2018 ends with relief and brings hopes for 2019

In three states, the BJP lost power and in the other two, it did not get any foothold. This is a relief. And it heralds hope for the coming year too

PTI photo
PTI photo
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Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd

We leave 2018 with a sense of relief and enter 2019 with a sense of anxiety. For four and a half years, the nation lived with hope and fear. When Narendra Modi from the BJP won the 2014 election with the single promise of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’, there was a different atmosphere. Modi also said, “I am an OBC and, if elected, I will make the next decade Dalit/OBC decade”. When he was touring all over India in a chartered plane and speaking in public meetings, with no RSS leader being around him, I thought a new phase might start in Indian politics.

The Congress is a centrist party and ruled India for long. However, the emergence of several regional parties, led by mostly Shudra leaders, (except perhaps the Biju Janata Dal) ate into the Congress’ vote bank. But, none of these forces was in a position to emerge as a national party. The communist parties, after the 1964 split, have never shown the ability to emerge as a national alternative.

The BJP was slowly emerging as the alternative to the Congress, mainly by pushing a Hindutva-driven communal agenda. Its leadership was historically Brahmin-Bania centred and it never openly accepted caste as a category of political mobilisation. The ideological mentor of BJP, the RSS, was not just anti-reservationist but very sanatanist in its outlook towards day-to-day life.

Suddenly with Narendra Modi claiming that he was an OBC (I found out later that he is a Bania OBC and not a Shudra OBC) the Shudra OBCs/Dalits/Adivasis of the nation got thrilled and voted for him. People thought the RSS agenda of mandir building and its anti-reservation outlook were a thing of past.

But within a short time, cow became the ruling animal of India. Politicians and bureaucrats were no longer ruling India but the sadhus and sants, along with the cow. For any thinking Indian, the situation became a nightmare.

India’s historical food culture from the days of the Harappan civilisation – meat eating – began to be negated all over. The PM of development became a PM of ‘cow culture’ walas. The love for the cow also turned into a nightmare for ‘Indian Buffalo Economy’. The people who treat all animals equally started feeling uneasy.

In the universities, the cow was made to occupy the central place of discourses. All scientific thinking was under attack. Studies in social sciences began to be seen as a threat to the nation. My four books were sought to be removed from Delhi University’s Political Science curriculum. Even Gautam Buddha’s political thought was seen as dangerous.

Lynching human beings on the basis of consumption of food became a fearsome issue. Individual thinkers and writers became soft targets. The OBC PM was neither stopping it nor opposing it with all that power at his command. His big silence was seen as tacit approval and cow protection became the nationalist agenda as against protecting humans.

Democracy began to shiver in its deeper belly. Though the Shudra OBCs of India are the real animal grazers, they never constructed a theory around the sacredness of the cow and badness of the buffalo. The theory came from those who hate cow grazing as a non-divine, Shudra task.

The ruling party and its supporters were justifying everything by telling the nation that the people had voted the BJP to power. No intellectual argument could stop them as they were an elected force.

They forgot that these were not the issues on which the people had voted them to power. The pro BJP media was justifying everything, showing the electoral arithmetic. A much more disastrous decision would soon arrive. It was called Demonetisation.

The agrarian sector, by the end of 2018, was reeling under the twin blows of Demonetisation and cow protection. The farmers and cattle grazers suffered as these decisions affected their food habits and the goods and commodities market in a major way

An OBC PM should have understood the living conditions of the rural masses who have not yet been integrated with the banking system. He should have understood that they would collapse under such a measure. It was a punishing decision and millions of jobs were lost, businesses wound up, hundreds died.

Suddenly, Sanyasis were talking about ‘Online Banking’ and the Sansaris were left to listen. The RSS Sanyasi Economic Model destroyed the small savings of the Sansaris. The unattached Sanyasis were giving sermons on the positive effect of Notebandi while the Sansaris did not know how to feed their starving children and crying wives.

The agrarian sector, by the end of 2018, was reeling under the twin blows of Demonetisation and cow protection. The farmers and cattle grazers suffered as these decisions affected their food habits and the goods and commodities market in a major way. Though the BJP leaders were saying, ‘we are not against meat and fish,’ the Sadhus and RSS activists thought otherwise, causing social and economic strain.

Universities, colleges and schools were brought under the control of the Sadhu-Sanyasi ideology. Yoga but not productive labour got projected as the most essential.

As a Shudra OBC, I was shocked to see the Sadhu-Sanaysi hegemony in all knowledge discourses. They were turning the universities into pathashalas modelled after classical gurukulas.

The Mullahs in the Muslim world did not allow democracy in many West Asian countries, and I thought these people, too, would work to abolish democracy.

It was just then that the elections in five states took place. In three states, the BJP lost power and in the other two, it did not get any foothold. This is a relief. But the anxiety is what would happen in the 2019 elections?

BJP will not fight this election with the slogan “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” as people would not believe them any more. It may fight on the issues of ‘Building Ram Temple’ and ‘Building an Agriculture-Free India’. And yet, it may win a good number of seats.

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Published: 30 Dec 2018, 5:00 PM