Psephologist Yogendra Yadav is busy offering his opinions on news channels on the day that results of the Bihar Assembly Elections are declared. He is one of the designated experts whose opinions are continued to be sought on news channels despite the fact that his predictions and opinions are grossly incorrect all the time.
On Tuesday, however, Yogendra Yadav did offer some very meaningful insight into the functioning of the liberal establishment and how liberals view politics. It is ought to be borne in my mind that he is the national president of Swaraj Abhiyan, a political party that is registered with the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Yogendra Yadav said on NDTV, “Bihar is no longer the epicenter of North Indian politics. State elections are no longer an indicator of the national mood. And, elections are not the big happening place in politics.” Of the three declarations he made, he was absolutely correct on one occasion, absolutely wrong on another and the remaining is entirely a matter of opinion.
That gives him an accuracy rate of 50%, discarding the opinion, which is still a lot better than on normal days. But the third statement he made is particularly revealing. In Democracies, elections are the most spectacle in politics. But here we have a psephologist, who plays a politician on odd occasions, declaring that elections are not, in fact, the ‘big happening place’ in politics. Why does he say so and is it that statement of his that is correct among the three?
Why Yogendra Yadav is correct
The answer to the second part of the question is that it is. As to the question of ‘why’, it is simply because in the Indian system of governance, more politics is played over crucial matters by unelected bodies than by politicians themselves. Also, a disproportionate amount of decisions on policy matters is taken by unelected bodies than by governments. Thus, in the long run, the results of today’s Bihar Assembly Elections will hardly have any impact on the dominant political culture of the country.
Ideological battles, the most important ones certainly, is played in the Judiciary and the bureaucracy in India. The most important ideological battles today are not settled by the elected government, as they should be, but by unelected, unaccountable bodies. Consider the Sabarimala Verdict for example, it was an instance of monumental judicial overreach and it was taken not by the elected governments but by an unelected body.
Similarly, take the instance of cracker ban. While it is true that state governments have been very eager to ban firecrackers during Diwali, unelected bodies such as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has entered the fray as well and issued a complete ban in certain cities and towns across the country. Such decision are ought to be taken by elected bodies but it is quite clear that the appointed members of such elected bodies feel free to exercise their authority as well. For the record, the members of the NGT are appointed by elected governments.
It is also to be borne in mind that the first cracker ban was issued by the Supreme Court, not elected bodies. The reason why unelected, unaccountable bodies have become the battlegrounds for ideological warfare is that the legislature and executive have relinquished their power to the Judiciary. And power once relinquished is extremely difficult to win back.
Liberals can win ideological victories at the Courts
Thus, it has become extremely convenient for activists to have their way in matters of policy by approaching the Judiciary and thereby, bypassing elections. Politics is downstream from culture, as a wise man once said, and ideological battles are a consequence of culture wars. Thus, it is extremely possible for activists to win the culture war without winning elections. That is precisely why Yogendra Yadav is right when he says elections are not the big thing happening in politics today.
Thus, given the unprecedented power that the Judiciary enjoys today, it is within the realm of possibilities for it to overturn laws passed by the democratically elected parliament of the country. It has already proven that it is capable of doing so by overturning the NJAC. Activists now hope that they will be able to overturn the abrogation of Article 370 and the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act through the Judiciary even though these are matters that lie strictly within the ambit of the Legislature.
The influence of the mainstream media
Under such circumstances, the mainstream media acquires significant power as journalism is the designated propaganda wing for activists. Journalism that does not toe the line of liberal activists is not even considered journalism. For instance, the state-sanctioned persecution of Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami is being justified by claiming that he is not a real journalist. Unfortunately, unelected bodies rely greatly on mainstream media to decide on matters of policy, and hence, liberals continue to secure political victories without possessing the mandate from the citizenry.
With the help of the media, it is entirely possible for liberal activists to have their way in matters of policy. They do not need to win elections for that. Yogendra Yadav recognises this fact. And that is why he says elections are not the ‘big happening place’ in politics today. As another instance, LGBT activists approached the Delhi High Court for the legalisation of same sex marriages. It is a matter of policy and ought to be decided by elected bodies. However, since the judiciary wields so much power, activists know that they can by pass the government and secure a victory for themselves.
Thus, it is an elaborate nexus between activists, the judiciary, the mainstream media and the bureaucracy that is dominated by liberal ideology. And they can continue to secure victories without having the necessity of winning elections. If things get desperate, they have the assured support of their foot-soldiers on the streets, as we saw in the aftermath of the CAA. We saw a violent mob attempting to hold the country hostage and liberals supporting them entirely because they wanted to blackmail the country into submission.
The Government and The Establishment
It is precisely how liberals think about politics. If election results do not go their way, they can always rely on the unelected to have their way. Since 2014, they have suffered one defeat after another and yet, the march of liberalism has continued unabated. Children are still being indoctrinated into the toxic ideology of gender identity politics, Hindu traditions such as Pashubali and firecracker during Diwali are still being banned, journalists like Arnab Goswami are still being persecuted. Therefore, it is of paramount importance for people to recognise that liberals may be losing elections but they still dominate unelected bodies.
It is for this reason that we need to distinguish between elected governments and the establishment. It is not always necessary that elected governments will always be the establishment. Even after six and a half years of Hindutva dominance in electoral politics, liberalism continues to dominate the establishment, which is unelected. Also, since the establishment is unelected, its hold over power is far more secure. Election results have no impact on their power.
The establishment will continue to rule regardless of electoral results unless they are forcibly jolted out of power. Since the establishment controls education as well, it has the most powerful weapon in its arsenal; the capacity to indoctrinate the next generation of Indians into their ideology. Therefore, the ideological continuity of liberalism is almost guaranteed.
Thus far, the BJP has not shown enough inclination to dent the power of the unelected. Unless it does, sooner rather than later, it will find itself losing elections. And when it does, it will cease to have any safeguards against the abuse of power. Now, the establishment is more thirsty for blood than ever, if its power is not dented, then the BJP will have to pay a heavy price.