Monday, December 17, 2007


J DILLA -- People

We The People. Sunday was the second and final voting day in the state assembly elections. The results will come out in a week but it looks like high urban voter turnout for Modi in north and South Gujarat means a vote for the BJP incumbents and authoritarian populism. Führer Modi will have another five years of his state terror though the BJP majority will be reduced, particularly in central and western parts of the state. A BJP victory is likely to be the result despite the much vaunted 'economic development' of 'Vibrant Gujarat' being patchy to say the least. Gujarati Muslims are proverbially fucked. If an Islamist fundie creates havoc anywhere in India, it will provide a license to kill for militant Hindus here. Maybe they won't even need that to kick up another firestorm. The silent majority stands and watches as the represssion creeps on, or clap as a Gujarati NDTV audience recently did when a BJP representative said rapes and murders were OK in police actions: 'Wo hota hai/That just happens'. Modi and the state machinery planned and facilitated the pogrom in 2002 and he has supported extra-legal activity with 'fake encounters' between the police and Muslim militants/suspects. This vote will have been another popular mandate for fascism and terror. A lot of the middle class and upper-class Gujaratis I meet (all Hindus) are apologists because he's apparently brought good governance and economic development and, besides, the opposition Congress is corrupt and inept. This may be true but to my foreign ears, such defences of Modi sound like post-Kristallnacht Germans saying Hitler was good because 'outside the trains don't run on time' and the autobahns are a great innovation for the nation. Quietism or tacit approval of the government's policies are the norm here for the Hindu consuming classes in an increasingly communally divided urban space. School history books praise Hitler and macho Hinduism, and construct the Muslim presence in India only as foreign intervention. In the political discourse, call-and-response rabble rousing are par for the course. Congress campaigner Sonia Gandhi is pilloried as an Italian interloper who wants to Christianize the Hindu land of India. Modi has shown himself to be a vicious operator--Ashis Nandy met him early in his career and described him as a ruthless apparatchik. He's even pissed off many of his own hardline Hindutva gang in the BJP who worry about 'Moditva' superceding their own brand of Hindu nationalism. He's shown that he's willing to admit in public that he breaks the law depending on how it suits him. This election was very much about the cult of personality. He conflated himself with Gujarat, appealing to the ethnic chauvinism of the state. The photographically reproduced Modi masks many were wearing at rallies were really spooky. He's a master of political spectacle. Beyond the BJP, 'terror' and 'terrorism' are being chucked around as politically expedient terms by various parties, tarnishing all Muslims and dissident elements in Gujarat and elsewhere. The bourgeoisie in this metro is largely unconcerned about any of this as long as the cash keeps rolling in and it can speculate in the stock markets.

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