A glaring example of the big gap between media opinion polls and the public is the recent Uttar Pradesh regional election result in India and a sweeping victory for the Prime Minister’s BJP in what has been a stronghold of other parties with Akilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party predicted as leading the battle. It is quite revealing about the loss of credibility of the mainstream media, mainly the written press in English and private TV channels which have been openly campaigning for Opposition and leftist parties. It looks like an anti-Establishment wave gaining ground in a number of countries. And the media is part of the Establishment which basks in wishful thinking and is estranged from the public on which it tries to impose its views. So-called independent media are downright biased and partial in their reporting of events, facts and public response.
A common feature of so-called leftist secular press in India and their counterparts in the West is their constant need to divide the country into several categories which they pamper as victims of a majority group, and their inability to see the public as a united body. Ironically, they accuse the other side of being divisive, intolerant and nationalist. In Europe and the US, the defence of Marxist vision of class struggle is perceived as being irrelevant today. It has been replaced by the defence of migrant ethnic groups as victims in the discourse of leftist intellectuals and of the mainstream press. In so doing, they have managed to muzzle free speech by labelling anyone who disagrees with them as racists and fascists. Their denial of the dangerous extremist ideology originating from the Middle-East to which a big chunk of their migrant stocks have started adhering for decades, has paved the way for such obscurantism, radicalism and anti-West mindset to expand and thrive unhindered in Europe and the US.
Sabka saath sabka vikas (progress for all in unity) since May 2014: this approach brought a landslide victory to the ruling BJP-led NDA government in Uttar Pradesh, one of the biggest states in India. Minority appeasement and vote bank failed to tilt vote in favour of the main Opposition parties, a clear sign that the bogey of Hinduvta hegemony no longer works in the north. Development, prosperity, progressive laws and jobs are a rational course which voters have chosen to follow. Shia Muslims who see their brethren regularly slaughtered in many countries, except in India, voted massively for BJP as well as women who want equality in the law regarding divorce applied to them. Minority kingmaker role was discarded as voters ceased to distance themselves from mainstream society and joined the bandwagon of progress promised by the ruling party.
The press failed to grasp the public perception of the Union government as being pro-poor and genuinely anti-corruption. Any recent visitor to India testifies to common people’s support of the bold demonetization measure taken by the Indian Prime Minister. But the press stubbornly featured it as a big fiasco in interviews of high-profile public figures including Pankaj Misra who, despite all his erudition, displays deep-rooted anti-BJP bias when it comes to analyzing the ruling party’s policies. The so-called leftist secular media is full of journalists with the likes of Barkha Dutt on NDTV, who have a field day slinging arrows at the Centre and running down whatever policy is adopted by the right-wing politicians viewed as Hindu patriots. A liberty which minorities would have been jailed for in some overtly bigoted countries.
Unsurprisingly, the left-leaning French newspaper Le Monde published the election results with the interpretation given by their Indian counterparts in the press, harping on ethnicity and majoritarian domination. The biased view published in Le Monde is then peddled to the French-written press in other countries without proper analysis. The same applies to UK and US mainstream press which have lived on a denial mode on matters relating to cultural clashes between host western countries and their migrant stocks.
And yet, class struggle is still relevant in some countries like India where social barriers and economic deprivation have relegated segments of society to economic ghettoes. Genuine leftist journalists and intellectuals have plenty of material to write about and to develop instead of focusing on ethnic politics, earning popularity and money from imagined danger and division, and presenting a pathetic version of secularism which boils down to running down a society’s predominant ethnic group, culture and religion.
The next step for the Indian government is to target Bengal and rid it of the Communist Party which has tried to alter the demographic balance for decades by playing ethnic politics aimed at encouraging the settlement of minorities for vote banks in times of elections. Kerala should be next on the list.
Nation-building has been and still is a long process in such a diverse society, and democracy should not be perceived as a weakness which anti-India elements within and outside India may abuse at will to undermine central leadership in a geopolitics context which requires strong leadership especially when undemocratic hostile powers are being strengthened by the support of their public without the constant division, bickering and lack of solidarity which plague democracies. A divided country is an easy target for enemies.
Those who are disgruntled with election results in Uttar Pradesh have to start introspection and drop the propaganda of Hindu rashtra to spread unjustified distrust and fear. Otherwise, they are likely to spend sleepless nights since the nomination of Yogi Adityanath as Chief Minister of UP, a BJP hardliner who does not mince his words on sensitive matters concerning society and the future of the country. The yogi is a hard worker, committed patriot and an outspoken defender of Hindu culture. Tough administration has already been announced in matters relating to ecology. Measures for economic development are set to follow. Udta Pradesh is bound to fly high.
By the way, the hypothetic so-called threat to secularism that a yogi is supposed to pose brushes aside the active role played by several yogis in the India against Corruption movement triggered a few years ago. Secular voices seem to have no issue with other countries calling themselves republics in the name of their predominant religion. India is the only country in the world which is a product of Hindu civilization and religion while other religions have loads of countries identifying with them. And yet, the biased hypocritical voices in India and abroad find only Hindu-dominated politics as an anomaly! Bright minds among leftist media persons and intelligentsia had better shed the mantle of fake minority victimhood and focus their energy on investigative journalism and fairness in their interpretation of politics, economy and social development if they wish to preserve some degree of credibility with the public.