ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Saffron Neo-liberalism

An aggressive drive towards neo-liberal economic reforms alongside consolidation of the Bharatiya Janata Party's political constituency with the spread of hegemonic Hindutva through sociocultural channels is on the cards.

Narendra Damodardas Modi symbolised the finesse of Indian democracy on 26 May 2014, the day he was sworn in as India’s 15th prime minister, inasmuch as he showed how a person coming from a humble background could occupy the highest executive office of the Indian state. Notwithstanding the fact that the process of catapulting him to this high pedestal has been one of the costliest in the world (estimated at Rs 10,000 crore), Modi’s rise could well be flaunted by his backers as a feat of Indian democracy. The electoral process involved Modi addressing rallies at 5,800 locations, travelling a blistering 3,00,000 km, which included 1,350 locations covered by rallies using 3D holographic projection technology through which more than 100 places could be addressed simultaneously. The advertisement blitzkrieg through all possible media was so complete that even children sang “abki baar, Modi sarkar” and “achchhe din aane wale hai”, and, of course, backed by an army of lakhs of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) cadres, who ensured that, if required, specific places could be duly lubricated with blood, as in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh and Kokrajhar in Assam. There may hardly be any parallel to this intricate process of wooing voters, even in the developed democracies.

As such, there is nothing new in this except for the scale and that precisely makes all the difference. Indeed, the last elections have been different in many ways. Leave aside the process, the outcome has been stunning. Thanks to our wonderful first-past-the-post election system that, even in theory, makes a mockery of people’s representation. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) scored 282, which came to 53% the total number of seats, with 31% of the votes cast, well above the majority mark, and broke the spell of the coalition era which many people thought had come to stay. Adding the seats won by its allies, the tally rises to 334. As a matter of fact, there is hardly any opposition left to the BJP in the Lok Sabha, except for the Left, the Congress having been really a poor copy of the BJP as far as economic policy matters are concerned. Thus, BJP is in a situation where it can do what it wants. The apprehension of the spectre of fascism felt by many has turned into a veritable possibility. Will India turn into a fascist state? Will it become a Hindu state? Will it be a prison house for the religious minorities?

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