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Disillusion makes the hard right a threat in India’s elections

This article is over 7 years, 9 months old
Issue 2398

The month-long Indian elections began this week with speculation that the hard right BJP party would replace the Congress party-led government.

Liberals and the left rightly fear a BJP victory.

Party leader Narendra Modi leads a band of rich thugs that claim to be on the side of the poor. In reality they want to turn India into a “Hindu state” and make Muslims, and other minorities, second class citizens.

Modi is a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the fascist core of the BJP.

He was the chief minister of the state of Gujarat in 2002 when anti-Muslim pogroms killed an estimated 2,000 people.

The gangs were sometimes thousands-strong and armed with swords, explosives and gas cylinders. According to Human Rights Watch, they obtained addresses of Muslims from the local administration.

It said the attacks were organised “with extensive participation of the police and state government officials”. Those officials, including Modi, got away with murder, and very few others faced trial.

The failings of Congress and the Communist left have boosted the BJP.

Congress returned to power in 2004 on wave of disgust with the previous BJP administration. The hard right was routed again in 2009.

India’s rulers promised that under Congress the country’s economic boom would be fairly distributed. But this promise proved to be a mirage during the boom. Now, with inflation soaring while the poor get poorer, few ordinary people think Congress will defend them.

Millions once followed the Communist parties into strike waves, land seizures and polling booths. But since 2007 they have championed “economic development” at the expense of workers and poor people. The result is that they have lost even their heartland states of Kerala and West Bengal.

At their height, the Communists’ class struggle politics provided a basis for Hindu-Muslim unity among workers. This could temporarily keep the RSS in check. But today disparate national and local forces are taking advantage of the Communists’ weaknesses.

Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi party is an anti-corruption party. It has a significant appeal among the lower middle classes that have been shut out of the Indian “economic miracle”.

Aam Admi has already won city-wide elections in Delhi. It may now gain significant votes from the poor.

But corruption affects different classes in India differently and, as a result, it is unlikely that the party will sustain its recent form.

The final result of the election will only be known after a period of political horse-trading produces a governing coalition. That makes predictions difficult.

But one thing is clear – whoever wins, India’s rich will have the government they want.


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