The victory of Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing Hindu nationalist party in India has created both frustration and disappointment for those who are trying to build resistance in South Asia.
The BJP represents the interests of the most corrupt big corporations and political elite. The BJP leaders are accused of corruption and some are even accused of being directly or indirectly involved in mass murder. Current leader and likely new prime minister, Modi, stands accused of involvement in the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, the state he has led.
Tamil Solidarity does not hesitate to take a clear position on this outcome. We stand together with all those who are struggling against the murderous politicians and regimes, and against exploitation and repression.
Modi represents the exploitive corporate interests which are directly opposed to those who are struggling for their rights and better living conditions. We condemn those who attempt to create any illusions in the BJP. We urge all those on the side of struggle to resist the Modi government.
We reject the TNA’s continuous attempts to create illusions in Modi. We are horrified that some in the TNA are trying to use ‘Hindu identity’ to appeal to the Indian state. This strategy is dangerous and will help the very forces that we are fighting against. In order to deliver their promise to big businesses, the Modi government will push through its neoliberal agenda – that means the rapid privatisation of the banking and other sectors.
And at the same time they will allow the looting by international investors to speed up – particularly in the retail sector. This of course will not go unchallenged as tens of thousands of working people in India know they will pay the price for it. Alongside this misery for millions Modi will deploy the strategy of fuelling race and ethnic division in an attempt to counter and undermine opposition. We have seen similar tactics employed in Gujarat and are likely to see it in UP and many other states.
Securing big business’s interests will be the key aspect of Modi’s policies for South Asia. For this end the suppression of minority groups will be tolerated by the Indian government. The Tamil-speaking Muslim population in Sri Lanka is already under attack by extreme groups who operate under the guidelines of Defence Secretary Gotabaya. The brutal Sri Lankan regime will continue to rely on Sinhala Buddhist chauvinist forces to control and suppress any opposition that develops. As working, poor and oppressed people, we must come together to oppose this divide and rule tactics in both Sri Lanka and in India.
A number of simplified arguments are put forward in defence of Modi. There are claims that the ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ – or that ‘winning the Indian state’s support for Tamils is a pre-condition for gaining any rights for them in Sri Lanka,’ etc. But decades of struggles, not just in Eelam but across South Asia, had proved that these arguments were utterly, utterly false.
Our aim should be to link up with the fighting forces, from Tamil Nadu to Kashmir, not to create illusions that there will be an Indian state-led solution. Never in the history of India has the Indian state acted in the interests of the masses of India or the region. Eelam Tamils’ interests have never been a priority.
What will a Modi-led Indian government’s approach be to the Sri Lanka economy? It would be the height of folly – not to mention dangerous – to hold out any hopes that Modi will intervene on the side of the working and poor masses. If an economic gain for Tata and other super-rich big business exploiters is available the murderous Modi won’t hesitate to collaborate with the murderous Rajapaksa family.
We must warn that that the connection between Tamil Nadu Tamils and Eelam Tamils will be exploited by both the Sri Lankan and Indian governments to their and big business’s ends. The Chinese interest in Sri Lanka will be contested – in which all sort of divisions and manoeuvring will take place. But expecting that we can ‘use’ the competition between regional powers, supposedly to ‘our advantage’ will be a false strategy that will confuse and demobilise the struggling forces.
We must learn from the experience of the Indian intervention in 1987. The Indian military intervened, not to protect Tamils as it claimed, but to secure economic advantage as it was quickly revealed. The brutal war that resulted claimed many lives. Tamils have experienced the vicious nature of the Indian military and the hypocrisy of the Indian state. There is no need to repeat this.
Build a mass movement – against Modi, against corruption, and against mass exploitation
The Indian election has also revealed the mounting anger that is simmering under the surface in the sub-continent. Of course there are number of young people voted for the BJP in the hope against hope that there will be job creation and economic improvement for them. But there is a significant number who took a decisive step to reject all the establishment political organisations. The vote for the Common Man Party, the AAP, a new party born out of anti-corruption movement was significant. But the AAP leadership has so far not spelled out its plans for how it is planning to effect the change it says is needed.
Tamil Solidarity has fully supported the marvellous struggle of the Koodankulam people and nearby villages against the nuclear plant. Tamil Solidarity activists helped to organise protests in Chennai, Banglore, London and many place in solidarity with this struggle. Udhayakumar, an AAP candidate, is a respected leader of this struggle, and an ally of Tamil Solidarity. He has always supported the national rights of the Eelam Tamils. Tamil Solidarity believes that he will continue to be a powerful voice.
But it is vital that a strategy is now developed to deliver on the demands that the AAP promised. Leaders such as Udhayakumar know that every vote cast for them is a demand on them to deliver on their election promises. But the state or central government will do everything to stop these demands being realised. This is another reason why we must turn towards building a mass struggle. Inaction will demoralise all those who voted for the AAP and could contribute to an anti-party mood in India and the region.
The Indian working masses, peasants and poor have been through the hell of betrayal by their traditional parties. They have witnessed the mammoth corruption of the establishment parties over the decades. The AAP must take measures to prove it will not add to this history. Tamil Solidarity urges serious activists to urgently call a series of state meetings that can discuss, debate and democratically determine a strategy to engage all those who campaigned for, supported and voted for what they saw as a new party for the masses. In our view that must be linked to a strategy for starting to build mass resistance in the trade unions and the communities to what is to come.
Groups or committees in villages and towns could be established to deliver on this programme and build mass opposition. Left parties, such as the CPI (M) and CPI, although their leaders have damaged their reputation in the past by not building fighting opposition to the Congress-led neoliberal offensive, could change their tactics too. An appeal should be made to all serious activists – in the existing parties, in the unions, in the community and resistance campaigns – to look at how mass resistance can be prepared.
The habit of calling ‘ceremonial’ strikes must end. Instead the enormous potential power of the working class, which strikes can most effectively show, must be mobilised properly. An all-India 24-hour strike would make a good start in the building up and convening of the movement that will be necessary to defeat the programme of Modi. Eelam Tamils and workers across the region should link up their struggle with this movement.