Arvind Kejriwal is the new star in Indian politics. A very recent phenomenon.
I do want to write more, but this is only a brief observation, considering I’m leaving for India very soon, and don’t have a whole lot of time.
(Now, that’s a real complex sentence, but simple enough. Right? :-) )
In the important state election in India’s capital area Delhi, AAP or Aam Admi Party (in English, ordinary people’s party) just had a landslide victory. With their election symbol the broom, they completely swept the ruling BJP off the streets, even though the mighty, national, grassroots cadre-based BJP came to national powers in the country just nine months ago, and people had thought they were invincible.
Election factors that went favorably for AAP:
(1) The Gandhi Dynasty (now led by Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi) had a massive debacle. It was apparent from the election results that even though BJP lost only one percent of their total votes compared to the hung-result elections one year ago (33 to 32 percent), Congress went down from 25% to a dismal 9% of the votes, and all of it went to AAP, giving them a total of 54% in the mostly triangular competitions — between Congress, BJP and AAP.
(2) BJP had a lot of infights, and the way they had to select an outsider candidate for the chief minister position did not go well either with the people or the party workers. Kiran Bedi, a strong-armed woman police officer until recently was a loud critic of BJP and was an ally of AAP’s anti-corruption platform. People did not like the sudden switch over. Party cadres did not like the imposition.
(3) BJP made a lot of promises before the last state elections and also the national elections, but did not keep any of them, including stemming the horrible violence on women, price rise, corruption, or black money. And their primitive, communal jargon: young India does not have much faith for it.
(4) Local issues that AAP fought for — such as free water and electricity for the residents of Delhi worked for AAP. Even though AAP never disclosed their economic policy as to how they’re going to fight back against the out-of-control price rise in India, or how they’re going to stop the neoliberal onslaught from IMF and World Bank.
Rupee, yes. Onion, yes. IMF, what??
(5) Most ordinary people, just like here in the U.S., do not understand how today’s economics are all global, and that you cannot address any of the national economic or political issues, without taking on their global interconnections. This massive ignorance, courtesy corporate media’s purposeful bypassing of these issues, worked for AAP too. Many otherwise smart voters voted for AAP out of ignorance and lack of political insight.
IMPLICATIONS of AAP’s VICTORY:
(1) The era of big-party politics is over in India. Old generation has lost faith in establishment parties (Congress, old left and now also in BJP — only the old-timers are hanging on), and the new Indian generation does not get history, ideology or grassroots movements. Sadly.
(2) If AAP is the new trend in Delhi, we’ll see varieties of AAP in other states, especially more affluent places. We might see something like it in prosperous Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra soon, unless BJP in Gujarat and Shiv Sena (an extreme right party) is Maharashtra resort to violence.
(3) In backward states, it’s going to be more caste politics, such as in hilly Uttarakhand, forested M.P., and economically backward Bihar and Assam and Orissa, and tribal Chhattisgarh. And the more prosperous areas in Uttar Pradesh (the California of India — the most populous state) might see AAP’s rise.
(4) In Southern States like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, more regional politics (AIADMK) will flourish.
(5) In Karnataka (and possibly also in Andhra Pradesh especially the richer, tech-savvy areas), we might see a version of AAP.
(6) In a now-falling-behind state like West Bengal (with a large Muslim population and shared borders with Bangladesh), social unrest and communal tension will rapidly rise. BJP, up and coming, will use Hindu politics and WB chief minister Mamata Banerjee will use Muslim politics. It is possible we’ll see a coalition between the communists (who have miserably lost power after being at the helm of affairs for thirty years) and Congress (a party that is now desperate to salvage some honor).
It is also possible West Bengal will see a rise in an independent, progressive politics-based youth and student coalition (I hope it happens).
India. IMF loves her.
(7) Basically, what is happening is that global, neoliberal economic and political forces have now deeply colonized India, and used the massive public frustration against price hikes, corruption and cronyism and communalism, and exploited ordinary people’s political ignorance on one hand and AAP-type platforms’ service-oriented, high-tech promises on the other.
(8) At the end of the day, IMF and World Bank thrive and their multinational corporations — courtesy the U.S. powers –flourish in India, and the institution known as the government and state falls.
(9) Immediate result: renewed privatization in the name of “economic reform,” complying with IMF’s Structural Adjustment Program, massive inflation and a total destruction of welfare and price subsidies for the poor. Labor unions perish. More income inequality USA style rises.
(10) Time-tested, public-sector services such as the Indian Railways may be going to be one of the first victims of a recharged privatization. And Indian national banks will fall. Water will sell out to Coke; farm lands will sell more to Monsanto.
(11) IMF, World Bank and global economic powers can now pressure the national BJP government to yield to the so-called “reform” more effectively, using the AAP landslide as a stick and a trump card. The national BJP government has already shown strong desire to abide by the neoliberal masters and their dictates.
The 99% miserably suffer, again. The 1% prosper even more than ever before.
People who have a global, bird’s eye view will be, and must be, deeply troubled by these developments.
Thank you for listening.
Brooklyn, New York
(And now, I leave for India. Delhi first.)
New voter. New India. Colonized mind. (Apologies, but do they get global politics?)