28 October, 2021

Blog

Trends In The Indian Electoral Scene

By Kumar David

Prof. Kuma David

There have been a couple of interesting developments in India, a new star in the Lok Sabha and recent State elections, which I am sure will interest to my readers. A meteor detonated in the in any case rumbustious chamber of the Indian Parliament and it has for a change been a woman. State Elections have been a moderate, but only moderate setback for Modi and the BJP but since there is no sign of an alliance that can be cobbled together to form an alternative government, on current trends India is heading for an inclusive result in 2024.

By any measure Mahua Moitra (MM) is a firebrand; a first-timer elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019 whose three Lok Sabha speeches have taken the country by storm; the lady is the talk of the town. She is not fire and guts alone but her discourses, however passionately delivered are also well informed, intelligently researched, and blood-and-guts delivery. The second and third links below will take you to two of her parliamentary assaults on the Modi Government. The first is to a frank and fascinating chat with one of India’s top interviewers Karan Thapar which shows a person so different from Lanka’s bogus MPs. Readers of this column will, if not benefit, at least greatly enjoy the freshness of the three videos.

 

MM read economics and mathematics at Mount Holyoke, a women’s university in Massachusetts, USA. After graduating she worked as an investment banker for JPMorgan Chase in New York and London. She quit her position as vice-president in 2009 to enter politics and joined the youth wing of Congress and was close to Rahul Gandhi. Soon she moved to Mama Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and she took to grass roots politics.

MM refers to a poster “Early Warning Signs of Fascism”. The display site she mentions is incorrect but the poster is relevant and I reproduce it below since the first seven items are relevant to Lanka. A chap called Lawrence Britt produced this list after researching Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’ Greece, Pinochet’s Chile and Suharto’s Indonesia 

* Powerful and continuing nationalism

* Disdain for human rights

* Religion and government intertwined

* Rampant cronyism

* Supremacy of the military

* Obsession with national security

* Controlled mass media

* Identification of enemies as a unifying cause

* Disdain for intellectuals and the arts

* Rampant sexism

* Corporate power

* Protected labour power

* Obsession with crime and punishment

* Corrupt fraudulent elections

MM unabashedly confronts bogus nationalism; a disease that has pushed this country into the dark ages since 1956. Personally what I resent the most is that while upper strata Sinhala and Tamil bogus nationalists denied exposure to English and a modern ethos to the best and brightest of rural and village students, they sent off the fruits of their own loins to Oxford, LSE or to second rate institutions in Europe and the USA. Among my own students the best (Sreetharan, Dayawansa and a few others) were too good for bogus nationalism to trample, but many others did suffer. Now a days I see 15 to 25 year old men and women with tears in their eyes because they have been denied simple English familiarity to follow instructions on a computer screen or a design handbook or to read magazines except in the vernacular. Isolation in a linguistic ghetto serves only xenophobes and semi-educated politicians who fear that the masses will outshine them. Or worse it is the best way they can obstruct integration of communities and incite racial disharmony. Pity Ms Moitra is instinctively anti-left – she lived through the failure of Communist state governments in West Bengal and her class and educational background are not conducive to leftism. However I live in hope that as with Engels and Harini she too will one day turn traitor to her class!

Five Indian state elections

First a quick summary of the results of the five state elections last week.

West Bengal: Mamata Baerjee’s Trinamool Congress won 213 seats and the BJB 77 in the Assembly. No other party, including the once mighty Bengal CPI (M) and CPI, won a single seat. How the mighty have fallen! The BJP though it lost, made an impressive gain of 44 seats at the cost of Congress and the Communists.

Tamil Nadu: The DMK, led by Stalin son of old fox Karunannidhi won, capturing 133 seats (up 33) and the late Jayalalitha’s ANADMK took  66 seats (down 58), Congress 18, the BJP 4 (up from zero) and a regional caste-based party Pattali Makkal Katchi took 5. The total numbers for both alliances are shown in a Table. The musical chairs circus between the DMK and ANADMK continues.

Kerala: CPI (M) won 62, Congress 21, CPI 17, Muslim League 15 and Kerala Congress 5 seats. The change in party positions is very small.

Assam: This was the bright spot for the BJP, it took 60 seats, down 3; Congress 29, up 7; the Democratic Front 16 up 2 and smaller parties took 13 seats in all.

Pondicherry: A tiny region adjacent to Tamil Nadu. The NR Congress (NR being the leaders initials!) won 10 seats, the BJP 6 (up 5), DMK 6 (up 1) and Congress just 2 seats (down 9).

What are the summary comments I can make? The BJP has done ok; it held Assam, made large gains in West Bengal and small gains in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. It failed to secure a single seat in Kerala. Hindu nationalism, the BJP trade mark, has weathered the storm and the media forecast for the Indian general election which must be held before May 2024 is that the BJP and the Hindutva curse will hang on to power. After the 2019 election the BJP has 300 seats and its right-wing allies 47 in the 543 member Lok Sabha. Congress has a mere 52 seats and the once proud CPs was reduced to 3 or 4 in all! On its erstwhile home turf West Bengal in 2019 the two CPs failed to win a single seat while their vote share plunged to 7% from 23% in 2014. CPI (M) manged just one seat in Kerala in 2019 though it polled 32% – the Indian electoral system is first-past-the-post (FPTP). Tamil Nadu is particularly significant for Sri Lanka. In the 2019 General Election the DMK led United Progressive Alliance won 38 of 39 Tamil Nadu Lok Sabha seats while in 2014 this alliance got just one seat. It seems from the results of the 2021 State Elections that the current DMK advantage will hold in the 2024 FTFP General Election as well. This is not good news for the Double-Paksas.

Comparison of Tamil Nadu state elections 2016 and 2021
(The vote percentages are unreliable; it depends on who one includes in the alliances)

The massacre of the left in India in 2019 reflects the fate that Sri Lankan left parties belonging to the 1970-1975 coalition suffered in the 1977. The reasons were similar; when class collaborationist governments die the uncritical left partner is buried deepest. When the Rajapaksa government falls the Dead-Left will be obliterated in perpetuity. The moral of the story is this: The left, globally, should have well learned it by now. Cross-class alliances are indeed needed and at times imperative such as in 2015 to keep a third-term Rajapaksa out of office but forming class-collaborationist governments and assuming cabinet posts is another matter. In circumstances of bourgeois state power the left does best when it keeps out of government and engages in a constructive critical role as a people’s tribune. In a bourgeois state that is its hallowed role, except in extreme and exceptional circumstances such as the 1945-1951 Clement Atlee Labour government in the UK and Alexis Tsipras’ Syriaz led coalition which was in power from 2015 to 2019. All society in the UK was shattered at the end of the war and there was a total collapse of the Greek economy in the wake of ruin brought on by debt. Both fit the description extreme and exceptional.

I will sign off by drawing attention to a conundrum. Modi seems to be less unpopular than the Double-Paksas despite a huge covid setback (even after allowing for scale), worse than Lanka; semi-fascist trends in Modi’s case mainly against Muslims are rampant (in India violations are reality, in Sri Lanka more a threat); and a near uprising by farmers. How come? One possibility is that those of us who see a collapse of the SL regime’s popularity are mistaken. The next Provincial Council elections, if ever, will settle that issue. Another possibility is that Hindutva communalism which stands behind Modi is deeper than Sinhala-Buddhist zealotry. I incline to reject this view since the bold Indian intelligentsia is sturdier than its effete Lankan middleclass counterpart. My bet is something else; the Indian economy is doing ok; the growth rate is fairly good, India is not drowning in debt and people hope things will get better under a Modi government. Maybe that’s why Modi, though he did not win big four out of the five States, held his ground all round.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    1

    Sorry the important speech by Ms MM in the Lok Sabha

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umRjAyqtvYs

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umRjAyqtvYs

    • 5
      2

      “This ( Indian) government has turned propaganda and misinformation into a cottage industry” says the lady. How much more appropriate for our own government! India still has MP’s of this calibre. Shashi Tharoor is another.
      In our own Parliament, Harini Amarasuriya is not quite as good. Young Chanakyam from Batticaloa is good and trilingual into the bargain.
      Perhaps our voters are too dumbed-down to see the merit in such people?

      • 2
        2

        OC
        Ideologically, there is little that is impressive about C.
        He has a past of being close to Mahinda R, I am informed.
        Besides Sampanthan & Sumanthiran, he seems the only FP MP (or candidate) who can put a few words together to make a meaningful sentence.
        In the TNA, Siddharthan had potential, but never performed as I though he would.

        • 1
          1

          SJ,
          “He has a past of being close to Mahinda R, “
          I think that’s better than being the other way around.

          • 1
            0

            OC
            I was only thinking of ideological suspicions expressed.
            Nothing personal

      • 1
        1

        old codger

        “India still has MP’s of this calibre. Shashi Tharoor is another.”

        Come on.
        We have Udaya, Jeyasumana, Dhinesh, ……………….. Weerawansa.
        I don’t think you can even begin to compare Sashi with Wimal.

        According to Dayan, the younger stars, Wimal Weerawansa, a pure Jacobin orator.
        Wimal was probably right because he said “Mahinda is not a name, Mahinda is a country!” – Dayan.

  • 3
    4

    Leftists’ strength in the Lok Sabha = 5 seats (CPM-3 & CPI- 2). Two seats each for CPI & CPM from Tamil Nadu ( Thanks to 2019 secular alliance with DMK) and remaining 1 seat for CPM from Kerala.

    • 3
      2

      In the last 5 decades, the decline of the communists in India was spectacular and predictable. In the current century it was on the disappearance curve, getting erased from 60 t0 30 to 20 to 10 to 5. Their specialism was only calculation on which piggy to back. In 2024 there will be neither a pig nor a donkey to lend its back. In the late fifties, left oriented Nehru pronounced communism outdated. In October 1965, communists of Indonesia led by DN Aidit and endorsed by China paid with 600,000 + lives. In 1971 and 1989 Sri Lankan version of communists JVP, paid with 100,000 + lives. Besides strengthening the military and making Police lives comfortable, they achieved nothing. In 1958 Castro dazzled the world and in a few decades ran the Cuban economy aground and to ignominy. The depth of poverty was seen with Obama’s liberalisation a decade ago.

      It will be good for Karikalan to dilate on the simultaneous demise of the Communists and the Congress in India.

      • 2
        3

        Momentous20
        .
        “In the last 5 decades, the decline of the communists in India was spectacular and predictable.”
        .
        In all parliamentary democracies left is below 5% and Communists have gone nearly extinct. (Not that I am happy about it)
        Only a super intellectual like Professor Kumar David believed that JVP would get +50% in the last election.

        Soma

          • 1
            0

            OC
            In Italy in 1991 they transformed into a social democratic party.
            But that was a long time coming from the 1970s.

        • 1
          3

          “Only a super intellectual like Professor Kumar David believed that JVP would get +50% in the last election.”

          He underestimated the magnitude of the Easter attacks. It was an easy landslide for GR, as I predicted. What are the odds people would rally around some village Marxist of the likes of AKD, when GR is a proven military player?

          • 4
            1

            Lester,
            .
            So you have some inkling of the extent to which the Easter bombs helped Gota, don’t you?
            .
            Add to that the fact that imposition of COVID restrictions was delayed just long enough to ensure that two factions of the UNP handed in nominations for an election that we knew was going to be held only six months later, at the earliest. Many countries misjudged on the COVID, but this particular mistake was purelyto divide the opposition. Even Trump, POTUS of Gota in 2019 , was not able to get anybody to do anything as outrageous as MACO Deshapriya did for Gota with hapless Yahapalanaya supposedly in control. Media don’t routinely fact-check here. Refer back to what Hoole was saying.
            .
            Kumar David had the courage to estimate precisely how many seats would come to the various parties. Not one prediction, admittedly, but show me 50% – and for the NPP of which he was a candidate, not the JVP. Let us both check – but you first! My memory is that he expected the 6 JVPs to become 15 NPPs.
            .
            Learn to take responsibility for what you say, Lester.

            • 1
              4

              Sinhala_Man,

              Gota won, UNP lost, election was not even close. I was correct, Kumar was wrong. Kumar is a brilliant guy, just not in politics and economics. He tries to evaluate things from a Marxist point of view. We don’t live in a Marxism world, therefore, Marxism has no relevance. As for you, you are a complete fool. Have a nice day.

              • 2
                1

                Lester,
                The biggest fool is the one that can fool himself.

            • 2
              0

              Thank u Mr Sm😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎lester s behaviour is becoming very similar to his siamese twin- eternally demented Eagle Eye☹☹☹☹☹☹

              • 2
                1

                L.M,
                “very similar to his siamese twin- eternally demented Eagle Eye☹☹☹☹”
                Not at all . Eagle knows his limits. L is an arrogant little prick.

              • 0
                2

                Leela,

                I hope you can find at least one winner before you die. Otherwise you may wind up in a “Nanthidakal” like situation, leaving you bitter and holding a “white flag.” Germany has good health care, with easy access to “Angoda”, but that is not my expectation for you. Have a nice day.

      • 1
        2

        M20
        “In October 1965, communists of Indonesia led by DN Aidit and endorsed by China paid with 600,000 + lives. “
        *
        Give credit where it is due.
        The CIA and British intelligence did much to enable that mass murder ordered by the fascist Suharto.
        Much has been written on it.
        *
        As for Cuban economy, it maintains the highest standards in health (far better than the US) and education in the Caribbean & Latin America. Its Covid performance and protection of human lives during natural disasters place it far above the US. Embargos imposed by the US have badly hurt Cuba economically. But the government is popular and people are well looked after.
        *
        How is India faring under BJP? The economy was already in trouble. Now the farsighted leader has led it into an unprecedented health crisis far surpassing the cholera epidemics of the 19th Century.
        Forget about the communists, what is the way forward for India?

  • 2
    2

    Modi must know where his friends are and where his enemies are!

    Nothing surprising. Just like SL elections.

    • 2
      0

      GATAM,
      .
      I will study this more closely and get back to you.
      .
      You cannot make subtle distinctions. On Lankan politics all that you can say is that we must split this country into three.
      .
      If it comes to that, it won’t be because of anything that I do. I want all Lankans to unite as equal citizens.

    • 1
      0

      No doubt the kind of stupid men would have chances to become their premier again. Today almost any 2nd would stand against Modi looking at the manner the stupidest man how he put people in danger.it s not his politics but humanitarian acts of the EUand Americans provided them health aids. And not forget that india is the largest poor population in the world. So entire world has to react. Smaller count such ours would nt get that much of attention, today being governed by war criminals, chances declined to all depth s.😐😐😐😐😐

      • 0
        0

        Apologies, would not have chances

  • 4
    0

    “MM read economics and mathematics at Mount Holyoke, a women’s university in Massachusetts, USA. After graduating she worked as an investment banker for JPMorgan Chase in New York and London.”

    Compared to the educational qualifications and work experience of our parliamentary backbenchers who are always heckling and disturbing the speeches delivered in parliament by the Tamil M.P.s, MM’s qualifications are just insignificant!

  • 5
    2

    Dr.KD,

    You have mentioned the names of two of your students at Peradeniya who were in fact Tamil and Sinhalese nationalists, one close to the ACTC, and the other close to the SLFP. So I take it that you meant to say, despite such nationalism, they learned English and didn’t allow it to affect their academic performance and professional careers.

    • 1
      1

      Agnos,
      No what I meant was that despite the disadvantage of limited exposure to English as school boys they grew up to full academic stature in post-graduate life. Not every disadvantaged kid was able to do this. I also don’t understand your saying Sreetheran who graduates with a First in about 1972, was “close to the ACTC”. He was close to the LTTE and edited the website TamilNet (I think that’s the name). Dayawansa was equally brilliant and graduated in about 1979 but was not close to the SLFP. My point is that only the very bright ones, mostly, overcame the disadvantages of limited early exposure to a world language.

      • 2
        0

        Dr.D,

        I knew both of them well in the U.S., and outside the militancy of the LTTE, my characterization of their political affinities is correct.

        As for the disadvantages of limited early exposure to English, that applies to most graduates from SL. They improve their English after coming to the West, and go on to hold responsible positions.

      • 3
        0

        The batch you are talking about had some exposure to English, but did not master English to read Shakespeare.
        There were many with virtually no exposure to English at school since 1980, but they learned enough to survive and even do very well professionally and in the academia.
        *
        Sri Lankan students had for decades learned Russian in 6 to 12 months to obtain a university degree taught in Russia; and those who moved to the West mastered whatever language was needed very fast.

  • 3
    2

    There seems some oversimplifying of the electoral picture.
    Tamilnadu politics is caste dominated.
    Dalit parties (Rank 5) mainly sided with the DMK in the post-MGR era.
    The Vanniar Rank 4(Lower) in Northern Tamilnadu and the Thevar Rank 4(Lower) moved close to the AIADMK under Jayalalitha. The Nadars Rank 5+ drifted close to the DMK after MGR’s demise.
    The DMK which faced a ruling family crisis during the last years of Karunanithi recovered from it; but AIADMK after Jayalalitha has irrevocably split into three factions.
    The DMK-ADMK musical chairs game will change, but with the Congress and BJP only as interested observers. Congress has a small traditional base but the BJP can only piggyback on a regional party to glean a few votes.
    *
    The decline of the old left in Sri Lanka was gradual, but accelerated by splitting from the SLFP and contesting as a Left alliance in 1977.
    What happened in W Bengal was a shock. The rot had set in within the CPI(M) late last century. Over two decades of uninterrupted power had somewhat alienated the CPI(M) from the masses. Its bungling in Nandigramin 2007 & 2008 was its undoing. It lost the state to Trinamool in 2011 after its reputation as the poor man’s friend was in tatters. It never recovered.

  • 3
    1

    In Kerala, the CPI(M) always maintained grassroots contact and thus had the resilience to bounce back.
    The BJP has made a dent in Kerala but, like in Tamilnadu, secularism is too strong for its growth.
    *
    In Assam the Bangladeshi Muslim immigration has been an issue for a long time and the anti-Muslim line of the BJP works, but with a catch. Its recent Registration of Citizens Bill hit not only Muslims but also Hindu Bengalis. Unlike in Tamilnadu nationalism in Assam was issue based and failed to produce a credible political force. It is a state where the Congresss till has some say, but has to adapt better to local demands.
    In Pondicheri, the winner is a BJP ally. The DMK and its other incarnations never really made it there.

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