Towards Gujarat Elections
- Lal Bahadur Singh
Does it surprise you that Sonia Gandhi, the supremo of the ‘secular’ dispensation ruling in New Delhi, in her election-launching speech in Anand, did not even dare to mention Gujarat genocide, recently captured live on camera in the perpetrators’ own gory confessions? Perhaps not, given that her Government failed to take any action against the Modis and Bajrangis despite such clinching evidence. In the wake of the damning Tehelka expose of Modi’s personal involvement in the 2002 genocide, the immediate arrest and prosecution of Narendra Modi was a minimum first step in securing justice for the victims of the genocide. If the revelations of a sting operation in the 'cash-for-questions' scandal could lead to action against MPs, revelations of mass murder surely called for the arrest and prosecution of the man who masterminded it. But Congress developed cold feet on the issue.
And when the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation headed by Sonia appreciates investment and development in Gujarat and her Commerce Minister Kamal Nath declares that “when we showcase India, we showcase Gujarat”, one can only infer that the main opposition in Gujarat has de-facto accepted its defeat even before the battle has begun in Gujarat. If in spite of such a spineless and benevolent opposition, BJP loses, it can only be a loss of its own making; the result of the pent-up mass fury against the patently anti-poor, genocidal regime of Modi, showcased as a synthesis of Gujarat Swabhiman and Hindutva. Modi boasts that the whole of Gujarat is one SEZ: “In Gujarat, ‘s’ stands for spirituality, ‘e’ for entrepreneurship and ‘z’ for zing.”
Even as he rode to power on a communal fascist wave in the background of Gujarat pogrom, Modi was quick to realize that the surcharged atmosphere could not be sustained for long in the times of fast changing national mood. Thereafter, he shrewdly crafted a new image for himself, that of ‘Vikas-Purush’, of course combined with the correct mix of ‘Hindu Hridaya Samrat’ imagery, all packaged together as the new icon of Gujarati ‘swabhiman’. Thus was created the new hindutva 'poster boy', the 'classic fascist' in the laboratory of Gujarat.
Gujarat today is a paradise for the corporate world and the new emerging upwardly mobile middle classes. Here are some gems from the leading luminaries of the corporate world: according to Mukesh Ambani, “we have not lost even one manday in Gujarat”; Ratan Tata finds Gujarat to be the most progressive state in the country today; while Kumarmangalam Birla praises Modi’s dynamic leadership.
But what about the common people especially the peasantry? With the farmers’ suicide Rate (per 100000) at10.2, higher than many Indian states including Punjab, UP, Bihar, Rajasthan and Orissa, the real life story of the people mocks the boasts of resurgent Gujarat. In fact even this figure is grossly lowered by a sleight of hand that shows a disproportionately larger ratio of suicides in the distinct category of ‘pesticide suicides’, implying thereby that farmers’ suicides are not so high. Thus the pesticide suicides in Gujarat are 84 per cent higher than farm suicides while at the national level they are just 28 per cent higher. Several deaths ended up being recorded as just ‘pesticide suicides’ without being acknowledged as suicides by farmers, in order to make Modi’s Gujarat look like a Ram Rajya for farmers!
And what happens to the lakhs of retrenched workers of the old textile industries of Ahmedabad, by now sickened, closed and dumped, which was once acclaimed as the Lancashire and Manchester of India? In the new born euphoria of middle class triumphalism, who cares about the dying peasants and starving workers and unemployed youth!
With its soft Hindutva plank and neo-liberalism, Congress proved no match to the aggressive Modi and thus was defeated by him in her own game. It now seeks solace in the company of deserters from the Hindutva camp, the erstwhile comrades-in-arms of Modi’s killer brigade, and is desperately trying to play a caste card. In absence of any powerful class assertion and with diminishing communal polarisation, there are reports of various caste power groups, trying to assert in the ongoing churning in the state
It will also be interesting to see how Mayawati, who in the last assembly elections campaigned along with Modi in his fascist march to victory, plays her cards and performs in her new ‘sarvajan’ avatar, obviously ‘secularized’ in the company of Sonia, as she tries to woo upper castes especially Brahmins and claim her ‘natural’ right on the dalits.
CPI(ML) work among the tribals being in its initial stage, the Party is fighting for ensuring the rights of tribals on the forest land and other resources. The Party launched a successful agitation against the large scale eviction of tribals from land in areas of Sabarkantha district, where the Modi administration instead developed Ratanjot Plantations (used for making bio-gas) on the evacuated land. However the tribal people led by CPI(ML) recaptured around 300 acres of land and sowed corn on the land. Besides contesting some seats in the tribal area, the Party has also fielded a candidate on the Maninagar seat against Modi as a symbolic gesture to assert militant secularism against fascist Modi and capitulationist Congress.
Whatever the outcome, the Gujarat results will be watershed not only for the state politics but will also cast a shadow on the upcoming 2007 parliamentary elections and, of course, quite significantly influence the future of BJP in its bid for a comeback at the centre, amidst its ongoing crisis of identity, orientation and leadership.