Mainstream, VOL LIII, No 10, February 28, 2015
AAP Victory Disrupts BJP Advance
Sunday 1 March 2015, by
The AAP victory has slowed down the BJP juggernaut not only in Delhi but all over the country. The BJP had been taking the people too much for granted. It has been riding roughshod over people’s opinion, totally ignoring sane and sober and progressive opinion, has been continuously hurting religious feelings not only of the Muslims but increasingly of the Christians, Sikhs, and even of certain sections among the Hindus in the name of authorised or ‘unauthorised’ saints and gods. It had been playing with the composite culture and secular fabric of the country. The Modi Government has been shelling out promises right and left, as if the election campaign was still on. It has been ‘setting aside’ hundreds and thousands of crores of rupees for this and that ‘project’ without actual implementation, without caring for resources and without the slightest of intentions to carry them out.
The people of Delhi and all over India have been watching the ‘performance’ of the Modi Government, giving it enough ropeway and leeway, enough time to carry out at least some of its promises. They have ultimately found out that it is a non-performing government.
The AAP victory is spectacular, considering the fact that it is a new party, formed very recently, just after the ‘Anna movement’. In the conditions of rapid fall and disappearance of the traditional Congress, the AAP and Kejriwal have been seen as the alternative. This alternative has emerged because of the complete inability of the Congress to understand the people. It is also unable to defend secularism effectively. It is being rapidly reduced to a third position all over the country. the Congress’ anti-people and neo-liberal economic policies during its own rule has totally alienated the people. Today, it is unable to put up any effective fight against the communal and anti-people economic policies of the Modi Government.
The AAP has carried on sustained work in the period of its recent revival. It is creditable that it has re-emerged from the situation it put itself in after its debatable decision to resign after a 49-day Ministry.
The mass of voters decided to create a kind of ‘united front’ of voters. They decided that voting for the Congress or any other party would be wasting their votes. Therefore they decided en masse to shift their votes to the AAP. The CPI and Left did well to extend their support to the AAP.
Delhi had virtually no government worth the name since the resignation of the AAP Government in February last year. Most of the development work had stopped and all activities had taken on a provisional feature. It was absolutely essential that a proper government was in place for the development of Delhi, the most important State in India.
BJP thrown into Confusion
The BJP is shell-shocked: the AAP victory has broken the spell and the aura of the BJP and Modi has gone, at least for a substantial section of the middle class, the trading community and shopkeepers, as also some younger sections. Its ‘rath’ has been halted, and that is the biggest service that the election result has done. The myth of the ‘invincibility’ of Modi, seemingly deeply weighing over the people, has been broken.
That the BJP is in great confusion, unable to digest the defeat, is shown by the allout attack on it from the RSS as published in their papers Organiser and Panchjanya. The RSS has questioned the basic strategy of the BJP. It has criticised the projection of Kiran Bedi, the ‘departure’ from accepted policies, the ignoring of the RSS-BJP cadres, and an inept attitude towards serious governance and the people’s feelings, among others.
The recent by-elections in various States have all gone against the BJP. These events may well be an indication of a retreat of the BJP all over the country. Of course, we have to watch the coming events in the country to reach a final conclusion in this regard.
For the first time since the 2014 elections, the BJP has been put on the defensive. It is a very brief time since then, and a commentary on the governing capacities of the BJP. The party has been thrown into an internal conflict and crisis. It is unable now to understand whether to go forward or back. All its ‘astras’ have failed in Delhi.
It tried its best to polarise Delhi along communal lines by instigating and planning to instigate riots and conflicts and tensions in area after area. This alerted the people of all the communities, who have seen through the game and understood that it is a threat to normal social and economic life. Besides, the BJP Government at the Centre has not a single achievement to its credit: it cannot say it has done this particular work in the last nine months or so. The money-play was there for all to see. People were fed up by the constant, and increasingly empty, promises of the Modi Government. The language, manners and public postures of the BJP and RSS leaders became more and more rough, intolerant and coarse. The educated middle class turned impatient. Even the shopkeepers, including the big ones, who till yesterday were enthusiastic supporters of Modi, have begun to turn away. A simple talk with any ordinary shopkeeper will confirm this. They were tired of Modi’s foreign visits and his ‘victories’ abroad!
Finally, the BJP is being seen as a non-performing party in power, which has done simply nothing.
Modi and the BJP will find it hard to go ahead in the coming months in the rest of the country. It has promised too much without delivering anything; it will have to deliver, which is no easy task. It has already lost a substantial support of the people.
Big Task before AAP
It is true that the AAP has won a spectacular victory, and by this act alone has contributed to hold back and rebuff the communal offensive. The Left has to do much thinking.
At the same time, the mandate is too massive, as Kejriwal himself admitted, ‘scary’. How is the AAP going to tackle the problems and deliver? At some point it will have to confront the corporate houses. It will have to try to keep the support and the mandate intact, at least largely. Where will the resources come from? What are its economic and political policies? Etc. These are some of the crucial questions.
It has to be noted that so far the AAP has avoided developing any ideological moorings. It has not taken a clear-cut stand on many crucial political, ideological and economic questions. This cannot be the case for ever. It has to come out clearly if it wants to solve the people’s problems. How is it going to fight the communal forces, for example? Corruption? Solve the problems of the poor and the working masses? One cannot escape and populism is not going to solve any problem. Not only has it to learn much from its previous stint in government, it has to really show determination in this field.
The AAP is a conglomeration of various individuals and groups who have come from different sources and a lot of them are simply non-political. This is a dangerous situation. It has been fighting more the results of the system than the system itself.
The going ahead will be an uphill task for the AAP in the absence of a clear ideological, political and economic orientation.
It has to be realised that the AAP victory has created better conditions for mass and class struggles. It at once changes the ambience of struggles. With the BJP in power, the agenda is always dragged to the communal terrain or ground. No question of economic or political nature can be raised and discussed seriously. Therefore, it is very important to have a government in power which does not indulge in communal and divisive propaganda. Only then one can seriously raise and discuss economic and people’s issues.
The author is a Marxist ideologue.