have not seen politicians take bold stand on any important issue of justice or public health. Scared of crossing stated party positions, scared of aggressive media interrogation and being challenged by activists, they abdicate their responsibility as leaders who are rightly placed to bring about socio-political change

There is a serious absence of political contribution to public discourse, and if not addressed by politicians themselves, will only reduce them further with dangerous consequences for democracy

This budget session of 2016, after long, gave many an opportunity to hear debates in the Parliament. Arguments, repartee, acerbic humour and challenging facts and fiction renewed faith in the parliament which is meant to argue and debate, so that, regardless of our political persuasion we have access to conflicting arguments. The arguments articulated by peoples’ representatives are significant. They reflect a certain reality and therefore, a reality check.

We are a democracy and our work is meant to be carried forward by a government made of elected representatives of the people. Parliamentary democracy works on the principle that the elected representative is better positioned to empathize with the needs of the public that elects them. This is why the idea of a minimum educational qualification for elected representatives has been met with resistance, and rightly so.

It is disheartening to see elected representatives from two major political parties becoming OEMs* for unelected activists and ideologues from the RSS and the left.  Both opposing ideologies (the left & the right) have become kind of ‘hatchet men’ for political parties to carry out their work in the media and public space. In this process activists have been positioned as champions of what is good for people and politicians are positioned as legislators out to exploit people.

The politician, despite being the peoples’ representatives has been perceived, as one ill-placed, to have any moral authority. The reasons for this are too varied for this piece. This moral authority becomes the sole preserve of the activist and it is believed that were it not for the activist the politician will sell off the country. This idea has taken such deep roots that, depending on your own ideology, activists whether on the right, or the left, have become the keepers of the Nation’s better instincts.

This disdain for those elected does not augur well for democracy. A convincing argument must also be tested at the altar of votesThe idea that ‘just because it gets votes does not make it right’, may be true, but if the intent of democracy is to ensure that  ‘what is right gets votes’, it can only emerge through the moral authority of political leaders and not through self-righteous indignation of the unelected.

It is only if electoral politics evolves through argument, victory and defeat in polls, the true work of democracy will be accomplished.  A politician’s job is difficult and his constituency should see him as their leader who should openly defend his own position, or the constituency’s’ interests, rather than sub- contracting ideologues to do that work. An elected position requires a clear willingness to engage variously in consensus building, power-sharing and accommodative arrangements within a diverse section of interests in the constituency. While it is also possible that political expediency can require that systemic change be deferred, or forgotten to further the needs of a re-election among a diverse & also a very easily divisible people.

This does not mean that a politician cannot assist or be supportive of progressive causes. Indeed the job of carrying together a large number of people to support change should come through a politician with moral authority in our country.

If political leadership and moral leadership are completely mutually exclusive then we are in for trouble

Elected representatives are the key players in building consensus as well as opposition in the task of taking forward the country through this push and slide. It is only through them that people can see the meaning of good Governments elected on the basis of valued principles. If not, the political leadership will continue to be seen as cynical and immoral & not much will change on the ground towards social transformation.

For principles of justice, equality, and equal opportunity to be truly meaningful, they must pass the test of votes. Justice, humanity, equal rights, clean air and water, saving our forests and rivers have to become popular enough to affect elections. Politicians have to be the ones to carry people along in this task in a democracy. Politicians privately admit to their inability to articulate a moral position but they are more often unable to lead their voters which has allowed an oligarchy of the unelected to fill the role, which in a democracy is meant for our elected representatives.

Politicians must recover lost ground. There is still time. They must seize all opportunity including the next parliamentary session to reinforce their ability to speak for progress for their voters, for what may be unpopular but is right.

Ashutosh Dikshit March 2016

*A company that markets a product manufactured by others under its own brand name.

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Facebook’s River

The air in Delhi is the most toxic in the world. Yamuna in Delhi is in a terrible state. Activists are going blue in the face. Intense rage and sarcasm is being expressed in the media.  Vehement criticism, assertions and opinions galore are daily fare.

Governments of all political persuasions have been promising a clean-up. The laws are in place, courts have passed hundreds of favourable judgments, and Funds to the tune of thousands of crores have been allocated.

On social media there is largely very little thinking, as people share links to opinions of those who echo their own instincts. There is no need felt to think slowly and carefully. A position is taken based on an existing mind-set, ego vested in it and defending it for the next week becomes critical.

Since air pollution in Delhi is severely damaging our own children and disabling all of us in one way or the other, and we are all drinking filtered poisoned water, it stands to reason that we should enquire why the result is Zero. Why is nothing done?

To answer this first consider the following words. They are jumbled and you have to arrange them in the order of priority in your life.

New Car, new bike, basic housing, additional property, international vacation, clean air, tuitions for children, board exams, settling score with neighbours, caste based reservations for Government jobs, Donald trump, Kanhaiyya, JNU, football fields, best university for children, mutual fund, Sewage treatment for Delhi, investment, Success in chosen field of work, religious festivals, mata ki chowki, Malls, international vacations, living clean rivers, SUV, salary increase, career plan, personal fame and glory, health.

Now organise all these as honestly as possible into your list of preoccupations. And it will make clear where clean air and a living river fits into the City’s priorities.

River and air pollution are problems we just can’t seem to fix.

A severe imposition of the rule of law has been suggested: this is impossible given the political, human rights and humanitarian crisis that will erupt. It is never going to happen either for Delhi’s air or for Yamuna. Therefore, citizens and activists will gripe over tokens and symbols on social media and television. But it will not change. The Government will simply not invest in sewage treatment beyond a point as it has more pressing desires of its voters to fulfill. Equally it will not recover footpaths for the fear of annoying Hawkers and Voters who park their cars illegally.

If you examine the Chipko movement and the Niyamgiri hills movement, the missing element in campaigns that struggle for a pollution free Yamuna and Delhi can be noticed. Though not an all encompassing theory it may shed some light on what we are facing.

In the first, the people closest to the problem had a direct and vested interest in saving their trees for their own immediate and imminent emotional socio economic needs.  There was a sense of actual ownership not academic, or in principle ownership. They felt a connection, an attachment to their earth and nature as something deeply and profoundly connected to their life and livelihood. It was not only an academic proposition.

Similarly in the Niyamgiri agitation, even as NGO and activists spearheaded the movement it was the local tribals who were deeply connected to the soil and hills in economic, social and spiritual ways. Even though the courts buttressed the locals’ point of view it were the locals themselves who stood up against the might of giant corporations

The Movement against the limestone mafia which was destroying the Doon Valley and Mussorie hills, way back in the eighties was a slightly different phenomenon as it was more urban. Nevertheless there were activists, court judgements and a significant number of people who wanted their hills back to their pristine beauty and wanted all the degradation to stop. To counter the vested interest of limestone quarrying there were a large number of people against it. The courts ordered, the state accepted and this led to the creation of 127 Infantry Battalion of the Territorial Army (TA) as an Ecological Task Force affiliated to the Garhwal Rifles. It has soldiers selected from the ex-servicemen of the Garhwal and Kumaon hills based who are deeply vested in the local ecology.

Contrast that with the Yamuna; the people of the city and the dwellers on the banks have an exactly opposite vested interest. It serves their life and livelihood to pollute the river. There is an entire politics and economics of waste, of illegal housing, illegal sewers, and construction waste. If the much loved NGTs orders on construction dust were implemented and fines afforded the Delhi’s environment lovers angry on FB, would be up in arms as renovation for their pretty interiors or the builder flat they just decided to own will become really difficult. Illegal dyeing and plating industry abounds and provides livelihood to thousands. It also contaminates vegetables grown there with cadmium, arsenic, mercury etc.

Consider air pollution. Delhi’s roads are covered with cars parked on either side. The NGT has deemed that this contributor to traffic jams creates air pollution and is illegal with heavy fines to be paid. Nobody dare charge, nobody pays that fine or removes their car. But that does not stop anybody from pontificating on the demerits of air pollution and demanding NGT orders to be implemented upon someone else. There is utter hypocrisy.

 When river activists and crusaders for clean air try and gather local people, or city folk, they can hardly get enough people to substantiate a large scale movement against water and air pollution. Several villagers living on flood plains want to sell their land to builders. Lakhs of migrants and urban poor live in shanties in the area. Their income comes from small occupations that contribute to the river’s pollution. Millions of gallons of untreated sewage is dumped into the Yamuna every day. How many Delhi city voters have ever even bothered to question their elected representatives of this?

Thousands of city dwellers who are suddenly expressing their love for the environment throw plastic and bags full of puja remnants into the river daily. Hundreds of Visarjans take place and chhat puja brings lakhs on to the banks every year.

The ‘O’ Zone of the DDA is made up of settlements in Mithapur& Jaitpur etc in the Badarpur constituency. These are Areas which house lakhs of people.  As per DDA’s claims, the settlement partly covers the flood plains (this is disputed by residents). While the DDA has accepted some demands of the area residents the matter is now stuck in courts. Several demolitions of jhuggis have taken place on the Yamuna Pushta, an action which is cruel as the poor living there have no place to go since a distinct financial advantage is acquired by functionaries in all governments by keeping the possibility of illegal construction alive.

The point being made is this: When a large number of citizens are involved in environmental degradation it will require a substantially large if not equal number of citizens to oppose it to make a difference.

 There is something non- serious about the bourgeois outrage on the social media. Politicians instinctively know this and can discern real concerns from the unreal ones. It is evident from the attitude of all political players that they are not at all shamefaced by any of this failure on river and air. That it does not bring ignominy to the government at any level, is evident to say the least.

The atmosphere of Delhi and the life of its river depend on the people of Delhi and what they really feel about it deeply and intimately, not intellectually alone. More than just activism is required.


 

There is more material should the reader care to go into the depth of this matter. Those interested can begin with:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chipko_movement

http://www.importantindia.com/11686/history-of-chipko-movement/

 

http://www.teriin.org/index.php?option=com_ongoing&task=about_project&pcode=2008EE06

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/UP-Delhi-asked-to-help-DMRC-remove-flood-plain-debris/articleshow/24833213.cms

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/ddas-proposal-to-redraw-yamuna-floodplain-criticised/article5031574.ece

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Think through Kashmir

The question of Kashmir is settled insofar as the position of all Governments of India since 1947 are concerned. It is an integral part of India and the unfinished task of reclaiming POK is incomplete. Whether or not this reclamation happens and/or the Loc becomes the De facto border, and whether or not India’s military might & economic muscle can ensure that nobody walks away with state territory, one must examine the matter of self determination for the people of Kashmir and its implications. It should be examined how much the fructification of a demand of one state affects the rest of the country and the interests of a billion people who will be affected. Indeed the geopolitical consequences in the entire region of South Asia and the Middle East need to be kept in mind.

This or any other Government may or may not allow or let pass the calls for self determination in JNU but no Government can avoid examining and assessing the implications of such Secession on the rest of India. No Government should avoid that in their calculations or they would be incapable of a calibrated response. As such it is the responsibility of the Government of India to be careful with movements which can escalate into dangerous situations.

It is equally necessary that an examination of this issue not be bracketed as being generated through ‘Nationalism’ since it will affect the lives of millions of people whether or not they subscribe to that concept.

This is important as recent developments demonstrate the ability of the Government to employ jingoistic and violent ruling party workers to bully and intimidate; and the capacity of the opposition to be bloody- minded & capable of enlisting the assistance of militant, violent, far left & insurgent groups to usurp power.  Added to this, a deeply politicized and commercial media is of little help in debating critical issues.

Despite its romanticized echo in JNU, it should not be ignored that, the demand for secession of Kashmir is promoted, aided and abetted by Pakistan as a religious duty backed by military adventures on Indian soil and terrorist killings of Indians. It is considered by Pakistan as an unfinished agenda of Partition on the basis of a Muslim Majority in Kashmir. The raiding of Kashmir in October 1947 by Pakistan was not to create a free Kashmir but to forcibly take it. A part of the valley was taken by Pakistan which also gave a part of it to China. Indeed all secessionist movements of any consequence in India have been motivated, aided & abetted by Pakistan & China. Both bordering countries have fought wars with India and remain inimical to Indian interests.

The idea being propounded, that the demand for Kashmir’s freedom has nothing to do with Islam, and is only a political & class struggle is incorrect in my view.  It is positioned in that manner by the exigencies of Marxist thought to serve the ideologies’ interests. Left- activism will resist accepting religious motives to be ascribed to this movement in Kashmir. If the truth of religious motivation is accepted Marxists will then have to denounce the ethnic cleansing and communal killing of Kashmiri pundits. This is anathema for the communists as it will annoy their militant supporters. ‘Islamic Jihad’ and ‘Maoists’ are seen by Marxists as their ‘armed wing’ and are therefore routinely provided intellectual and moral justification by the left intelligentsia.

Most of us are liberals but some of us are not left liberals. Even as many left- liberals take full advantage of India’s open markets, corporate growth and western education in India and abroad, for their children and indeed for themselves, they are quick to participate intellectually in promoting the left’s communist manifesto which seeks to destroy the very economic and social infrastructure from which both liberal typologies derive their well being. On the other hand many liberals respond to the Kashmir issue as one related to machismo and the bellicose nationalism of the Right wing and see any discussion on the subject a threat to the existence of India. They ignore the importance of the left which promotes the expression of anger of many of the diverse and the dispossessed and gives them the right and space to challenge the existing order.

I am not a ‘left liberal’ but I notice  the obvious  lines of divide within people of a liberal disposition on this matter and I am hoping that left Liberals can at this point comprehend the fact that the Sovereign Government of India, though influenced by the ruling party is not the ruling party. It is their Government too.

Of late the ‘intellectual’ & ‘Freedom of speech’ support for Kashmir’s Secession from India is being supported by children, college students and older citizens, without, in my view,  giving the matter adequate thought and succumbing to the ‘flavour of the day’ rather than thinking it through.

It is not the purpose of this article to debate the strategic importance of Kashmir for India. Instead the social importance of Kashmir for India is sought to be highlighted here which I hope will be considered by all Liberals.

The scars of partition can be opened easily. It is not just the old who carry them. They are encrypted in a collective consciousness of both Hindus and Muslims and responsible for much alienation and strife between two Major religions in India

The secession of Kashmir will not be seen as a class struggle and the resolution of a political problem by a vast majority. A Kashmir that accedes to Pakistan or becomes a free nation will most likely be an Islamic state. Even though Indian Muslims outside Kashmir are not really active participants in this demand for secession, in effect, it will be seen as, as another partition of India led by a joint Pakistani and Muslim effort.

The ripples from such secession will have violent social consequences. It will create unprecedented anger & violence tearing at the fabric of Indian society which no liberal will be able to fix. This will be catastrophic as Hindus and Muslims, despite several cases of communal violence do manage live in relative peace.

Hindu Muslim relationship in India will change irrevocably or to say the least, for a very long time, and all liberals who loathe the idea of a Majoritarian Hindu India would have strengthened the case for a Hindu Nation. It will only help extremist right wing forces.

This cataclysmic event will not only help the communist manifesto of usurping the state and strengthen violent Maoists militancy and Islamic Jihad against India but would have a very deleterious effect on India Pakistan relationship for a very long time. It will, I daresay, have a negative impact on Pakistani society as well since it will embolden the religious fundamentalists and militants in Pakistan and in the Middle East. The expectations of Kashmiris will be high as they come in conflict for state benefits against the aggressive Punjabis in Pakistan. It is not clear how a decrepit military state like Pakistan will serve the ends of a Kashmir which is used to huge financial support from the central Governments of both India and Pakistan. While the impact may be far reaching geo politically as well, it is not the purpose of this article to extrapolate the consequences of the freedom of Kashmir to envisage its effect on the regions under threat from ISIS and Al Qaida in other regions of the world.

This is not to say that all or some of the consequences listed above will indeed occur. But all Governments and society at large should consider them as openly as possible.

It does not mean that borders across the world will remain fixed in perpetuam as history has seen many borders change. It also does not mean that Kashmiris’ seeking freedom need to worry about a law and order problem erupting in India after they are ‘free’.  But it does mean that, those who choose to live in India, should examine the social implications of the’ right to self determination’ in Kashmir.

Intellectuals minus intellect

A section of eminent litterateurs, activists and NGO have now clearly decided to throw in their lot with the congress party. Some of them have done considerable work in the past, and the party in power almost entirely since independence, has provided patronage to several well known activists.

Writers are returning their awards and some well-known RTI activists too have decided to stay away from the prime minister’s address on the 10th anniversary of the RTI act of 2005 because they feel that all those who should have been invited were not.

Writers are passionate people and cannot be blamed for selective outrage. Rationality and passion do not usually go hand in had

No Government department welcomes RTI inquiries. It is not in the nature of anybody to open themselves to reveal their motivations or be held accountable. It is not as if RTI queries were easily responded to during the last UPA Government. Having filed many RTI applications myself I know that dodging on answering to RTI applications happened then, as much as it continues now. The officers maintain that unbroken continuity in deniability.

Right to information and transparency in Government is a worldwide challenge. The extent varies.

However it is unwise for NGO and activists who feel obliged and loyal to the congress party to blatantly align themselves. This demonstrates an allegiance to a political party more than fighting for a principle independent from politics.

It is possible that the congress party is unable to speak openly on many things directly as it might annoy their constituency and are therefore using activists as cannon fodder. All political parties do this, and it is for civil society activists to be careful. It is not the duty of a civil society activist to feel loyal to political masters. It is self destructive.

Religious fundamentalists and fringe elements feed on each other. NGOs and activists must not fall into a similar trap.

Therefore, it is strategically bad for these writers and activists to throw in their lot politically as this will not enable them but will disable them from carrying out their opposition to faulty policies. It will hinder them from influencing a systemic change in institutional mechanisms which is much needed in a diverse society such as ours.

Lack of patronage, and , that they are no longer a part of the usual consultative mechanism, workshops and seminars of the earlier government brings frustration for some NGO and activists and venting and outrage follow.

These Tantrums however are unlikely to cut much ice with the BJP. They have a massive NGO Base of sangh parivar organisations seeking govt patronage

Political alignment with the congress is unlikely to find much support in Delhi from the AAP either. Aging writers are not really a part of the thought leadership that impresses the AAP voter and Arvind Kejriwal is unlikely to have forgotten the back stabbing and competition from the NAC members in those heady days of the Anna and IAC agitation.

The support from a section of the media may be alluring for now but like all other stories will pass as the public gets bored and TRPs dip.

So this sulk and politicking will be of little value.

If at all the writers and activists were upholders of avowed principles they have managed to demonstrate exactly the opposite and unless they are minded to join active politics this could lead to them becoming less relevant.

Robust civil society, in a democracy should be ready to work with and fight elected governments at the same time. It is not an easy task.

Aligning politically is akin to shooting yourself in the foot even before starting the fight.

 

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Much Ado about nothing

An absolutely objective political analysis of politics is impossible. The analyst himself gets in the way. This writer included

The current by- polls too have drawn the ‘perennially embarrassed Hindu’ and the ‘permanently outraged secularist’ into beating themselves about ‘Hindutva’ or gloating ‘I told you so’ respectively

However politics works quite differently. It must be stated that the circumstances under which political events unravelled up until the 2014 General election are not replicated currently and therefore the context is important

A few pointers:

Narendra Modi’s election was not about a Hindu transformation into ‘Hindutva’. It was about a consolidation of caste vote to defeat the congress and its allies. People were bored of the UPA and did not see their larger interests being helped by the Congress old guard, the dynasty, Rahul, Akhilesh and Stalin.This general election was not about Hindutva

Hindu political groupings are ‘caste’ based for all practical political purposes and not religious. The so called Hindu consolidation was temporary.

However to assume that this phenomenon has ended forever and people have given a ‘resounding slap’ to such instincts is misguided. The Ram Mandir movement saw a similar consolidation(That was Hindutva) and the same may happen again for a different set of reasons. It would be wise to grow up and keep drinking coffee.

I argue that this by-election would have not have been won by the BJP anyway.

People who voted Narendra Modi for P.M are not all Hindu zealot-nationalists with a trishul just as people who vote congress are not all atheists or venal and corrupt brokers with black money stashed away. It would be silly to make such assumptions even as both descriptions may be true in some cases

The word secular, divisive and polarization have quite another meaning in India as compared to the rest of the world as these are BJP specific epithets which have little connection with what the oxford English dictionary intends for its readers.

I am ignoring secularism as enough has been said over it but politics by its very nature is divisive and it polarizes people in elections. Worldwide

Nobody checks all the boxes while voting. They choose one over the other. Politics is meant to divide people over their choices.

There are several impulses on which people vote. In general people make ‘sense’ out of the total inputs made available to them over a period of time against a backdrop of their existing prejudice or inclinations.

If Assembly elections were to be held in Delhi, the INC may not have much of a chance. But in Municipal elections several of their councilors will win. Why? Because locally people will vote basis established networks, which down the line promise regularizing or ignoring illegal construction, encroachment on public property, special benefits for different religious places and other ‘personal contact’ issues. Quicker access to licensing and other civic services, contracts and influence pedaling will come into play. Local Civil construction and development will play a role. The ‘rural’ voter in Delhi has a large say where ‘Lal dora’ considerations have their own dynamics. Many Posh residential complexes abut urban villages. So does the poorvanchal factor, the auto driver and the slum dweller. Alcohol plays a role too.

Corruption etc will no longer be that important and that’ wave’ for Delhi is over. This will, however, not mean that people are going to give a ‘resounding slap’ to Kejriwal’s Political ideas. It does not work like that.

Opposition gloating does not end every phenomenon

In Bihar the ‘sagacious voter’ has voted for a Lalu and Nitish combine simply to protect himself from being punished for voting the BJP and to avail local administrative benefits.  To read that he has become more ‘demanding’, ‘less divisive’ and ‘impatient’ for change would be naïve. Somebody impatient for change does not bring back Lalu.

A seasoned political party like the congress does not hesitate in resurrecting ‘Nehru’ as an icon, to lure ‘impatient’ voters? Never underrate the congress.  They have been there, done that. Things do not change much in reality and they know it. People are not impatient for change. People want more under the same circumstances.

73 out of 80 seats were won by the BJP in national elections in U.P. To extrapolate this victory into predicting assembly or municipal election results would be hasty and simplistic. This is why public posturing apart no hard core politician really believes it.  The defeat of the BJP in U.P has nothing to do with the population suddenly becoming ‘secular’ as some motivated analysts are gloating. It has possibly to do with the fact that Yogi Adityanath was never much of any significance outside his constituency. He never really mattered and it was the media that made him heard in the Metros but that’s about it. The local voter does not mess with the Samajwadi Party especially if the BSP and Mayawati are not in an aggressive mood to provide protection. The voter knows that the Central govt cannot do magic in 100 days. Nobody can.

In Gujarat the chances for Congress could possibly see an increase in the future as ‘Gujarati Asmita’ will not be seen as exclusively coterminous with Narendra Modi  who will be seen as  more of “ Bhartiya Asmita”.  His foreign policy initiatives point in that direction. He will steer clear of the secular-communal debate.

What makes us ‘city slickers’ discuss politics in the big city is not what makes the belly of the city & the country’s heartland tick!

A large number of analysts carry ‘civil society ‘instincts through which they judge elections but on the ground politics is almost always about self interest. Voter included.

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