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Home > English > Website archives > Globalization, resistance, immigration > Governance, Ideology and Electoral Politics


Governance, Ideology and Electoral Politics

Saturday 29 December 2007, by Feroz MEHDI

The rightwing Hindutva nationalist party the Bhartiya Janata Party
(BJP) was re-elected to power for the fourth consecutive term in the
province of Gujarat on December 23, 2007. Gujarat, one of the
economically most prosperous provinces in India. This election
victory has assured 20 years of uninterrupted rule of the BJP. The
only other province that has the record of continuing long governance
is that of West Bengal ruled by the Communist Party of India
(Marxist) which has been in power since the past 30 years.

While the Hindutva ideology of the BJP is inspired by fascism of
Mussolini and Hitler, the CPM gets its inspiration from Marxism. Both
West Bengal and Gujarat leadership claim that their continuing
victory results from their respective ideologies and leadership.
Leadership meaning ‘good and effective governance’. While the
ideology of Hindutva operates within the capitalist system, the
ideology of the CPM, that is Marxism, has to make compromises within
the capitalist system till the time when socialism overthrows the
capitalist system and socialism takes over. That is, they are
preparing the ground for an eventual victory of socialism.

Electoral politics in India has its own dynamics and calculations
that transcend ideologies. The first longest uninterrupted rule in
India was that of the Congress party. The Congress under the
leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru and other stalwarts and
leaders of the movement of independence against the British
colonialism was in power from day one in 1950 till 1975. Again after
a short break till 1980, it was back in power on and off. All this to
say that being in power through electoral politics is not the forte
of any single ideology or political party in India.

There was recently an incident in the province of West Bengal where
the ruling communist party evacuated farmers from their lands in
order to sell the land to industrialists to construct industries. The
motive was to embark on industrialization since agrarian economy was
not sufficient to make progress. Things must have gone wrong since
there were protests by the farmers and peasants that resulted in
killings and other atrocities blamed and counter blamed by the ruling
CPM and the opposition groups and political parties. Needless to say
the opposition is always looking for issues to make an assault on the
ruling party, and they got one such issue in the land evacuation

The ruling party, CPM has provided a case in their defence. The
intellectuals, including journalists and academics that were
sympathisers of the party, got furious and made the people know about their anger against the CPM. The CPM intellectuals treated these
‘revolts’, as one CPM intellectual termed it, being anti-political.
In brief, who so ever is against the CPM in the times of their
distress does not understand politics and is anti political.

In Gujarat the BJP and its goons orchestrated a pogrom against the
Muslim minority of the province in 2002 that resulted in the massacre
of over 3000 men, women and children. The intellectuals, including
the mainstream media and academics were up in arms against the
Gujarat BJP and its fascism. Elections in the province soon followed
and the BJP won again with a thumping majority. The BJP intellectuals
said that the intellectuals do not understand the ground realities
and politics.

Communal fascism is a real threat in India today. Electoral politics
is an important strategy to combat that threat. So far it is proving
to be insufficient. What other mass mobilizations need to be done in
order to combat this threat? There are people in India working to
combat this menace like the people’s movement to create secular
environment in schools and education systems, but they face multiple
obstacles. The major obstacles they face are both from the Left and
the Right. While the Left does not count them in their electoral
game, the Right competes with them with their own kind of people’s
movement to create a fascistic environment.

In such a situation where the political parties, both from the right
and the left, treat any independent initiative and movement in search
of an alternative with ‘messianic moralism’ and denigrates them to
being anti-politics, there is a need of reasserting alternative mode
of governance and alternatives to stagnated political thought.