THE Modi government is observing its completion of four years in office under the shadow of the debacle the BJP suffered in Karnataka. This has imbued the fourth anniversary with a political significance of its own.
The image of the BJP and its top leaders, Narendara Modi and Amit Shah, has been badly dented in the way they tried to form a government in Karnataka by suborning the governor and using other unscrupulous means to lure defectors from the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular). The timely intervention of the Supreme Court and the united resolve of the opposition checkmated these moves.
The whole country got an object lesson of how the Modi-Shah duo are bent upon subverting all institutions in their drive to establish total supremacy. The people can now understand also the calculated attempts to undermine the independence of the judiciary. Ironically, the Modi government’s efforts to block the appointment of Justice KM Joseph to the Supreme Court stems from his judgment in the Uttarakhand High Court nullifying the decision to impose presidential rule in the state.
With the post-election alliance of the Congress and the JD(S) successfully thwarting the BJP in Karnataka, there is renewed talk that a united opposition can take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. It is necessary, therefore, to take stock of the situation and have a clear-eyed view of the way the fight against the BJP-RSS forces can be carried forward.
There is no doubt that in the course of the past four years, the BJP has emerged as the dominant political party at the national level. It has registered electoral successes in most of the assembly elections held in this period. At the same time, the Gujarat assembly elections held in 2017 and, now the Karnataka assembly elections, have shown its weakness and vulnerabilities. In the case of the Gujarat assembly election, it could win just 99 seats compared to 115 seats it had previously held. In Karnataka, though it emerged as the largest single party, its poll percentage was 36.2 per cent as compared to 38 per cent of the Congress.
However, it would be erroneous to underestimate the pan-India strength of the BJP and would be facile to think that electoral tactics alone would be enough to defeat the BJP. The key link at this juncture is to gather the growing discontent against the BJP rule especially due to the worsening conditions and threats to the livelihood of the people.
After four years of BJP rule, the economic situation has further deteriorated. The farmers’ distress due to falling prices and growing indebtedness has grown; there is a fall in the real wages of agricultural workers; the rate of industrial production continues to decline; there is shrinking employment prospects and on top of all this there is a sharp increase in the prices of petrol and diesel which, in turn, is fuelling price rise of all commodities.
At such a time, the Modi government has sharply reduced the jobs available under the MNREG scheme and cut allocations in education, health and social sectors. Therefore, the situation is ripe for intensifying the struggles of different sections of the people – workers, farmers, agricultural workers, dalits, adivasis, women, youth and students. It is the struggles which have developed on economic and social issues which are undercutting the support garnered by the BJP.
The CPI(M) and the Left forces are stepping up the campaigns and movements. The Jan Ekta Jan Adhikar Andolan comprising scores of mass organisations and social movements has called for a day of protests on May 23, to mark the four years of the Modi government. There are other protests being organised by the kisan and trade union organisations which will culminate in the September 5 mazdoor kisan rally in Delhi.
The coming period should see more powerful united actions of the working people and united mobilisations against the communal forces. Such united struggles and movements should be able to gather the discontent and channel it towards the alternative programme of the Left and democratic forces.
If we succeed in this endeavour, the stage will be set for working out electoral tactics which will help to maximise the pooling of the anti-BJP votes in each state during the Lok Sabha election.
(May 22, 2018)