Hav­ing wrecked the econ­omy, BJP is creat­ing a post-truth so­ci­ety: Yechury


The Left and the BJP fought a pitched bat­tle on Delhi’s streets this week, with BJP Pres­i­dent Amit Shah con­stantly tar­get­ing the CPI(M) for “po­lit­i­cal killings” in Ker­ala and Tripura. The CPI(M) be­lieves one of main rea­sons for the es­ca­la­tion in the

BJP’s anti-Left rhetoric is the rul­ing party’s in­ten­tion to di­vert at­ten­tion from the coun­try’s de­te­ri­o­rat­ing eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion.

In an in­ter­view with Busi­nessLine, CPI(M) Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Si­taram Yechury spoke of the “mess in the econ­omy” and the dan­gers of the BJP’s civil­i­sa­tional agenda. Edited ex­cerpts:

To what do you at­tribute the BJP’s sud­den sharp­en­ing of at­tack on the Left, es­pe­cially the CPI(M)?

There are mul­ti­ple rea­sons. The first is their plans for en­try into the South. They’re tar­get­ing Ker­ala be­cause of its spe­cific de­mo­graphic. They are try­ing, very un­suc­cess­fully, to repli­cate the ‘Gu­jarat model’ there be­cause of a size­able Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion. They think they can po­larise the pop­u­la­tion on com­mu­nal lines. The sec­ond fac­tor is that they see the Left as a con­sis­tent ide­o­log­i­cal and or­gan­i­sa­tional chal­lenge to their civil­i­sa­tional agenda of turn­ing In­dia from a sec­u­lar demo­cratic repub­lic to a ‘Hindu Rash­tra’.

The third rea­son, of course, has to do with their eco­nomic phi­los­o­phy — what I’d term the ‘Ker­ala model-ver­sus-the Gu­jarat model’. In Ker­ala, the peo­ple are at the heart of pol­icy-mak­ing which is why the State has matched and even sur­passed Euro­pean coun­tries on HDI per­for­mance. This is be­cause of an eco­nomic out­look that per­ceives the ba­sic re­source, land for in­stance, as be­long­ing to those who utilise it — the peo­ple. This is in direct con­trast with the Gu­jarat model where land is cor­po­ra­tised and used for max­imi­sa­tion of profit for the in­dus­try.

The BJP Pres­i­dent’s re­cent ya­tra was aimed at pro­ject­ing Ker­ala as a bas­ket case where Hin­dus are threat­ened and in­se­cure and so on. So, you see, the pur­pose is man­i­fold. But the peo­ple are not buy­ing it, as was clear when Amit Shah had to lit­er­ally es­cape from here. That could also be due to his son’s cor­rup­tion case and not be­cause of a so-called emer­gency meet­ing called to dis­cuss the mess they have made of the econ­omy.

OWith the eco­nomic cri­sis deep­en­ing, do you see is­sues of iden­tity, ‘Love Ji­had’, triple ta­laq and Ram Mandir gain­ing more steam?

I don’t think they ever had a blue­print on how they were go­ing to han­dle the econ­omy. They are for­ever tweak­ing fig­ures to cre­ate im­pres­sions for elec­toral rea­sons. They first tweaked the GDP fig­ures to tom-tom that we have be­come the fastest-grow­ing econ­omy. It made them look good when the re­al­ity was en­tirely dif­fer­ent, and growth in every sec­tor was de­cel­er­at­ing. Agrar­ian dis­tress has sharply de­te­ri­o­rated be­cause they have not in­vested in any as­pect of agri­cul­ture and have shame­lessly be­trayed their main elec­tion prom­ise of cal­cu­lat­ing MSP at 50 per cent over and above the in­put cost. The gov­ern­ment has vir­tu­ally stopped procur­ing, has sharply cut down agri­cul­tural loans, and in­vest­ments in MNREGA have come down by half. The net re­sult is that ru­ral de­mand, which sta­bilised the Indian econ­omy dur­ing the worst years of the world eco­nomic cri­sis, has shrunk.

As re­gards in­dus­try, their whole fo­cus is on mak­ing cap­i­tal read­ily avail­able. The com­pletely mis­placed logic is that the greater ac­cess the in­dus­tri­al­ist has to cap­i­tal, the greater will be the in­vest­ment, and hence greater growth and em­ploy­ment. So they have been ex­tremely prof­li­gate in dis­burs­ing loans to the in­dus­tri­al­ists, and have ended up with the worst re­cov­ery of NPAs. NPA growth has been the high­est un­der this gov­ern­ment, ₹11.5 lakh crore is the out­stand­ing amount.

In­vest­ment per se can­not lead to growth and em­ploy­ment. What­ever pro­duced has to be con­sumed. It’s el­e­men­tary. For the prod­uct to be sold, you need a do­mes­tic mar­ket, and that mar­ket is shrink­ing. We are pay­ing a very heavy price for this. Our in­dus­trial side is show­ing 96 lakh job losses in the last one year.

Do you think this is hap­pen­ing be­cause they lack a vi­sion or are sug­gest­ing there is a de­sign?

There is a rea­son for fol­low­ing this faulty eco­nomic di­rec­tion. If you want an in­su­lar polity in In­dia — which is, push­ing the RSS agenda — you will re­quire in­ter­na­tional sup­port. All the Prime Min­is­ter’s vis­its are for elic­it­ing global sup­port for what they do do­mes­ti­cally. It also means serv­ing the in­ter­ests of for­eign cap­i­tal. So the eco­nomic di­rec­tion was to open up the Indian econ­omy to for­eign cap­i­tal in all ar­eas, in­clud­ing de­fence pro­duc­tion, rail­ways, air­lines, fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions…They are ap­peas­ing in­ter­na­tional fi­nance for gar­ner­ing sup­port for their do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal agenda.

But surely, there is re­sis­tance to this strat­egy.

The grow­ing dis­con­tent in the form of kisan ag­i­ta­tions and trade union protests — even from the [BJP-backed] BMS — is be­ing chan­nelised into po­lit­i­cal ex­pres­sion. That would mean that this gov­ern­ment is in se­ri­ous trou­ble. This can only be coun­tered by sharp­en­ing com­mu­nal po­lar­i­sa­tion and thereby de­flect­ing at­ten­tion from real is­sues. Gau­rak­sha sami­tis, Romeo squads, ‘Love Ji­had’, Ram Mandir…All these fake is­sues are trumped up to shift at­ten­tion away from the han­dling of econ­omy and to keep the peo­ple and the Op­po­si­tion di­vided.

An­other dan­ger­ous part of their strat­egy is to un­der­mine all demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions by us­ing a com­pli­ant me­dia to con­stantly car­i­ca­turise them. I have never ever seen the Prime Min­is­ter an­swer­ing the ques­tions in Par­lia­ment. They do not al­low any­thing other than the Modi-Shah nar­ra­tive in me­dia. The tech­nique is that you dec­i­mate and delig­itimise the Op­po­si­tion so that they stop op­pos­ing you or join you, like what hap­pened with Ni­tish Kumar.

They are creat­ing a post­truth so­ci­ety that doesn’t go by ground re­al­i­ties.

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