Guest post by SHAMBHU GHATAK
“You can fool some people some times but you can’t fool all the people all the time”
So goes one of the famous lines of Bob Marley’s song that draws upon statement by Lincoln. Perhaps the same can be said about the new BJP government because it seems that this time there will be nothing new left to be presented during the upcoming Union Budget. Most of the things to be presented by the Finance Minister have gradually been placed even before the actual budget could see the light of the day (on 10 July). In fact, the entire stretch since the Government took power can be termed as a long, extended budget session – a session in slow motion.
Just think about the policy decisions announced or showcased by the new Government so far—allowing 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence sector (to boost technology transfer and employment growth, so to speak); reforming environmental clearance (to avoid discrepancies, end red-tapism and ensure transparency) by making the process online; raising import duties on sugar by more than double and extension of existing sugar export subsidy of Rs 3,300 per tonne (to help the sugar mills) till September besides raising the mandatory level for blending cane-based ethanol in petrol from 5% to 10%; allowing hike in price of non-subsidized cooking gas (LPG) by Rs 16.50 per cylinder (which is partly attributed to the crisis situation in Iraq); and raising train fares by 14.2% & freight rates by 6.5% in the month of June prior to the just-presented Rail Budget, among other things. Continue reading An Endless Budget Session, Even Before it Begins: Shambhu Ghatak
Guest Post : P.A.D.S. (Peoples’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism) Statement on Elections
The Loksabha election results of 2014 surprised everyone. They are beyond the wildest dreams of even the most ardent BJP and Modi supporters, and worse than the worst scenarios imagined by BJP’s political opponents. Even though these elections results are singularly stunning, phenomena like these have diverse reasons. A comprehensive understanding and meaningful response require that all these reasons be dispassionately explored and evaluated.
First, the votes behind these results. BJP polled 31% of votes. Never before has a party with so few votes won a mjority in national elections. Clearly, the first past the post system has benefited it disproportionately, more than any other ruling party in the past. This electoral system has amplified the BJP victory and made it look so impressive. However, BJP’s electoral achievements in other domains must not be discounted. For the first time it managed to dislodge the Congress as the main party to represent Assam in the Lok Sabha. Fighting alone, it garnered 17% of votes in West Bengal and made determined bids in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In all states where it fought a straight battle with the Congress, its vote share was above or close to fity percent. It ran the most expensive and well organised campaign. Among all contestants, only it appeared determined to win and left no stone unturned to achieve its objective. It played the communal card astutely in UP and Bihar, with full paraphernalia of communal riots, started more than a year ago, and unabashed use of Hindu religious symbols. At other places it was the ‘development’. The BJP victory is actually Mr Modi’s victory. For the first time since Mrs Indira Gandhi after the 1971 and 1980 elections, a single person has come to acquire such a mandate at the national level. These results show a significant shift of electoral politics to the right and marginalisation of non-communal forces. Continue reading Statement on the Loksabha Elections, 2014: P.A.D.S.
If news reports are to be believed, the RSS has come out with the most classic analysis of the 2009 election verdict: Advani did not enthuse the Hindus. [Read carefully: He could but he did not. A small boy, kal ka chhokra, Varun Gandhi had to lead the way!] Only a shade better than the West Bengal CPM claiming that they lost because Karat and the central leadership withdrew support to the UPA…as if they themselves – or Nandigram had nothing to do with it! Or the Kerala CPM claiming that it was due to chief minister Achuthanandan that they lost – Achuthanandan the agent of the bourgeoisie who ‘roared with laughter’ when the party was losing the elections! Or Sitaram Yechury claiming that UPA won because they claimed the credit for NREGA and Forest Rights Act which ‘we had forced them to enact’ – but ‘we’ lost! Amazing stuff, these elections and even more amazing, the post-election antics. But today’s topic is not the CPM. For, the real story is the RSS and BJP love story that is once again on the rocks.
RSS spokesperson MG Vaidya was forthright: “The BJP must reflect Hindu nationalism or else it is free to remain as any other party not associated with the Sangh… What’s wrong if people have gathered the impression that the BJP uses the Ram temple issue only for political gains?… The mainstream in this country is Hindu and the RSS is engaged in unifying Hindus. The BJP or any other owing allegiance to the Sangh must reflect this philosophy in its deeds.”
Continue reading To RSS with Love: The Real Story of 2009 Elections
This is a guest post by MONOBINA GUPTA
- Buddhadeb with a laterally inverted Tata as backdrop, courtesy Calcuttans.com
As the true magnitude of the West Bengal election results sank in, a sulking Buddhadeb responded, stonewalling the media as if to say that had it not been for them the Party would have romped home victorious! Here is a conversation reported in The Telegraph (May 18,2009). The reporters in Writer’s Building asked the Chief Minister:
Is it true that you have offered to resign?
Will you step down as chief minister owning moral responsibility for the party’s debacle?
Why didn’t you go to Delhi to attend the CPM politburo meeting?
Silence has rarely been so eloquent in the corridors of Writers’ Buildings as when a grim-faced Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee walked out at 1.30 pm for lunch at home.
Faced with a volley of questions whether he had offered to resign, the Bengal chief minister left without replying. The Telegraph had reported that the chief minister had offered to resign but CPM boss Prakash Karat had been trying to make him change his mind.
This is not the first time Bhattacharjee has faced tricky questions but he usually deflects them by saying “I don’t reply to questions flung at me from the corridors’’.
But this afternoon, he opted for silence.
Continue reading When Buddha Did Not Smile: Monobina Gupta
In his opening passage of the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Marx attributed to Hegel (somewhat mistakenly) the idea “that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice” and added sardonically that Hegel forgot to add: “First time as tragedy, second time as farce.” He went on to illustrate his comment thus: “Caussidiere for Danton, Louis Blanc for Robespierre, the Montagne of 1848 to 1851 for the Montagne of 1793 to 1795, the nephew for the uncle. And the same caricature occurs in the circumstances of the second edition of the Eighteenth Brumaire.”
Marx’s point was simple but profound. The tradition of the dead generations, he claimed, weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living: “Just as they [revolutionaries, ‘men’] seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language. Thus Luther put on the mask of the Apostle Paul, the Revolution of 1789-1814 draped itself alternately in the guise of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and the Revolution of 1848 knew nothing better to do than to parody, now 1789, now the revolutionary tradition of 1793-95.”
Continue reading Commissar Karat in October 1917