Six Months of Modi Sarkar
The Congress party has brought out a booklet on the six months of the Modi government calling it a “U-Turn Sarkar”. Essentially, the booklet claims that the Modi government has done a U-turn by reversing the stand taken by the BJP on a number of policy issues. While in the opposition, the BJP had opposed many of the UPA government’s policies, now in the six months of its government, it has contradicted itself and decided to follow the same policies.
There is a lot of truth in this charge. Basically, the Congress is saying that the BJP is just like us. The record of the six months of the Modi government has shown that it follows the same economic policies as the UPA government. There are a number of examples for this. The BJP government is pushing for 49 per cent FDI in insurance, just as the UPA government did previously. The BJP has decided to go in for large-scale PSU disinvestment, just as the Congress-led government. The BJP government has deregulated diesel pricing, this was partially deregulated by the previous government. The BJP government has hiked railway fares, something the UPA government tried to do. The BJP government has adopted the Aadhar scheme and the cash benefit scheme that was introduced by the UPA government.
The list is endless. On some of these matters, the BJP had opposed it while being in the opposition. But the moment it has come into government, it is adopting the same policies. This underlines the basic truth that the Congress and the BJP represent the same class interests.
Even in their attitude to pampering big capitalists, there is a similarity. As far as the Congress was concerned, their favourite capitalist was Mukesh Ambani. The Congress changed the Petroleum Minister twice to accommodate Ambani’s interests. In the case of Narendra Modi, the pet capitalist is Gautam Adani whose wealth has risen exponentially in the past six months. One of Adani’s companies has managed to get a loan of Rs. 6,200 crore (one billion) from the State Bank of India. This is the single largest amount of loan given to a company so far. Hence, there is no difference between the Congress and the BJP as far as crony capitalism is concerned.
The Congress was constrained because the UPA government had no majority in the Lok Sabha and had to rely on support of some other parties from outside. Therefore, some of the policies it advocated and pushed for could not be realised. The BJP is in a stronger position having a majority in the Lok Sabha, so it can take up the same policies with greater vigour. So what is being witnessed is a rightwing offensive under the auspices of the Modi government. FDI in railways for the first time; coal allocation ordinance which seeks to open coal mining to private commercial interests; dilution of the land acquisition act and so on. At the same time, the corporate interests are advanced by the move to change the labour laws and deprive the working class of the limited protection afforded to them under these laws. While assuring the corporates and big business of “achhe din” the Modi Government has set about squeezing the poor. This is most blatantly seen in the steps to curtail the Rural Employment Guarantee Act and denude it of its right to work character.
In the sphere of foreign policy, Prime Minister Modi has visited a record number of countries in the past six months. Of these, the visits to Japan and Australia are the most significant from his standpoint. It is no coincidence that both have rightwing Prime Ministers who share a political affinity with Modi. During his visit to Japan, Modi and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to strengthen defence cooperation and give a new thrust to military ties. This would include regular maritime exercises including Japan’s participation in the India-US naval exercises, such as the `Malabar’ exercises. India and Japan also decided to upgrade their security relations to a “2+2” format which will involve annual meetings of the two Foreign and Defence Ministers.
In Australia, Modi and the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed a Security Cooperation Framework Agreement. By this agreement, both countries will have annual summits, regular meetings of the Defence Ministers and regular bilateral maritime exercises. According to the Australian newspaper, The Age, “This security framework ranks alongside Australia’s deepening `quasi-alliance’ with Japan’s rapidly tightening military ties with India, and the strengthening collaboration of all three countries with the United States”.
With President Obama’s scheduled visit to India in January next year and the renewal of the India-US Defence Framework Agreement in the offing, what will emerge is the old idea of a quadrilateral alliance consisting of the US, Japan, Australia and India. Here too, the BJP government is taking forward some of the foreign policy initiatives of the UPA government.
While both in economic and foreign policies the Modi government is following and taking forward the UPA government’s policies, there is one area where it is having its own different approach. And that is the advancement of the RSS-Hindutva agenda. In six months, the Modi government has shown a determination to integrate the government’s approach with that of the RSS. The RSS has set-up six `samoohs’ (groups). They cover the arthik (economic), shiksha (educational), vichar (ideology), suraksha (security), seva (service) and jan (people) categories. These RSS groups are already interacting with the concerned ministers in the BJP government and working to shape the agenda and government policies. In the sphere of education, work is in progress to appoint personnel to the institutions of policy making, research and higher education from the ranks of the Hindutvawadis or at least those who will toe the line. The attempt to push Sanskrit at the expense of other Indian languages, the efforts to promote a Hindu obscurantist world view in science, culture and society are proceeding apace. The ministry is peopled with persons like Giriraj Kishore and Niranjan Jyoti who hold the most rabid communal views. With the Prime Minister being an RSS pracharak himself, the RSS has taken a commanding position to implement its Hindutva project.
At the ground level, the Hindutva outfits are in full play seeking to raise issues such as cow slaughter, “love jihad” and illegal migration from Bangladesh to stroke communal tensions and create animosity against the minorities. This is manifesting even in the capital city of Delhi where communal tensions surfaced in Bawana, Trilokpuri and a church has been burnt in East Delhi.
The six month rule of the BJP and the Modi government has confirmed that it represents the twin offensive of the corporates and the Hindutva forces. This offensive has to be met squarely and countered. It requires an integrated fight. The struggle against neo-liberal policies of the Modi government has to be combined with the fight against the RSS-Hindutva communal ideology and their activities. The united struggles and mass movements of the different sections of the working people to resist the burdens being imposed upon them have to be developed by the class and mass organisations. The Left forces must unitedly spearhead the resistance to this rightwing offensive. This will pave the way for the broadest mobilization of the secular-democratic forces.