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Mainstream, VOL LIII, No 8, February 14, 2015

People Assert — Modi-Shah Duo Bites the Dust

Monday 16 February 2015, by SC

EDITORIAL

How does one interpret the incredible results of the just-concluded Delhi Assembly elections? Was it a political earthquake, a tsunami or an avalanche that brought about such an unbelievable outcome? Whichever way one looks at it, the fact is that the people have emphatically asserted to reject the Modi dispensation by forcing it to bite the dust at the hustings. This is what has made these elections both historic and memorable.

The arrogance of power, writ large over the faces of PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah during the election campaign, having been punctured, the duo has no place to hide. This was the best gift offered by the Delhi citizens to Shah on his son’s wedding at Ahmedabad the same day (February 10) the poll results came in. As a perceptive observer of Delhi’s politics, a veritable aam aadmi belonging to and always backing the underdog of the metropolis, underlined, ‘Last time the BJP fell short of a majority by just four votes, having won 32 seats in the 70-member House; this time it could not bag even that many seats, its tally being just three, as against the AAP’s 67, after such a massive campaign in which crores of rupees were spent like water!’ The shame associated with that basic reality needs to be rubbed in repeatedly in national interest.

How did it happen? The tall talk of ‘development’ and ‘governance’ that catapulted the Modi-led BJP to power was a mere facade to win the Lok Sabha poll nine months ago in May 2014. The main agenda of the Modi-Shah duo backed by the RSS was something vastly different—Hindutva-isation of the country at large using the instrument of majoritarian comm-unalism thereby projecting the Indian version of fascism. This was nothing but an attempt to divide the nation through wanton and unprovoked attacks on minorities everywhere including the Capital city where five Churches were vandalised to terrorise the Christians, while Muslims had already been targeted in various places. Besides the ghar wapsi and love-Jihad movements, Union Minister of State Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s vulgar description of non-Hindus as haramzaadon while Hindus were characterised as ramzaadon consolidated Muslim support behind the AAP in order to defeat the BJP. In the process the Congress was wiped out as the discerning electorate knew that voting for that party would indirectly help the BJP to win. [In fact of the three seats the BJP secured, in one, that is, Mustafabad in North Delhi, the BJP candidate—who was with the Congress till 2009—was able to defeat the Congress by 6031 votes only because of a split in the secular votes with the AAP having bagged a substantial chunk; however, this was prevented elsewhere by the alert Congress supporters who shifted almost en masse to the AAP—thus as many as 63 Congress candidates lost their security deposits.]

It was indeed a life and death question for the secular democrats of every hue which is why even the Left parties decided to direct their members and followers to vote for the AAP (in constituencies where there was no Left candidate) as did the supporters of other non-BJP non-Congress parties like the SP, JD(U), TMC. The danger of communal fascism was real and potent. Somehow the Modi-led BJP had to be stopped in its tracks. And eventually this strategy paid rich dividends. [The huge margins by which the AAP candidates won testified to this and also the fact that the AAP victory was not in the least a flash in the pan.] Hence one significant message of these elections is: if secular democrats of all categories and persuasions unite against majoritarian communalism, the BJP can be decisively defeated (even if 82,000 RSS volunteers hit the streets as they did in Delhi in support of the BJP this time). This should reassure the minorities everywhere on the one side and strengthen the edifice of our secular democracy on the other. The Delhi voters have brilliantly protected both secularism and democracy in the face of the massive divisive onslaught of the Modi-Shah-run ruling party at the Centre.

Would the Delhi results compel the BJP to introspect and change course? That remains to be seen. Yet if press reports are any indication, the elements representing the extreme fringe of the Hindu Right-wing—the Dharam Jagran Samiti, Hindu Mahasabha, VHP—have already begun castigating the PM for having “diverted” from the core agenda of Hindutva. They want the BJP leadership to pursue Hindutva (which it is already doing) in a more concerted manner. The RSS leaders are in a huddle at present to review the poll results but there is every possibility of they too voicing similar sentiments. Therefore there is absolutely no reason for secular democrats to lower their guard and slide into complacency following the BJP’s unprecedented debacle in the Delhi polls.

However, what needs to be once again undersc-ored is the wisdom and perspicacity of our electorate who have literally brought the country back from the brink. ‘The People For Ever’ was the heading of a poem the celebrated poet, Bishnu Dey, composed in the last days of our freedom struggle that witnessed a unique popular upsurge against alien rule. Translated from the original Bengali by the renowned Harindra-nath Chattopadhyay, it captured the national mood of the period. The unforgettable lines of that poem should be remembered today when the people of Delhi, and most notably the downtrodden ones, have scripted another watershed moment in our post-independence history.

February 12 S.C.