Readers have probably heard that Sonia Gandhi will not be the Prime Minister of India. In some ways this is a good thing: she was going to be the leader of India because of her last name. But she is being replaced by Manmohan Singh, the man most associated with neoliberalism in India (again it is worth remembering that Sonia Gandhi got her last name by marriage to Rajiv Gandhi, and the neoliberal opening of India begun under Rajiv Gandhi). Less important,, it would have been kind of nice that India could have a Prime Minister who was born in another country and have it be no big deal.
But of course, the BJP, now in opposition, made it a big deal. Arundhati Roy, in an interview with Amy Goodman, describes what happened:
“What has happened is that as soon as the election results were announced, the BJP, the hard-right wing members of the BJP and its goon squads started saying we’ll shave our heads. We’ll eat green gram and make a revolution in this country against this foreign woman on the one hand, and on the other hand, equally hard core corporate groups were acting — they were out on the streets. They were yelling like fundamentalists would, and all of these corporate television channels had split screens where on the one hand, you saw what is happening in Sonia Gandhi’s house and on the other half, you just had what the stockbrokers are saying. And the whole of the one billion people who had voted had just been forgotten. They had been given their photo opportunity, their journeys on elephant back and camel and whatever it was to the election booth. Now they were just forgotten. The only comments you get are what the industrialists think… and what the centrists think about Sonia Gandhi. It is an absolutely absurd kind of blackmail by fascists on the one hand and corporate fascists on the other.”
The day after the election, Sudhanva Deshpande published a ZNet Commentary analyzing the election results, the growth of the left, and the fall of the BJP. To Deshpande, it is the Indian left, of which he is a part, that is the key: If “the Left fails to grow, the historic verdict of this election will become a mere hiccup in the rise of Indian fascism.”
I think that is right. I was very happy to see the BJP gone. But the real battle for India is only just starting…