, 18 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
If the #ExitPolls are giving 300+ to NDA, I believe the numbers will be much higher - probably in the range of 330-350 seats, with the BJP crossing its 2014 tally. Even if they turn out to be wrong and BJP gets just 200 seats, it will still be a remarkable feat for PM Modi. 1/n
He will have returned to power, despite a disastrous economic performance. Under him, all the traditional measures of an economy have done badly - employment, manufacturing growth, credit offtake, capital formation, profit growth, etc. There's also been visible farm distress 2/n
Then, why are India's poor still voting for him? It is because, the traditional gauges of economic performance have very little meaning in the life of a poor person. An enabling economic environment, which lets everyone compete equally is of no use to them. 3/n
India's poor are overwhelmingly OBC, SC, ST or Muslim. There are innumerable studies which show they face social discrimination when it comes to getting jobs or accessing resources. So, they want direct access points to the govt, which will give them a share of resources 4/n
The Modi govt has provided several such access points to the poor, through which they can connect with the government. Government schemes have been (rightly) targeted at dalits (e.g. Ujjwala), small & marginal farmers (PM Kisan), jan dhan (rural poor). 5/n
Many of these schemes have failed - Jan dhan with very little money in accounts, Mudra with extremely small loans, Ujjwala without refills, Swachh Bharat without water. But, they have still provided new 'access points' to the poor, which they can hope to use in the future. 6/n
While, the urban middle class wants minimum government, the poor want MAXIMUM government. While urban middle-classes grumble about Aadhar and the lack of privacy, the poor are desperate to get such documents that enumerate them as citizens with a right to concessions. 7/n
Much of this has been mediated through power-structures that inhere already existing collectives. The most common of these is the sub-caste. Twenty years of political representation has made Jatavs, Yadavs and similar sub-castes politically dominant. Others haven't benefitted 8/n
The caste-based identity politics of the 90s and the '00s is no longer a unifying umbrella for non-dominant OBCs and SCs (Kushwaha, Lodhi, Khatik, Pasi, Dhobi, Kori, Valmiki, Nishad, Mushahar etc). The BJP has successfully breached that politically and through govt schemes 9/n
These non-dominant OBC/SC have found new 'sanskritised' political identities. This is what has drawn them to the BJP's Hindutva/Nationalism rhetoric. It is no surprise that reporters find a lot of support for strident nationalism amongst MBCs and non-dominant dalits. 10/n
This fertile ground has been occupied through the liberal use of news media, social media, Hindutva iconography, popular mythmaking and fake history. WhatsApp and cheap data has accelerated the process of identity creation amongst MBCs and non-dominant dalits. 11/n
The legitimate question will be - why did the BJP lose in the Hindi belt last winter, if it has managed to weave together such an unbeatable social coalition? That is because the Modi govt went slow on extending the govt's reach amongst the poor over the past two years. 12/n
It did try to rectify it by raising MSP, but that came too late for the assembly polls. After losing three state governments, the BJP opened up the coffers - PM Kisan is the most obvious example. Rising food inflation shows that farmers are now getting better prices 13/n
The reasons for disillusionment with the Modi govt have been partially removed. They are still there, and we might see that playing out on the 23rd of May. But, there's no doubt that it has reduced enough for the poor voter to want to give Modi another chance. 14/n
I believe that if the Exit Polls are right, we are in for a long period of a new kind of Hindutva/nationalist politics and a hard right-wing government, which operates through a new 'social engineering' through a new caste-coalition. 15/n
The only thing that could endanger this coalition is Corporate India, which makes its money, largely within the domain of civil society. Right now, the captains of industry are firmly behind Modi. If profit margins keep getting squeezed, they will gradually turn impatient. 16/n
If that happens, money will start flowing towards the opposition, media will start talking about the economy, TV debates will start question the government, & public discourse will be manufactured in a different direction. 17/n
Team Modi-Shah will have to find that elusive balance - between protecting corporate interests and continuing to provide 'access points' to the poor. If it fails to do it, we will see protests on the street within the next 2 years, just as UPA-2 faced from 2011 onwards. 18/18
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