V.K. Tripathi

Dec 24, 2007

Gujarat Assembly Election results have been a major disappointment. The voices of sanity were louder this time than 2002 but the facade of development and peace (implying suppression of violence through the pogrom of 2002 and subsequent state actions) created by the ruling regime and its middle class supporters overshadowed the pressing problems of farmers, minorities, and other weaker sections. It is surprising that the Congress, which in 2004 parliamentary elections won in 91 out of 182 Assembly segments (winning 12 of 26 seats for parliament) could get only 62 seats this time.

In this scenario, Panchmahals district, where 57 people were killed in Sabarmati train compartment fire and 257 in subsequent violence, has sent positive signals. Congress has won 4 out of 6 Assembly seats, including Godhra and Lunawada (of which Panderwada is a part). In the neighboring adivasi district of Dahod too Congress has got the majority of seats. In these victories Muslims and Adivasis must have worked and campaigned together and that is a heartening development. One hopes these sections will have a reach to tehsil, police and other sections of administration that were hitherto under overwhelming influence of RSS activists.

Regarding the pressing problems of justice, discrimination, education, agriculture, rural employment, and other issues, elections are no substitute to peoples’ struggles. These struggles must be carried out. They can be carried out by even a tiny minority, e.g., Indians in South Africa. However, most such struggles are common to all communities and they give a sense of bigness and togetherness for communities that are otherwise in religious, linguistic or caste minority.

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