The BJP’s sweeping victory in Gujarat and Himanchal Pradesh under the leadership of Mr. Modi reminds us of the many urgent questions that a nation like ours cannot neglect despite the apparent mood of celebration and euphoria we witness around us.
Even though the BJP has won the elections in Gujarat and Himanchal Pradesh, it is important to go deeper into the cultural and political matrix of our society and ask many critical questions. We know that in recent times we are experiencing a culture of fear and hatred; violence in everyday life is normalized, and the intensity of the Hindu-Muslim divide often reminds us of the trauma of partition.
As economists have repeatedly argued, demonetization has failed to handle the chronic problem with black money and instead destroyed rural economy and informal sectors. Likewise the much hyped GST has caused severe problems to consumers, traders, middle level businessmen and society at large. That is why the question arises- why is it that the brand Modi keeps willing the elections, despite the discontents of culture and economy?
As voters are we becoming increasingly insensitive and numb? Are elections also becoming like a marketplace in which we choose brands and the hyper-masculine, aggressive nationalist project of mega development that Mr. Modi talks about appealing to the voters? Or is it that that the opposition with its own fragments and divisions has become absolutely incapable of posing a challenge to the Modi phenomenon and giving an alternative map of culture, economy, politics and development that convinces people? Or is it that the prevalent practice of election itself is pathological?
Is it that it limits our choices and allows only muscle and money power to prevail. Finally, we find ourselves in a media induced world with multiple television channels, paid news and a widespread network of social media. Day and night we have been bombarded by the macho image of development friendly, charismatic leader with a magic wand in his hand.
Is politics becoming more like impression management that the propaganda machinery of culture industry in this media induced world manufactures? These are important questions which are beyond Mr. Modi’s victory or the opposition’s defeat. These are deeper structural, cultural questions that need to be reflected upon.
As a forum The New Leam believes that intellectual honesty and contemplative thinking ought to characterize serious journalism and cultural study. At this moment of Mr. Modi’s euphoric success and all sorts of condemnations of the opposition we feel that we would raise yet another set of questions and invite our readers to look at the world somewhat differently.