the congress' end is the bjp's end is the communists' end

the karnataka poll results remind me of a few weeks old post, on by-polls in a few u.p., assembly constituencies, by adnan- an excerpt:
Amid the blue hue that has swept UP, the humiliating defeat of BJP and its absolute marginalisation in the state has been totally overlooked.

In the three Assembly by-polls, the share of votes in Muradnagar, Colonelganj and Bilgram, the party has been extraordinary low. It could get just 1.35%, 3% and 5% votes in the elections, the results for which were announced two days back. The BSP won all the three constituences, as also the two Lok Sabha seats. Surprisingly, the Lotus has wilted in the state where it emerged in the mid-80s pitting Hindus and Muslims against each other. And today it seems both Hindus and Muslims have forgotten this party in India's most populous state.
well, as adnan points out, the four weeks old good news is: the bjp seems to be dying in uttar pradesh. and the bad news, fresh off the presses, is: the bjp has emerged a winner in karnataka, on its own.

i know analysts would interpret the bjp's diminishing stature in u.p., as a triumph of the ordinary indian's secular spirit, and the karnataka results as a major threat to the health of the ordinary indian's secular spirit. in most liberal analysts' minds, the fortunes of secularism in the country are inextricably linked with the fortunes of the congress, the bjp and the communists, the national parties.

how true or tenable is that theory?

if you look at the recent communal history of u.p., and of tamil nadu, you'll notice two similarities: a) the significant absence (or insignificant presence) of the congress, the communists and the bjp in those states and b) the significant absence (or insignificant presence) of communal strife in those two states.

what does that tell you? the indian liberal doesn't usually connect those two phenomena in the way i am going to now: i believe that (a) leads to (b). none of those three national political parties/groups are secular on caste, so i don't think they can be secular on religious issues.

which means the bjp is dying in u.p, because the congress is already dead in the state. and the congress is dead because there are no communists in the state. similarly, in tamil nadu, however hard it may struggle, the bjp has very little chance of creating any waves as long as the congress has very little chance of reviving itself. and again, there are no communists in tamil nadu. what do all these factors add up to? peace across religions. or near total peace across religions.

and peace across castes? caste is much older than the religious divide, so it'd be a longer struggle. and karnataka is essentially playing out struggles against caste. the marginalized castes in india have been voting for alternatives in every election since the sixties, voting in those who seemed to be secular (on caste issues), and voting those alternatives out again when they realized they were not as secular as they seemed (on caste issues)- the process started earlier in some states. this opened opportunities for the janata parties in the seventies and eighties and the bjp later. u.p, tried both the janata parties/dal and the bjp, karnataka flirted with only the janata dal. it has voted for the bjp now- which essentially means, this is the beginning of the end of the congress. and then of the bjp in karnataka, eventually.

here's some advice for the upper caste, indian liberal: true secularism begins at home. check how secular the track record of y.s. rajashekhar reddy, chief minister of the only congress ruled state in south india is. i haven't read a single liberal analyst in the country expressing doubts about his secular credentials until now- but most of them, i do remember, celebrated the return of the congress in the state as a great victory for the secular forces in the country. here's an indicator of how non-secular his government actually is: a majority of top posts in corporations, autonomous oganizations functioning under the aegis of the state government, are occupied by reddies: how secular is that? the marginalized castes don't like this reddy raj which seems to be much more disgusting than the kamma raj of the naidu government earlier. some of them are preparing to vote for new, little known alternatives like the actor chiranjeevi's party- no, he hasn't launched it yet. yes, the marginalized castes are that desperate.

the marginalized castes in india don't understand secularism in the same way as the liberal does. and the secular liberal, of course, isn't interested in the marginalized castes' understanding of these issues. so he doesn't understand that the dalit who voted for the bjp in the recent polls didn't actually vote for hindutva. he was looking for secular (on caste issues) alternatives to the parties that had ruled until now: so, in the not so distant future, when he realizes that the bjp too is not so secular (as he definitely will), he will vote for another, untried alternative. and this will go on...


t.r.baalu, thevar or brahmin?

was caste conceived in a world of shortages? india still faces shortages in many fields: is that the reason why caste works so well today? nearly half the country still doesn't have regular access to electricity, and almost all gas based plants in the country are hungry for fuel. the babus from the former soviet union would know better about how goods and services get distributed when they're rationed out- the weak stay in the lines, forever, while the powerful get those goods without ever stepping into any line. our own planning commission would also know a lot about it: the government stores enough food in its godowns, for everyone, but the poor never get enough.

if the true principle of socialism is the elimination of hierarchy, caste espouses the merits of hierarchy. if socialism is about equality, caste is about separation. then why, in practice, do both end up looking like each other? the problem is with looking at hierarchy and separation separately: hierarchy would remain as long as there is separation, or inequality, and not just along class lines, but along ethnicities. and if you wish to eliminate ethnic divisions, say, which ones would you eliminate, first? yeah, hierarchy. across the world, people progress towards democracy by eliminating the nobility first. physically, or by stripping them of all privileges. is it possible in the hindu world? prachanda is trying to do that in nepal? yeah, with a tilak, most probably applied by a brahmin, on his forehead. i don't think i've seen an image more loaded with irony, hypocrisy and deceit in recent times.

coming back to the original question: when gas is rationed out, would the rationing work in any other way? and should t.r.baalu feel guilty about jumping the line? he says, he did it for the shareholders. that's a secular reason the prime minister finds nothing wrong with. did t.r.baalu act out of secular motivations? his grihastha dharma enjoins him to focus on his extended family first, the world later. that's what he was doing. if a hypocritical democracy finds comfort in secular excuses- interests of cheated shareholders must be good enough.

if nepal wishes to promote equality, it should start thinking of eliminating the privileges of those at the top (and not merely those, nominally, at the top), first. would there be any lower castes without any upper castes? and if the dmk, a party that has long championed the cause of social justice and reform, wishes to destroy the caste system it can't harbour members such as t.r.baalu who practise caste so very openly. hell, it can't harbour even folks such as karunanidhi. every secular excuse that they offer in defense of according special privileges to their kin would strengthen caste. special privileges and hierarchy go together- if you acquiesce to a system of privileging, you would consolidate the position of those at the top of the order, more than justify their practice of caste, and not bring them down.

a lot of champions of lower caste politics, especially those of the obc kind, act like fools cutting down branches of the trees they're sitting on. if you're a thevar seeking special privileges for your kin, you're not just separating yourself from others lower down in the hierarchy, you're also separating yourself from other thevars, less fortunate than you. will your actions, in any fashion, dent the whole hierarchical order? no, they will only strengthen it. other thevars would find it that much more difficult to secure their rights, forget privileges, because those traditionally at the top would not need any excuses to continue to practise caste. remember, their right to privileges is divinely ordained while your right to equality is the result of secular, democratic struggles. when you uphold privileges, don't you strengthen the divine writ (and weaken your secular right to equality)? how can you begin to question their privileges when you seem to accept, willingly, other portions of the divine writ?

everyone should look after their own kind, right? first the kul, or the family, then the jati, then the varna and finally, if there's any time left, the world. as long as you defend privileges, mr.baalu, you defend caste. and as long as you defend caste, don't nurse any illusions that you can always secure all your rights. there'd be other people stealing your rights most of the rest of your life, who wouldn't even need to defend their actions: caste has already accorded them privileged positions.

lastly, those thevars who show scant respect for the dalits, lower down the caste order, aren't very different from baalu, are they? someone would always reign over them as long as they try to reign over the dalits.

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