‘ Extreme violence has a way of preventing us from seeing the interests it serves’
Naomi Klein from ‘The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism’
Many analysts have presented critique of the Abrogation of Article 370 and its impact on the political and social conditions but not much has been expressed about the causes of such hasty policy decisions. While the ‘ timing’ has been somewhat unexpected, there were many indicators that led to such a move. Hence, the decision is not very much surprising.
The hindutva organizations have been very critical of special status for Kashmir almost from the time of Independence. The political party representing these groups has openly expressed its intentions by incorporating the removal of special status in the manifesto. From 2014, after assuming power, leaders have, at various forums, expressed the agenda quite openly. Now, with a brute majority, the implementation has become easy without hindrances.
In the earlier situations when the party came to power, it did not have requisite conditions to take this step. Under Vajpayee, BJP could not muster strength because of its partners who had some influence on the coalition. Again, after gaining power, though it had simple majority, the BJP still had some hurdles that prevented it from taking this crucial step. Now, various factors presented opportunity and made abrogation possible in such a short span of time.
One of the most important factors is rising unemployment which has been highest since four and a half decades. Intellectuals as well as common people started discussing reason for such a grim situation and pointing out lapses in government policies. To divert the attention, Kashmir issue might have been thought of as a potential ‘weapon’.
Economic slowdown and its ‘worrisome’ impact on the nation has been articulated by many economists including Raghuram Rajan and prominent industrialists. One of the worst-hit automobile sector caused many ordinary workers loose jobs creating crises in their lives. To divert dissenting voices, Kashmir might have been used as a ploy.
Also, some leaders belonging to ruling party have been involved in cases relating to rape and abuse of women, lynching, supporting acts of caste and religious bigotry openly and many of them have been left scot-free attracting widespread criticism. To counter this uncomfortable situation, such drastic acts might have been felt necessary.
When UPA II was riddled with corruption, the elections presented opportunity for change. The BJP and its allies used the conditions skillfully.
People had no viable alternative but to vote for a change. The Left had no foresight of the events that would lead to consolidate power by the Right. Fragmented opposition gave a golden opportunity which they grabbed with both hands. After coming to power, they started to ‘saffronise’ all the major institutions. BJP / RSS supporters and hindutva admirers were given top positions in many crucial institutions. They began to bring media and other forms of social forms of communications under their control so as to gain huge advantage in the next elections. The 2019 elections were crucial for their aim of implementing their goals and succeeded in their plans.
Now that the BJP can dictate terms on its own, it has every opportunity to impose all or , atleast most, of its agenda. It can get the numbers easily and if required, it can divide opposition by any means including threats to level charges of corruption, violation of rules relating to foreign exchange, etc. Many of the opposition too have cases on them and to escape harassment constantly, they may toe the line of ruling party.
Parliament session just concluded reflects how crucial bills have been passed without discussion in a hurry.
To ‘ cover up’ issues like poverty, unemploy- ment, health care, etc one way is to foment communal trouble and perpetrate violence so that discussion is diverted. Another way is to apply ‘ shock doctrine’ and create chaos. Kashmir is one such tool to prevent people from questioning policies.
For the next few years , issues like relating to construction of Ram Temple, debate on the continuance of reservations, in addition to already present cow protection, beef ban, etc may prop up regularly and take center-stage relegating issues of livelihood to the margin and completely shutting out peoples’ minds from issues connected to their daily lives till the Rightists hindutva forces gain complete control of political power to impose ancient brahminism on vast majority. This would be a preparatory ground for next elections (if and when they are held).
Therefore, more violence, unexpected and surprising decisions and more draconian laws along with strict surveillance may be a common feature in the coming days or years giving ‘ shock’ to the people.
In these dark times, committed activists and social workers should explain layman about present situation and counter fake news with effective convincing arguments. Left, which spearheaded many struggles, should come out forcibly and vociferously raise the voices against laws that infringe constitution and fundamental rights of citizens.
( The ‘ golden? Age of Guptas might have arrived ….)
Sheshu Babu is a political commentator
Courtesy: Counter Current