The Politics of Arbitrary Coherence and 37% Thumbrule for GE 2024

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The fever of the general election is at its peak and many people believe that the Hindutva Card by the BJP especially PM Modi is missing to date. This is not true. There is a term named arbitrary coherence in economics which if applied in today’s political scenario in India with a slightly permissible departure, we find that the very essence of Hindutva is injected indelibly into the minds of every Hindu (barring a few liberals).

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allied wings have domesticated the Indians with Islamophobia in such a manner that Hindus are daydreaming that we could even butcher anyone who is not a Hindu and there is no punishment for the same and nightfall is in the form of Utopia because they are convinced that fanaticism when destroyed, destroys; and it protects when it is protected. I find this the most relevant translation of Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah (धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः) in the current political context- a verse of the most controversial Hindu scripture Manusmriti where on the contrary there is no place of fanaticism in righteousness. Misquoting the Holy Book of the Bhagavad Gita which says once one deviates from the path of righteousness, (s)he meets with hell, the so-called biggest party of the world compares righteousness with fanaticism.

An Indian believed himself tolerant of all kinds and when the fallacy of Durvasa (a seer who was so-called arrogant, splenetic and cursing) came into the story, (s)he condemned him with the possible exception. His words and deeds were taken to the strong exception. But, starting in 2012 just after the rise of Arab Spring (aka Tahrir Square) when the court was also taking an anti-view of the majority of the decisions taken by the then incumbency, one Anna Hazare (the second man after Jay Prakash Narayan who toppled the then incumbency with the mesmerizing support of the opposition and probably with the support of corporates as well as- if permission granted to write- with the support of foreign powers) with his so-called close aides Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Prasant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, Shajia Ilmi, Kumar Vishwas, BJP. RSS, Vivekananda Foundation etc. (list is long enough) took the charges against the then-established government.  Under the pretext of corruption, they commanded the minds of the majority of the Indians and made them believe that they were not what they believed they were supposed to be and therefore the majority amongst us felt false, frustrated and dishonest towards the duties of the nation. As a result, the majority of Indians pretended to be what they were not, felt unauthentic and wore the pseudo-social mask first by literally wearing a cap quoting Main Bhi Anna and later turning their false masks by voting against the establishment.

Here begins the real story. It is praiseworthy that the government of the largest democracy in the world changed quietly by pressing a simple button of votes, especially by the first-time voters under the influence of a cognitive bias.

People who voted for change now became the agents of a new incumbency. They rippled the idea that those who are anti-incumbent are traitors and criticizing the government in Delhi is tantamount to blasphemy. And, even non-Hindus were seen through the lenses of doubt and suspicion. Those supporting them became symbolically deconsecrated. Secularism became a curse in the minds of middle-class Hindus. A country where development was the prime agenda of the manifesto of the political parties has been imposed with the communal agenda.

As pointed out earlier, the people of India were domesticated by the whole new belief system by the BJP, and the opposition was trailing it with the same idea of caste census. It was started in Bihar first by the then-ruling alliance of Janta Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). They find that the other backward classes are in the majority of the society and this very idea again gets domesticated. Indian National Congress, the opposition party at the centre, caught the (divisive) idea and announced that if it came to power, the caste census would be incorporated into the books of law.

It would not be a digression to mention here that due to its cognitive bias, the ruling political party forgets the idea based on which the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) was mandated to make suggestions way back in December 2004. Instead of addressing agrarian distress which leads farmers to commit suicide as well as the unfinished agrarian agenda (of land reforms, addressing the issue of quantity and quality of water, technology fatigue, access, adequacy and timeliness of institutional credit, and most importantly opportunities for assured and remunerative marketing) the ruling party sent out all those seeds of fear that the demands of farmers are not only ingenuine but also devastating. Their minds were filled with derogative ideas that farmers were already wealthier than capitalists and that their demands are just for their benefit. These fears achieved beautifully to the farmers’ destruction. We may be happy that the draconian farm laws were withdrawn but what happened to the proposed yearly review of minimum support price based on the weighted average cost of production for all crops? For land reforms, instead of distributing ceiling surplus and wastelands amongst the 12% of landless people, the government of India including states gave land to the big corporations. They failed miserably to prevent the diversion of prime agricultural land and forests to the corporate sector for non-agricultural purposes.

Furthermore, India desperately needs strong local markets for agriculture. Farmers get a penny and end users pay hefty amounts for the same because of middlemen. The five-year plan should again be launched and progress be premised upon it and the same be implemented as soon as possible. (The writer of these lines gives no space for the argument that since the five-year plan was first launched by communists, ergo it should not be given any weight). It is manifestly incumbent to provide free and compulsory health insurance and revitalize primary healthcare centres. Health Insurance should be utilized across every hospital in India. Mandatory coverage for all crops by crop insurance with the individual households bears significant merits. Oppositions must work upon it. Most importantly, pension schemes with handsome amounts should be given to all old aged people without discrimination on caste and creed who are neither employed in the organized sector nor drawing any other pension. Now the argument must be based upon whether these are in the realm of the ruling party’s agenda. Of course not! It is a different matter they are more concerned about the reservations.

M. S. Swaminathan who chaired NCF was recently conferred with Bharat Ratna but his recommendation that the “net take-home income” of farmers should be comparable to those of civil servants is unknown to almost every Indian citizen. The Political Party which secured the votes by domesticating people’s thinking according to its whims and fancies using marketing tools knows better than anyone that development is not an essential ingredient of the manifesto of the election campaign. Our beloved country has more than 80% of the youth unemployed and its prime minister and his entire domestic machinery are busy in the tommy-isation of opposition leaders by all means (without considering propriety, morality, ethics, fairness etc.). It is not true that only the BJP is responsible for the same, the opposition is equally liable for this cruel situation bordering on the paradox of choosing between fanaticism and employment. While the speech of the ruling party resembles those of the right-wing, those of Congress resemble those of the left. In the laissez-faire economy, the left has no place and most importantly the people of India know that Congress is the pioneer of economic reforms and they think that its words shall not match with its deeds; BJP gets the benefits of arbitrary coherence here.

Youths are unemployed. People don’t have enough money to buy medicines. Markets want crowds. Industries struggle to pay interest. Oppositions lack coherence in their communications. BJP creates a vacuum. India suffers. This was certainly not the dream our freedom fighters dreamt of. People advise their disciples to learn the indomitable leadership skill from Rahul Gandhi whose every speech is twisted and turned out of context but he goes on. And, when it comes to voting the weight of his arguments and speech are taken as that of the weak, remains unanswerable, thereby called quibble and apt to annoy (With impunity again the words of L.B. Namier, In the Margin of History, are twisted by the writers of these lines according to his use). At a certain relevant time, Congress was a party of all castes and creeds. Now it is labelled as a party of Muslims, OBCs and Dalits. Ironically these castes and creeds do not vote for Congress collectively. The writer of these lines is very sure that if it continues, the Congress shall become BSP and one day it will become history.

How far does Congress push luck for the risky business of pleasing a certain class of people? You cannot please everyone is not true for politics. Voters in India are grappling with choosing the best candidates in every election nevertheless oppositions are comfortable enough in the circle of the sycophants who spill more indelible ink with considerable anguish on the tribulations of courtship than of assisting in making a good strategy. Psephologists of the opposition parties are playing on the pitch curated by the ruling incumbency.

Mathematics has the solution to every problem, including those of politics without impulsivity and overthinking. So, the writer of these lines is coining the Rule of 37%. Yes, you read correctly!

In the general elections of 2019, BJP secured 37% of the total votes cast and Congress got 19% votes i.e. it was trailing by 18%. The total vote cast was 67%. So around 10-11 percent votes were bagged by other parties, be it allies of UPA and NDA or not. It is also important to know that while BJP’s vote percentage increased by 6% (compared that of 2014), UPA’s was stagnant. Now let us fix a bar on 37% as maximum permissible vote share for a party to attain majority. This is significant because anything more than this would easily allow a democracy to slip into autocracy, as we have witnessed the gradual process of transformation during last ten years.

Now in this election, fight is between INDIA (erstwhile UPA) and NDA. If INDIA fetches 18% more votes this time, it would secure 37% of the total votes and NDA could get ceteris paribus only 19% which would be fatal for it. Again in the next general election, NDA would crave for 37% of votes and would rule. This becomes a fight for 37% votes in successive elections. The result would be a strong democracy. Looking at lower voter turnout in ongoing elections, If we keep the total votes polled at an average of 60%, the democratic contestation would automatically limit itself to a differential of 10% votes or so (assuming non-Congress and non-BJP votes intact). Now whoever secures this 10% would form a government with a borderline majority. This arithmetic seems plausible and effective.  

BJP’s base voters are vaishya (business class). Brahmins are supporting them due to their good tuning with the business class. Kshatriya (Rajputs) are with them due to fewer top leaders of their caste. In this general election of 2024, Rajputs are marginalized in BJP. If the situation persists they will be divorced from having a say in the party in 2029. It is the best opportunity for INDIA to get their votes in its favour. Brahmins always remain in favour of the mighty so their votes would automatically be converted.

Change of mind of voters remains healthy for any democracy. It allows no one to dictate their terms. In a democratic republic, voting is the only tool through which mere apprehension turns out to be the conclusive proof and judgment is delivered based upon the circumstantial evidence. The voters of India must know it and exercise their franchise keeping in mind the same. Opposition must know that those who support the government reside with them, those who oppose have to face exile and those who oppose and reside with them bring change. It is a time for every opposition party to bring the agenda of growth, development and prosperity on track even though the ruling party may play the communal agenda on its own. Opposition has to curate their turf and pitch for the progress of the country. They need to focus primarily on addressing the issues of crony capitalism, lack of transparency, and corruption etc. which figured prominently during the incumbent regime.

The writer is a Kolkata based financial analyst

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