Much to the dismay of secular and progressive forces in India, Narendra Modi’s BJP-NDA has been re-elected with a large majority in the 17th Lok Sabha. Most opposition parties, with exceptions in Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and a few other states, suffered big losses. The Communists and other left parties lost most of their seats in the strongholds of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura.
This outcome came despite the powerful fightback waged by working people and the Left forces against Modi’s capitalist and communalist agenda in recent years. Enormous mass strikes and protests expressed opposition to the BJP’s economic policies, and the “Women’s Wall” joined by five million people several months ago in Kerala showed that the Hindutva fundamentalist politics remain deeply unpopular among wide sections of the people.
The CPI(M)’s preliminary analysis notes that the BJP succeeded in “shifting the popular narrative away from the multitude of livelihood issues that the last five years of the NDA government had imposed. The narrative built around communal nationalist jingoism, along with the issues of fighting terrorism, brushed aside all other issues of day-to-day concerns of the people.”
Other factors included massive spending by pro-Modi capitalist forces, effective use of social media, big data analytics and micro level social engineering, and the vast network of fascist RSS-affiliated organisations which back the BJP. Not least, both in West Bengal and Tripura, a wave of terror saw many CPI(M) supporters physically being prevented from voting. Now there are post-election reports of attacks against religious and caste minorities in a number of states.
The Lok Sabha results, like the gains for the far right in the EU elections, Brazil, etc. are another danger sign of the resurgence of modern day fascism. “Democratic” Canada, characterized by the seizure of Indigenous lands and the racist “white man’s country” narrative, is not immune from this trend. It will be crucial to push back hard against the racists and bigots leading up to the October federal election.