Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


Modi and BJP’s triumphal march across the Indian political landscape for the last three and a half years now seems to be slowing down if not going into reverse. Those who believe in the promise of the Indian Constitution for a secular and democratic polity can now afford to breathe just a tad more freely as the poisonous hot air balloon of the regime appears to have begun to deflate a little. As the poet Faiz said once: “Roshan kahin bahar ke imkan hue to hain.” (Some possibilities of spring seem to be emerging.)


The change in political climate is due to the crisis in the economy. It needs to be recalled that Modi was sold to the Indian public in 2014 on the basis of his Gujarat model. He was the man who had produced an economic miracle in Gujarat and would soon do so in the rest of India. The mega-millionaires who controlled the media sold this dream assiduously to the Indian people in a heady brew of hyper-nationalism, Hindutva-fanaticism, and economic boosterism. An army of social media trolls stood at the ready to crack down on any doubter with vitriolic abuse at the same time as more violent elements pledged to Hindutva turned into lynch mobs focused on the “other” (Muslims, Christians, Dalits)


Bluster and rhetoric at which Modi has few parallels have sustained this regime but the sharp drop in the economy with little prospect of immediate revival is now beginning to have an impact. Unemployment, in particular, is rife; several million new entrants enter the job market every month but the economy is barely able to create a million jobs per year. Demonetization, Modi’s shock doctrine last November, is widely held responsible for the economic crisis with the half-baked GST rolled out with much fanfare in July, a close follower. Numerous segments of the economy, including small business and traders, who are generally firm supporters of BJP, are up in arms against the government. BJP’s own “wise” men, including former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, and resident intellectual Arun Shourie, have begun to criticize Modi and his regime in no uncertain terms.


Whether this will amount to anything in electoral terms in the next election remains to be seen. But, as Faiz also said in the same poem, “Hai dasht ab bhi dasht magar khoon-e-pa se Faiz/Serab chand khar-e-mughilan hue to hain.” (The desert is still a desert but the blood from my feet has watered a few cactus thorns). Perhaps, the lynchings and killings will sicken enough people to demand a change so the deaths will not have been in vain.

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