Indian politics still revolves around constellations and caste. Both the BJP (for its Delhi list) and the Janata Parivar (for its merger) put off their decisions and announcements till after mid-January. That is because 14 January was Makar Sankranti (migration of the Sun into Capricorn), which ends the Khamas month considered inauspicious for launching any new venture. Of course in many states of the north and west, Makar Sankranti is celebrated by flying kites. In Gujarat, Modi as CM had transformed it into an “international” kite festival, in which he actively participated each year – sometimes with a string of kites, at others with one giant kite and even a jumbo phidkee (reel)! What is not known is whether he ever participated in kite fights, unique to South Asia. This much is clear, that over the years, climaxing in 2014, each Gujarat and then the Lok Sabha election has produced its share of Modi kites; the latest – with the Delhi election round the corner – shows him with Obama in anticipation of the presidential Republic Day visit.
What is also clear is that Modi’s kite and, with it, the BJP’s as well, are still soaring. What is not as well known or publicized – except to readers of FORWARD Press – is the significant contribution of Dalitbahujan votes to put the wind into the Modi-captained BJP’s sails (if I am allowed to mix metaphors). Those winning caste combinations were coldly calculated and engineered by bringing on board various Dalit and OBC leaders and, in some cases, their parties with their respective vote blocs. By transferring their votes to the BJP they made their down payment up front during the last Lok Sabha elections. As our Cover Story assesses, when payback time came, most of the NDA Dalitbahujan leaders have been short-changed. In other words, they have largely ended up as “kati patangs”– some floating, some in freefall. FP Roving Correspondent Sanjeev Chandan is no stranger to FP readers but this time we welcome his first FP Cover Story.
Also, no stranger to FP readers is Ashwini Kumar Pankaj, who brings an Adivasi perspective to the results of the BJP’s victory in Jharkhand: The Choice of Outsiders. So does Gladson Dungdung but he probes the variations between BJP’s “Chaal, Charitra aur Chehra” (Conduct, Character and Face) across the central states – from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh to Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat – in relation to the interests of the tribal peoples. What emerges is a long shadow between the election promises and the actual intents before and actions after getting the Adivasi vote. In this case, it is worse than being short-changed; being handed over to the mineral and other mafias is daylight robbery of the poorest of the poor.
All those who misread (assuming they read) FP’s pre-election analyses and projections to suggest that FP was and is pro-Modi-and-BJP, please take note. Before and after the elections FP has been very clear that we are not for or against any party, including the BJP. We assess them all equally from a Dalitbahujan perspective – which is in the best interest of the overwhelming majority of Indians. Whichever party promises and delivers good governance and development for all, while assuring an atmosphere of communal harmony, has our vote.
As we go to press, the news has just come in of the death of Rajni Kothari, the doyen of Indian political science. Among his many groundbreaking books was Caste in Indian Politics (1970). Kothari taught us that in politics caste can unite as much as divide. FP stands for unity – for “jati jodo, Manuwad todo”.
Published in the February 2015 issue of the Forward Press magazine
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