The Political Field is Opening up

When we have no war on strong positions, some stray viewpoint dominates and attains hegemony. Our country seems to have had reached a saturation point where only a single view had become a privileged voice. This privileged imperial voice silenced every other alternate view. Thankfully, Antonio Gramsci’s hegemonic ‘war of position’ taught in his Prison notes is coming back to rejuvenate our democracy which had become an arid ground that did not allow alternate views to germinate for a long time. This welcome change has irrupted on the scene to the joy of several Indians. We will notice this if we try to reflect on how our PM Modi seems to have failed to be a merchant of Indian dreams and his Party BJP has also lost its ability to make us dream for happy days.  Besides this obvious failure, the atomization of the Individual Indian by the neo-liberal economic policies conflict with the treating of Indians as ‘undifferentiated mass’ by the totalitarian nationalism championed by the right-wing forces and some sections of media. All this may have opened new space for alternate regimes of thought.  These developments coming at the heel of the national elections in 2019 have tremendous potencies for Democracy in our country. These developments can allow us to consider new and unanticipated subject positions other than the nauseating binary of national and anti-national that is significantly marked with the tinge of loyalty and the betrayal and was forced on innocent people dividing them into sheep and wolves. Thankfully, the space of resistance appears to be actively created by some marginalized political forces that seem to have found their lost voice after what has been called Modi operandi.

The Modi operandi that saw the loot and run of Nirav Modi threatens to become a turning point in the political culture of our country.  It has given a death blow to the populism that was used to woe the people who form the majority in our country by the BJP and its allies during the last elections.  Ernest Laclau, the celebrated theorist of populism in our times has argued that populism is about the formation of political subjects that then results into a cultural hegemony.  The Hindutva ideology in this sense is a tool of populism that has almost transformed our Hindu brothers and sisters into political Hindus, resulting in a politics of cultural dominance that brought BJP in power in 2014 with a thumping majority. Laclau makes his point emphatic when he says that the construction of the people is the chief task of all politics. This means identity politics is the backbone of any kind of populism.  Indeed, populism is a politics of exclusion and not inclusion.  We can notice how the right wing populism constructed a political Hinduism that seems to have put the religious Hinduism on the back foot.  Thus, the populism of the right wing creates its enemy that is viewed as pathological and sets in an agenda to purge the same. The divisive politics of the BJP-RSS-VHP combine is tainted by this malady.  We have seen how those who had put up a virtuous mask have pitted themselves against those who were deemed as anti-national and a Manichean war of good v/s evil  has irrupted into our streets, university campuses, and other public spaces. Fortunately, what has been greeted as Modi Operandi has raised several unanswerable questions that have put the foot in the mouth of several of these hypocritical pretenders who fail to distinguish between patriotism and nationalism.   

Populism as a strategy to win power presents a powerful leader whose image is carefully crafted. Such a leader is parachuted as an outsider and watchfully presented as a vox populi.  We can see how Narendra Modi was artfully grafted as a PM candidate and was presented as an anti-establishment leader. But this time we seem to have hit a point of Crisis. Laclau portrays such crises as a crisis of representation. He teaches that new populists movements emerge when the old polity hits a paralysis of representation. It means new populisms rise on the horizon when the conceptual framework of the reigning polity fails to inspire confidence. We might remember that Congress Party plagued by corruption and fatigue of  a long rule  had ruptured its ability to make any  inspiring political representation  and could not arouse  confidence of the people on the threshold of the national elections 2014. It seems that the Congress ideology had reached a saturation point and had become politically bankrupt and unproductive. It is at this point that both AAP and BJP rose on the scene. AAP took Delhi by storm, while BJP  led by Narendra Modi captured the imagination of our nation.  But this time, BJP seemed to be on the down turn. Its ideological apparatus has reached a crises point and like the Congress during the last occasion, it too fails to inspire confidence.  Post Modi operandi the tallest of its ideals which looked rock solid are all melting in the air. It is difficult though not impossible for the ruling BJP to gain momentum and take control of steering that seems to have lost control.            

The (dis)efficiencies of the ruling BJP have been mounting for some time and Modi openradi  has triggered in a reverse populism. The triumphalist vision of   BJP has begun to appear hypocritical and fake.    Failing promise to deliver happy days to all have begun to look like a deceitful habit.  The vision of ‘New India’  of our PM also has begun to look empty, hollow and without substance.   The ideological meanings, values and hopes that glued the people to the right wing populism championed by the BJP-RSS-VHP combine are steadily losing its power of attraction. There is a gap that is opened and counter-populism capturing the mood of the nation is threatening to fill it. Laclau calls this crises discursive totality. Discursive totality arises when the ruling benches fail to stay in control of the discursive space which becomes unstable because of the crisis of representation. All that BJP was standing for is fast reaching an exceeding point and is beginning to look empty and fake. The gap and cracks in the discursive space are opened. Who can fill the gap? Can Congress Inspire confidence? Is there a dark horse on the horizon?  The political field is opening up once again in our country.                                                           

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao