Devendra Fadnavis doesn’t even have a clear majority in the Assembly. To keep his government, he must depend on Shiv Sena, a party run by two jealous, incompetent and lazy dynasts.
When given the task of conquering Maharashtra, he had to fight on many fronts: first, he had to turn the decades-old equation of Big Brother / Little Brother between Sena and BJP on its head. A task of catapulting BJP from No. 4 to No. 1 in Maharashtra in a single election cycle. Out of the 288 seats in Maharashtra, there were some 171 seats where the BJP had not even contested in the last 25 years (these had been allocated to ally Shiv Sena).
The second task was to try and win a majority for BJP on its own in the fractured politics of Maharashtra, something that no party had done since 1985. After the 1990 elections, no party in Maharashtra has won even 90 seats. The outcome for BJP: 122 seats, but tantalizingly shortly after the magic figure of 145.
Not to mention that the mantle was suddenly thrust on him with barely 2-3 months to go for elections, due to the unexpected death of Gopinath Munde: BJP’s tallest leader in Maharashtra. A man carrying the yoke of being a Brahmin in a state whose politics has always been dominated by Marathas.
That’s Devendra Fadnavis: the first BJP leader to become Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
I have been saying for a while that the outcome of 2019 depends on two broad pivots: Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, the two largest states. If BJP can control these two states, the chances of a second term for Modi increase exponentially. The credit belongs to Modi for installing two powerful Chief Ministers in these states, who have the potential of becoming the faces of their respective states.
Today’s event in Mumbai, CPI(M) bringing thousands of farmers to surround the Assembly, underlines again the challenge of being Devendra Fadnavis. Remember the humongous Maratha morchas that swept the state last year?
The ecosystem is making yet another major attempt to destroy Devendra Fadnavis. We have seen in January just how desperate they are to destroy him: that they could dig up a completely forgotten, insignificant episode of history and create a nationwide fuss over it. This is how far they are ready to go to destroy Fadnavis. The attempts to uproot him are not PC outrage based initiatives that only resonate with astroturf liberals. This is not Award Wapsi that it will have ZERO resonance with 99.9% of regular Hindus. These are major challenges: Maratha reservation, Dalit pride and now farmers issues.
These things have a resonance at the grassroots.
Until now, Fadnavis has been able to successfully parry the attacks. He has worked his hardest to balance the agrarian vastness of Maharashtra with its equally significant urban pockets. The Jal Yukt Shivir program was a hit among the farmers. Now, no government program is ever implemented to perfection, but he has managed to pull off a farm loan waiver as well.
At the same time, he has been able to somehow keep a lid on the scheming opposition. The Maratha morchas were defused slowly until they ran out of steam. In January, during the Bhima-Koregaon situation, he managed to position himself as some kind of neutral referee during the Opposition effort to create a Maratha vs Dalit conflagration in the state. Everyone knows that the vultures of the left came looking for dead bodies to serve their politics. No stone was left unturned to provoke a police firing or some untoward incident that could be used to create caste riots. The Maharashtra government frustrated them successfully. Ultimately, the vultures flew away, still hungry, with nothing to show for their efforts.
There is a reason the ecosystem has invested so much in successive waves of attacks on Fadnavis. You have to understand that Maharashtra is a golden state, the biggest cash cow in the union. Secondly, the Congress has always had its CM in Maharashtra except for 1995-99 and now. Although parties like SP and BSP are ultimately branches of Congress, they are still one degree of separation away from the Dynasty. The Congress has fallen by the wayside in UP a long time ago. Not so in Maharashtra.
Maharashtra was not ruled indirectly, unlike UP that was ruled by the Dynasty through Akhilesh or Mayawati. The revenue from Maharashtra was going directly to the Crown. As the British would say, Maharashtra was “Crown land,” owned directly by the Queen herself. The slaves will fight 10 times harder when defending Crown land.
One such slave is being sent to Rajya Sabha I hear … a reward for being the Editor of a highly circulated Marathi language Congress pamphlet … umm… err … newspaper.
With the “farmers march” in Mumbai, we are seeing yet another sorry consequence of the lack of a right-wing ecosystem. The failure starts right from accepting the tyrannical terminology “Farmers March.”
Does this look like a “farmers’ march” to you?
Yes, the individuals there may be farmers. But to call it a “farmers march” instead of a “CPM march” is totally dishonest. It is extremely evident that the plight of the farmers and their cause if being hijacked by the communists to set their own narrative. It is being used to find their own political relevance. Calling it “farmers march” is like saying that Dr Sambit Patra’s opinion is the “doctors’ prescription” because Sambit Patra just happens to be a doctor. It is extremely dishonest, but even the right wing is bowing down and calling it the “farmers march.”
Because the right wing is used to the tyranny of terminology and surrendering to it. When AISA is on the streets, it is a “students protest.” When CPM’s Kisan Sabha is on the streets, it magically becomes a “farmers protest.” When AIDWA is on the streets, it magically becomes a “women’s protest.”
Will any left winger ever refer to a gathering of Sangh cadres as a “patriots protest” or a “Hindus protest”? They easily use their superior control over the narrative to create some artificial barrier between “Hindu” and “Hindutva.” They are able to boast from every street corner that they are not against Hindus but against “Hindutva.” Will the right wing ever be able to broadcast the message that we are not against “farmers” but against Commies?
Instead, the right wing begins from a point of weakness, two steps away from surrender. We have already granted the CPI(M) full moral supremacy and accepted them as legitimate representatives of “farmers.” Once this crucial point is conceded, the narrative shifts to whether the BJP government can fulfil their demands.
They are your implacable political foes: why would they make reasonable demands from you? The single point agenda of Commies is that the BJP should be banned and its leaders were thrown into prison for life. Will you be able to fulfil that demand? So their demands will go unfulfilled and the BJP will have to explain to everybody why they failed to fulfil the demands of “farmers.”
This is not only shameful, it is also an insult to democracy. How many farmers vote for CPI(M)? I think more farmers have voted for BJP than have voted for CPI(M) in the last ten elections put together. But the right wing is so lackadaisical that we let them set the agenda on “farmers.”
Ditto for students. How many young students today are Commies? Probably zero outside JNU.
Same goes for women or Dalits. More women and more Dalits vote for BJP than for any other party.
Through its rock-solid ecosystem support, the Commies manage to push their agenda with just 2-3% of the vote. It is time for the right in India to start taking some drastic measures to change this stranglehold.
There are 12000 Communist cadres in Mumbai today. There could be more, but the highest estimate I have heard is 35,000. With that, they have managed to bring the city to a halt.
There are 17 crore people who voted for BJP in the last election. If even 10% of that number comes out on streets, it will be the greatest political show on earth. Let 2 crore right wingers march to Kerala and demand that Pinarayi Vijayan and his entire Cabinet should resign.
Honestly, I am sick and tired of being arm-twisted by Communists. I was a student for many many years. I am sick and tired of hearing that Commies speak for students. No woman in my family is a Commie. In fact, the only Commie women I have seen are on TV. I know several Dalits but not a single one is a Commie. Most are fervently anti-Commie. In fact, the only Commies I know are Brahmin men (that too so-called “Kulin Brahmins” — highest among the highest caste). They are all heterosexual men, fluent in English and making fat pay packages at big corporations in India and the West. Most have flown first class at least once in their lives. Not one of them could be considered “underprivileged” in any sense.
These farmers who have joined this march probably have no idea how they are being used by the communists. They have no idea that while their poverty is glorified by communists, they themselves travel first class and enjoy the luxuries of life. They probably have no idea about their murderous ideology.
Frankly, I am sick of these rich, lazy Commies setting the narrative.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.