Karnataka has delivered a big blow to the Sangh brigade's fascist project. What we have witnessed in Karnataka is not a routine change of government every five years in this southern state, it is an emphatic rejection of the Sangh brigade's vicious communal politics which has been busy using the state as a laboratory and which wanted to remain in control through a toxic high voltage blitzkrieg led directly by the Modi-Shah duo.
Beneath the gloss of the state's affluent 'silicon valley' image, the common people of Karnataka have been reeling under massive unemployment and poverty, soaring prices and unbridled corruption. The BJP had no answer to this real crisis. Its manifesto only threatened the state with a divisive agenda of deeper polarisation around issues like an Assam type NRC and a Uniform Civil Code. Modi's rallies and roadshows only injected more venom and fear by seeking votes in the name of Bajrangbali. By contrast the Congress promise of 'five guarantees' addressed the pressing concerns of the poor and won the elections with visible support of women, rural youth and a large coalition of deprived and oppressed people across Karnataka.
Admittedly the mandate has many aspects that are Karnataka-specific and may not be easily replicable elsewhere. It is also true that this was a state Assembly election and since 2014 BJP remains firmly entrenched at the Centre despite losing Assembly elections in several states. But the fact that the Congress and the people of Karnataka could defeat a high-voltage communally charged Modi blitzkrieg so emphatically by sticking to the basic issues on the ground definitely has pan-India relevance The Karnataka mandate should now encourage and energise diverse streams of India's opposition politics to unite and offer a credible alternative to the people in 2024 to defeat the communal fascist agenda of the Modi regime.
Indeed, across India the Modi magic is on the wane as the failure and betrayal of the Modi government on all key fronts, especially the economy, become more and more pronounced with each passing day. Apart from its obvious failure on the front of economic delivery and development, the government's claims of incorruptibility or zero tolerance of corruption stand mercilessly dented in the wake of the Adani scam and the revelations made by former J&K Governor Satyapal Malik. The protest dharna of India's champion women wrestlers at Jantar Mantar, which completes one month on 23 May, has exposed another ugly feature of the Modi regime - the utter hypocrisy of its Beti Bachao slogan and the patronage and impunity that it routinely extends to mafia politicians. Some recent judicial verdicts issued by the apex court, notably the verdict affirming the powers of the Delhi government and rebuffing the violation of the federal framework by the Centre and another verdict restoring the licence of a Malayalam TV channel that had been revoked by the Centre, have also offered some institutional checks to the tyranny of the Modi-Shah regime.
As the spotlight now shifts to the next round of Assembly elections and the crucial big battle of 2024, the Modi government is however not going to slow down its offensive after the Karnataka poll debacle. In fact, there are already signs of a renewed escalation after the Karnataka rebuff. The CBI has been let loose on Satyapal Malik and an ordinance has been promulgated to nullify the Supreme Court verdict restraining the Centre's intrusion in the administrative powers of the Delhi government. The 2000-rupee note, the most glaring proof of the absurdity and failure of the demonetisation experiment, is now being withdrawn without a word of explanation. While Karnataka refused to get swayed by Modi's desperate invocation of Bajrangbali, the BJP has now unleashed Dhirendra Shastri alias Bageshwar Baba to whip up a Hindu Rashtra frenzy in Bihar. And in a most loaded signal of the sinister future plans of the Sangh brigade, Narendra Modi is now scheduled to inaugurate the new Parliament building on 28 May, the 140th birth anniversary of Savarkar, the pioneering proponent of Hindutva or Hindu nationalism. 2023 marks the centenary of the publication of Savarkar's book 'Essentials of Hindutva'.
By all indications, the battle for the future of India is entering a most decisive phase. The Modi-Shah-Yogi regime, which has been systematically using electoral victories as a licence to transform secular democratic India into a fascist communal Hindu Rashtra and effectively subject India's multi-party democracy to a single-party system is desperate to secure one more victory in a Lok Sabha election. Karnataka on the other hand has shown yet again how an energetic and focused opposition campaign can stop the BJP's marauding march. The need of the hour is now for India's diverse range of people's movements and political parties to come together to stop the fascists at the all-India level and rescue India from the ravages of fascism. It is a battle that democratic India cannot afford to lose.
Let us unite to fight and fight to win!