BATTLING BJP BEHEMOTH DURING 2024 LOK SABHA POLL
By Nitya Chakraborty
The post May 23 political situation is settling down in the country. The saffrons are reigning supreme and the non-party seculars and liberals who argued hard before the 2019 Lok Sabha poll against the second coming of Narendra Modi, are lying low. It is BJP and Hindutva all the way in the Indian polity right now. The immediate fall-out of the massive victory of the BJP is the leadership crisis in the principal opposition party the Congress and the split in the gathbandhan with the BSP supremo Mayawati announcing that the BSP will go alone now without any tie up with the Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav. SP has also responded by indicating that the party will go solo in the coming by-polls to the eleven assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh in the coming month.
The situation is quite bad for the opposition. The defections in the Congress ranks are on the rise affecting adversely the party fortunes in Telengana and Gujarat. In Karnataka also, the Congress legislators are not stable. By insisting on resigning from Presidentship, Rahul Gandhi has led to a series of resignation offers from state party presidents. There is a process of churning. Which way it will turn good or bad for the organization, is not clear yet, but what is apparent that the opposition parties are now facing the BJP as a far more mature, stronger and well oiled political party with huge muscle power and massive financial resources which can not be matched by the combined opposition.
BJP in 2019 is a completely new BJP and its massive strengths have to be understood to work out any viable strategy to fight it at an equal level in both Parliament and outside with the focus on ensuring victory in the assembly elections during the next five years and finally in the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. The ten year gap in power at the centre for any political party in India is not a new thing. The BJP itself came to power in 2014 after remaining out of power for ten years since 2004. Before that the BJP was in power for a full term from 1999 and a short term in 1998. In 1996, BJP was in power only for 13 days. These are normal developments in parliamentary democracy but things have changed substantially after the 2019 elections.
Take for instance, the organizational power. BJP is the biggest political party not only in India but in the entire democratic world where Parliamentary elections are held. Only in China, the Chinese Communist Party has more membership but China is principally one party state and it is not considered among the democracies. The next is the grassroots organization with the RSS having huge membership covering every corner of the country.BJP is now a pan India party in the true sense, replacing the Congress which is 134 year old and which led the freedom struggle when the BJP or even Jan Sangh was nowhere. The RSS was active in a limited manner through its social service activities. The Congress with its wobbly organizational structure, is presently no match to the militaristic organizational discipline of the BJP and RSS. The Left-CPI and the CPI(M) had some organization strength in many states earlier but now, the strength is limited to a few states.
But now, the most important component of the present BJP is its financial muscle power.BJP spent more than Rs. 16, 000 crore in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Some other estimates put the figure at more than Rs. 20,000 crore. In fact, the BJP does not depend on domestic sources for election expenses.BJP gets maximum from the Indian industrialists and traders and this amount is more than 20 times the amount received by the Congress. But even if the BJP does not use its domestic resources, it is in a position to finance its entire Lok Sabha expenses through funds coming from its supporting base abroad. The present writer had the opportunity to talk to a number of members of Overseas Friends of BJP during his tour to countries of Europe and USA and these NRIs comprising businessmen, doctors and information technology experts, expressed their dedication to Hindutva and BJP and mentioned that BJP would face no problem in terms of resources as long as they were with the party.
This overseas base of BJP is very strong and the BJP has got friends among the diamond jewellers who operate from Antwerp, where the bourse for diamonds is situated. This writer had the opportunity to talk to the Indian diamond jewellers in 1996 at Antwerp .It was uncertainty after 1996 Lok Sabha elections. Most of these businessmen said that they were supporting the BJP and sending funds. Similarly in USA, the VHP and the temples run by this body, is the source of huge funds for the BJP. The main opposition Congress, has no such source abroad and its outfits in the US, Europe are very weak and faction ridden. The Congress is now a pigmy compared to the massive financial resource base of the saffrons both within the country and outside.
This financial aspect has assumed urgent importance in Indian electoral system these days as the elections have become technology driven and very costly.BJP used in 2019 Lok Sabha elections tens of thousands of IT experts, data analysts, social media activists and lakhs of WhatsApp groups to tailor its propaganda materials suiting every section of the society. BJP president Amit Shah acted as a very successful CEO of a multinational company. He has delivered record profits to his company BJP. The Congress president Rahul Gandhi led an ailing company. It showed some signs of recovery in the last phase of the campaign but the goal of getting back good health, was not achieved.
As regards, the Left, the CPI(M) central committee is meeting on June 7 to 9 to do a serious “self critical examination” by the leadership. The Left has reached its bottom, it can only go up. But that needs a new political narrative and formation of an effective alliance that will really fight the BJP in and out of Parliament. The CPI(M) mouthpiece People’s Democracy in its latest editorial says that the extra parliamentary role of the Left assumes greater importance today. Why today only, it has always been there but equally important issue is to get more members in assemblies and Parliament. The CPI(M) CC in its current session and the CPI in its National Council session next month must work out a sustainable course of action which can broaden the area of collaboration with the other secular and democratic parties, especially the Congress while galvanizing the united action of the mass organizations to articulate the immediate demands of the peasants and the workers. A harder battle is ahead for both the Congress and the Indian Left. (IPA Service)