Gujrat Election : The old is in deathbed, Is the new kicking for birth pang?

Posted by স্বাভিমান

Gujrat Election : The old is in deathbed, Is the new kicking for birth pang?

(Editorial, Arunodoy Dec 2017, Translated from Bengali)

The Media Pundits described it as ánti-incumbency’, we call it ‘negation of negation’. Why? The Congress ruled the state till 1995 since the creation of Gujrat state in 1960, barring 18 months of Janata Rule in between. The BJP’s rise after a long 33 years of congress rule cannot be explicated simply with the tool of anti-incumbency. Similarly in 2017 election, the speed breakers which were placed on the path of seemingly unstoppable march of BJP cannot be explained away by anti-incumbency factor. This year’s assembly election revealed the unity of opposites of rebellious politics of Jignesh-Alpesh-Hardik especillay Jignesh against the status quo and the status quoits politics of Congress on one side, and the unity of opposites of communalism, economic liberalism and Sangh’s illusory construct of ‘Gujrati Ashmita’ and ‘politics of patriotism’ on the other.

Gujrat is the state which derives its prominence from trades and various entrepreneurial production centres. Gujrat’s status is also derived from its linkages with Sindh and Harappan civilization, ancient trades through seaports. The large-scale institutions based on production and trades of Milk, Spices, Diamond, leather, garments etc has been developed in the post independence period. The farmer’s families are connected with the large network of Milk Co-operatives and similarly various communities are connected with diverse business institutions. The Congress could sustain their hegemonic rule during the long period of 1960-1995 by maintaining the linkages with people through the managers of these institutions and by maintaining a balance in this economic base. The rift within the congress in 1969 under the leadership of Morarji Desai and Indira Gandhi created the space for the RSS to make deep inroads within Gujrati society and large-scale riots broke out in September and October of 1969. In the backdrop of Navanirman movement in Deccember 1963 against price rise and corruption, Morarji Desai’s indefinite hunger strike in March, 1975 etc, Congress’s tally in Gujrat assembly came down to 75 in 1975 election from its earlier strength of 140 in 167 legislatures of Gujrat assembly. Indira Congress came back to power in 1980 election after emergency.

The Indian society started witnessing imbalances in the economy and politics after that phase. The social turmoil in the name of Mandal and Kamandal and paradigm shift towards neo-liberal economy reached its zenith through Babri demolition and Monmahan’s official announcement of reform agenda. The rise of BJP and Sangh Parivar occurred in this vacuum which was created by the breakdown of economic and social balance of forces. The people’s negation of status quo was announced in a reactionary path. BJP Government in Gujrat was formed in 1995 under the leadership of Keshubhai Patel. In next 22 years, BJP and Sangh Parivar sailed smoothly all along and need not had to look back. In this election of 2017, Gujrati people sent out another message of negation which could not reach to its zenith due to the absence of nationwide democratic political alternative. What were the features of this election?

‘Hardik factor’ or ‘Patidar Anamat Andolon’ had played a significant role in this election. Patidars were considered as Sudra caste till 18th century. Patidars were provided with land through Rayotwari system to enhance British’s revenue earnings and thus Patidars were converted to landowning peasant community. After the construction of Railway line in Boroda in 1960, a section of Patidars amassed wealth through production and export of cotton, tobacco, oil seeds, and some of the wealthy Patidars migrated abroad. There is one Patidar in every ten Indian American and those Paridars are famous for their Motel business. Patels became politically influential force during the Vallabhbhai Patel’s tenure as Deputy Prime Minister and central Home Minister. The internal inequality and class-divisions within the Patels also increased significantly. The anger of unemployed youths who numerically increased leaps and bounds due to jobless growth model were turned into anti-reservation movement in 1985 with the conspicuous backing of Sangh Parivar. But the agricultural distress, lack of public investment, jobless growth since 1990 perturbed the educated and half-educated working class and even made the landowning class restless.

The old trade and production centric institutions faced loss of credibility to maintain connect with the people due to the onslaught of neo-liberal economy. The situation worsened due to depression in export front. It was tried to assuage the internal grievances within the Patel community by offering ministerial berths to many representatives from influential section of Patel community in 1995 Gujrat Cabinet. This effort was further strengthened through 2002 riot and politics of polarization. But the long journey of neoliberal model of jobless growth, the urbanization to cater the aspiration of upper classes, the emergence of cheap army of labour created cracks in the balances of status quo, changed the dynamics of caste-community aspirations. This internal chemistry within the Patel community led the Patels to join hands with Non-Patels OBCs and the Dalits and to launch the reservation movement by shifting away from their erstwhile anti-reservation stance. The emergence of Hardik Patel as the leader of Patels of lower strata reflected this aspiration. BJP, in consonance with their communal politics and neoliberal economic policy, had no other option but to obviate this new class dimension with repressive measures. The repressive measures of Gujrat Government had strengthened their resolve to be uncompromising and this further alienated the Patels from BJP’s fold. The rebellion against the status quo was most evident in the Dalit movement under the leadership of Jignesh whose appeal for unity to include even the religious minority was polar opposite to Sangh Parivar’s position. The presence of large number of working class and their class power enabled Jignesh et el to take the radical stance, this was not so strong in the case of Hardik – Alpesh phenomena. The influence of landowners and business class was significant in the mass mobilizations of Hardik – Alpesh. This class of people was agitated against the BJP because of the adverse impact of agrarian crisis, demonitisation and GST. But their vacillating class character finally inclined them towards the leadership of Modi-Shah duo at the fag end of the electoral campaign on ‘Gujrat Ashmita’ & communal polarization.

Congress was organizationally in disarray after electoral debacle in 2014 . Through a complex amalgamation, Congress’s strategy was to articulate the two tendencies marked by the grievance against the BJP within the ambit of status quo and the rebellion with an inclination to come out of the status quo. This strategy led Rahul Gandhi to extensively visit Gujrati temples to attract upper-castes vote base.

A signal of a new turn in the Indian situation is emanated from the Gujrat election result. It indicates many future possibilities: a silent shift of popular opinion towards Congress within the systemic status quo or the emergence of nation-wide rebellion to break the status quo for systemic change or the defeat of both the trends ensuring rise of fascism. We will wait for the nation-wide rebellion to bombard the status quo for systemic change under the active participation of revolutionary forces.    


স্বাভিমান:SWABHIMAN Headline Animator

^ Back to Top-উপরে ফিরে আসুন