Anand Teltumbde: BJP’s Full-On Approach For 2024 Victory

In an interview with Abhish K. Bose, Anand Teltumbde he discusses the BJP’s strategies for 2024 elections. 

Besides being a scholar and practitioner in his formal disciplines of Technology and Management, Anand Teltumbde has an illustrated corporate career spanning four decades at top management positions, and a decade as an academic. He maintained and excelled in his parallel career as a civil rights activist, writer, columnist and public intellectual right since his student days.

He immensely contributed to the civil rights movement in India as one of its founding pillars and contributed theoretical insights through his voluminous writings on contemporary issues. He participated and led many fact finding missions and peoples’ struggle. He is General Secretary, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), and a Presidium Member, All India Forum for Right to Education. A prolific writer, he has already published more than 30 books on contemporary issues, numerous papers and articles and wrote a column Margin Speak for a decade in Economic & Political Weekly before being arrested in the infamous Bhima-Koregaon case. In an interview with Abhish K. Bose, he discusses the BJP’s strategies for 2024 elections. 

Excerpts from the interview 

Could you shed light into the strategic motive behind the ‘ One nation – One election’ move of the BJP government at the centre?  Is it yet another surreptitious move to sabotage the federal structure of the Indian constitution and eliminate Indian democracys possibility to reflect the country’s diversity? 

Ans: Yes, the strategic motive behind this move is surely to strike at the federal structure of the Indian Constitution. But beyond that, it should be seen as the move towards RSS’s Hindu Rashtra agenda to impose its ‘oneness’(one nation, one language, one religion, one religion, one leader..) on every aspect of the country, negating the diversity which arguably is the soul of India. RSS wants centralized authority for the entire country concentrated in one person as in its own structure. Although it is not expedient for it to speak against democracy and Constitution, it has no love lost for them. It is too well known to remind here that when the Constitution was adopted, it had bitterly critiqued that it did not have “ancient Bhartiya constitutional laws, institutions, nomenclatures and phraseology in it…as enunciated in the Manusmriti”

Though the Constitution provided federal structure, it has left an intrinsic bias in favour of the centre. It gave central executive overriding powers over the States. The resultant centralization is not just political; it has serious implications to the capacities of the States to perform the allocated roles in the Constitution.

These roles are adversely impacted by the intrinsic fiscal imbalance between centre and the States. Whereas resource mobilisation potential is concentrated with the centre, socio-economic responsibilities are given to the States. It entails States expanding in excess of their revenue generating capabilities, for which the Constitution mandates the appointment of Finance Commissions once every five years to decide on and devolve to States a share of the resources mobilised by the Centre. There have been serious lacunae in this mechanism.

Since the Finance Commissions is constituted by the centre which also decides its terms of reference, without any consultation with States, its recommendations are not expected to be independent.Besides, a large chunk of the resources transferred were kept out of the Finance Commission’s ambit, giving space for discrimination as well as central control over their use, especially after the Planning Commission and the National Development Council were abolished by the Modi government. The rhetoric of ‘double engine sarkar’actually insinuates this unashamed discrimination. Over the years, there has been a growing reliance on cesses and surcharges that do not fall within the remit of the revenue-sharing decisions of the Finance Commissions. They have gone as high as 15 percent of the total collection during Modi years.

With this kind of state of devolution of resources, the implementation of the GST regime by the Modi government has proved the last straw on the camel’s back. It has effectively denied State governments any ability to raise their own revenues other than through sales taxes on alcohol and excise duties on fuel, which are exempted from GST. States are now dependent on the Centre for nearly half of all of their resources, and have no control over more than two-thirds of their revenues.The way GST has been designed and implemented has seriously impaired the fiscal federalism in India.

Now this move of One Nation, One Election (ONOE) towards having synchronized elections every five years is mooted to dismantle political federalism.

Interestingly, Ram NathKovind, who is made the chair of the committee sans opposition to decide on this, had in his previous avatar of president of India, announced this reform in his address to Parliament in January 2018. The recommendation of this committee is anybody’s guess in the current regime, where all state institutions have been reduced to a meaningless formality.

Coming to this idea ONOE, elections for both LokSabha and State Assemblies were conducted by default till 1959, when it was disrupted for the first time because the Centre invoked Article 356 to dismiss the first elected communist government in Kerala.The cycle could not be restored thereafter within the framework of the Constitution.

The claimed benefits of ONOE are dubious. For instance, it is claimed that ONOE would enable increased focus of the government. The reason being, the on-going elections engage prime minister, especially the present one, and ministers all the time, not leaving much time for them to perform their own roles. This is a bit farcical, and can be easily curbed by bringing in a simple constitutional amendment by which the parliamentary executives are prevented from participating in electioneering. It will also minimize the huge advantage in elections to the party in power. Another benefit that is claimed is the reduced cost of elections on account of election rolls, engagement of government machinery, security forces and election commission. This point may be conceded because the Election Commission and NitiAayog, both not known for their sterling independence, have claimed that cost may be approximately halved.The other claimed benefits of ONOE, viz., reducing ‘horse trading’ or ‘freebies’ etc. are clearly baseless.

As against it, ONOE seriously compromised the democratic principles envisaged by Article 83(2), 172 and 356 of the Constitution.The Law Commission headed by Justice B. S. Chauhan has rightly concluded that ONOE is not feasible within the existing framework of the Constitution. Obviously, the government means mutilating the framework and as well as changing the Representation of the People Act 1951 and the Rules of Procedure of LokSabha and State Assemblies to implement it but that will be at the cost of democracy itself. ONOE will pose logistical challenges in terms of availability and security of electronic voting machines, personnel and other resources. EC may face difficulties in managing such a massive exercise. There is another angle to this move as one study conducted by the IDFC Institute in 2015 revealed that there will be a 77% chance that the winning political party or alliance will win both the LokSabha and Assembly elections in that state when held simultaneously, undermining the distinctive demand and needs of each state. Clearly, it would be decimation of the principle of federalism.

Police official stand guard as Voters Stand in queue to cast their vote during the Telangana Legislative Assembly election, at Khairtabad in Hyderabad district, Thursday, November 30, 2023. (Photo: IANS)

Ashoka University assistant professor Sabysachi Das, who resigned from the University following him publishing a research  paper, Democratic Backsliding in the World’s Largest Democracy‘ which galloped into a huge controversy refers to alleged electoral fraud by the ruling party.  In the paper, Prof Das argued that the BJP won a disproportionate share of fiercely contested parliamentary seats in the  2019LokSabha polls, especially in States where it was the ruling party at the time. The research was published on the Social Science Research Network on July 25th. While the upcoming Loksabha elections are on the anvil, how do you perceive BJP dispensation’s approach to the general elections in the light of these allegations? 

It’s a case of academic research published by a professor of a university of repute on a network that caters to his peer community. The controversy that you refer to is not generated within this community but outside, by a section of people affiliated to the ruling party. There is no harm insofar as it is a controversy over its academic value. Das could deal with it.

But when it takes the form of a troll, the academic is helpless. The Ashoka University in such circumstances is obliged to support its professor. Unfortunately, it chose to take shelter in technicality and left to Das to defend himself knowing well that he would not be able to do so. One does not know whether the University has gone beyond it and pressured Das to resign. But the resignation of a well-known professor, PulapreBalakrishnan, and the faculty asking for reinstatement of Das show that the Ashoka University administration did not live up to their academic reputation.

With regard to the subject matter of Das’s paper, in view of the irregular pattern he observed in the 2019 election, he formulated two hypotheses for its explanation. One was that it was caused due to electoral manipulation and two it was due to the incumbent party’s ability to precisely predict and affect win margins through campaigning. His analysis of the various data sets that he compiled tended to support electoral manipulation over the precise control hypothesis. He indicated that the manipulation appeared to take the form of targeted electoral discrimination against Muslims, which was facilitated by weak monitoring by the election observers. To my knowledge, there has not been any counter to the paper in SSRN.  I have gone through his paper and vouch for the soundness of his methodology. On the contrary, the political science, sociology and anthropology departments put out statements in solidarity with professor Sabyasachi Das. His conclusions therefore stand.

The instances of manipulations such as mass missing of the names of communities which were unlikely to vote to BJP from the electoral rolls, preventing them from going for voting, influencing others in the name of religions, etc. were being reported many times in elections, particularly since 2014. It is also true that BJP’s election machine would not leave any stone unturned to win the election. The machine intricately understands each constituency, strategizes what it takes to win and zealously implements it without any scruple. 2024 election is the most important for the BJP to consummate its goal of Hindu Rashtra. It is expected that the BJP would try all tricks in trade to win it. But as the result of the recent five state elections reveal, more than the BJP’s own resolve, the Congress party, appears to be bent upon facilitating BJP’s victory with its ‘business as usual’ attitude. Alas, it does not realise that there shall be no elections thereafter for her to try its luck.

The BJP has for some time particularly catered to the OBC and Dalit votes in a deviation from its conventional upper caste orientation. What is the specific methodology that they are adopting to attract the dominant OBC/ Dalit votes in the Hindi heartlands of the North Indian states?  How is the BJP planning to counter the opposition campaign to give a thrust to social justice for backward communities a key campaign issue? 

BJP inherited Brahmin-Baniaepitaph from its parent RSS, which was a Brahman-Bania, mainly Brahmin organization till Golwalkar’s death. BalasahebDeoras who became sarsanghchalak after Golwalkar realized it’s myopia and strategized to extend its appeal to the lower castes and classes. The RSS surreptitiously included many heroes who were almost anathema to it like Gandhi andAmbedkar into its pantheon and created special purpose campaigns like samarasatamanch (harmony platform) to appeal to the Dalits and lower castes. Of course, it had begun work among the tribals much earlier not from the perspective of social oppression (although they continued to call them junglee, vanavasi), but to thwart the efforts of Christian missionaries who have been working among them from colonial times. The outreach to OBCs, however, did not gain momentum until it launched the Ram Mandir movement in response to the Mandal move by the VP Singh government. It was a true offensive because if it had slacked, there was a risk of boomerang. The opposition failed to communicate as they do even today and BJP succeeded in Hinduizing (or Brahmanizing?) the OBCs.

OBCs are the most populous caste band with a fluid identity of Shudras in the classical varna system. They potentially constituted most important constituency provided they were given a viable identity, which is socially significant. OBC has a ‘backward’ in it that tended to lower its social worth, because of which they participated with the upper caste in the anti-Mandal rights and beat up the Dalit students who hailed their reservations. BJP’s Hindu identity, however, was immediately accepted in the company of Brahmin-Bania, as it made them psychologically feel socially worthy. That has been the key behind the longevity of the caste system that a large population of agricultural serfs was incorporated with the notion that they were still superior to the Dalits in their vicinity. The rise of the BJP since the Ram Mandir movement is the success of its OBC strategy.

The actual caste strategy of the BJP is seen in identifying the segments of generic caste/community cluster (such as Scheduled Caste, OBC, Muslims) which got ignored by other political parties and cultivate them. It was exactly opposite of other parties, which tried to woo the more populous sections in the hope of grabbing its fraction, which they imagined sizable enough to give then the winning edge.They would try wooing the most populous Dalit castes, who were Ambedkarites and the most politicized segment. But BJP strategically avoided the crowding space and focussed on the left over Dalit castes, which cumulatively came closer to the size of AmbedkariteDalits. That mass was more effectively co opted by it. Similar formation existed in every caste and community in India and BJP used this strategy for each. In the case of OBCs, whereas the Congress empowered the populous section of the OBCs, the farming castes, the BJP’s OBC outreach targeted the lower segments of the OBCs which were hitherto neglected. It paid a rich dividend: BJP’s vote share grew from 19% in 1996 to 44% in 2019. While the Brahmin-Bania remains solidly behind the BJP, its wining force comes from the OBCs. The BJP’s all-India vote share in the LokSabha election of 2019 (37.6%) was almost double that of 2009 (18.6%). This was largely due to the inroads the party made among the OBCs — along with Adivasis and Dalits — while retaining its core support base among the upper castes.

The result of 2024 will depend upon the extent to which the opposition parties can delink the OBCs as oppressed castes from their oppressor’s party, BJP. The caste census which would expose the asymmetry between the Brahman-Bania and OBCs in terms of power and wealth may be a tool to do it but it would not automatically happen. It will have to be accompanied by a well-designed communication strategy to make OBCs realise that they were trapped and need to free themselves from the BJP’s clutches. The Opposition however appears complacent, as though it has grabbed a brahmastra of caste census and reservation to decimate BJP. Rahul Gandhi stole a slogan from Kanshiram: jiskijitanisankhyabhari, usakiutanibhagidari (communities get representation, as per their population-proportion). BJP has already countered it by flaunting its numbers: that 85% of BJP’s 303 MPs and 365 of its 1358 MLAs were from OBCs, as are 27 Union ministers. The Opposition failed to even sense the potential force of the BJP’s promise to implement sub-categorization. After all, OBCs or Dalits are not a homogenous people; the inequality within them is rather grudged more by the deprived sections than others. There was news that in UP, which holds the key to the power, BJP is deploying a special team of as many as 20,000 OBC functionaries to work among the community to bring it closer to the saffron outfit.I do not see any signs of opposition waking up to these challenges.

While they have introduced laws such as CAA and engage in other similar anti Muslim tirades, through another way the BJP is trying to woo the Muslim community aiming at the hustles. This appears contradictory. What are their plans vis a vis the community for the next decade. Do you think the BJP genuinely expects Muslims to vote for them?

BJP’s hatred for Muslims is two pronged: strategic and cultural. In the latter, it hates Muslims (and also Christians) because a vast majority of them come from the stock of Dalits and artisan (shudra) castes. It cannot say it straight because it would puncture the balloon of hindutva. In strategic term their hatred is the hatred of the ‘other’ so as toconsolidate its Hindu constituency for winning political power. If it could be achieved by loving them, it would not mind doing that. Its goal is to make India Hindu Rashtra. And what does a Hindu Rashtra mean? Hindu Rashtradoes not mean that all Hindus would enjoy liberty, equality, fraternity and justice; they would not be exploited by the Hindu capitalists or Hindu landlords or repressed by Hindu bureaucrats, orhumiliated by a Hindu policeman. It only means that the society would be reordered with the tenets of Brahminism; it means that a select few from the superior breed will be at the societal helm, all others accepting their duties as assigned by the hegemons. Although the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, has thrilled the simpletons with his public apology for the inhuman oppression his ancestors subjected the Dalits to andhis statements against the evils of caste, he would not speak against the principles of Brahminsmthat people are created unequal and that the social order necessitates ‘inferior’ people obeying superior breed. The goal of the BJP is to recreate this paradigm that it believes existed before the advent of Muslim rulers in India.

BJP not only spoke against Muslims but tormented them whenever it had an opportunity. It enacted draconian cow-laws, unleashed its lynching gangs against them; it stamped them as terrorists and incarcerated them in jails.And in 1919, they brought this Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) which blatantly uses religion as a criterion for citizenship and tries to declare their religion as unwelcome. It attracted global criticism but gladdened BJP’s Hindu constituency.The Act amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 by providing an accelerated pathway to Indian citizenship for persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, or Christians, and arrived in India before the end of December 2014.

The harassment of Muslims, instead of alienating, impelled them to seek truce with the BJP. The Gujarati Muslims who suffered horrific carnage in 2002,today massively vote for the BJP to save themselves. This has happened especially with the better off Muslims, the lower strata being nowhere to decide anything.  The BJP forged a dual strategy; on the one hand, it showed itself as determined to get rid of Muslims to the Hindus, and on the other, it applied the OBC strategy to woo the poorer strata of Muslims. BJP’s overtures to Muslim women and Pasmanda (backward class) Muslims are quite known. Pasmandasare the low caste Muslims in Hindi belt, whoconstitute 85 percent of the Muslim vote share. Their support enabled the BJP to win significant number of seats in the eastern part of the state — a region that is the home turf of the rabid Hindutvaproponent, YogiAdityanath. For the 2024 elections the BJP is not leaving any stone unturned. It has launched ModiMitr(Modi’s friend) outreach that focuses on spreading the BJP’s economic message especially to PasmandaMuslims. BJP enlisted 25,000 Muslim community leaders as ModiMitrs to promote a message on economy and canvass about various welfare programmes. It is especially focusing on 65 seats in the 543-member lower house of parliament that have a Muslim voter population of at least 30%, roughly double their share of the national population.

The BJP strategy in building an elaborate adivasi voter base that continues to support them despite its alliance with corporate groups and big industries, which uproots tribal communities and whose ideology that segregates tribals is shrouded in duplicity. Can BJP create inroads into the tribal vote base through these contradictory stands? 

The success of BJP lies in its managing contradictions. It can carry on the most virulent campaign against Muslims while wooing a section of them, the Pasmanda Muslims. It accuses other parties of practicing casteism to win elections but itself goes casteist to the extent of playing up subcaste game, by wooing the minor castes of OBCs as well as Dalits. Its Adivasi strategy is no exception. Adivasis were the neglected people and hence the RSS, BJP’s parent, reached them way back in 1940s and silently worked among them and thwarted the Christian missionary activities. Though Adivasis are the animist communities, the RSS almost succeeded in hinduizing them. This represents one strand of the strategy. The other strand comes from the fact that the Adivasi lands, the hills and jungles, contain in their bellies a vast wealth of minerals worth trillions of dollars, which is eyed by the global capital with salivating greed. BJP, as rather any other political party, can ignore it at their peril. They have to vacate these lands of the Adivasis. BJP does it in the name of curbing the naxal menace. For years, Adivasis have been butchered with this fake alibi. The Congress did it during its reign. The BJP dislodged Congress with the promise of serving the capital better and has since been doing it ruthlessly.    

As stated above, BJP is adept at managing the duality on many fronts. The narrative conflating tribal resistance against their displacement with naxalism was created and matured during the Congress regime but it is operated far more adroitly by the BJP. Though BJP has accelerated the tribal displacement, by doing away environmental hurdles and manipulating gram sabha resistance, the tribalsare happier with the BJP than ever before. BJP is master of managing politics of symbols. It had a masterstroke in installing the first ever tribal lady in RashtrapatiBhavan. It would never invoke the first Tribal leader Jaipal Singh Munda who had foregrounded the oppression of his people by the ancestors of the BJP in the constituent assembly.

The BJP government has amended laws such as Representation of the People Act, The Companies Act and the Income Tax Act so as to favour political donations by individuals, partnership firms, and even companies for enabling corporate funding for the elections.  What will be the source and nature of  funding for the coming general elections and how will the political parties bypass the restrictions put in place for election funding? 

Yes, the BJP government has amended all laws to facilitate donations by individuals, partnership firms, companies including overseas corporations to political parties through electoral bonds. Until 2021-22 seven national parties and 24 regional parties received a total donation of ₹9,188.35 crore through electoral bonds, of which BJP received Rs 5,272 crore and the Congress received Rs 952 crore, while the rest went to other parties. Thus 57 % of the total amount has come to the BJP. This is one index of the degree of corporate confidence in the parties. There has been a huge controversy over the constitutionality of these bonds and a slew of petitions filed before the Supreme Court was eventually heard recently after five years. The verdict is still not out. Whatever the verdict, the damage to the electoral democracy of the country has been allowed to be done. 

The source of funds flowing to political parties, particularly the ruling party is however not limited to these election bonds. Numerous other channels can still be open as before. With regard to the expenditure by the parties, they have not been adding since at least 2014 with the permitted limits but there is no institutional action by the Election Commission, which is mandated to monitor it. It had raised the expenditure limit for candidates contesting elections from Rs 54 to Rs 70 lakh (depending on states) to Rs 70 lakh-Rs 95 lakh for LokSabha constituencies and fromRs. 20 to 28 lakh to 28 to 40 lakhs (depending on states) for assembly constituencies. The kind of money spent is in multiples of this in reality and that is an open secret. Indian elections have already become the most expensive elections on the planet. For instance, in the 2019 elections total spending by political parties, candidates and regulatory bodies was reported by the Centre for Media Studies to $8.6 billion as against an estimated $6.5 billion spent in the US in the 2016 presidential and congressional contests, according to ‘Open Secrets’, an American non-profit organization. BJP spent close to Rs 27,000 crore, or nearly half of it. According to CMS chairperson N BhaskaraRao, the 2024 General Elections could cross Rs 1 trillion.

The corporate funding to political parties made opaque to public by the schemes like electoral bonds by the Modi government is the floodgate of corruption. There is always quid pro quo between the party in power and corporations. The pro-corporate bias of the BJP government in the name of vikas well correlates with the kind of donations it has been receiving from the corporations. These are not very different from the formalized kickbacks. According to Business Standard, “Mother of all corruption lies in the spiralling election expenditure”.

A Pew research poll held few years back asked people across the world about their faith in democracy and other questions. Seventy five percent of those supported representative government in India (the lowest in all of the Asian countries polled); 65 percent supported direct rule by experts ( One of the highest in all the countries polled), and more Indians supported  autocratic rule by a strong leader (55 percent) than in any other country polled. Is this responses from the Indian electorates pointing to the genuine craving for dictatorship among the Indians. If so, do you have any explanation on What fueled this craving? 

I am personally not surprised by these findings. I can off hand provide at least four reasons.

One, In India, historically speaking, and contrary to certain claims conflating the pre-Buddhist republics with democracy, democracy has never been experienced by common people. As a matter of fact nothing changed materially for common people after independence or India became a republic. With the British bureaucrats sans caste consciousness and cunning, exiting from the country, the experience of majority of the lower caste people was bound to be worse. The democracy for them has been the forced ritual to cast their vote in elections every five years. Neither do they know whom they voted for nor do they have any clue as to what is expected from them in return. These days, most people get money or booze for voting for someone by his agent. Democracy has been such a mockery in India. No wonder India ranked lowest in the percentage of people supporting the representative democracy. As a matter of fact, with the first-past-the-post type of election system that we have adopted to actuate our democracy, does not give a truly representative democracy. It structurally excludes at least nearly half the people from representation. No government during the last seven decades had consent of even half the population. People are not fools not to see this naked truth. The realisation of this deceit will make people rank India with the lowest score for democracy. 

Two, Indians have lived with the caste system which is antithetical to democracy. As BabasahebAmbedkarhad said, “Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic.” In view of this reality, there has not been any attempt to seed democracy in any of the institutions that came up after independence. The political parties that provided leadership to shape the country themselves were ultra-feudal, with a ‘high command’ culture. Naturally, over a long time of seven decades people would be wary to live with the lie. 

Three, the millennial generation (15-35 age group), which I called some time neoliberal generation, is not oriented to value democracy. It is over 300 million strong and gives a damn to democracy.Neoliberalism, which it has grown with, is an ideology of social Darwinism, which believes that the strongest should rule; the most meritorious should prevail. It is against one man, one vote, one value, the theme of democracy. Neoliberalism, since its birth has been undergoing important transformations which have become increasingly dangerous for democracy. In doing so, it has allied with forces which are contemptuous of democracy. This core aspect of the neoliberal project is what is setting the stage for a new breed of radical right leaders across the globe. Today, there is an emerging alliance between neoliberals and big capital drawing on the support of nationalists, social conservatives, and authoritarian populists. It is this alliance that may well pose one of the greatest threats to democratic politics. The young generation, subject to superfluous inputs from social media and capitalist dominated media, is shaped by this anti-democracy ethos.

Four, in India and even elsewhere, the right-wingers have invoked religion to disorient people away from democracy. The fountainhead of the hindutva, the RSS, as seen before, has overtly been contemptuous of democracy. While its political arm, BJP, has used the extant democratic institutions to grab political power, its aftermath has been the devastation of democracy. The people under their spell, and they are in majority, would really want a benevolent dictator, akin to the sarsanghchalak, the supremo of the RSS.

These findings to me are the alarm bells that we are on the verge of becoming a Hindu Rashtra!

Does the callous attitude displayed by the central government in not intervening effectively to rein the Kuki – Meitei confrontation in Manipur ruled by the BJP will trigger electoral reverses to the party. Will such unheard off events as naked parading of women not evoke a nationwide impact against the BJP after opposition leader Rahul Gandhi stated in the Parliament that ‘ Bharat Mata’ was murdered in the North eastern state ? 

Since 2014, people have been subject to so much shock that they ceased to feel anything. Those who sensitized people about moral wrongs around are in prison. Making them an example has generally silenced people. The horrendous killings of Kukis in Manipur by Meitei, and the incidents of parading women naked by the mobs, did shake the consciousness of the nation. But I do not think by the time elections happen these memories would survive. There have been daily such shockers that they ultimately are drowned in the propaganda blitzkrieg. What survives is the last minute theatrics. Ordinarily, there would have been countrywide outrage over the central government responses, particularly from the prime minister. But neither has one sensed it nor did it manifest in the recent state elections. Rather the BJP’s victory in three states has in a way endorsed the manner in which both the central government as well as the prime minister neglected the incident.

I don’t think Rahul Gandhi’s outburst in the parliament really communicates in the prevailing political environment. I am rather amazed at the Congress’s ineptitude in providing leadership to opposition and utter lack of strategy in handling the BJP’s challenge.

The BJP has launched a slew of welfare programmes including UjjwalaYojana, PM AwasYojana, to name a few. What is your perspective on the social and economic change brought in by these projects which often   contradicts with the government’s support to big business houses like the Adani group. Do you see double standards in this move of launching multiple welfare schemes that vouches the pro-poor rhetoric while promoting big corporate groups like Adani? 

There is no contradiction between announcing the welfare schemes and promoting big businesses. Rather there is a complementary relationship between the two. If the government wants to promote the big business out of way, it needs to placate the people with such welfare schemes that they would ignore the former. You asked me about the economic impact of these measures. I don’t think they had any significant economic impact. Most of the schemes are flawed in design itself not to produce any material impact. They however had tremendous propaganda value for the government, which it fully reaped.If there had been any positive impact, the government would not have to provide free ration to 81 crores of people and still have anti-revady rhetoric. The very birth of this government is attributable to a kind of pact between the big capital and the BJP.Essentially, the pro-poor rhetoric is not unique with BJP. This rhetoric has lived through all post-colonial governments. And in corollary the promotion of the big capital also has been concurrent policy of all the governments, overt or covert, albeit with varying degree.

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