The just finished general elections in India have resulted in victory for the BJP-led 24 party National Democratic Alliance(NDA), but no increase in the seats won by BJP. BJP in fact has lost in the important states like UP, Karnataka, Punjab and partly in Maharashtra, while its gains in other states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa were a result of the piggyback rides offered by its regional allies.
This is likely to have important consequences with regard to the formation of the new government.
As we upload our site there is already news that all the seven BJP winners from Delhi would like to have ministerships…and there are significant winners from the other 23 parties with the same aspirations. A rather tricky situation for the BJP, and more promises of horse-trading. That is one part of the story.
Another is the lesson that the Congress (I) did not really emphasise the secular plank seriously enough to demarcate itself from the BJP combine as it was simultaneously trying to make overtures to the upper caste Hindu vote which it thought it may snatch away from BJP. Ultimately its appeal stopped short of the OBCs who remained with the political parties like the Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh and other regional outfits, while the BSP retained its appeal in UP despite the traditional Congress (I) base among the Dalits. The minorities it seems voted pragmatically in favour of the candidates with best chance of defeating the BJP. In many places the BJP won because of the division of votes between the non-BJP combine. In other places because of the support base of their allies. It also did not defend its leader Sonia Gandhi in politically democratic terms, choosing to project her as the Great Indian Bahu (daughter-in-law) rather than defending her citizenship rights.
On the whole the BJP seems to have reached the point from where it can only decline in electoral terms given its misgovernance and corruption, and the likely effects of its economic measures.
The silver linings in these elections were the continuing victories of the Left Front in their areas and of their individual candidates like Somnath Chatterji and Indrajit Gupta, whose victories signify an appreciation of their consistent service to the causes they uphold. The most spectacular and inspiring win is that of Sunil Dutt from one of the constituencies in Bombay, where he defeated Madhukar Sarpotdar, the big man of the Shiv Sena, who is among those held chiefly guilty by the Sri Krishna Commission in its inquiry into the Bombay riots of 1992-3, and a self proclaimed kar sevak in the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
Elections Kashmir Style
The BJP stooge drags people at gunpoint to the booth
Yet again, in a sequel to a series of betrayals, the notorious National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah has let down the Kashmiri people. In total disregard of the people’s right to vote or not vote he has used the state machinery to force people to vote-and to vote in his favour- as the whole exercise was carried out in the presence of the armed forces. Many constituencies in the country have had a low polling percentage and they have been permitted this option in the best democratic traditions. In Kashmir the decision to not vote obviously represents a meaning that is different, but that in no way justifies the blatant use of the armed machinery of the state to rig elections in favour of Mr. Abdullah. The low percentage of voting despite this terror (just 11% in Srinagar, the capital city) is a reflection of peoples’ anger at Abdullah’s open camaraderie and partnership with the Sangh Parivar linked BJP govt. at the Centre.
The past two years saw a revival of tourism in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and despite all odds, the Kashmiri people participated in the left parties sponsored strikes and national bandh against the policies of economic liberalization and globalisation. Farooq Abdullah’s unprincipled support to the BJP Government has belied all hopes generated by these developments. With its aggressive campaign against the minorities and Article 370, which forms the cornerstone of the constitutional guarantee for centre-state relations with reference to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, opposition to the BJP should have been Abdullah’s natural and logical political stance. By teaming up with it, he has closed many options for the Kashmiri people. Why should they vote for the BJP stooge, they may well ask, and have in fact asked through their refusal to come out to vote.
Taste of a Hindu Rashtra
There is a need for some reflection and introspection on the part of parties and Members of Parliament who proclaim they are only supporting Vajpayee and the BJP for forming the Govt. and not the Hindutva agenda…or have the illusion that they can prevent the implementation of this fascist agenda while they are part of Govt. A taste of what the Sangh Parivar can get away with, when the BJP led NDA alliance gets to form the Government, has already been dished out by the Hindutva goons in its ‘caretaker’ mode.
In a spate of one month’s electioneering they have murdered yet another Christian priest and a Muslim shopkeeper in Orissa, a nun has been stripped and forced to drink her urine, artists and intellectuals have been threatened and attacked, a street theatre group has been man handled, secular NGOs are being made to pay heavily for their advertisement campaign against communal and divisive forces while the pro Sangh Parivar outfits have been happily buying up space in newspapers for a scurrilous attack on secular forces. The secular organisations are being branded anti-nationalist by the govt. itself, and the organisations spewing hatred against the minorities are openly supported and upheld by this same govt. In the Hindu ‘model ‘ state of Gujarat (classified as such by the Sangh Parivar) leaders of the BJP linked Sangh Parivar are intimidating minorities for instances of inter communal marriages, beating up people for organising beauty contests, and have been happily carrying on a scurrilous and retrograde anti woman campaign by referring to Sonia Gandhi as club singer (in their thinking a disreputable profession) and kalmukhi (unlucky because she is a widow who survives her husband’s death etc). A college girl was beaten by BJP female goons and several of them locked up and intimidated by the police for staging a protest for the declaration of their examination results near a venue of Vajpayee’s election meeting and in full view of the Prime ministerial hopeful. Almost an entire basti of Dalits was razed to the ground by the Municipal Committee in Faridkot district in Punjab without any advance notice, allegedly at the instance of their alliance partner, the ruling Akali Dal, because it was feared that the Dalits of this basti did not vote for the BJP- Akali alliance.
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