In 2019, forget “meaningful”, there is NO opposition worth it’s name that can stop the BJP.
BUT HOLD ON.
When I say, no opposition, I mean “political opposition” – not that there is no civil resistance to the fascist BJP/RSS regime.
Vinod Dua rightly put it in his online talk show “Jan Mann Ki Baat” on The Wire that although the BJP has a majority now, even a 2% swing in votes can lead it to its decimation in 2019.
It is this mortal fear of losing the 2019 that makes the BJP fear public backlash. For if it loses, all that it has gained in these last few years will get quickly undone, it’s crony corruption in high places will be starkly exposed and it might well fade into oblivion. That’s why it needs another five years of absolute majority to cover it’s tracks and push the country into a fascist regime where dissent will not be tolerated, surveillance will be the norm rather than the exception and people will have to beg for what was their right. Their target is to erase the current Constitution and replace it with it’s own version which will allow them unlimited unquestioned power.
These are megalomaniacs sans compare.
People have lost faith in the voting system. Not only has it become a joke with every political party almost equally culpable in subverting the rules – breaking, bending and amending them. Foreign unaccounted money, crony corporate funding, EVM rigging, disgusting horse trading have all but destroyed the very fabric of democracy in India.
The 2014 verdict put in place an outright fascist, hard line right wing political party that is shameless about grabbing power at any cost, believes in religious polarization, has disdain for civil liberties and is brazen and arrogant.
That is the heady cocktail mixture that the country has been served.
It is a wonder that the country did not descend into total chaos, mayhem and civil war after the insane demonization exercise done last year. Not only was it illogical but was badly planned and implemented despite affecting billions at home and abroad. Propaganda saved the day but the undercurrent has changed ever since. Even staunch BJP supporters realized that they were being short changed, shafted and cheated. The party which had grown on the support of traders and middle men had attacked that very segment where it hurt the most – the informal sector. Realization dawned that everything – including demonetization – was done for the big crony business and/or Hindu religious leaders or trusts who are friends of those connected to the highest echelons of power. The U.P. elections were a sham and people saw through it – many disgusted at the choice of the CM.
The rampant imposition of Aadhaar on an already hapless population broke the back of the most vulnerable sections. The heartless government arrogantly continues this despite even the pliable media reporting people facing grave hardships due to blocking of ration or pension. The government has its head deliberately buried in sand unwilling to relent.
Obviously, the economy has started stagnating and is in fact showing negative growth in key sectors including manufacturing. Jobs are being lost instead of growing. “Make in India” has become a joke because it includes everything that was anyway being made in the country. “Digital India” has become a slogan to promote Reliance Jio or PayTm. “Skill India” has not resulted in creating any job worthy skills and is being dismantled quietly. “Swacch Bharat” has ensured that people paid extra tax so that contractors would build thousands of toilet blocks without water. “Rural Electrification” has remained a sham because the criteria for a village to be classified as electrified means having a panchayat or school having a sporadically working light bulb. Environmental norms changed to suit big mining and infrastructure companies, grievance tribunals losing teeth leaving citizens with no scope for justice.
All these failure (and more) are visible on ground.
Most people have abandoned the paid fake mainstream media controlled by the state. Even social media is being trolled and forced to take down anti establishment views. Those dissenting are branded anti nationals or worse, charged with sedition, arrested and placed behind bars.
Propaganda is now giving diminishing returns to the BJP.
Counter propaganda and war is being unleashed on it – not by any opposition political party or any ‘maha gatbandhan’ (grand coalition). The war is being launched and waged by the people. Historically, all revolutions and rebellions start the same way. Seemingly small events create a spontaneous outpouring that sparks off mass protests which can take down the once might powers. History is replete with dictators being forced to flee, lynched or brought to justice by people power.
Look at some events from 2017 and you can see for yourself that the tide is turning against the BJP.
The farmers strike brought together hundreds of thousands of farmers across India. Faced with utter neglect and exploitation by everyone involved with agriculture (including by banks) the protests went out of hand and violence resulted in police firing killing farmers. With the situation getting out of hand the BJP led state governments climbed down and had to agree to most of the farmer demands.
The perfectly legitimate strike by 36,000 workers of the public transport state undertaking BEST recently brought the Mumbai city to it’s knees with the ruling Shiv Sena/BJP climbing down from it’s arrogant stand within 16 hours.
A whopping 9 lakh Marathas held a peaceful rally in Mumbai last week demanding the government for social justice, employment, farmer centric policies among others. Looking at the sheer strength of the leaderless movement, the Maharashtra CM and a loyal foot soldier to Modi hastily announced in assembly that some of the demands have been agreed. This even as the protest was in progress. Notably, the protest was extremely disciplined with no slogan shouting. It showed how silent determination can shell shock the most obstinate despot. I urge you to watch this short clip of the event: Maratha Morcha Mumbai
The March for Science took place on August 9th in more than 30 cities and towns in the country, involving thousands of scientists, researchers, teachers and students. These protests took place in the context of slashing funds for scientific research and education, and the promotion, with state support, of unscientific, bogus and obscurantist ideas in public life.
#NotInMyName (along with #NotInMyPlace) protests were a spontaneous coming together of civil society against the state because of lynchings Muslims and Dalits. These “cow protection” goons were terrorizing non Hindus into submission under the obvious protection of the Hindutva party in power. The BJP created the bogey of “cow”, it’s “protection” (as if it needs any) and aided, actively abbetted, goaded, armed these goons assuring them of free hand and no fear of retribution. Seeing the mood of the nation going rapidly against these vigilantes and the success of #NotInMyName campaign, Prime Minister Modi had to hurriedly and publicly call off his dogs before the civil unrest took down the BJP. An uneasy calm still exists but now the government knows that it has been put on a watch. The bad global press affected Modi who publicly abhors anything foreign but privately seeks platitudes from overseas scampering abroad at the first opportunity – most notably being in Japan even as the country was staring at a civil war like situation post demonetization.
On August 22, there is a Nationwide public sector bank workers strike which will bring the whole economy down to it’s knees. Among their various demands is that government should compensate them for the excess work done during & after demonetiization, strict action against the big corporate defaulters whose non performing a assets (NPA) have brought banks on the verge of collapse – these are largely the crony businessmen close to the BJP who fund the party.
Similarly, there have been a spate of multi city, simultaneous demonstrations across India protesting against Aadhaar imposition.
There have been rallies for reclaiming spaces – be it for public space or freedom to think whether in Chandigarh or in student hostels across India with hashtags #IWillGoOut or #INeverAskForIt making online protests go offline and making authorities run for cover.
It is not Jantar Mantar or Azad Maidan in Delhi or Mumbai alone. From megapolis to cities to towns and villages, there is a strong resistance to fascism. It has built up and gathered momentum.
The BJP used social media to shape opinion before 2014.
People are using the same tactic to hit back at the party which has so shamelessly let them down on every count.
Remember Arab spring?
India is Resisting too but unlike the post Arab experience, we must strive to reclaim what has been lost and rebuild our destroyed institutions. The government cannot take people power for granted.
The author is a Mumbai based independent researcher. He can be contacted at