And Communal Politics
Report By Insaf
25 May, 2004
The most apolitical
elections in the parliamentary history of India have come to an end
with a fractured mandate. BJP is reduced to 138 in 2004 from 182 in
1999 while Congress has improved its tally to 145 in 2004 from just
114 in 1999. But none of these could form a government either on their
own or along with their pre-poll allies
As expected, the
emerging bipolar character of Indian polity has consolidated itself
during these elections with BJP wining 138 and
Congress 145 seats out of 539 results declared. Like previous Lok Sabhas
this one also has 256 non-BJP and non-Congress members but all of them
have no other option but to align either to BJP or to the Congress.
The defeat of BJP-led
NDA in election-2004 definitely calls for celebrations and provides
the secular and democratic forces some breathing space. The BJP-led
NDA is defeated in number game of forming government in a parliamentary
democracy because 124 members of parliament out of 136 listed in 'others'
category threw their weight behind Congress led alliance.
These 124 include 64 of the left Front, 36 of Samajwadi Party, 19 of
Bahujan Samaj Party and few others. Hence, it is through a joint effort
of all the secular looking and left forces that the BJP-led NDA could
be kept out of power.
defeat of TDP Chief Minister turned CEO of Andhra Pradesh and trimming
of the wings of high tech Congress Chief Minister of Karnataka had amply
demonstrated that the neoliberal prescriptions of WB-ADB and so called
IT revolution is not going well with the masses at large. The complete
rout of AIDMK in Tamil Nadu is also reflective of the same phenomena.
The defeat of the 26 ministers of the BJP-led NDA government including
the first finance minister, urban development minister, information
and broadcasting minister, human resource minister, external affairs
minister, and both ministers of state for home who were famous for their
loudness in favour of 'communal' and 'neoliberalism'.
The drama enacted
by the fringes of RSS-BJP on the issue of a woman of foreign origin
becoming Prime Minister clearly illustrates that the failure of BJP-led
NDA in forming government at the center in any wa y does not indicate
defeat of the right wing. Even the state wise look at the election results
substantiates that BJP has won 25 out of 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh,
21 out of 25 seats in Rajasthan, 10 out of 11 seats in Chhatisgarh,
18 out of 28 seats in Karnataka, 14 out of 26 seats in Gujarat on its
own and 13 out of 48 in Maharashtra where it contested in alliance with
Shiv Sena which got 12 seats.
Communal dragon still victorious
In fact the BJP
has polled over 18,00,000 votes in the 19 constituencies in Kerala while
in the 20th constituency their alliance partner IFDP has won by polling
2,50,000 votes. While in West Bengal the BJP has contested in 13 seats,
coming second in 9 seats and polling over 29,00,000 votes.
In fact, compared with 1999, BJP has suffered loss of 22 seats in the
states of where it has allies i.e. Andhra Pradesh (lost 7 seats) in
alliance with Telugu Desham Party, Bihar (lost 7 eats) in alliance with
JD (U), Tamil Nadu (lost 4 seats) in alliance with AIDMK, West Bengal
(lost 2 seats) in alliance with Trinmul Congress and Orissa (lost 2)
in alliance with BJD. While it suffered loss of 45 seats in the states
it contested on its own 15 in U.P., 10 in Jharkhand, 6 each in Gujarat
and Delhi, 4 in Haryana and 2 each in H.P. and J&K. The most emphatic
gain made by BJP is in Karnataka where it increases its tally by 11
seats in comparison to that of 1999. Other marginal gains are in Rajasthan
5 seats, in M.P. 4 seats, gain of 2 each in Chhatisgarh and Punjab.
Over all it has lost 66 amongst the 182 seats it held in 1999, while
it has gained 22 new seats.
On other hand, the
Congress has gained 41 seats in the places it had worked out all alliances
- 24 in A.P., 8 in T.N., 4 in Jharkhand, 3 in Maharashtra and 2 in J&K.
While it gained 21 seats from the states where it did not have any alliance
and these are 9 in Haryana, 6 each in Delhi and Gujarat and 3 in H.P.
The Congress has lost 33 seats - 10 in Karnataka, 8 in Kerala, 6 in
Punjab, 5 in Rajasthan and 4 in Madhya Pradesh out of which 25 seats
it lost where it did not have any alliance.
The remarkable fact
the explanation above brings out is that while BJP has made gains in
the areas where it did not had alliances, while the gains made by Congress
are predominantly in the areas where it had worked out alliances. The
gains made by Congress in Delhi and Gujarat are basically due to the
anti BJP votes honestly going to the Congress and in Haryana and H.P.
because of BJP doing away with their alliances with INLD and HVP.
The progress made
by the Congress appears to be the result of circumstantial and accidental
factors while the BJP appears to be well entrenched and spread all over
India despite apparent set backs. In this aspect the mandate 2004 is
more critical for secular and democratic forces in terms of evolving
their future strategies.
However, it is also
important to look into the content of election campaign that has yielded
this mandate. The BJP got caught in its own web by over reliance on
the macro economic indicators (taught by IMF-WB combine) in launching
its "India Shining" and "feel good" media onslaughts.
The macro economic reality never matches with the micro economic reality
as a rule.
In a country like
India where about 65% of the population does not even have bank accounts,
the booming stock markets, growth rates, swelling foreign exchange stocks,
inflation behaving within parameters, etc. have no meaning in daily
life. Even in the metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad-Secunderabad
etc. the glitter of the campaign was not able to cut any ice. Clearly
indicating that even for the urban middlemiddle class, lower middle
class and the poor nothing was shining, and as a result the BJP-led
NDA was wiped out. In the rural areas that is Bharat, even the leaders
of BJP-led NDA had accepted the "feel good" and "India
Shining" was not working.
After the first phase of elections, realizing the futility of media
hype the architects of BJP-led NDA had turned their guns towards reviving
the agenda of Hindutva and projecting Mr. Prime Minister (A. B. Vajpayee)
as the most formidable brand item. They tried their best to turn the
elections to Parliament into 'Presidential' type of elections by asking
people to vote for the 'chief executive' instead of voting for their
party and/or alliance.
But the millions
of Indians oblivious of the 'virtual reality' created by the team of
hi-tech boys of RSS even had not heeded to this strategy. The reality
has dawned over the virtual reality. The BJP candidates were defeated
in Ayodhya, Mathura, Kashi, Prayag and Dwarka. The violent faces of
Hindutva, the hardcore communal leaders like Manohar Joshi (Shiv Sena),
Vinay Katihar (National President, Bajrang Dal) and Povaiyya (UP President,
Bajrang Dal) were made to lick the dust. Mr. Prime Minister in his own
constituency was able to make only 35% of the voters come out of their
houses and had been able to attract only 19% of the voters to cast votes
It can be concluded by the experience of elections -2004 that BJP-led
NDA within four and half years of its rule was so overwhelmed by the
lust of power that they lost touch with the grassroots despite considered
to be a cadre based party.
Congress: Default victory
On other hand the
Congress tactically or otherwise had identification with the 'common
person' as the thrust of their campaign. The Congress had also not succumbed
to the pressure of projecting a single leader and asking to vote for
him or her. Though, they had claimed their adherence to secularism but
they had out-sourced the campaign against 'communal' forces to surrogate
All this somehow seems to have clicked with the people and as a result
Congress got votes of which even they were not aware of particularly
in places like Gujarat, Delhi, Mumbai, etc. This had also provided cushion
for the losses it may have incurred by the 'foreign origin' issue of
its leader and lack of projecting 'prime ministerial' candidate. The
denouncement of any possibility of the 'third front' by the CPM leadership
from the very beginning had also contributed to the gains made by the
One of the remarkable
features of the election-2004 was the proactive involvement of the citizen's
groups all over India in the campaigns to defeat BJP-led NDA. These
groups had worked overtime in preparing and disseminating materials
to counter the BJP-led NDA's propaganda. Congress was the beneficiary
of this effort in large parts by default.
United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
by Sonia Gandhi's Congress has given a befitting reply to the RSS-BJP's
unconstitutional demands (foreign origin). More than sending the BJP
top-brass to run for cover, the drama has made the non- BJP/Congress
parties to reconcile to bipolar electoral politics.
The new UPA government led by Dr. Manmohan Singh is faced with the challenge
of taking alliance seriously, respecting and implementing the CMP (common
minimum programme) and defeating the sinister designs of the fascist
forces. The Left is to be congratulated for only supporting the government
(not joining it) as its victories have been largely achieved by defeating
the Congress. It will have to be vigilant in ensuring that the UPA government
implements the CMP and does not unleash any anti-people policies.
Following are some
of the highlights of the election-2004:
§ Neoliberal prescriptions do not match with the requirements of
§ People's anger against neoliberal policies and their implications
have begun to crystallise into votes.
§ The bipolar character of the emerging politics is further consolidated.
§ Though the BJP-led NDA was stopped from forming government, the
threat of communal and fascist forces continues to be as formidable
§ Congress does not vibrate the confidence for either taking the
communal and fascist forces or dealing with neoliberal agenda of
§ The recognised and orthodox left is emerging as the biggest block
in the way of the formation of the third force in parliamentary democracy.
§ The issue of women's participation still remains a dream as majority
of parties shy away from fielding women candidates. In the total of
2165 candidates of the registered parties only 177 women were selected
as candidates (08.18%) while the 44 women (08.00%) were elected. The
number of women in the Lok Sabha fell further (from 57 in 1999).
§ The ECI proved toothless in terms of implementing its own directives
and respond to malpractices. Its partisan way of dealing with complaints
raised questions in the mind of common people. In the name of election
reforms the common people had been substantially alienated from the
§ Muscle and money power, coupled with caste, has continued to
dominate the elections.
§ The Congress is yet to come to its senses and reali ze that coalition
politics is here to stay. Its arrogance and over-confidence once forced
the NDA upon the people.
§ The symphonic hype of 'Shining India', 'feel good' and pro-NDA
exit polls' created collectively by silicon boys of BJP and the TV channels
proved disaster for BJP. The middle class and the poor, suffering from
inflation, rising unemployment, etc. were humiliated by this celebration
and taught them a lesson.
Tasks before social action groups
The struggle of
survival by the majority of people is not going to be over by this change
of guard at the Centre. The present government is also led by the forces
that are committed to the similar economic policies and serve the interest
of Global Capital with similar zeal. The Government will have to learn
few lessons from 'mandate 2004' and shall desist from blatant surrender
to the prescriptions of WB and ADB and shameless subservience to the
interests of Multinational Corporations.
For members of INSAF, and all social movements, committed to resist
globalisation, combat communalism and defend democracy; the task is
to continue mobilising the people and pressurising the Left and democratic
parties to respect the people's mandate and usher pro-poor developmental
The bottom line for any Government in future to escape the wrath of
people in a democracy based on universal franchise is to adhere to the
§ Repeal of POTA and immediate release of all POTA detainees. All
POTA-type state legislations, NSA, ESMA, etc. should also be debated
in the Parliament and scrapped.
§ Delivery of justice to Gujarat victims of genocide. Investigate
the Godhra train tragedy and the genocide to bring all facts before
§ Immediate passage of Women's Reservation Bill.
§ Comprehensive public review of all World Bank (WB) and Asian
Development Bank (ADB) projects all over India. Withdraw permission
to WB, IFC and ADB for raising money from Indian capital market.
§ Rollback of privatisation of water, food, education and health.
§ Abolition of disinvestment ministry: no disinvestments of profit
making companies like BHEL, IPCL, etc.
§ Scrapping of Justice V.S. Malimath recommendations (law reforms)
reversing criminal jurisprudence by deleting "accused not guilty
unless proved otherwise proved"
§ Scrapping of Kelkar Committee recommendations on citizen (PAN)
§ Retrieval of academic institutions from the clutches of 'saffron
INDIAN SOCIAL ACTION FORUM
A124/6 Katwaria Sarai
New Delhi 110016