Myth of Invincibility! Whether Modi will get a third term in 2024 or these elections can spring a surprise?

No Vote To BJP

Introduction

1.

India at the beginning of the year stands at the cusp of a Momentous Change

The biggest question before everyone is whether the elections for the Parliament – the lower house – which will be over by end of May ( if they are not advanced by the ruling dispensation) would be able to disturb the stranglehold of the BJP-RSS over the levers of power at the Centre, whether it will lead to loosening of sorts of the grip it holds over the various institutions of Democracy ( critics even call that they have been subverted, weaponised) or it will slide the Indian Democracy further into the electoral autocracy mode much to the chagrin of well wishers of democracy everywhere. (https://thewire.in/rights/india-autocratiser-v-dem-report-2023#:~:text=India%20is%20not%20an%20exception,India%20as%20%E2%80%9Cpartly%20free%E2%80%9D.)

2.

What cannot be denied that there is a sense of deja vu in the air.

It is being said that 2024 is a done deal.

The Modi juggernaut cannot be stopped now.

Forget the cheerleaders or Bhakts of the regime, right from professionals in the field of journalism (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/dec/31/bjp-modi-india-general-election-2024 ) to those from the field – who claim to be objective and independent (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wr8zcXTYYqM&t=40s&pp=ygUIcmVkIG1pa2U%3D ;  https://theprint.in/the-fineprint/dont-expect-a-gentler-modi-in-2024-hes-already-sure-of-his-place-in-history/1902688/) , it is being argued that it is ‘almost an inevitability’ now that he will have his third term as PM.

Someone like Prashant Kishor have gone to the extent of underlining that elections will see emergence of a  ‘More Hardcore Successor to Modi ‘ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqxHdE416JU) and in a way emphasising that BJP will have a smooth run at the ballots.

Few of the opinion polls conducted around the 2024 Indian general elections  supposedly to gauge the mood of the nation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_2024_Indian_general_election) seem to butteress the same point albeit with few caveats.

Seat

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_2024_Indian_general_election)

3.

There is no dearth of critics of the government – who personally had to face lot of difficulties with it earlier- are also underlining this ‘eventuality’. Read what noted public intellectual Pratap Bhanu Mehta in his piece in the Indian Express had to say,   

  “[I]n India the outcome looks more certain. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is, at the moment, most likely to return to office, giving India the advantages of stability and continuity.

(https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/lok-sabha-elections-2024-donald-trump-american-democracy-constitutional-crisis-joe-biden-9089903/) . 

He also adds that Modi’s third term is ensured and can give India the advantages of stability and continuity.

Journalists like Ashutosh – who edit ‘Satyahindi’ who have been consistent critics of the ruling dispensation all these years are also underlining it in a different tenor,

 “With every passing day, India is heading towards an authoritarian system in which only one person will matter and the rest, including Parliament, will have no meaning”

(https://www.freepressjournal.in/analysis/analysis-in-the-new-year-a-gloomy-picture-for-democracy)

Question is whether the coming elections will finally vindicate these claims and move towards Modi getting a third term or it will spring a surprise to him, or a shock which the then PM Vajpayee had witnesssed   in the year 2004, when voters rejected another term for him.


4.

Despite the mammoth challenge which awaits us, saner voices in the country are able to see why ‘There’s Nothing ‘Inevitable’ About Narendra Modi’s Return in 2024′  (https://thewire.in/politics/narendra-modi-india-alliance-rahul-gandhi-2024) and how the coming elections would prove historical in many senses.

Such voices are able to see through the bluff and the bluster that how Hindutva Supremacists ascent to the top echloens of power has proved to be a bane for social and religious minorities and also their crony model of capitalism – where selected business tycoons close to the ruling dispensation have reaped super profits and have slowly gained control of crucial sectors of India’s economy – might have given  a boost to the share markets from time to time but have led to further immiseration of the broad masses of people.

As India awaits this historical ‘sab ka INDIA’ versus Modi’s ‘coalition of vested interests and bigotry’. (-do-) perhps it would be opportune to unpack the debate further and look at the strenghts of the ruling dispensation and yes its flip side as well

New Term for Bulldozer Raj ?

5.

It does not need an expert’s study to see that the BJP/ RSS parivar’s plans and preparation to triumph their ‘electoral opponents’ are already in full gear.

Emboldened by their victory in three Northern States -Rajasthan, Chhatisgarh and Madhya Pradesh – defeating an incumbent Congress in two states and strengthening its grip over the third after more than 18 years of its rule ( interspersed with a short duration of rule by Congress) BJP is brimming with confidence.

The ‘Gujarat Model’ of a different kind which BJP has implemented in these three states – where they effectively marginalised the erstwhile statelevel leaders with large followings of their own and have focussed on image of Modi itself, have demonstrated that his Charisma is still intact.

The ‘successful’ blurring of the citizen as a rights bearing individual and her slow emergence as a ‘subject’ ( a labharthi) who is ensured Modi’s guarantees ( who is even reminded in elections that s/he should remain faithful to the ‘namak’ – Modi ka Namak khaya hai https://www.punjabkesari.in/national/news/have-eaten-modi-s-salt-will-not-cheat–pm-mentions-elderly-woman-in-hardoi-1551989) has definitely bolstered this Charisma.

Believe it or not BJP seems to have slowly emerged as The natural party of Hindus and with the Ram Mandir inauguration it intends consolidate it further. The fact that the issue of caste census championed by Congress – during assembly elections in December 2023 could not create much impact on the ground seems as a further  vindication that a significant section of the Mandal castes also have been won over by Hindutva

The idea of secularism championed by the great leaders of independence struggle – who led the making of Independent India – which emphasised a ‘separation of state and religion’ or which manifested itself in ‘equal respect of all religions’ ( Sarv Dharm Sambhav) has for all practical purposes  jettisoned by the BJP.

For supporters of BJP, now it is a foregone conclusion that with a Hindu first agenda and its better organisation and its welfarist policies ( e.g. Ladli Behna, five kilo ration for 80 crore people, financial support for building your houses etc ) – aided and abetted by the campaign around inauguration of Ram temple in Ayodhya – which has ‘successfully’ blurred the of division between religion and politics, where there is no apparent separation of sorts between say Ram Mandir Trust, BJP and the government –  would facilitate in a hat-trick of sorts for it in winning 2024 elections

6.

All this triumphalism cannot hide the fact that the ruling dispensation has been tremendously helped by the way the mainstream media – print, TV etc – has been very kind towards it – which has no qualms in behaving as a cheerleader of the present regime.

For a democracy which is called the biggest one – which is supposed to be a custodian of the welfare of more than 1.4 billion plus people this metamorphosis of the watchdog of democracy is rather a travesty of its real role. As things stand today the media – which in democracies elsewhere –  by its continuous scrutiny of the activities of the ruling dispensation, always keeps it on its toes, is ever ready to question, ridicule, discredit the opposition at the drop of a hat. Perhaps this is a period where many critical voices in the media have either been silenced or  been intimidated in such a way that it has become a very easy ride for the government.

In fact, BJP’s success in consecutive two elections at the centre and its dominance in many states, and its ability to gain a bigger constituency for its politics, cannot hide the fact that right from its approach towards parliament or its model of governance to its foreign policy, there are flaws at various levels, which have rarely come under  the anvil of the mainstream media.

The manner in which it has weaponised institutions like ED and CBI and used them against opposition or critics of the regime is a story in itself. As can be seen it serves a double purpose, suppress opposition parties and its key leaders by putting them in jail for long periods without any trial and also winning selected leaders from them to  their side to break unity. (https://peoplesdemocracy.in/2023/0319_pd/ed-weapon-against-opposition 😉 Data reveals that 95 per cent of such cases are initiated against opposition politicians and critics and there has been 22 times increase in such raids since BJP’s ascent to power. (https://thewire.in/government/five-reasons-why-modi-govts-rule-by-raids-weakens-indias-democracy;https://thewire.in/politics/operation-lotus-bjp-deep-pockets-captive-agencies)

There has been no questioning of this regimes firm belief in what can be called as a politics of spectacles – which it has adopted as a tool to win over the people to its side.

Demonetisation or like unplanned and unwarranted Lockdown during Covid ( which was not even advised by the WHO then) or like the three controversial Kisan Laws ( which had to be retrated a year after they were passed) or ‘Agniveer’ – ‘which was bolt from the blue’ to quote former Army Chief Naravane ( https://thewire.in/security/agnipath-scheme-bolt-out-of-the-blue-navy-air-force-former-army-chief-naravane-memoirs ; https://scroll.in/latest/1060829/decision-to-form-agnipath-scheme-took-armed-forces-by-surprise-says-former-army-chief-mm-naravane ), or the way GST legislation was moved in the parliament – without giving proper thought to it and later making scores of amendments or the passage of ‘three criminal justice laws’ which were passed by suspending around 150 MPs from the parliament and thus throttling any discussion, could be seen as a modus operandi to overwhelm the people.

It is a different matter that with  passage of that moment or period, the ruling dispensation does not have any courage left to discuss pros or cons of the step undertaken or even no qualms in withdrawing controversial Kisan laws or succumbing to pressures from truck drivers and operators about debatable revisions in the Criminal Justice bills.

An opposition politician terms this approach  ‘Cowboy legislation’ which is ‘symptomatic of a larger malaise. Legislate first, discuss later.’ ((https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/derek-obrien-writes-passage-of-criminal-law-bills-a-mockery-of-democracy-9095697/)

7.

The ascent of BJP at the centre has also witnessed introduction of laws, proposals to disenchfranchise a section of the population on debatable grounds. In fact, few years back there was an all India based mass movement to resist such machinations under the talk of NRC ( National Register of Citizens) and CAA ( Citizenship Amendment act). Few days back home minister Amit Shah, reminded people that government is going to introduce rules for implementation of CAA and (https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/caa-rules-to-be-notified-much-before-lok-sabha-polls-reports-101704260144868.html) and Union home minister Amit Shah ‘[n]o one can stop the implementation of the CAA as it is the law of the land.’

As per Constitution which was drafted by Dr Ambedkar, religion has never been a criterion on granting a citizenship but with CAA it will be finally violated. It intends to confer Indian nationality to persecuted non-Muslim migrants – including Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians – who migrated from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan who entered India till December 31, 2014.

It is also period of a very medieval style retribution methods adopted by the government, where it has targeted ‘miscreants’ and demolished their houses and business establishment under very dubious pretext.

This demolition spree has even caught the attention of the United Nation’s Special Rapporteurs for Housing, Minority Issues and Freedom of Religion, who jointly wrote a letter to the Indian government, questioning and challenging the arbitrary demolitions of residential as well as business establishment by the partisan police of various states ‘[t]o punish Muslim minorities for the intercommunal clashes which occurred between Hindus and Muslims in Khargone ( MP), Anand ( Gujarat) and Jehangirpuri (Delhi)’ (https://thewire.in/rights/un-special-rapporteurs-condemn-home-demolitions-in-india-see-collective-punishment-of-muslims

The content of the letter sent by the rapporteurs underlined that these ‘

‘[d]emolitions have been carried out without due process and without establishing proof of guilt.’ ..’that home demolitions are against the law generally in any country and certainly in India, unless they are for non-political reasons – such as for example a technical violation of building codes – and after following a fair procedure, followed by law or and after affording for example an opportunity for people concerned to be able to contest the decisions.

Talking about the demolitions one of the rapporteurs even made it explicit in an interview that they

..[a]ppear to have a a collective punishment angle to it, which is different from simply random acts of incidents against particular families. (-do-)

It was the same period when Supreme Court Justice ( retired) Madan Lokur was constrained to underline the ‘introduction of bulldozer justice’ in India:

..with the bulldozer justice introduced in our legal lexicon by the Executive in Jahangirpuri against “small men without resources”. Without notice and without warning, bulldozers arrived and smashed the house, thhela or shop/stall of these small men and women.

..Notice was not given to the hapless victim of State violence in Jahangirpuri. Clearly, the demolitions were arbitrary. But, even after the Supreme Court intervened and granted an injunction against the demolition, the authorities had the gumption to continue their heartless activity (https://thewire.in/law/demolition-mundka-jahangirpuri)

8

The approach of making loud claims without a basic groundwork is also visible in the way the ruling dispensation has handled its foregin policy issues.

One can even see that its approach towards a country has even oscillated between extremes in its reign. While for India, Pakistan remains a ‘permanent enemy’ , it did not stop PM Modi from visting Pakistan, making a sudden detour while return to India and making a surprise visit to meet PM Nawaz Sharif and later his mother. (https://zeenews.india.com/news/india/pm-narendra-modi-touches-nawaz-sharifs-mothers-feet-makes-surprise-visit-to-pakistan_1838494.html)

Look at the way the Prime Minister reacted after Hamas’s surpise attack on  Israel on 7 th October – which killed around a thousand Israelis and few were even taken hostages. Without mentioning its historical committment to the issue of Self Determination of Palestinians, the statement declared that it stands with Israel at this crucial moment. Few days later spokesperson of foreing ministry once again tried to balance it with the official stand.

In fact, there have been occasions when the ruling dispensation seem to have been seen to pandering to what the rightwing trolls decide, perhaps making a mockery of established methods to settle issues with other countries.One can see how the rightwing trolls had no qualms in underlining ‘ghar mein ghus kar mara‘ rhetoric when the Indian government was formally denying its involvement in the killing of Nijjar on Canadian soil when PM Trudeau made this allegations in the Canadian Parliament itself.

This oscillation of sorts betwen display of close friendship – despite absence of any proportionality from the other – and formal claims of relations being not normal, is also very much visible, when  it comes to a close look at India – China relations.

Observers claim that India-China relations have oscillated between joint Swings by Modi- Shi in Ahmedabad to China’s slow incursion in India held areas ; the way a group of Chinese diplomats were reported visiting RSS headquarters despite foreign ministers official claim that our relations with China are not ‘normal’. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3awqBx_hvdc)

What has rather shocked even independent observers that India has denied that China has made any such incursion in India held areas. It is now history how PM Modi had claimed on the floor of the house – when incursion of China’s army units in India held areas was widely reported that  ‘Na Koi Ghusa Hai, Na Ghusega’

It is worth recalling what the ex Army Chief had shared about his interaction with the defence Minister vis-a-vis China

[t]he political leadership didn’t have the courage to tell the army what should be done to respond to Chinese incursions on the Ladakh border. The defence minister merely told the army chief to “do whatever he felt was necessary”. In contrast, the narrative built was that the Modi regime was giving China a fitting reply. ( https://thewire.in/government/introducing-india-black-boxed)

One could see that the ruling dispensation has as on occasions displayed a very pusillanimous attitude towards China. The story of destruction of a memorial to martyrs in India-China war in 1962 – at the behest of China – has been widely commented upon (https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/creation-of-lac-buffer-zone-forces-demolition-of-1962-war-hero-major-shaitan-singhs-memorial/cid/1989751 ; https://thewire.in/politics/factcheck-was-the-landmark-at-rezang-la-dismantled-as-part-of-disengagement-with-china) but Indian government has still refused to make an official comment upon its destruction.

The Indian Army has been forced to dismantle a memorial to one of its greatest war heroes of the 1962 war because the area where it was built has become part of the newly established buffer zone between India and China.

At the famous Battle of Rezang La, a pass in the Kailash Ranges, Major Shaitan Singh and 113 men fought to “the last bullet, last man” against an overwhelming force of thousands of Chinese troops. The memorial to Singh was built at the spot where he fell. Singh’s body was found with his right hand clutching his bullet-ridden stomach. ..

( -do-)

Of course, the day is not far off that ordinary people would realise the tremendous hiatus between Indian governments proprietary claims on national security and its vacating areas held by it to maintain peace on the border.

9

A big hiatus between claims and reality is also visible when it comes to issue of girl safety or protection of dalit-adivasi rights.

We can recall that Modi government had talked of Beti Bachao – Save girs – since its first ascent to power.

It is a different matter that since last nine and half years one can easily notice a big hiatus between its claim and actual situation on the ground which is becoming visible to everywhere.

The latest being Supreme Court’s damning judgement in the Bilkis Bano case where the Supreme Court declared said that the Gujarat government did not have the power to grant premature release of 11 convicts who had been sentenced to life for gang-raping a pregnant Bilkis Bano, other members of her family, and also mass murdering at least 14 of them in the 2002 Gujarat riots. (https://thewire.in/law/bilkis-bano-supreme-court-gujarat-not-competent-remission) It underlined how her perpetrators were released by the government prematurely on ‘fraudulent grounds’ and  it emphasised the ‘complicity of the state government and the home ministry at the centre’ in this premature release – who had gangraped her as well.

What is disturbing to note that despite highest courts indictment of the state government as well as home ministry for their ‘complicity’  neither the Chief Minister of Gujarat or nor the Home Minister nor any of their close associates had resigned owning moral responsibility nor any of them have been sacked yet !

Instances galore which show how in the last nine and half years girls, women who faced sexual assaults have consistently received raw deal. May it be the case of the BHU IT girl who was gangraped by three people – who later turned out to be members of BJP’s IT cell, and how they were saved from arrest for around two months – despite their being identified in cc TV cameras, the long struggle of the Women wrestlers against the sexual harassment and assaults they allegedly faced at the hands the higher ups in the Wrestling Federation of India or may it be the case of rape and murder of an eight year old Bakkarwal girl Asifa in Jammu, when BJP’s own ministers came out on streets demanding release of the accused who were put behind bars for their alleged role in the Sexual assault of this little girl.(https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/kathua-rape-murder-case-mastermind-sanji-ram-five-others-convicted-by-special-court-1545855-2019-06-10) or even the Unnao case where a local MLA belonging to BJP had come under scanner of the police for his alleged role in the rape of a teenaged girl in 2017 and it took a long time for the ruling dispensation to formally dissociate from him or how the dalit girl from Hathras – who faced gang rape at the hands of her neighbours – was cremated in her own village in the dead of the night without even allowing her parents and others to attend the cremation.

It may be a puzzling question that what makes such impunity towards rapes, sexual violence and murders possible among Hindutva Supremacists.

Ofcourse, the saga of ‘bulldozer Raj’ of a different kind does not end here.

One can go on inummerating its various other aspects as well. Right from how there is the ever-widening gap between rhetoric and reality, even as institutions of transparency and accountability get upended to (https://thewire.in/government/introducing-india-black-boxed) to how India’s GDP numbers are vitiated due to methodological and data-related deficiencies which definitely suits the ruling party’s political narrative of a well-functioning economy. By continuing to harp on these incorrect numbers and hiding the true facts, it adds to the non-transparency in the government’s functioning.

 (https://thewire.in/economy/what-do-we-really-know-about-indias-gdp)

David Versus Goliath !

10.

Where does the grand opposition stands before a ‘battle ready’ BJP – which is preparing itself for the third key struggle ahead to win ‘Hastinapur’ once again – which has armed itself with various ‘weaponised institutions’ or ‘compromised institutions’, which has tried to draw a big dividend by mixing of religion with politics and where  the idea of Hindutva seems to have ‘gripped the masses’

The most important lesson the broad spectrum of opposition has drawn from this ‘bulldozer raj’ of a different kind is that an unprecedented challenge exists before everyone and has finally realised that all of them – Gandhians, Socialists, Communists, liberals, etc etc will have to join hands to combat the menace.

The realisation is very much there that the Grand Opposition comprising of Indian National Congress, DMK, SP, RJD to CPI, CPM and CPI (ML) Liberation etc will have to stand in defence of Constitution today, forgetting their minor differences today

With the behemoth like BJP before them – which not only dominates the  Parliament numerically but has either weaponised the various democratic institutions or made them ineffective by various changes in laws and procedures and which has also been successful in winning over an important section of Hindus to its side – they have slowly realised that for them it is a ‘Swim Together or Sink Alone’ moment and they will have to join hands to fight the battle to save the soul of India.

The coming together of  28 parties of varied world views – whose number has grown since – and formation of ‘India Alliance’ is definitely a positive thing, where there is a growing realisation among them that BJP’s continuance would be detrimental not only to their existence but the welfare of the people as well (https://www.indiatoday.in/india/video/bjp-hindutva-fascism-propaganda-pm-modi-cow-urine-sharad-pawar-2484640-2024-01-05)

Today the battle ahead looks uneven but with a rejuvenated Congress – ready to play a key role in these efforts –    the final results can give a surprise to BJP.

As one discussed earlier like 2004 – which proved a dampner to BJP’s continuance at the Centre – where the overconfident Vajpayi and his close associate Advani had even preponed the elections to win a fresh mandate from the people, one should also remember the years1976-77 when Congress under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had similarly declared elections – with a full confidence that the Grand Old Party of India would get the mandage once again, but it badly lost.

11.

What is remarkable at this moment that a rejuvenated Congress, a new look Congress under Rahul’s leadership is before us – which is much more ideological than its earlier avatar.

Analysts rightly underline that since the days of Nehru it is for the first time that Congress has frontally raised the issue of RSS, its communal fascist designs and the way it has established a stranglehold over various institutions.

What is worth emphasising that it is equally conscious about the Adani factor and has raised the issue of crony capitalism on the floor of the house. The alleged relationship between this super billionaire and the great helmsman of the ruling dispensation has also been raised time and again.

The ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ undertaken by the Congress under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership has not only rejuvenated the whole organisation but has also made him more acceptable among opposition parties. The manner in which Congress won the elections to Himachal Pradesh assembly – during the Yatra itself, when Rahul was absent from the electoral scene and Priyanka Gandhi led Congress campaign or how it wrested power from BJP in Karnataka and in Telangana from a regional party was remarkable to say the least.

The way Congres has handed over the reins of the party to a 85 year old Kharge or how it has display tremendous flexibility in stiching an alliance, (https://indianexpress.com/article/political-pulse/congress-255-lok-sabha-seats-india-alliance-partners-polls-2024-9095917/) has also been noted.

While BJP since its ascent to power had been talking about ushering in ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’, as of now the situation is South India is now BJP Mukt. All its plans to spread and consolidate its influence south of Vindhyas has effectively come cropper, thanks to Congress.

The idea to take out another Yatra – beginning 14 th January – which will cover thousands of Kilometre and will culminate in Mumbai is also very important because it will give the Congress to reach out to those areas where  it is relatively weak and also spread out the message of NYAY in an effective way.

12.

There is no denying the fact that the opposition alliance has its own weaknesses, its limitations.

The ‘Disorganisation’ of the Congress always comes up during discussion, (https://caravanmagazine.in/politics/congress-rahul-sonia-kharge-party-disorganisation) but analysts always refused to see that it has never been an organised party like the Saffrons or the Communists. In fact, since its inception around 140 years back ( 1885) it has always acted as an umbrella organisation of various trends, tendencies.

It is also seen that few constituents are main contenders for power in many states, where BJP either does not exist or does not have a big chance to make a breakthrough.

A section of this ‘alliance’ partners have once even allied with BJP and it can also be seen that few of them are not not in a position to comprehend the danger of the increasing dominance of Hindutva Supremacism and its majoritarian politics.

But the silver lining is that they have realised the danger which is posed by the BJP-RSS combine and the existential threat it can pose before many parties if it is not denied a third term. The recent developments in Maharashtra politics is a reminder to them that if left unchecked it can similarly break other smaller parties.(https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/opinion/maharashtra-mla-ruling-a-battle-lost-war-remains-to-be-won)

The fact that in the last meeting of the INDIA alliance Mamata Banerjee proposed Kharge’s name as PM candidate of the alliance, a move which was duly supported by AAP just shows the growing maturity within the alliance partners about the emerging challenge, the role a bigger party like Congress should play in it.

13.

We also need to take a look at the overall backdrop in which developments in India are taking place, how slowly albeit not so silently, the challenge to democracy has arisen the world  the world over.

Elections in India the ‘biggest democracy in the world’ will be held ( within few months from now) when elections to major democracies of the world would be taking place in the year 2024 – right from US, Pakistan, , Sri Lanka, Indonesia to UK etc where 2 billion plus voters would be exercising their agency to shape their near future.

Fact is that in none of the countries one is in a position to predict that Democracy will have a smooth run. For example, within the strongest democracy in the world, namely US, chances of Trump becoming President again – if he is not ruled out from fighting elections – are very much there.

The choices voters will face are not easy. None of them are showing a clear pathway of how we prevent ourselves from sleepwalking through multiple crises. We hope that democracies can, once again, engage in a monumental act of retrieval: Redeem the future instead of being stuck in the past.

(https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/lok-sabha-elections-2024-donald-trump-american-democracy-constitutional-crisis-joe-biden-9089903/)

The example of countries of European Union – which resisted the shift towards a right-wing anti-immigrant agenda for quite some time, is worth underlining where but in less than a quarter century, more extreme views are being normalised. The ascent of someone like Geert Wilders – with a blatant anti -Muslim agenda – which garnered largest number of seats in the elections in Netherlands – is worth immitating.

Far-right parties are steadily climbing, shaping the mainstream to reflect their nativist and populist agendas and occupying ministerial roles in coalition governments.

This rightwing upsurge is not happening through some coup etc but through democratic means only and this is a further cause of concern.

13.

Why One Remains Unconvinced about the INVINCIBILITY of NaMo led alliance

There are many factors which seem to have been neglected in UNDERLINING Modi / BJP’s inevitability

One feels that neither the analysts have tried to unpack the opinion polls properly nor have they tried to gauge the mood of the people on the ground. Another important factor which is found missing is the sense of history. 

a.

No sense of History

A key point seems to be that this assessment about a third term for Modi is devoid of any historical merit

Post Independence, there have been two major occasions in the trajectory of Independent India, where this feeling of invincibility was badly bruised and broken

– Take Emergency

Indira Gandhi called elections for the next Parliament when opposition had remained largely subdued and even Deoras – then head of the RSS had started writing apology letters to her (https://www.counterview.net/2021/06/when-deoras-said-rss-had-no-relation.html ; https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/indiascope/story/19800315-balasaheb-deoras-further-tarnishes-shrinking-rss-image-806500-2014-02-05)  or (https://www.counterview.net/2021/06/when-deoras-said-rss-had-no-relation.html- asking to unban RSS and let it function in the programme)

Year 2003/2004

Like Modi-Shah duo today, the Vajpayi- Advani duo were similarly confident of their win at the hustings, who had even preponed elections to the Parliament by few months after their massive victory in Rajasthanm MP and Chhatisgarh assembly elections ( 2003 December) and it is now a part of history how the voters rejected the rosy ‘India Shining’ picture packaged and peddled before them and elected Congress led UPA government to power and it took a decade for the BJP to bounce back.

– The Year 1992-93

The Babri Mosque was demolished in the year December 1992, a ‘criminal act”was commited as per the Highest Court of the country. Years of mass mobilisation led by various affiliated organisations of the Sangh Parivar had gone into making it happen. The demolition was marked by widespread riots in different parts of the country. It was expected that BJP will again bounce back to power in the state at least.

Elections were held in the beginning of the year 1993 and here as well BJP lost badly because it faced the alliance of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party – led respectively by Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kanshi Ram.

A slogan much popular those days was ‘Mile Mulayam Kanshi Ram ; Hawa Ho Gaye Jai Shri Ram’

b

Bye Bye Godi Media

With near monopoly of business tycoons – close to the ruling dispensation – on the media , exit of many critical voices from it and its slow metamorphosis into another cheerleader of the regime has not only witnessed such channels loosing their credibility, millions of customers saying goodbye to these channels and subscribing and listening to YouTubers – who are courageous enough to show truth to power and such channels by brave journalists are becoming popular as well.

Millions and millions of people have subscribed to these channels and have been able to keep the voices of resistance, voices of hope alive. Such YouTube channels have slowly expanded their readership. Ravish Kumar Official has a subsriber base of  8 million at present (Satyapal Malik with Kapil Sibal: If EVMs Are Used, BJP Will Win. VVPATs Must Be Counted Too ;   4 PM Opposition will give tough fight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjxhpZUPVzw )   

Voices from the Ground

Resistance at the grassroot level ?

As of now when massive campaign by BJP is on, and the mainstream media has joined the bandwagon, it is rather difficult to comprehend the slow change in grass root level narrative which is happening all over the country, but not enough details are known that at a various levels.The resistance faced by Vikasit Bharat Sankalp Yatra at places is worth noticeable (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLVq_HAsCac&t=34s Maharashtra – Sohit Mishra Channel) (https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/viksit-bharat-sankalp-yatra-modi-sarkar-or-bharat-sarkar-voters-seek-answer-stop-chariot-9099340/)

Anecdotal evidence – may be through travel in City Buses or Metro suggests one interesting difference. Of late one can listen to critical discussion on the political situation in public as well, which was largely absent earlier.

d.

Let us Unpack the C-Voter 2024 Opinion Poll*

Historic Third Term For Modi Or South To Give Congress An Edge?

…The fight between the NDA and the INDIA bloc appears closer than expected in the northern belt.

( Zee Media Bureau)

Highlights

– Upper Hand for BJP in North n Congress led bloc in South

#

FIVE states 110 Seats – BJP likely to get 83-75

– MP ( 29) – 27-29 BJP / 0-2 Cong

– Rajasthan ( 25) seats) 23-25 BJP / 0-2 Cong

-Chhatisgarh ( 11) – 9-11 BJP / 0-2 Cong

– Karnataka ( 28) 22-24 BJP / 4-6 Cong

– Telangana (17) 1-3 BJP / 9-11 Cong / 3-5 BRS

#

Five States 223 Seats – BJP + 125-130 Seats – States which play a pivotal role in sending any party to power.

UP (80 ) 73-75 BJP / 4-6 SP-Cong 2 BSP

Punjab (13) 0-2 BJP / 5-7 Cong / 4-6 AAP/0-2 Akali Dal

Maharashtra (48) 19-21 BJP, Shiv Sena -Shinde, NCP – Ajit / 26-28 Cong + ( ShivSena, NCP and Cong) 0-2 others

West Bengal (42) 16-18 BJP / 0-2 Cong n CPM / 23-25 TMC

Bihar ( 40 ) 16-18   BJP+ (BJP, LJP-Ram Vilas, LJP-Pashupati Kumar Paras, HAM) / 21-23 Congress+ (Congress, JDU and RJD) / 0-2 Others

# Total

Ten States  333 seats – NDA ikely to win 210 seats.

UPHILL TASK

To win 90 Seats out of 212 Seats from  ( Tamil Nadu 39 / Andhra Pradesh 25/ Kerala 20 / Odisha 21 / Assam -14 / Gujarat 26)

Even if it sweeps Assam n Gujarat ( 40) it will have to win 50 seats from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Dravidian fort Tamil Nadu –

BJP plans to win around 400 Seats or at least 350 seats but its DREAM will be spoiled by Bihar, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Southern belt.

Battle is Still Open …

( *https://zeenews.india.com/india/c-voter-2024-opinion-poll-historic-third-term-for-modi-or-south-to-give-congress-an-edge-2702503.html)

14.

In Lieu of Conclusion

We will have a new government within less than six months.

With mainstream media – metamorphosing into cheerleaders of the government and finding every fault with the opposition – which has in fact happened perhaps for the first time in independent India,- there is every ground for becoming a cynic today.

With complete blurring of lines between the government , the party and the religious institutions – it is possible that attempts will be made to overwhelm all voices which are still ready to question the status quo and ready to question the powers that be.

In such a backdrop saner voices, peace, justice and equity loving people have a great task on their shoulders.

Everyone concerned with the betterment of humanity and yearns that the New India which is being carved before us is able to retrieve its original essence – based on Constitution, product of our long drawn struggle for independence, conceived by great leaders of our independence struggle and drafted by legendary son of the oppressed Dr Ambedkar – will have to resolve to make it happen.

Subhash Gatade is a left  activist associated with New Socialist Initiative

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