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Welcome to Pseudo-Democracy – Unpacking the BJP Victory: Irfan Ahmad

May 25, 2014

Guest Post by IRFAN AHMAD

This article offers a preliminary analysis of what the Modi phenomenon means in terms of BJP’s sweeping win on 16 May. It makes four propositions.

First, we stop seeing it as an individual phenomenon centered on the personality of Modi even as his votaries as well as some critics tend to view it that way.

Second, the Modi phenomenon is triumph of a massive ideological movement at the center of which stands the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, RSS. Sharply distinguishing between the BJP and the RSS is a naivety; the RSS’ influence goes far beyond as numerous politicians under its influence have gone to the non-RSS parties in the same way as politicians from the non-RSS parties have joined the RSS-BJP collective.

Third, the BJP victory is neither due to development nor due to anti-corruption but due to Hindutva dressed as development so that both were rendered synonymous. The BJP victory, I contend, is an outcome of a violent mobilization against “the other”, Muslims.

Fourth, BJP’s victory is not the triumph of democracy but its subversion. Charting a different genealogy of demokratiain Greek, I argue how it is pseudo democracy.

As I explain these propositions, I request readers to be somewhat patient –they are a bit long, like the night of 16 May.   

Charisma: Assembled, Loaded and Televised

In a live interview to a Singapore-based television channel on the final day of voting, I was asked what I thought of Modi as a “very charismatic person” and his track record of economic growth and delivery. Clearly, Modi’s charisma was no longer merely national; it was internationalized much like the profiteering McDonald as a brand. Such a ubiquity of wave or charisma of Modi entails understanding charisma afresh. For sociologist Max Weber, charisma means the belief among followers in a leader that he has an extraordinary quality as a gift from the grace of God. But how do followers think of someone as a leader in the first place? And how do they subsequently believe that the leader has charisma?

There is no inherent charisma; certainly, not in the 2014 elections. It was built brick by brick by turning corporate theft, ecological degradation and the state-supervised pogrom into development, silenced dissent into celebrated consensus, large crimes into even larger rallies of pride (recall gauraw yātrās). The charismatic leader saw corruption and showed corruption to people only in his rival parties but never told people about Bangaru Laxmans or B.S. Yedurappas and several others within the party whose corruption doesn’t even become a public issue. That is, charisma emanated from showing corruption outside while hiding it within. Yes, it required charisma to dub those speaking out against the state violence of 2002 as promoting divisiveness over development. These “conservatives” clung to the past while the charismatic leader wished to “move ahead” on the highway of future “development” he had already delivered.

In short, the transformation of political ugliness into a bumper sale of development with charismatic Modi at the center required much labor, creativity, coordination, manpower, involvement of internationally-trained professionals, production of comic books to inspire children through Modi’s personal life story and a gigantic sum of money. In one estimate Rs. 5,000 crore (over US $900 million Dollars) was spent on advertisement alone (EPW, 24 May, p.7) –at the rate of Rs. 20 per lunch, the entire population of India, 125 crore, would have enjoyed lunch for full two days. But still all these wouldn’t have mattered significantly if they were not televised by media which obediently did. It won’t be unreasonable to say, then, that Modi’s charisma is a gift from the grace of mammon, television, Google, social media and YouTube.

The Omnipresent Collective behind the Individual

If charisma is not an inherent quality dwelling within the individual – charisma of Vinoba Bhave the “saint” who engineered the Bhoodan movement and is considered one of the most charismatic leaders in independent India was enmeshed in an economic matrix and crafted by the massive political machinery and leaders of that time, Jawaharlal Nehru included (TK Oommen “Charisma, Social Structure and Change”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 1967)  –what is the political collective that explains Modi’s charisma? The answer is short: the RSS which has the explicit goal of making India into a Hindu state with Muslims as its prime foe. What was distinct about the 2014 elections was that RSS’ myriad organizations –in all age groups, across gender, every walk of life and every corner of India –swung into action on camera. Unlike in the past, the RSS and the BJP publicly and proudly acknowledged their mutual contributions. The mask that the RSS was just a cultural, not political, organization was cast off. So, the question if the BJP government would be remote-controlled by the RSS headquarters in Nagpur is redundant. A day after the victory, Uma Bharti, a senior BJP leader, told NDTV:

There shouldn’t be any hesitation (sankōch) in accepting that the RSS is our policy director (nītī nirdēshak). What they [the RSS] have taught us has got mixed in our blood. Therefore, they don’t even need to remind us [the BJP].

There is no need for remote control [of the BJP by the RSS]. We have come under self-control through them. We too have begun to think the way they think. Therefore, there is no need for a remote control. Now the countrymen have put a stamp of approval on it [the RSS]. A swayamsewak of the RSS who has also been itsparchārak is set to become Prime Minister of the country… People themselves have accepted our ideology.

There is no further need to belabor this point for the Kafila readers. What needs to be stressed is that the influence of Hindutva is not limited to the RSS family for it goes far beyond and deeper. That the ideology of Hindutva –different from Hinduism as a religious tradition(s) prior to the Nineteenth century –is also shared by individuals in explicitly non-Hindutva parties and organizations has a longer history. KM Munshi (1887–1971) joined the Indian National Congress in 1929 and described himself as a Gandhian. While in the Congress, he had developed such close relations with the Hindu Mahasabha (HM) that many, including Bhai Premchand, ex-President of the HM, held that Munshi’s “ideas were just the same as that of the Hindu Mahasabha”. Munshi had also joined the akhāṛās, gymnasia, for “training our [Hindu] race in the art of self-defense”. Given his militancy, he was advised to leave the Congress. Later he established Akhand Hindustan Conference to become its President. That Munshi was a Hindu nationalist determined to reestablish the Hindu glory, calling Muslims “goondas”, foreigners, invaders and Islam constituting a dark chapter in India’s history, was manifest in his numerous writings. Well-known was also his friendship with the Hindutva ideologues: VD Savarkar, BS Moonje, and Shyama Prasad Mookerjee.  Yet, in 1946, M.K. Gandhi asked Munshi to rejoin the Congress (Manu Bhagavan, “The Hindutva Underground”, Economic & Political Weekly, 2008).

Before I come to the post-colonial period, let me mention three other examples. Lala Lajpat Rai (1865–1928) resigned from the Congress to become the President of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1925. On Jawaharlal Nehru’s invitation Shyama Prasad Mookerjee (1901–1953), ex-President of the Hindu Mahasabha and founder of the Jana Sangh, predecessor of the BJP, joined the Cabinet Nehru formed after Partition. Pundit Madanmohan Malaviya (1861–1946), twice presidents of the Congress in 1909 and 1918, became the President of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1923 (Christophe Jaffrelot, Hindu Nationalism Reader, 2006, pp.61–62). With Malaviya’s help, the RSS started its shākẖasat the Banaras Hindu University (Pralay Kanungo, RSS’S Tryst With Politics, 2002, p. 49).

The crisscross between the RSS ideology/family and the non-RSS formations continued after 1947 as the table, by no means complete and based on individuals only (of more recent past) , shows below.

Flow Between RSSnSecular Parties-irfanFlows between the RSS Parīwār and “Secular” Parties, Post-1947

The flow between the RSS ideological camp and the non-RSS parties is epic, not episodic, enduring, not fleeting. It grows out of a sustained ideological groundwork to secure political equivalence. As the table above shows, Ajay Rai switched from the BJP to Samajwadi Party and then to the Congress to contest against Modi in Varanasi. Rarely did Rai ever critique the BJP or Modi. His sole claim against Modi and Arvind Kejriwal was that while his rivals were outsiders to Varanasi he alone was a local (asthānīye) candidate. In a special session of the Gujarat Assembly bidding farewell to Modi, on 21 May, Shankar Sinh Vaghela, Congress Leader of the Opposition not only praised Modi but asked him to build the Ram Temple at Ayodhya (obviously the Babri masjid is not even an issue). He also backed Modi and the BJP on other contentious issues. Friedrich Engels’ (d. 1895) remark that “the names of political parties are never entirely right” has some merit.

My point about the political equivalence is not an external attribution but the self-claim by the RSS which should be duly acknowledged as it is. When asked about the RSS appeal across political parties, Ram Madhav, the RSS spokesperson said in 2009:

We have our members in several political parties, including the Congress. We interact with them regularly…The BJP is closest to us in…ideology. Someone is 10 feet away from us; someone else is 1 km away, that’s the difference.

Responding to a similar question, Mohan Bhagwat, the new RSS Sarsanghchālak, head, offered more details:

Joining parties other than BJP depends on the individual thinking of a swayamsewak. And swayamsewaks are present in many parties. This I can tell you. Have you heard of Tiger Narendra in Andhra [Pradesh]? … Earlier he was in the BJP, now he is not [later Narendra became an MP from the Congress in 1999 and from Telangana Rashtra Samithi in 2004]… I had gone to Varanasi where the President of the city’s weyāpāri mandal was from the Samajwadi Party as well as the gẖatnāyak [group leader] of our shākẖa there. In the camp (mahāshīwir) of Agra many district-level workers of the BSP took part… We don’t count who is from which party or caste…We consider them all Hindus.

Hindutva as Development

It is against this wider backdrop of the organizational infrastructure and ideological apparatus that the claim by the BJP and the media that the latter won on the plank of development should be unpacked. To begin with, there is no single party which is opposed to development; every party vouches for development. So how did development and the BJP become synonymous? Consider Bihar under Nitish Kumar in alliance with the BJP. As long as this alliance was in place, Bihar was projected as a model of development next only to Gujarat. However, as the alliance broke in June 2013, we were told, Bihar’s development not only stopped but also declined. In March 2014, The Times of Indiareported that its GDP dramatically declined from 15.05% during 2012–13 to an estimated 8.82% during 2013–2014. While I am not an economist, this conclusion would be convincing if it also showed a major shift in the policy in less than a year and causally linked it to the decline. So, the message of The Times of India was plain: the BJP alone could guarantee development because after the breakup of alliance, development of Bihar drastically declined. The report was not about political economy. It was more about politics and less about economy.

When the alliance between Nitish Kumar and the BJP was intact, Bihar was also regarded as a well-administered state in terms of law and order, “good governance”, again only next to Gujarat. Soon after the dissolution of the alliance Bihar returned to jungle raj. Giriraj Singh, a key Bihar BJP leader, said: “Since the breakup of alliance [between Nitish Kumar and the BJP] there is nothing called government…law and order [in Bihar]”.

The logic of development as a winning catalyst is flawed because in the states of Bihar and UP –from where the BJP won over 100 seats –the RSS-BJP had systematically manufactured an anti-Muslim polarization to consolidate the “Hindu Vote”. In UP it began with the Muzaffarnagar riots operationalized through an incident in Kaval village in August 2013 as a result of which over 50,000 Muslims were rendered as refugees living in various camps. In early January 2014, with some journalists-academics I visited many camps, including the village Kakra and the police station nearby. There was a perfect harmony in the accounts of villagers, police officials and Kakra chief (pradẖān). They all held that Muslims themselves burnt their houses and willingly left villages to claim compensation from the state government. They were “greedy”. So massive was this propaganda that the simple fact that the promised amount of compensation was far lower than the price of their lost land and properties didn’t matter. The police told us that they made every effort to arrest the culprits responsible for loot and arson but they could not find them. While in Kakra, we found the culpritsliving there without any fear; one of them saying that the police lacked courage to touch them. The Muzaffarnagar riots were preface to the 2014 elections which the BJP won.

Two months later, in October 2013, in Bihar too the anti-Muslim campaign began with the explosions in the Patna rally to be addressed by Modi. Soon after the blast, TV channels such as News 24 showed one Pankaj as culprit and police arresting him. Firstpost reported that Ramnarayan Singh, Vikas Singh and Munna Singh were suspects. Within hours, as Beyondheadlines noted, the narrative changed as did the names of the suspect. Suspects became Muslims and their names began to circulate on television screens. The National Investigation Agency arrested Aftab Alam from Muzaffarpur where my parents live. Though released after a few days, media was awash with equation between Islam and terrorism and both against India. The colony where Alam lived was described as “mini Pakistan” by local Hindi media as well as many people in the “civil society”. So terrorized were Muslims in Muzaffarpur that they stopped greeting Alam after his release. When I expressed my desire to meet Alam, many of my relatives advised me not to. I did meet him.

From the time of the Patna blast the political field was methodically mobilized along the religious lines as a result of which electorally Bihar was as productive to the BJP as was the UP after the Muzaffarnagar riots. It was precisely because of such a line of political enmity sharply drawn well before the elections with a specific electoral purpose that at their conclusion Modi said: “There is no enmity in democracy but there is competition”. Does not this appear like an affirmation through the crooked lane of denial?

Let me conclude this section on development with the statement of Uma Bharti. When asked if Modi would give priority to Hindutva over development, she said:

“Hindutva is breath of life (prān) of India… However, prān remains still in its place… Things which require maintenance are hands, feet and eyes –in other words, development”.

Faces of Pseudo Democracy: Terror of Mercy

A day before counting began Chetan Bhagat wrote a blog for The Times of India. Predicting that the BJP with “near boycott by the Muslim community” will win an “all-time high Hindu power”, he posed questions and answered them as follows:

What do the BJP and Indian majority do with this new Hindu power? Do we use it to settle scores with Muslims? Do we use it to establish a majoritarian, intolerant state where minorities are ‘put in their place’? Do we impose ourselves and say things like, ‘India is the land of Hindus’? Do we make laws more in line with Hindu religion?

Frankly, we may have the power to do some of these things now. It may even appeal to sections of the population. However, be warned. This would be an awful and terrible use of this power. In the long term, such a thought process will only turn us into a conservative, regressive, unsafe and poor country where nobody would want to come for business (emphasis added).

While Bhagat’s questions are clear, his answers are not. Of the items listed in questions, in his answer he refers to “some of these things” leaving it for the readers “which ones”. What is clear, however, is that in warning about the terrible use of power, he brazenly violates the innate worth and dignity of humans and shows concern for them because “nobody would want to come for business”. Such a beastly urge –even beasts don’t have that –where treatment of humans (Muslims) is predicated on the calculations of profit and capital, is not a value for most followers of any religion, including Hinduism, in whose name Bhagat speaks. Bhagat’s vocabulary draws less from religion and more from its entanglement with supremacist nationalism and majoritarian democracy both of which must have been strangers to our forefathers in Vedic times. His invocation of the “Indian majority” which he equates with Hindus is a common, though flawed, understanding of democracy. Many dissenting with Bhagat’s lines of thinking, however, accept the idea of a Hindu majority but reject the BJP’s claim to represent all Hindus by arguing that two-thirds of them did not vote for it. Statistically, it is correct. Philosophically, it is not for it concedes the idea of an ethno majority as central to democracy.

Against the received wisdom political theorist Josiah Ober recently argued that the original meaning of demokratia in Greek is “capacity to do things, not majority rule”. In contrast to monarchia (monos: one) and oligarchia (hoi oligoi: the few), demokratia has no reference to number. It connotes a collective body of people. Since nowhere is any people monolithic, the capacity to do things would be diverse and multiple as would be the cultural goals and political idioms. The equation between democracy and majority rule was pejoratively done by Greek critics of democracy. Is it not strange that contemporary votaries of majority rule like Bhagat share grounds with ancient opponents of democracy?  It is precisely this equivalence between democracy and the rule by majority where majority is construed as a distinct ethno that has caused massive violence across the globe. Theodore Roosevelt’s statement that “Extermination [of Indians] was ultimately as beneficial as it was inevitable” bears testimony to such a bloody notion of democracy.

Shortly before the build-up to the 2014 elections, Uma Bharti told Aaj Tak that “Only right-wing Hindutva leaders can be the savior of Muslims and guarantee their security. Only we can instill confidence and erode fear from the Muslim psyche”. On close reflections, it is not difficult to see that this grand assurance conceals a grander danger and threat. Like terror and mercy security and the very threat to that security are intimately connected; they are the cover and back page of the same book. To invoke Slavoj Žižek, “only a power which asserts its full terrorist…capacity to destroy anything and anyone it wants” can speak of “infinite mercy” by guaranteeing security to Muslims. Does a vocal democracy rob people of their capacity to do things and destine them to be no more than silent objects of securitization?

If not pseudo democracy, how should we name a feverish mobilization whose prime goal was to dismiss, silence, erase or subordinate everything so as to singularly secure Mission 272 plus and whose leader (Amit Shah) vowed to deliver 50 Plus in UP, this plus here and that plus there? If not pseudo democracy, how should we name an election where over 40 Muslims were killed in Assam for exercising their choice (to the killers, theirs was a wrong choice)? If not pseudo democracy, how should we name a polity whose authors like Chetan Bhagat impose cultural assimilation and oblige all those who object to assimilation to apply for “citizenship elsewhere” and who further give the Manichean choice for either “oil and water” or “milk and sugar” but omits the metaphor of a beautiful garden where flowers of all colors can bloom? If not pseudo democracy, how should we name a polity whose leaders like Uma Bharti present fear as freedom, threat as security, death as life and dark, deadly thorn as fresh, white rose?

Note: I thank Dr. Mridula Nath Chakraborty, University of Western Sydney and Ram Nagarajan, Monash University, Melbourne, for discussing some aspects of the election result. I am grateful to Dr. Zakaria Siddiqui, University of South Australia, Adelaide, for making the graph and Dr. Mohammad Sajjad, Aligarh Muslim University, and Dr. Syed Ali Kazim of Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund for help in compiling names mentioned in the graph. 

Irfan Ahmad is Associate Professor of Political Anthropology at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne.  

 

20 Comments leave one →
  1. abhishek permalink
    May 25, 2014 10:12 PM

    Brij Bhushan is again with BJP…MP from Kaiserganj LS constituency.

    • May 26, 2014 12:41 PM

      Thanks, Abhishek. This subject requires an indepth study in its own right. The graph was simply a way to initiate the conversation. As you say, there are many turns and returns as well. Mr. Bhushan has been an MP from BJP three times; he shifted to SP later. His wife was also an MP, unclear from which party. Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FC-EvTNMiWk

      • May 28, 2014 3:09 AM

        This article is highly interesting, and the pseudo democracy that Dr. Irfan delineates is also good to compare it to New Order Indonesia. Pseudo democracy occurred at that time in Indonesia when the majority of status quo feared of the influence of the Islamic revolution of Iran among Muslim Shi`ite in Indonesia. This excessive fear generated violence against religious minority, Shi`ite Muslims, from their Sunnite detractors.

  2. Naresh permalink
    May 26, 2014 11:54 AM

    Wonderful take on the happenings happening here in our India. India’s diversity is at stake.

  3. May 26, 2014 1:46 PM

    Excellent post, thanks.

  4. May 26, 2014 3:06 PM

    ” Victory of Narendra Modi is the ‘ True Face of Secularism !!

  5. Tridib permalink
    May 26, 2014 7:59 PM

    “the BJP victory is neither due to development nor due to anti-corruption but due to Hindutva dressed as development so that both were rendered synonymous. The BJP victory, I contend, is an outcome of a violent mobilization against “the other”, Muslims.”

    This is true. But make no mistake, there will be “development” and India will indeed “shine”. The media will soon bombard people with “development” news, and not all of it will be false. The sooner one understands this the better. But what is this “development” going to be? Allow me to remind you of some basic economics that you may have forgotten. Then I shall come to Irfan’s “the other”.

    Lets take a very simple model and ignore some important but complicated issues: The output of a country is either consumed by people or “not consumed”. Taxes, savings and wastage add up to what is “not consumed”. From these taxes and savings come investment in private and public goods. Investment, coupled with labor, gives rise to the next period’s output. And the process is repeated. When investment is coupled with labor through technologically sound processes we get “growth”. Therefore to get more “growth” we need more “non consumption”, less wastage and better technology. So far so good.

    Inflation and taxes increase the amount of produce that is “not consumed” by those whose monetary salaries are fixed (or decreasing). For this, note, inflation need not rise. It simply needs to be there. In the near future we will see some inflation and maybe a decrease in taxes. The net increase in what is “not consumed” is not going to rise significantly. At least that is what I think and I may be wrong, but lets go on.

    We now come to wastage. The next government will, I believe, reduce wastage. Corruption will be reduced somewhat, government efficiency will be increased, and more resources will be allocated to the private sector (which let us assume for the time being is more “efficient”).

    This brings us to technology. Will we be able to implement better technology in the near future, just because there is a change in the government? Perhaps we will. Do keep in mind that “infrastructure” etc. is a part of technology and there is indeed a lot of talk about “infrastructure” development.

    So yes there will be good news. But will this be enough to create around 50 million (net) new jobs over the next five years? I do not think this will be enough to create 5 million new jobs in the next 5 years and people know this. So where will the extra investment come from?

    It will come from natural resources (which by the way belong to us and we are unaware of it). Natural resources which are tucked away in parts of India that we do not get to see on TV. Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Karnataka etc. we know of. But Arunachal Pradesh is the next frontier. A bridge is already being built near Dibrugarh which has lead to ravages in downstream Majuli. Hydro electric projects in Arunachal are silting up the downstream agricultural land, leading to exodus of the Miri people. But there is wealth to be gathered from there. It will lead to some amount of India “shining”. And we in “developed” India will see it. Property prices will go up, so will the stock prices of the Jindals, the Ambanis and the Adanis. India will definitely “shine”.

    And, ….. new “others” will come into our civilized discourse. Aka, Dafala, Miri, Mishing etc. are complicated names ……. in future we will simply call them “Naxals”.

  6. Slightlyskeptic permalink
    May 27, 2014 3:03 AM

    Reblogged this on a dilettante understanding and commented:
    If there is any scholar favorite of mine…it’s him.

  7. Parc Llub permalink
    May 27, 2014 5:32 AM

    I don’t think Mr. Irfan you have understood the meaning of Hindutva or this great Indian’s history background and culture. I like reading Kafila just to read people like you who are so full in your head that you don’t have a least bit of space to open up and understand some basic concepts. What Uma Bharti said and what Narendra Modi has said in his past and many notable leaders have said about Hindutva is very simple. This has been attested even by the Supreme Court of India. As long as you see Hindutva, Hinduism through the eyes and lens of religion (religion as defined and known in contemporary society of Christianity and Islam) you won’t get it and neither many of the Indians (or to say Hindus). RSS or any true follower of Hindutva doesn’t discriminate that your name is Irfan or Antony or Vivek or what god you follow even regardless of the name. All of them are Hindus if they are Indians and follow the culture and traditions of India. You did easily convert pseudo secularism into pseudo democracy conveniently but the beauty of this nation being secular is because of the fact that the culture is Hindutva. There is no democracy on earth that is so secular that even atheists have an equal place. The US of A has “in god we trust” as their official statement but not in India and that is because of Hindutva. Anyway you guys can keep on ranting and most people who don’t have a clue will agree with you. The beauty of this election is that people through away all this pseudo concepts and got together.

    • May 27, 2014 10:55 AM

      I’m sure there are many Indians who do not consider themselves hindu and no one has any right to tell others what or who they are.

    • v v anand permalink
      May 27, 2014 1:31 PM

      uma bharati and modi have involved themselves in demolition of place of worship belonging to another community . They have asserted a claim without proving it. A pure act of vandalism . The offence is still being heard in the courts., in the case of uma bharati and related offences of modi are also being heard in the high court

  8. Kalpana Ram permalink
    May 27, 2014 1:50 PM

    Irfan, I think you are right about Hindutva and development somehow having merged in Modi, as opposed to an earlier formulation of mine that Modi has conveniently been able to ‘move on’ from the anti Muslim pogroms by now wearing the progressivist ‘modern’ discourse of development. Just how these two are intertwined is going to take some thinking, but surely one of those links lies in the logic of embracing an unregulated version of capitalism: pro-big business and anti-poor policies are in fact another form of ruthlessly discarding some parts of the population as ‘dispensable’.

  9. v v anand permalink
    May 27, 2014 5:48 PM

    “First, we stop seeing it as an individual phenomenon centered on the personality of Modi
    Second, the Modi phenomenon is triumph of a massive ideological movement at the center of which stands the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, RSS. .

    Third, the BJP victory is neither due to development nor due to anti-corruption but due to Hindutva dressed as development
    Fourth, BJP’s victory is not the triumph of democracy but its subversion”.

    (1) There is definitely an indivudual element as there was even in Hitler. Hitler”s first mass killing was of his own supporters a year after he assumed power, the slaughter of 8000 SA storm-troopers, on a single day, 30 june 1934. Modi, too has shoved aside the RSS in Gujarat. we have to see how it evolves.Moreover, the RSS is deeply inbolved in the saffron terror cases and their first priority is to extricate themselves there. True, the dialectics of such extrication can itself embolden them and the pendulum can swing again towards fascist terror tactics. But no-one can control this.
    (2) Fact is that Modi victory is entirely due to a corporate heist thru moneybag-controlled media and its barrage of lies.Only a segment of the bourgeoisie, the gujarati-marwari ethically challenged part is involved in the Modi bandwagon.More decent ones as in the IT sector are not so involved. Swadeshi Jagran Manch of the RSS has been completely sidelined by Modi. RSS has bought in out of desperation at the saffron terror investigations.Modi has taken care to obscure the Hindutva aspect thru talk of development. However, also true that middle class has turned against tribals and supports aggressive displacement for “development’.
    (3)Actually, it is the manufacture of dissent as Zoya Hasan argues that started it. In many ways, UPA govt was , in its terms, successful, even very much so. Real rural incomes even of lower deciles grew despite inflation. India is the only major economy to have lowered debt/gdp from 91% in 2004 to 67% in 2012. It is a weakness of the Adanis and Ambanis that India’s GDP is closely correlated with global GDP. More than Korea/China/Taiwan. The “A”s have some competitive capabilities but have not used it to capture market share globally.NDA ruled when oil was $30 a barrel. This became $100 during UPA1 and has remained there. NDA was unable to exploit the window provided by cheap oil, because of the nuke blast and US sanctions response.On the other hand, UPA was hugely successful in achieving growth in free market terms.Revenue growth was also used to fund social welfare.The oil price hike alone accounts for 2% of GDP as current a/c deficit.. The propaganda of last 9 months obscured all this. The barrage, in my view, pumped up the morale of the saffron crowd and demoralised the SP/BSP/JDU/RJD and so on.Congress with its venality and selfishness blinded the “cadres” to any sense of public good. Well before the voting, the propaganda was a one-way walkover.Media covered up the fact that a minister in gujarat remained a minister despite his being sentenced to 3 years for illegal mining. True, there was some rewsentment among Hindu middle class elements at Imam-certification-solicitations and so on. especially in places like Kerala, Goa etc. But if the UPA had put up a publicity resistance, it would have worked.
    (4)Your point about the subversion of democracy is, of course, on the dot. it is subversion by a crony-capitalist mafia. and its media.We are staring at a moral abyss, as far as the middle class goes. Modi is a “latter-day Nero looking the other way” as the Supreme Court order in the Best bakery case puts the matter. Such unadulterated criminality implies that he cant trust his own shadow and not even amit Shah. “Efficiency” will come only by handing over all to the “crony-caps”, as no govt functionary will be trusted sufficiently to be delegated any power.At the same time, it has happened sometimes that the worst fears are not borne out. Post-WW2, Left in the US felt that Nazi-co llaborators in Germany were spared and many got back into the woodwork of the new Govt. The worst did not however happen, and Nazis did not make a comeback in West Germany. It is a slim chance.

  10. June 1, 2014 9:12 AM

    Irfan, I read your piece with interest. I have myself done several pieces of writing on Indian politics, its foreign policy and its lofty ideals of democracy. There are two things I wish to note here while requesting you to further study the dynamics of the newly elected Delhi government. Rule of law and cohesiveness of society in peace time has been preserved in the last, shall we say, hundred years through uncertain democratic institutions. There is no other option available. India’s shameful gap between the rich and the poor, its vastness and difference can only be managed through these seemingly weak institutions. I want you to give 100 days at least to make those judgements which you seem to have made already. No system is perfect as you know, you will not allow Boko Haram to rule Australia.

    Thank you for making your own speculations and observations..

    point one:
    Over a 100 milliion Muslim population in Indian is NOT a minority in the context of South Asian reality, What kind of deep politics are they involved in Bharata. Minority psyche is pathological, hence I suggest that your next piece should be addressed to the Muslim intellectuals and thinkers to reflect comprehensively on alternative paradigms of governance applicable to this world here and now, but in the context of India. Challenge them to look into Indian as they home. Because Indian Muslims are a distinct group and there is no other Muslim world that they can adopt either.

    Point two:
    Find your allies among the Hindu intellectuals and scholars with whom you can discuss and share ideas, Eg. I did not see a single Hindu or a non Muslim in the paragraph that you have acknowledged in this discussion (see last para). Because we can invoke intellectual discussions if only we are amenable enough to go beyond our small worlds. We can get stuck ourselves with our world and not see the larger picture. I am sure we cannot go back in history and see the dreams of the Ottoman rule or any other Rule, but certainly we can revisit the Medina constitution of the prophet and his companions, learn and adopt to suit this world, but not the world of Osama nor completely that of Obama. Indian world for Indians with its secular constitution that has the capacity to work with all.

    Dr. Shanthikumar Hettiarachchi

    • June 1, 2014 5:04 PM

      Dear Dr. Shanthikumar

      Thanks for your comment! However, it does not address the key contention or any of the substantive arguments that my essay raises. The “points” you make reflect a series of imaginary assumptions I don’t share. Just one tiny response. When writing the second sentence under point two, did you carefully read the paragraph about which you write there? More importantly, should an idea or argument be judged on the basis of its merit or on the basis of distinct names associated with it?

      • June 2, 2014 10:08 AM

        Thanks Irfan for your response, and I am sure you have now got the message of the comment. When you embark to write on the ‘other’, take extra care even if you are a researcher, cos you unknowingly could step on the boundaries of that ‘other; who is completely different to you and yours. That is the professional loophole and impediment in your piece I am afraid.
        It was good have this banter. Pl continue to write.

  11. Mohammad suhail permalink
    June 18, 2014 7:15 PM

    A highly informative and expose seve!ral untouched and hidden facts about the Indian Social and political system. U rightly used word pseudo- Democracy, I often described indian democracy as ‘Groupocracy’ where some self centric person hijackd the whole country’s political system. I believe that the drawback of the collective decision based on the cost of the separatist ideology reveal soon. We all know that how the whole country were divided into two parts and getting the benefits of polarisation. bt real picture of the Modi government is coming to country’s people who are waiting for ‘Achhe din’

  12. June 18, 2014 10:57 PM

    Unfortunately for the Congress, its 19.3% votes only translated into 44 seats while BJP’s 18.5% had fetched it 116 seats. The defacto Feku has become the dejure PM

  13. akhil permalink
    June 19, 2014 5:13 PM

    Compiling the confrant statements which “so called” savious of hindutva delieved in pre-election era, one most important and shortest outcome that reflected to us was, To attain power at any cost this time. Devolopment and Anti-Muslim Hindutva environment was build up with the guideline of RSS and associated common ideological mob.

    Mr Modi expended thousands of crores of money in enhancing his charishma. He had executed such random sample test previously in gujarat. This was first time in his life he implemented nationally.

    It was very shocking during pre-election period for me when few highly learned and intellectual friends of mine use to tell me “Modi is the only Man who can Control Muslims” .. What non-sense !!

    My contendment to obsify muslims thru the same esctasy like Chetan Bhagat and Uma Bharti is like doubting ur own self.

    Obtaining power is one thing and obtaining thru kropen ways is very dangerous. We don’t oppose the mandate Modi got but we should oppose the kropen ways his team implemented to grasp power. Those seeds will cropper high altitude in future.

    Modi is not a person or a leader for RSS, he was the only mode thru which RSS could be on Power.

    May god save us all ..

  14. Dinesh permalink
    June 19, 2014 7:45 PM

    If Author joins RSS and BJP then how democracy is responsible for that ?
    at least people should differentiate liberal democracy (secular officially) and communal society. Democracy would not come from written document but it can be built by democratizing society. can there be a secular state in communal and feudal society ?

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