The 2014 Elections, a Secular United Front and the Aam Aadmi Party

Where the secular candidates remain divided, voters themselves should organise strategic voting in each constituency for the secular anti-Modi candidate who is most likely to defeat the BJP

With the Lok Sabha elections just weeks away, the priority of all left-wing and anti-communal activists should be to ensure the defeat of Modi and the BJP. Regardless of whether or not we characterise Modi’s politics as fascist and see the coming election as containing the very real threat of fascism at the Centre, it is undeniable that fundamental rights and the rule of law will be fatally undermined if he comes to power. At present he can use the Gujarat state machinery to ensure that he isn’t chargesheeted in any of the Gujarat cases and to file false cases against activists like Teesta Setalvad and others. His absolute control over the state machinery and use of it even for purely personal affairs is demonstrated by the Snoopgate scam. And his determination to eliminate any authority that is independent of him is highlighted by his spending crores of public money to ensure that the Gujarat Lokayukta is under his thumb. But his writ does not extend beyond Gujarat. If he comes to power at the Centre, his first priority will be to shut down the cases against himself, Amit Shah and the Hindutva terrorists, crush those who are fighting them or who oppose him in any way, tighten his grip over the state machinery countrywide, and assert control over all independent authorities including the judiciary. 

However, this possibility looms over us only because the various secular parties (both national and regional) are hopelessly divided among themselves and against each other. Almost every state replicates the potential tragedy of UP, where forces deeply opposed to the BJP on both social and political grounds are set to divide the non-BJP vote between them in what may well turn out to be a stunning political miscalculation. Modi cannot be stopped without consolidating the anti-BJP vote, and one way of achieving this is to work for an electoral United Front of all secular parties and independents including the Congress Party. Even if intense rivalry (for example between the JD(U) and RJD) rules out an electoral alliance, informal seat-sharing could be advantageous to both, with fewer seats contested but more seats won. If there had been a United Front of this sort in Chhattisgarh, it would have won the assembly elections there.

The refusal of almost the entire Left to consider a United Front that includes Congress is reminiscent of the refusal of the German Communists to take the Nazi threat seriously while concentrating their fire on the Social Democrats in the early 1930s. The equation of Congress with the BJP and insistence on a ‘Third Front’ is reminiscent of the suicidal ‘social fascism’ theory that helped Hitler to come to power by splitting the opposition to the Nazis. It is difficult but still possible to fight against neo-liberalism under a flawed democracy, but under a fascist regime all today’s fighters – trade unionists, RTI activists, journalists, and so on – would be in jail or dead.