Sunday, November 8, 2015

Learning from the electoral defeat in Bihar

In the India Ideas Conclave list, I offered following borrowed comment on 8 November 2015:

Dear listfolk,


if I would say it, the people concerned would rush to accuse me of "white man's burden" and other diversions. Fortunately, for most everything I say, I can find a like-minded Indian source, so here goes:

Van: "Shrikant Talageri"
Verzonden: Zondag 8 november 2015 08:22:31
Onderwerp: The Bihar Election Results: Heads You Win Tails I Lose

Dear Friends

The Bihar election results are out. Now there will very likely be a lot of breast-beating or apologetics on the part of the supporters of the BJP and Modi, and gleeful crowing by their opponents.

As a consistently staunch Hindutva supporter but NOTA voter, I would like to make two points which may lead to my being heartily disliked and criticized by both sides, but then even if the truth is bitter it has to be swallowed.

1. It was basically a battle between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Supporters of one or the other will find something or the other to put forward in defence of their support for that particular group, but the truth is both the groups are equally indifferent to Hinduism and Indian culture. Bribing or blackmailing small groups of Muslims (as in Meerut) to convert to Hinduism (and ending up with egg on our own face), talking against reservations on the one hand and bribing more and more caste groups (and powerful ones like Jats and Marathas) with reservations on the other, pointlessly using abusive language against individuals from "minority communities", banning beef and attacking isolated individuals on the grounds that they possessed, ate or sold beef, defending disgraceful "Hindus" like Asaram "Bapu" and Radhe "Maa", etc. do not constitute acts of Hindutva. Real acts of Hindutva would have been: rigorously banning conversions from Hinduism to Christianity, making article 30 of the constitution applicable to all communities and disbanding the Minorities Commission and removing gender justice laws from religious ambits and making it clear that there would be no more such discrimination on the grounds of religion, openly declaring the cultural allegiance of the Indian state to India's ancient heritage and to its true history (which requires correction), etc. These would have constituted real acts of Hindutva. And all this would have to be done not by what is being called "fringe elements" and "hotheads", but by the very fountainhead of the so-called Hindutva power-hierarchy, i.e. by the Prime Minister, who would also have been required to publicly explain the full rationale of all these things clearly, logically and unapologetically to the whole world. However we had the BJP playing its usual two-faced games, with the top bosses maintaining a frigid silence or talking in doublespeak or in fact failing to openly disown fake "Hindutva" stands while totally failing to openly endorse genuine Hindutva stands. I have noticed in all my years of association with the Sangh Parivar and its supporters that they are actually inordinately proud of their "tactic" of doublespeak and double standards (criticising the Congress for certain things and then defending exactly similar actions of the BJP)! No amount of setbacks can convince them that only honesty and genuine ideology pays!

And not only did the BJP and its worshipping supporters not take an open and honest stand but we had the top leaders from the PM downwards making "secular" noises every time they were accused of Hindutva motives. What in my opinion took the cake was the God-given opportunity we had to make it clear to the whole world that genuine Hindutva, but not hate-ideology, was our ideology and that we were unapologetic about it. When Obama came to India and in his public address in the presence of Modi lectured to us about our treatment of "minorities" (something he would never have dared to even think of doing in, say, Saudi Arabia), it was a God-given opportunity for Modi to tell the world in Obama's presence itself (in diplomatic words of course) that treating Hindus as punching bags or as people who were permanently in the dock was now a thing of the past, and Hindus who had the most glowing history of treatment of minorities could teach the world a lot in these matters and did not require advice. But he maintained a benevolent silence and a few days later lectured Indians, in his turn, to treat the minorities better!

What is the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee? When Obama cracked the whip about FDI in multi-brand retail, the then PM Manmohan Singh jumped on to a stool like a lion in some circus performance and announced that he was willing to put the future of his government at stake in his determination to enforce FDI in multi-brand retail!

Doublespeak, double standards and two-timing games do not ensure electoral victories, as the Bihar results show.

2. The Bihar elections were ultimately a case of "Heads you win Tails I lose" for Hindus, Hindutva and Indian culture.

If the BJP had won, the secularist media would have shouted that it was a victory for Modi's "development agenda" and a defeat for the Hindutva "hotheads" and "fringe elements" and in fact for Hindutva or Hindu ideology itself, and the BJP would have dutifully accepted this logic and accelerated its increasing alienation and severance from Hindu ideology and pursuit of Americanisation and ruthless Capitalism= "development" Agenda.

Since the BJP has lost, the secularist media will predictably shout that it is a massive defeat caused by the BJP's "hotheads" and "fringe elements" and in fact by its "divisive" Hindutva policy itself. And not by its rabidly anti-poor, pro-rich, anti-environmentalist, crony-capitalist, pro-American, etc. policies and not even by the spiralling prices of pulses! and, again, the BJP will dutifully accept this logic and accelerate its increasing alienation and severance from Hindu ideology and pursuit of Americanisation and ruthless Capitalism= "development" Agenda.

Either way it was meant to be a defeat for Genuine Hindutva. And every election result will be the same so long as there is blind worship, election-oriented pseudo-Hindutva, doublespeak, dishonesty and insincerity, and where money and power mean everything and genuine Hindu causes mean nothing.

Shrikant Talageri   



Our comment on the Delhi election results has been vindicated, and now you know what more is in store. BJP secularism, focus on "development", and trying in vain to ingratiate yourself with the minorities, are sure-fire formulas for losing more elections. While the BJP strategists will draw all the wrong conclusions, the bulk of the time-servers who have clawed their way up in the Modi establishment will simply be pragmatic about it: since this government will not survive 2019, grab as much as you can now.


Kind regards,



Kapil Aravind said...

While I agree every inch with your observations about the BJP's lip service to Hindutva, I am afraid there is not much clarity regarding about where you stand regarding economic policies. Criticising is easy, but what is your take on economic policies? Do you want India to go back to the past, to Congress politics, to caste and reservation politics, to socialism? Many great Hindutva supporters, I find, are absolutely vague when it comes to the economy. Do you want India to go back to the charka? Do you want India go back to the pre-industrial era? Do you want India to go back to the old Nehruvian-Indira Gandhi protectionist policies? Please remember an economically strong India is the need of the hour. If capitalism is the way towards, so be it. But if you want India to be a Bihar, so be it. But remember that the Biharis are spread all over India, doing menial jobs that the locals will not touch with a barge pole. If you want the rest of India to follow Bihar, remember that they have nowhere else to go. I find the pro-rich tag given to this government nauseating. Pray, tell me, how is this government pro-rich and pro-poor. This is precisely the trap that Congress wants the BJP to fall into, so that it can march back to power in 2019, with a score of one-man parties. Please do not press the panic button. What happened in Bihar is a consolidation of votes by the opposition. This is bound to happen wherever the BJP grows. Take Kerala, for instance. If the BJP grows, assuming that a significant number of Hindus come under its umbrella. You bet the Congress, the Communists and the minorities will come under one platform to crush it, as they have done in Bihar. For the rest, I stand by your arguments regarding the lip-service Hindutva of the BJP.

aronite said...

Talageri has written well about this predictable upset for Modi Magic man business.
The Economic' focus is actually borrowed from Marxist thesis of any Partyline- Economocentric politics instead of Cultural. This is largely due to BJP’S timidity to stand for its own professed ideals of a nebulous hindutva, even about which it is embarrassed and lacks the Presentation skills.
It is not ‘Americanisation’ as Talageri puts it that is the problem- but this Economic Focus of BJp being a convenient resort to a more Politically Correct Focus, that is Economocentricity, since at the roots of all evil in the world- its money and lets fix it. Its not Americanisation but say Neo Marxist.
That Economocentric Partyline imagines that how could anyone disagree with that ‘noble non-communal cause? Of ‘uplifting the poor’? As Modi puts it- ‘hindus have an option to fight muslims or poverty. Muslims have similarly an option to fight hindus or poverty.’
Modi doesn’t look around at the world, where muslim world has already replied very eloquently whats more important for them- Saudis and Qataris spending billions to start civil wars and uprooting nation after nation, and muslim youth born and grew up in Britain, America, France, Germany and Belgium tearing down their passports to fly to Raqqa and fight for their Caliphate.
Hindus need a very deep Ideology as well as equally strong leaders committed to that world view and able to navigate the shark infested waters like Putin or Netantahu. Putting forward their bold contrarian views and policies and even steering world opinion towards them.
The present shallow Ideology and clay feet leaders simply won’t do.
Sooner they are trashed better- because Hindu society will soon be facing ISIS and a slide into civil war.
Talageri writes so concisely about this Idea Trap-
"If the BJP had won, the secularist media would have shouted that it was a victory for Modi's "development agenda" and a defeat for the Hindutva "hotheads" and "fringe elements" and in fact for Hindutva or Hindu ideology itself, and the BJP would have dutifully accepted this logic and accelerated its increasing alienation and severance from Hindu ideology and pursuit of Americanisation and ruthless Capitalism= "development" Agenda.
I had explained it even before Modi won 2014 elections here-
Temptations of Messiah Modi by the secular devil in the Desert- Aron
Bjp- Idea Traps and the Great Escape

Karthikrajan said...

I beg to differ with shrikant talageri.

1) It is not double speak , but complete bungling in the strategy which cost bihaar, showing that the bjp didn’t learn a thing from the delhi debacle.

Where ever there is a clear alternative to congress, the bjp flopped. In delhi AAP had emerged a clear alternative to congress and the absence of a prominent state leader queered the pitch towards AAP. Last minute parachuting of kiran bedhi didn’t help
In bihaar, same was the case, in fact even more. The janta dal was ruling the state in coalition with bjp and nithish govt was clean with no major charges against him. When he decided to part ways due to egoistic reasons , why did the bjp antagonize him.? At least after the LS elections, shouldn’t the bjp have mended bridges with him? At least in the manjhi case they should have gently persuaded manjhi to go , instead they hoped that manjhi would finish off nithish. That was immature stand which boomeranged badly I am reminded of the line from the film godfather: “keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer “. Bjp turned a friend into an enemy who could have been easily befriended again. Modhi further made things worser by needlessly targeting nithish during campaigning too. Nithish garnered all the sympathy in this acrimony very much like the erstwhile MGR who was booted out of the gung-ho DMK party by the cocky karunanidhi , only to emerge as an all conquering alternative to DMK in tamilnadu. So much for the much taunted strategy skills of amith shah !!
Rather than secularist noises, it was the complete silence of modhi on kalburgi murder and daadhri killing which was deeply disturbing. He should have condemned the killings if not the reasons behind it, with a strong appeal to all Indians not to behave in provocative manner. He should have reiterated that beef ban will be imposed only where sentiments are high, but definitely a ban on beef-festival was warranted. Sickular morons were freely organizing beef-festivals which made hindhus appear like donkeys !
As far as cultural agenda is concerned , shrikant has probably not watched modhi’s interviews carefully. Modhi always asks for a clear roadmap from anyone who seeks help from him. He will then lay the highway and maybe even arrange transportation! What prevents the hindhu groups from going to court on amending article 20 ? This will at least set a debate in motion which modhi govt can’t ignore. Modhi will never touch controversial issues on his own.

Aniketana said...

Recently, I read the agonies of a farmer in a vernacular journal. In spite of treating cows as their daughters when they are healthy, they find themselves helpless when the cattle grow old. Apart from feeding them, these people also have to make a living. Olden days, kings used to leave grazing lands in every village. But off late, governments are granting these lands for industrialists to make tech parks or some high profile Swamijis to build Ashrams. Invariably the poor farmers close their eyes when someone picks them and falsely hope, their daughter in safe in the hands of a buyer (so that, they don't feel guilty). Majority Hindus might not eat beef. But they don't oppose someone else eating either, because of the inevitability. Better for government to not to meddle in this issue. It cannot provide a clear solution. All they can do is, banning the celebration of killing.

What happened with Varanasi temple? BJP became a political force because of this. Where is this issue now? Since when beef ban became a Hindutva cause? Or BJP forgot the old issue and jumped to new one? Battle is between pseudo secularism and pseudo Hindutva.

I don't consider Bihar election is anything to do with Hindutva. Indians voted Modi as the PM of India, not CM of every state. Modi has not learnt the art of delegation. Voters do not vote vacuum as CM because of Modi speech.

Shankar Sharan said...

Politically, the conclusion of Srikant Talagheri is correct. If BJP wants to do just 'development', only better than Congress, not touching the harmful culture of political entitlement and anti-Hindu ideological rule; then there is hardly anything to choose. Create a 'shining India', only to be captured/partitioned by some Muslims/'Muslims first', etc.; then what is the point? Dharma will be be losing anyway. Just living for living sake has not been the ideal of Bharatvarsha. Someone has to underline it.

Shankar Sharan said...

See the bitter comments coming from so many BJP leaders against Modi-Shah. It would be a mistake to see these fulminations just frustrations from defeat, or nor getting a situation in power structure. It is more from a gradual realisation that the Great Hope has actually little under his sleeve, apart from some economic reforms ideas. They might be good but would it be enough?

Gururaj BN said...

The long and short of the debate is that Hindutva is an ideology which appeals only to a minority of Hindus, and is clearly a political baggage, howsoever much we may want Hinduism and Hindu ethos to flourish in India. BJP is in the electoral battle trench and must be allowed to adopt its own tactics. Notwithstanding all the short comings of BJP, it is the only nationalistic party, which will at least occasionally take up Hindu cause, when push comes to shove. BJP has a chance of survival only if it adheres to development agenda. Amidst other things, now and then it can buttress causes which are dear to the Hindu nationalists such as indianising the education, flushing the universities of destructive leftist ideologues, two name two important tasks.

Arun said...

The phenonenon highlighted in the Elst article has already happened - in the USA, with the Republican Party. Despite having 30+ states of the 50, the House and the Senate, the Republican Party is able to do little, because anything that is not in accord with the pure ideological position of the Tea Party cannot proceed. The Freedom Caucus in the Republican House is 40 out of 247 (218 is needed for a majority); but they are the tail that wags the Republican dog. "Compromise" is a dirty word, and so nothing ever gets done.

I'm afraid the attitudes displayed in this article will result in a similar deadlock in India.

Arun said...

E.g., see the letter of Shrikant Talageri. He wants constitutional type change. The sad fact is that PM Modi lacks the votes in the Rajya Sabha to get even elementary economic reforms through Parliament, what to speak of constitutional changes?

Why does Elst tolerate this air of unrealism. Instead of "we won something, what can we achieve with what we have?" the cry is "why aren't we getting our maximalist goals?" "Give me more, give me more!".

In reality, the Modi victory is just the beginning. It has to be built upon. From getting a third of the nation's vote, it has to grow to half, and then to two-thirds. PM Modi can't do it alone, it needs every type of supporter to help.

But no, instead we encourage a total disconnect with reality, and the constant sniping at the BJP from what should be its supporters.

All the talk about how horrible Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, etc., were compared to Savarkar or such is from a people who know neither how to lead nor how to follow. For all their faults, Gandhi, Nehru, etc., could lead and could inspire a following. How to actually get things done requires a close engagement with reality, and no one can remain pristine in that encounter. Even Dharmaraja Yudhisthira found that out. The same perfectionism demanded by the same crowd that ineffectually supported Hindu Mahasabha, etc., will doom Prime Minister Modi too.

Instead of this carping, I would rather see - this is what we have so far. This is what we can do with it. This is the roadmap to be able to do more.

Arun said...

After Lord Krishna killed Kamsa, I can see the Mathura-nivasi BJPites complaints. We can't support him. Why hasn't he yet taken down Jarasandha? Why isn't Dharma yet established? Why isn't he giving us the Gita? Why the f*** are we having to migrate from Mathura to Dwarka? Kala Yavana is coming, Kala Yavana is coming, look at this Krishna-caused disaster!

I would put everyone quoted by Koenraad Elst in this category.

K.B.S Ramachandra said...

Not clear about why the authors' slant against the development agenda.
That is the only one that is likely to work - both for the country and for its current rulers.
Also, some credit may be extended to Modi and Amit Shah for their understanding of the political arena - they came till here, didn't they?

Arun said...

To come to more recent times, these folks would not have backed Shivaji either. Because he's not sufficiently anti-Muslim, or not trying to capture Kashmir, or because he's not doing X or Y or whatever. They'd have not backed Ranjit Singh, not Vedic enough or something. Laxmibai would have been seen as fighting for a Mughal Emperor, we're not going to back her, either.

Of all people, Theodore Roosevelt is worth remembering here:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. "

Koenraad Elst said...

Is Modi a strong man who stumbles while trying? Everyone of us would have supported Shivaji, for even if liberating Kashmir was beyond him, he was victorious against the Moghuls and established Hindu rule. He did what he could, but can we say the same of the present BJP? The problem with it is precisely that it does not do what it can. Everybody can live with its trying but not fully succeeding, but where is it even trying? It is only dealing in excuses for not even starting.

Your argument that selling out is necessary for victory (though that would defeat the very purpose of victory) would be difficult to answer if you were presenting victory upon victory as the fruit of he policy you are defending. But here you are bluffing after being repeatedly defeated. The policy of time-serving and materialism is now very clearly a road to failure.

Arun said...

Modi has just 18 months into his premiership. Dunno what miracles you are expecting. A 100,000 people corporation, with a strong command structure, and tight accountability can't change in 18 months even with superb leadership; what to say of a 1.2 billion people country with numerous power centers, and manifold purposes. Live on in fantasy world, I'll say goodbye.

Shankar Sharan said...

Arun and thousands of others wish well and hope good. No problem with that. In fact, what KE, ST wrote and Arun believes are on slightly different tracks, not necessarily opposing each other. What Arun hopes is not credible to critics like KE, ST. The critics are on solid ground, while the well-wishers hope that with time Modi would deliver.

It appears, as happened with Vajpayee regime too, the conscious Hindus saw the failure earlier while the liberal Hindus continued to hope because they wanted to. We are so leaderless for so long that any hope acquires larger than life shape for us. But Modi was/is clearly either not prepared or not able to deliver anything on the cultural-academic-ideational front. Some may argue it is unimportant. But the fact remains that Modi became Modi first because of that front, and not on 'development' promises. As now he seems to be on losing curve no amount of hope and imagined arguments can bring back that enthusiasm which catapulted him on the national scene.

Politics is first politics, that is, consolidating defense, diplomacy and internal peace and security. Only than business, trade, etc. count. Putting it otherwise is misdirection. Vajpayee lost despite India (howsoever) shining. So, much we dislike it, Modi may not last even the first term at this rate, with this style. If KEs, Arun Shouries continue to denounce him who will make him likable? Pure 'media management' is a bad approach in long term. It did not work for Advani. It will not for Modi too.

Little show-off, less talk more work, genuine concern, comprehensive plans and practical steps - all these impress on people despite motivated criticism. But Modi regime seems to be lacking on various fronts even prima-facie. That is why just economic reforms would not save him. He has given very little thought to various political issues. Ignoring great and articulate supporters like AS and KE is just one of them.

For another, Bihar strategy was a huge show of political inaptitude. It was visible from the start when he embarrassingly tried to dramatize Central-aid to Bihar in a public meeting, and then in coming days went on to show prejudices about Bihar re Caste factor, etc. Without even knowing Modi lost his USP in Bihar - development of all in complete disregard of caste, religion, etc. factors - and fell prey to Laloo game of caste and cheap ridicules.

Modi is now no more the 'coming great leader' two years ago he was. He deflated himself too soon, and it is a matter of time the RSS-BJP top brass might start thinking something else. Removing Amit Shah and changing tactics might give Modi some time, but unless he actually improves his strategy wisely it may not serve much. But people say he cannot work in collective, so little hope of any good change...

Tarale Seena said...


bharti sharma said...

मन की बात : “100 फीसदी कैशलेस संभव नहीं, लेकिन लेस-कैश तो संभव है” पीएम मोदी