Thursday, May 23, 2013

Narendra Modi And The Politics Of Face


Speculations over Narendra Modi fighting 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Lucknow seat hardly comes as a surprise. Amit Shah’s another promotion in BJP party rank gives reason to believe that there is no confusion regarding NaMo’s power within BJP. We all know that this is a desperate attempt to bring BJP back into power by polarizing the votes in nation’s most politically active state- Uttar Pradesh. At the same time, Varun Gandhi has been given charge of BJP in West Bengal for 2014 elections- certainly trying to polarize votes in other parts of the nation as well.

My friend, who is a Political Science student but takes no interest in Politics, asked me, “Why will he- NaMo- fight from Lucknow? He is too popular in Gujarat?” I reminded him that Lucknow was Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s seat for a very long time. And this is a time in NaMo’s political career when he can win Lok Sabha seat from anywhere in India- well almost. Fighting election from Lucknow will give a clear message that the present Gujarat CM will be projected as BJP’s candidate for the post of PM. This will also ensure that he gets the share of love and respect the nation has for Atal Bihari.

I am sure that towards the end of 2013, we will hear many more extremely exciting news. Many of them will be unimaginable. Now that Congress has almost lost its credibility, BJP is working to leave no stone unturned to turn 2014 general elections in its favor. I firmly believe that Communalism is on an all time rise in India. Secular forces have failed miserably. 2014 elections will determine the fate of not only NaMo but of India for the coming two decades at least. NaMo is a seasoned politician and has extensive relevant experience of leading and saving a government in Gujarat. If he becomes the next PM, then he will be there for a good time. The history is witness to the fact that fascists do not leave the seat of power too early!

Consequences of NaMo’s shift to U.P Politcs

NaMo’s shift to Lucknow, if it holds any ground, will have severe consequences. It will polarize upper caste Hindu vote in Uttar Pradesh at a time when Samajvadi Party and Bahujan Samajvadi Party have taken the major vote share. BJP will have a chance of once again coming to prominence after a gap of almost a decade. BJP has been able to be in power four times in U.P- none of them resulting in a full term. The last BJP CM of Uttar Pradesh was Rajnath Singh from October 2000 to March 2002. That was the period when regional parties, SP and BSP, were working hard in the rural U.P in order to change the power dynamics of Uttar Pradesh. Since then, not only BJP, but also Congress has not been able to come to power, they have a decent vote share though. NaMo can change this decent share of vote into many Lok Sabha seats and later can present BJP as the new alternative in Uttar Pradesh. Amit Shah, a local Gujarati politician but a close aide to NaMo, has seen a change in stature from being local to going national. Being a hardcore Hindutva face, he will make sure to drive the polarization of votes. There is a good chance that Varun Gandhi will also see a promotion in role towards the end of the year. He has recently been promoted to the post of General Secretary of BJP. Being in charge of West Bengal, which still has a significant Left politics, will test his caliber.

Given the Congress’ poor performance not only politically but also economically, there is no reason to believe they can come back in power. At the same time, the rise in Communalism in the country gives a good reason to believe that BJP can come to power. Regional parties may form a third front near the election phase, but as history says, can support any party which has more chances of forming the new government.

Rise of Communalism will determine the future

There is no blinking to the fact that Communalism of the present era is of different nature. The fascists today have no intention of demolishing any mosque (well it is not on manifesto of any party at least!). This Communalism will not have direct effect, but will have structural and cultural change which may lead to direct violence in near future as well. The 2014 elections will be marred by many first time voters- many of them who are on social media platforms, a very small proportion although. This small ‘proportion’ participates actively in the ‘Clean India Drive’ on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Similarly, there is a rise in Muslim fascism and also in Sikh fascism. All of these require elaborate discussion and cannot be comprehended in a single article.

This ‘communal’ behavior will lead to a more sectarian politics in future, ultimately leading to more ghettoization of people from different faiths- cultural ghettoization being the scariest of them all! This will have severe consequences.

No, I am not trying to portray a dreadful and ugly picture of future, but this can be one of the many possible futures our part of the world will witness.

Counter not only Communal faces but also Communalism

It is important to move beyond the politics of personality. A personality may impress the young mind but it is important to understand the consequences of giving your vote to that personality. I remember the consequences of giving my vote to a very impressive guy in College elections when I was a student at Dyal Singh College, Delhi University. But who can deny that our political scenario is face driven. BJP is trying to portray NaMo and Varun Gandhi as the ‘young face of BJP’, and there shall be no doubt that they both have huge fan following among the youth of the nation. This post may invite comments from the same youth I am writing about at this moment. In fact you can be that potential youth I am talking about!

A face resonates what the ideology believes in. It is important to address the problems created by the ideology at the earliest. There is small population of people who believe in the idea of secular nation (who are called ‘Sickular’ by my dear Hindutva friends) and are working hard to fight not only Hindu fundamentalism but also Islamic fundamentalism. The book of fascism can be wrapped in any color but it will have, more or less, same content because it is not supposed to appeal to logic but to emotions.

Way ahead

This may look like a pessimistic article which speculates a bleak future. But I feel it is important to realize the problems ahead to have a better journey. It is important that all the likeminded secular or ‘sickular’ people come forward to counter not only a face but to counter an ideology- an ideology which promotes hate for each other.

First Published in on May 23, 2013

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