Result reflects growing mass discontent
Delhi assembly elections saw the AAP (Aam Adami Party or Common Man Party) getting an astounding 67 seats out of 70. The BJP is reduced to merely 3 seats and the Congress party, which ruled Delhi for 15 years until 2013, did not retain a single seat. On the one hand this is a huge victory for the AAP while, on the other, this is a huge rejection of the ruling BJP (Bharatiy Janata Party) and a verdict against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Following its decisive victory in last year’s general election, the BJP was riding on the so-called “Modi wave” and scored considerable victories in subsequent State Assembly elections – in Maharashtra, Harayana and Jammu and Kashmir. Along with Narendra Modi, the party’s president, Amit Shah, was also largely credited with delivering such victories. The BJP, led by this duo was projected as an unstoppable force. All that has changed now.
Though with a lag, the global capitalist crisis has hit the Indian economy hard from 2011. Since then, the living conditions of the masses have continually deteriorated with a massive increase in unemployment and inflation sky rocketing. It was against this backdrop of despair and in the absence of any leadership from established “left parties” that the many voters were swayed by the massive campaign launched by the BJP with its slogan promising ‘Good days ahead.’ It was a multi-billion dollar election campaign run by capitalist media and funded by the business people who mobilised behind Modi.
Modi had a clear neo-liberal agenda set forth by capitalist class. After spending few initial months in fanfare, Modi government kicked into action scouting investors all around the world to attract more investment. PM Modi’s visits to Japan, US were much hyped by media though in real terms have failed to stimulate economy in any sense. Later on 29th Dec 2014, government announced multiple “reforms” like raising the cap of FDI in insurance sector, amendment in land acquisition act, further disinvestment in public sector enterprises. But this too has not significantly improved the situation. Indian economy still continues to be in dire state.
On the other hand, launching the neo-liberal offensive has angered sections of the working class that have began to sense that these reforms would inevitably translate into savage attacks on their living conditions. The government’s decision to privatize the coal mines led to five trade unions in Coal India Limited (CIL) calling for a strike and these unions even included the BMS – a union affiliated to RSS, the parent organisation of the BJP. The organised working class in key public sector enterprises like CIL still wields immense power and a continued strike could cut off the supply of coal to power plants and could bring the country to halt. Realizing this only too well, the government negotiated with the unions on the very third day of the strike and somehow avoided a show down. Similarly, the amendments to the land acquisition law was largely criticised and farmers could see the way these reforms were antagonistic to their own interests.
The overall living conditions of the masses have been far from improving if not actually deteriorating. The current lay-offs in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) was an indication of how even in the much hyped IT sector, the position of workers is deteriorating. All this is quickly building up into an atmosphere of disillusionment and people have started asking ‘where are the good days that we were promised?’.
It is with this overall mood prevailing across the nation that voters in Delhi vehemently rejected the BJP. The AAP was formed in 2012 and was a political culmination of the massive anti-corruption movement. AAP with its manifesto promising better and stronger public amenities like water and electricity attracted many across class and caste lines. It worked tirelessly to build a network of party cadres at the grass roots level. To the rotten political establishment, thriving on corruption, it offered an alternative promising clear, corruption-free and transparent government. It demonstrates the yearning of the majority of the people for an alternative to the established rotten capitalist system.
The victory is of huge significance not because it establishes the AAP as a pole of attraction for working class people. Although it speaks against crony capitalism, it has neither the programme nor the inclination to challenge the prevailing capitalist system. While there is a possibility of it getting pushed towards the left over the coming period, this is not a foregone conclusion. Nonetheless, the AAP victory in Delhi is more important because it is an indication of the times ahead.
Shocked by the stunning victory of Modi in the general election, many on the Left earlier raised a clamour about fascism, fearing a period of deep reaction. We, while acknowledging the likely upsurge of nationalist communal elements, warned against exaggeration of such fear. We pointed out that the very class processes that got the BJP to power would give way to disillusionment amongst the masses. This would pave the way for building a mass struggle against the right-wing nationalist, capitalist government.
The Delhi Assembly results have vindicated such an analysis. As the Modi government intensifies its neo-liberal offensive, working class disillusionment could turn into anger and under the leadership of a genuine Marxist force, could be channeled not just towards demands for “regime change” from one party to another but for a larger objective of building a mass movement against the rotten capitalist system.