OTHERING OF THE OTHER: CLASS-POLITICAL DYNAMICS OF MAHARASHTRA DEVELOPMENTS!
By Amaresh Misra
Fools and charlatans are saying BJP has lost the battle but won the perception war. This was partly true before Devendra Fadnavis took oath with Ajit Pawar, a man Fadnavis had personally attacked during the election campaign for massive corruption.
The Devendra-Ajit combination nauseated the public. It reeked of naked opportunism, rock-bottom desperation and unconstitutional cynicism. BJP's line that painted Shiv Sena as the alliance-ditcher, was relegated to the background.
Things changed decisively on 25th November, with the joint Shiv Sena-NCP-Shiv Sena show, in which people hit the streets, trade unions of Sena mobilized tens of thousands and, most critically, kept MLAs in line with force.
The danger of anti-BJP, anti-Gujarati violence became real, with Mumbai Police up in arms, against any attempt by the Devendra Fadnavis apology of a 'Government', to order action on the crowds.
Maharashtra public on the ground and in villages, is with the new alliance, the first, true non-BJP Govt in the political history of India. Marx talked about how political crisis clears blurred political lines.
Modi had managed to put up a clever illusion of anti-Congressism that served two purposes: misleading the people into believing that Congress was still the main enemy, while gerrymandering the opposition and creating a chimera of BJP's invincibility.
Thus, this is an emphatic, turning point, which has isolated the BJP as a power hungry party of ambitious thugs, lumpens and neo-rich, with a Gujarati bent. There is no example in the world, of fascism being pigeonholed--a force that loves 'othering' communities and political entities, itself being 'othered'!
This is the historic achievement of the Maratha combine represented by Shiv Sena and NCP and backed by Congress--with survival at stake, these two parties, and their leaders, especially Sharad Pawar, resorted to the age-old, clever Maratha tactics of guerilla deception, glorifying regional identity in reverse mobilization, and isolating the enemy in partisan-centralized categories like 'Gujarati Baniyas' and 'the dictates of Delhi'.
On 25th November, by resorting to the line that 'Marathas never bow down to Delhi', Sharad Pawar broke the terminology used by all forces in India's first republic since 1950. He pitted democratic sub-nationalism against fascist pseudo-nationalism. RSS-BJP came to power through cultural-psuedo-nationalist politics. Till now, the challenge to it was posed at a national level, by the opposition raising economic issues and other standard political accusations. But Maharashtra conflict was presented in cultural terms. Cultural sub-nationalism defeated fascist-corporate-cultural-pseudo nationalism.
This is a new line: very soon, you will see, in North India, 1857, the glorious anti-British-colonial/anti-Baniya legacy of Uttar Pradesh, pitted against Modi-Shah fascism. The South and Bengal will respond in it's distinctive manner.
The complex fight between class-social forces also, needs to be highlighted. In 2014, BJP won both Haryana and Maharashtra, by building an upper caste-OBC alliance against respectively, Jats and Marathas, the two chief landed-peasant castes in these states. BJP similarly, banked heavily on anti-Yadav mobilizations in UP and Bihar; and anti-Adivasi polarization in Jharkhand.
Here, Jats, to a lesser extent, and Marathas, to a larger extent, essayed a role that the numerically smaller Yadavs of UP and Bihar, or Patels of Gujarat, were unable to play. Jats united and stopped BJP in Haryana, allowing one of their factions to form a lame-duck BJP led Govt. In Maharashtra, where the stakes were higher, the sugar baron rich Maratha united with the poor Kunbi Maratha peasant, and the Maratha-Marathi Koli and lower middle classes (represented by Sena) to bring out the 'Corporate-Gujarati rich' kernel of BJP, hidden behind the mask of Hindutva, based on divisive politics, not just of Hindu Vs Muslim variety, but, also, and more importantly, the Maratha Vs non-Maratha axioms.
This unmasking of Hindutva, as an ideology of vested interests with a specific identity, is the single most significant element of Maharashtra developments. It will change anti-BJP politics, put up a new kind of resistance against Corporate and Modi-Shah-RSS hegemony, for a long time to come.