BJP is a party of mediocrity, an idea kept alive by those who fear new ideas

India is being out thought and out fought and the biggest tragedy will be the destruction that comes with it.

 |  6-minute read |   29-10-2017
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A few days back, I was sitting with an old man, a sage whose wisdom about politics was legendary. I was talking to him about the dismal nature of politics, about the mess the BJP creates around demonetisation and GST, about the lack of Opposition, about the failure of Tamil parties to offer a counterpoint. I ranted and raved as my wish list for politics increased and he listened silently, sipping coffee and nibbling his ration of biscuits.

After half an hour, I paused more out of tiredness and the old man smiled. "The resistance has begun," he said. "AR Rahman has just composed a piece against demonetisation."

Sceptical

I gawked and said, "Are you serious?" and he laughed wickedly. Rahman is showing you the way. Think laterally and the BJP will start disappearing. He was referring to the fact that the BJP had acquired an enormity in my eyes which he seemed skeptical about.

The BJP is a mediocre idea, kept alive by a majority afraid of new ideas, a world refusing to see the need for alternatives. He said think beyond caste and your standard electoral portfolios.

The BJP is an idea of success built around all the inferiority complexes of the middle class, our fear of failure, our pride in a civilisation we don't understand, our pomposity and our prickliness about our status which we call nationalism.

"Here is a party that does not even have great leaders and is so bereft that it tries to steal Bhagat Singh, Gandhi and Patel." He added that once you understand BJP as a Rorschach, a psychological projection of fears, you can beat it. It is like overcoming the paranoid part of yourself. I was wondering whether he was getting old and out of touch.

I said, "What about the RSS and Amit Shah?", and he laughed and said, "A shakha is a lumpenisation of mediocrity." It is ideology at its worst. He said, "Forget caste, forget electoralism, imagine you are a revamped Rahul, looking at the great Congress party in tatters. How will you revive it? You cannot begin with the current Congressman as you have it, the Sachin Pilots, the Tharoors. They will last five minutes against Adityanath or an Amit Shah. They are better off at India International Centre than in the maidans of politics. You need a different breed speaking a different language."

The BJP is an idea of success built around all the inferiority complexes of the middle class. Photo: PTIThe BJP is an idea of success built around all the inferiority complexes of the middle class. Photo: PTI

"Begin with a list of all those who feel the BJP policy has alienated, betrayed or ignored but use a different set of categories. The answer to Hindutva plus OBC plus Development cannot be a mirror image of it. Break loose, break free," he said.

I began the exercise slowly and the old man was in no hurry. He sipped his fourth cup of coffee as if it was elixir. "Remap India in a different way. Begin with the immediacy of demonetisation and economics." I realised that one could create a different opposition.

The first tragedy of the BJP was its alienation from agriculture. Here is a party that loves the cow, hails the river, but hates agriculture. The decline of agriculture, the slow break down of a whole way of life, the enclosure movement against agriculture is the first new constituency.

Agriculture

This regime has little sense of farm or farming and thinks technology is the solution to agricultural suicides. One has to return to agriculture as an imagination, as a way of life. Farmers all across India realise that this regime has no sense of the coming break down of agriculture, the sheer attempt to destroy the small farmer.

He survives on faith because this regime, the old man hinted, had made agriculture unviable. Its indifference to the suicides was warning enough. I suddenly realised that the BJP was destroying a social fabric in its pursuit of an idiot modernity. Demonetisation was an attempt to break the informal economy of daily wage workers, migrants, the dhaba walas, the craft economy, all the little economies whose very transparency and scale required the immediacy of cash.

The informal economy is the second great victim of the BJP and the myth of catering to the chai wala, its greatest fiction. Modi does not know or care that the plantation economies which provide tea are declining. There are people and constituencies which no one cares for. The third economy is youth, not the aspirational youth sitting for an IIT exam, ready to grab his green card as the first sign of nationalism, but the boy who makes it to school, gets a degree and finds his degree worthless. Unemployment is something the BJP has no grasp of.

This regime has little sense of farm or farming and thinks technology is the solution to agricultural suicides. Photo: Reuters/FileThis regime has little sense of farm or farming and thinks technology is the solution to agricultural suicides. Photo: Reuters/File

It uses the Bajrang Dal as lumens to threaten dissent, lives of the violence off unemployment but has no idea of how to create jobs. This is one regime that does not allow dissent because it is afraid of alternatives. Alternatives multiply diversity and opportunity and this regime is afraid of both. "Remember, youth cannot be consumers till they get jobs."

Minorities

I was intrigued by this time. The old man was creating a different scenario. It was not just social groups that he was sketching out but alternative imaginations. He claimed that the word minority had been reified to blind us to the epidemic of minorities, large continents of people whose livelihoods are being destroyed, tribes, crafts, etc.

He added that the BJP destroyed civil society by thinking that the RSS and the shakhas would be a substitute for it. Civil society has to bounce back not as extension counters for development but as the site for alternative imagination. For the BJP, to belong to civil society is to be anti-national. They want citizens to be extension counters of the state. He stopped.

"Add it up," he said. "Agriculture plus informal economy plus unemployed youth plus university plus civil society and you have the core of a new Congress. Think in terms of new categories because India must realise that BJP is a commitment to the outdated. India is being out thought and out fought and the biggest tragedy will be the destruction of livelihoods, imaginations, the new intrusion of violence in many forms.

The old man was asleep over his coffee.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

Also read: Why Modi government desperately wants you to link your mobile phone number with Aadhaar

Writer

Shiv Visvanathan Shiv Visvanathan @shivvisvanathan

The writer is a social nomad

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