India after Modi: Populism and the Right
Author: Ajay Gudavarthy
Reviewed by: Ziya Us Salam
Available at: Bloomsbury Publishing India Pvt. Ltd., DDA Complex, LSC , Building No.4, Second Floor, Pocket C-6&7, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi 110070 India. www.amazon.in/
Refreshing candour (Apr 26, 2019, Frontline)
To many, the name of the book will bring a smile to their faces. But truth be told, Ajay Gudavarthy goes beyond sentiment to cut out the clutter. He uses the tools of a political scientist to write with refreshing candour, avoiding jargon, about the twin strategies of development and Hindutva that the Bharatiya Janata Party has used to garner public support in elections since 2014 and about the decline of the independent Left stream and the emergence of a new axis between the Left and the Dalits.
A couple of chapters stand out in this smooth-flowing narrative. Gudavarthy astutely takes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oft-quoted remark on graduates selling pakodas to make a living to talk of the politics of the ruling regime being centred around only one principle: winning elections, whatever it takes.
In the chapter “Hyper-Electoralism and Pakoda Nationalism”, Gudavarthy explains how the distinction between the government and the state has increasingly blurred since 2014. Any criticism of the government is taken to be criticism of the state, giving rise to the frequent dubbing of dissenting voices as those of anti-nationals. Questioning the elected government is akin to questioning the fundamentals of the state. Democracy itself has been reduced to the art of winning elections, irrespective of the cost or consequences.…