For the first time in almost a year, the victory of the AAP over the Modi-Shah cabal, whose pictures were defacing every billboard and bus stop in the nation’s capital in January 2015, has given some small measure of hope that the defeat of the nightmare known as Hindutva is actually possible.  The outcome of the Delhi election in terms of its wider national significance can be summed up by a line from the Urdu poet Faiz: “roshan kahin bahar ke imkan hue to hain” (the possibilities of the emergence of spring have brightened).


The smashing victory of AAP holds a lesson for the left too.  Left parties put up candidates in 15 out of 70 constituencies in Delhi and all of them lost their deposits, i.e. they could not obtain even a few percent of the total votes cast.  What was the point of their quixotic effort?   The agenda of the AAP was squarely on the side of the demands of the deprived sections of urban Delhi, who make up a significant majority of the electorate, and so was the support that it received.  The fact that this historic terrain of the left has been captured by a party that came into existence just a couple of years ago speaks volumes about the changes the left has to make in its theory and practice.


AAP ran on a populist platform, anchored by its promise of reducing the utility, power and water, bills of the masses, i.e. the lower economic classes.  While it has very recently redeemed these promises, in contrast to the BJP which made many promises before the national elections last year and has yet to redeem a single one, the broader question is one of sustainability.  It is easy to talk of corruption, but much more difficult to implement an agenda focused firmly on the needs of the poor, when the entire national economic policy is being driven by the so-called Gujarat model, i.e. the needs of the largest corporate actors headed by luminaries like Adani and Ambani.  Overlaying this economic thrust towards the rich is the program of Hindu rashtra being implemented by the RSS, the core organization that chose and anointed Modi and is poised to reap the rewards from Modi’s policies.  The fact that such policies may at times be incoherent or inconsistent and may attract opposition from the sections of the poor is no bar to their adoption for, as an insightful critic pointed many years ago, religion is the opium of the masses and has been effectively used to dull any protests from them.


The left, hopefully, has a deeper understanding of many of these issues like unbridled capitalism and communalism in the Indian context. It should work cooperatively with AAP and the many other organizations, not necessarily on the political left, which oppose Hindu rashtra and the communal divide in Indian society and polity and stand for economic justice to the weaker sections of the Indian people.

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