EVM

Elections to the Vidhan Sabha in five states – Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur – took off, with the first round in Uttar Pradesh on 10 February. And a month later, we will have the results out on 10 March.

These elections are being considered very critical – not just for the political parties and individuals in the fray, but for the future of the country itself that is already pushed to the edge of an inferno. Also, these are the first elections taking place after the lifting of the historic year-long farmers’ movement. Farmers from Punjab and Uttar Pradesh (and to some extent, Uttarakhand) formed the majority of the committed participants in the movement. These are also the first state elections in Uttar Pradesh since it officially becoming the laboratory and a precursor to a Hindu Rashtra and which, in its choice of the incumbent chief minister manufactured and inspired a new term in political lexicon – thok-tantra (bash-them cracy) as against lok-tantra (democracy) and which is being tom-tommed as a law-n-order badge of honour!

So after the results to these current State elections, what are the post-10 March scenarios?  What are the various possibilities? And what can we expect of the future?

This is not a political analysis and nor an attempt to dwell on the ritualistic state government formations in the five states – the permutations and combinations, the after-result scramble by the political parties, the horse tradings or whatever. Indeed, one can only hope that the elections – the voting, the counting – are fair and straight-forward, even with the current state of the Election Commission, the entire government machinery, the parallel IT sector, the lap-media and, of course, the EVM!

The concern is rather deeper and about the larger consequences of these election results for us the people, as individuals, as communities, as society, as country and we as the future.

As such, the premise is just two political outcomes – a victory for the BJP or for the Opposition.

If the BJP wins, what is in it for the country is fairly straightforward – more of the same in a long list, but at a even greater urgent pace and with a more ruthless execution. This refers not to constructive initiatives and programmes but the destruction of edifices, institutions and the social fabric, so visibly tested out in the last some years.

The PM has already given ample indications of this in his two speeches in the Parliament. It is now clear that it is not just the building of the Parliament that is to be brought down, but the spirit, purpose and practice of the Parliament itself may soon follow suit. The replacement of the annual budget by a vapourous 25-year “vision” is the first step in that direction. Remember, how the abolition of the annual Railway Budget becomes a precursor to its ultimate privatization and the reason for why jobs will not be created therein, despite pretensions to the contrary. Likewise, the big public sector institutions. The 25 year vision is such a meaningless but convenient bet – who will be there to answer then? The writing on the wall is clear – the government does not want to nor indeed will be answerable to the people nor to the Constitution. There have already been enough cases of dishonouring of the Constitution, but it could now see large scale changes to be followed by its total annihilation or Rss-sitation. Will the flag also be on the line?

Among the  first things to happen will be that BJP will have another puppet for the President of the country next August, who may well deliver the government’s penchant and argument for one country-one election and then one country-one vote. Effectively, we could have the federal system replaced by the Presidential form of governance, which would be just a few steps away from a  one country-one President for life. There are enough examples from around the world and in history, the incumbant leader and his behind-the-curtain organization would have taken inspiration from!  And to celebrate that – we could have more cities, towns, stadiums, institutions, parks, walls and what not to be named and renamed. More posters (appropriately at “gas” stations) and statues waving from every square. Actually, more of Big Brother is watching!

The “Mann ki Baat” may become a fortnightly or weekly broadcast. And we could also look forward to its gist reach us like the daily “good morning” messages on Whatsapp! Served with breakfast, lies, imagined grievances, cooked up history and elegies. Graduating to possible new discipline and departments in universities – “History and Fables”.

The Umar Khalids, Anand Teltumbdes, Gautam Navlakhas, et.al. will have less chance of breathing fresh air soon.

The blue-eyed Adani has already surpassed Ambani in wealth and clout. Will the next star on the horizon be – Jay Shah?

And there will be….and there will be….and there will be….. the list can go on and one with entries, much of it we may be aware of, but could include some we cannot yet forsee.

So, let’s take a look at the other side – what if the Opposition wins. Do we think, it will be the opposite of all fears stated?

That will be being a bit too hopeful. And post-Opposition victory scenario may not be as stright forward as it seems.

Knowing the government at the centre, which has two more years of its tenure at the helm and known for employing Saam, Daam, Dand, Bhed, losing will not likely be digested easily nor an inch given up easily. For it, the result would be like, heads I win, tails you lose.

Change will not be any bit easy nor any time soon. Though, a victory for the Opposition might prise open a little window of hope. Through that little opening, you might begin to hear voices rediscovered, of dissent, which had been hitherto silent, through fear or whatever. How much that little opening will widen, will depend on the next set of state governments or how the Opposition across the country act. Politicians across the spectrum are a stubborn breed and old habits too don’t die easily. Will they readily realize the critical importance of the moment and recognize their historic responsibility?

And so, just as in these elections, it will finally rest on the people – of how strongly, resolutely and unitedly they stand, realize that for much of the failings they need to question themselves too, and be proactive in taking greater responsibility and participation in the affairs of their localities, areas, district, state and, ultimately the country in their hands.

The farmers, of course, will go from strength to strength. The labourers too will join them. The protesting bankers will have  a bit more spring in their steps. And yes, the youth and the jobless will be all over the place. Dalits, the women and the others at the edge too may not be far behind.

But all this is not as straight forward as it seems.

An Opposition victory too will mean, a critical period for the people. They will have to keep their both eyes open – one on the government at the centre; the other on the new governments in the states.

Eternal vigilance is the price for liberty.

Biju Negi,Hind Swaraj Manch and Beej Bachao Andolan bijunegi@rediffmail.com


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