Tag Archives: Delhi elections

Apropos AAP Victory in Delhi: Satish Deshpande Responds

Guest post by SATISH DESHPANDE

[This post responds to the piece by Aditya Nigam on Kafila last week, which was partially in response to pieces by Satish Deshpande and Apoorvanand.]

Thanks for your response, which (despite its tone 😊) helps to underline the seriousness of our broader predicament today.

I readily concede that my article was not sufficiently respectful of AAP’s major achievement in winning a second landslide against heavy odds.  But I do not think – as you seem to do – that this lack of respect (even if it was ungenerous) was without any justification whatsoever.

The article expresses my frustration at the fact (yes, this is a fact and not just my opinion) that the most effective and astute non-BJP political party around today chose not to use even a small fraction of its proven on-the-ground capabilities to counter the poison being spewed daily.  I have no prescription to offer AAP, and I don’t know why you think I do – where have I said that or even implied it?  Though I had no specific acts in mind (such as AK visiting Shaheen Bagh, etc.) I did expect AAP to do something (in its own unique way) to take back at least an inch or two of the political ground that is being ceded every day.

Continue reading Apropos AAP Victory in Delhi: Satish Deshpande Responds

Winning Delhi Elections – AAP, Gandhi and the Ideology Wars

 

What has Gandhi got to do with the recently concluded elections in Delhi? On the face of it nothing. But at another level, the election process, its campaign and its results – all invite us to revisit Gandhi’s stupendous moral-political project of cementing the Hindu-Muslim division with his own blood and his heroic failure. He could not prevent the Partition and ultimately fell to the bullets of a fanatic Hindu nationalist of the kind who are in power today.

I remember Gandhi today because gung-ho secularists (the political community that I inhabit, if very uncomfortably) are once again at their favourite occupation of daring Arvind Kejriwal and AAP to ‘prove’ their ‘anti-communal stance’ and all that it can mean today – as though they alone have the talisman to fight communalism. I am reminded of Gandhi because his was by far the most audacious  attempt to fight the communal menace but he too had no readymade answers to it.

Secular warrriors have been basically daring Kejriwal and AAP to do and say things that he had been avoiding doing or saying all these days. Just two instances – of the quotes below from two dear friends – should suffice to indicate what I mean.  The first is from Apoorvanand, writing in the Business Standard,

‘Voters in Delhi were confident that the AAP victory in the assembly elections wouldn’t so much as serve as an irritant to the BJP, let alone rock its boat, as the saffron outfit was firmly and safely ensconced in power. An efficient delivery boy is all the electorate wanted. In the Delhi voters mindset, an ideology-agnostic party that does not impede the BJP’s nationalist drive is tolerable.’

Continue reading Winning Delhi Elections – AAP, Gandhi and the Ideology Wars

Beware BJP’s Filthy Campaign and Desperate Bid to Steal the Elections!

Avam characters

As the AVAM drama unfolds and much more detective work remains to be done, some other disturbing news has also started trickling in. A journalist friend got a mail from an official yesterday, who confided to this journalist:

Dear Sir,
We would like to bring to your notice that our volunteer Mr. XYZ (name withheld for obvious reasons) has attended the preparation of Electronic Voting Machine on 31st January & 1st February and he noticed some discripencies in the EVMs of Booth No. 26, 47A, 75 & 87.
Whichever button he was pushing the vote was being casted in favour of BJP only.
However, after his objection the EVM machines were replaced.

We of course, do not know how many such machines there are.

Meanwhile, another friend – an academic – sent this mail, which tells us something of the sense he got from a tour around Delhi areas – along with his deep suspicion that once again, through some machinations, the elections may be stolen:

This is just to tell you that I accompanied two journalist friends to go on an election tour of Delhi (targetting trader bases with BJP support) and most of the people that we talked to openly supported AAP. Attitudes to Modi ranged from indifference to criticism for blabbering away and not doing anything to plain abuse. Many have started identifying the BJP as a “syndicate” party i.e. as a party of rich businessmen. Above all people think that the 49 day government was a period they felt empowered – and they compare it to the lack of any improvements under Modi for the last 8 months!

This still does not let me lose my belief in the worst: But it gives me a warm feeling when I keep my fingers crossed!

Continue reading Beware BJP’s Filthy Campaign and Desperate Bid to Steal the Elections!

A Women’s Charter for Delhi Elections: Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression

Guest Post by Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression

The elections in Delhi are approaching.

Violence, as well as discrimination against women, and sheer denial of women’s dignity and rights, has been a huge concern for Delhi’s citizens.

This is the time when women are looking towards the political parties, to see what place women’s rights and freedoms have on their agenda.

We are disturbed to see that while most parties pay lip service to the cause of women’s rights, they blithely field candidates accused of violence against women, and they play to the patriarchal gallery on a range of issues, ignoring the voices of the women’s movement.

We, the undersigned would like to put the following concerns on the agenda of the Delhi elections, and we ask the political parties contesting Delhi elections to respond to them with urgency and seriousness. We appeal to all women voters to place this charter before every candidate and every party campaigner, and ask them for a clear position on each of its points.

1. We are alarmed at the spiralling of communal violence towards the Delhi elections. We are shocked that, instead of nabbing those who are fuelling the violence in a planned way, the Delhi Police has instead beaten up and brutalised innocent women in Trilokpuri. Above all, we are appalled at the attempts to justify communal, caste, racial or homophobic/transphobic violence in the name of ‘protecting women’. We assert that women are invariably rendered most unsafe by such violence. We seek a commitment that no party will promote leaders – either as candidates or as campaigners – who are accused of stoking violence against women, as well as communal, caste, racial or homophobic/transphobic violence. Specifically, we do not want the notorious 1984 duo Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, we do not want to see Gugan Singh (who made communal speeches in Bawana) or Sunil Vaidya (who incited riots at Trilokpuri), or Somnath Bharti (charge-sheeted for racist and anti-women violence at Khirki) to be candidates or campaigners. Continue reading A Women’s Charter for Delhi Elections: Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression

AAP’s Rise and Congress Rout – Some Obvious but Unconventional Questions: Sanjay Kumar

Guest post by SANJAY KUMAR

A Congress rout and the AAP success are the most obvious results of recent polls. Both are spectacular, in their own ways. Even BJP’s landslide victory in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh pales in comparison, for these two open up new possibilities.

Why a party whose legacy of anti-colonial struggle had lost sheen generations ago, whose top leadership is in the grip of a seemingly disinterested and incompetent dynasty, that lacks any organised cadre, coherent ideology, social base, and whose average leader appears more of a wheeler-dealer, and scamster, should continue to get close to thirty percent of votes from Indians even in worst of times, is a genuine mystery. That the Indian social analyses, barring a few exceptions, have tried little to unravel this mystery, is not only an indication of their intellectual limitations, but also of their ideological biases. The enduring success of Congress indicates seamier side of liberal democracy in general, which bourgeois social sciences try more to paper over than explore.

From voters’ perspective elections under liberal democracy are an exercise in choice, but not in freedom. When people vote, they are not acting as citizens shaping their social world, but as little men and women facing pre-existing structures of social power. The magic of elections under liberal democracy is precisely this. They offer a choice, the choice is not fake, its collective outcome is uncertain, yet the choice is already pre-determined in ways that by and large reproduce pre-existing power structures. That is why, exercising franchise is not necessarily a marker of democratic exercise, and leaders of fascist persuasion are often the loudest votaries of compulsory voting.  But that is not all. If elections were mere gears in a machine that simply revolved on and on, they would be quickly become a ritual, like those under state socialism in which the Party and leaders always got more than 95% approvals. Elections under liberal democracy in contrast provide flexible adjustment of state political functionaries to changing social conditions. They allow reflection of changes in public opinion, demography, gender politics, caste equations and balance of class forces, whose origins lie somewhere else, onto state politics. Punctuated adjustment with a time lag produces a sense of drama. Personae on stage appear as victors and losers, for voters there is enough stage space to allow their hope, vengeance or gratitude to play their part. For a time, and only for a time, the impersonal structure of state power becomes humanly palpable. Continue reading AAP’s Rise and Congress Rout – Some Obvious but Unconventional Questions: Sanjay Kumar