Friday, July 23, 2004
Who is this Republican?
- The right-wing Hindu-nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was unexpectedly thrown out of power.
- The Congress party, which is the party of the Gandhi clan, won a plurality of 220 seats over the BJP party, which held onto 189 seats.
- The Communists (there are two Indian Communist parties) did well regionally and support the Congress party in forming a government but have refused to participate in the administration.
The end of Hindu nationalist rule could bring other changes as well, such as the possibility of less culturally conservative policies in the face of the country's burgeoning AIDS crisis, and the end of efforts to introduce Hindu nationalist themes into educational curriculums.
The resentment of the B.J.P. and its efforts to peddle the "feel-good factor" was almost palpable today among a small knot of working-class men gathered to watch the results on a news ticker in New Delhi. Many expressed dismay, common among Indians nostalgic for the quasi-socialist economy of India's first 40 years, at the economic reforms with which the B.J.P. had proudly identified itself.
"Basically it is the anger of the working class," said Sawali Rai, 34, who works in a public sector bank. "Privatization, no government jobs, prices rising. On the pressure of the World Bank they are pressuring the common man." And unlike in the United States, where the most prosperous also vote the most, in India it is the poor who turn out in greatest numbers. That means that the very voters for whom India has been shining — urbanites from the middle and upper classes who benefited from globalization and reforms — are also least likely to vote. [emphasis mine]
Imagine that! The poor voting. This is going to give democracy a bad name here in the West. This election also illustrates a trend that I and others have noted--a worldwide shift to the left.
Well, if that isn't dumbfounding enough, comes this:
Sylvester Fernandez, who is contesting for the US Congress as a Republican from New Jersey, said, "Five years of India Shining left the poor biting the dust," while corporates "did not show any social responsibility or social commitment to improve the lot of the unfortunate majority of the country. That is where politics, economics and social justice always clash. The prosperous are always selfish and care two hoots for the poor and miserable. For the poor though, this is a once in five years opportunity to send a clear message to the politicians."Mr. Sylvester is co-chair of the New Jersey Republican State Committee. The Asbury Park Press wrote of him in May,
Republican Sylvester Fernandez, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Frank J. Pallone Jr. for his 6th Congressional District seat in the November election, said he wants to see fewer jobs moving overseas and more work opportunities made available for American citizens.
Preventing the outsourcing of work is a key issue to his campaign, said Fernandez, a 55-year-old Edison resident who was born in India and became a United States citizen in 1996.
What is happening to the Republican Party?