2017: The year in which nuclear weapons could be banned?

Tariq Rauf is the Director of the SIPRI Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme.

Tariq Rauf

At the end of 2016, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted by a large majority (Resolution 71/258 of 23 December 2016) to convene in 2017 a UN conference to negotiate a ‘legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination’. The result of the vote was 113 in favour, 35 against and 13 abstentions. Four of the five nuclear weapon states—France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States—voted against, along with the majority of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) states plus Australia, Israel, Japan and South Korea, all of which rely on US nuclear guarantees. Interestingly, North Korea voted in favour. Those abstaining included China (the only nuclear weapon state that did not vote against), India, the Netherlands, Pakistan and Switzerland.

An organizational meeting was held at the UN in New York on 16 February 2017, attended by more than 100 states, to plan for this conference. Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica was selected as the president of the conference, which will be convened on 27–31 March and 15 June–7 July in accordance with Resolution 71/258. The meeting also agreed on the conference agenda and rules of procedure. The rules will be those of the UN General Assembly, which require a two-thirds majority for matters of substance and a simple majority for procedural matters, hence no state(s) will be able to block decisions on outlawing nuclear weapons.

world-disarmamentThis push to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons by a large majority of non-nuclear weapon states has opened up stark differences not only with states possessing nuclear weapons, but also within the ranks of the non-nuclear weapon states. States in nuclear-armed alliances such as NATO and the USA’s Pacific allies, plus Russia, vehemently oppose any negotiations on a multilateral treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, while declaring support for achieving a world without nuclear weapons through an undefined ‘step-by-step’ or ‘phased’ approach with no defined timeline.

Three previous international conferences (Oslo 2013, Nayarit 2014 and Vienna 2015) drew global attention to the deep concern over the pervasive threat to humanity posed by the existence of nuclear weapons and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any detonation of a nuclear explosive. Given these risks, the majority of non-nuclear weapon states stressed the need for urgent action by all states towards achieving a world without nuclear weapons and noted that progress to date towards nuclear disarmament had been very slow. These states also highlighted that the 1968 Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) had obligated nuclear weapon states to disarm, but nearly 50 years after the NPT entered into force, this obligation has not been met and there are no signs of it being met.

The majority of non-nuclear weapon states also noted that there was a legal gap regarding the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, as there was no nuclear disarmament treaty along the lines of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention that respectively prohibited biological and chemical weapons and mandated their total elimination. Accordingly, these states proposed four distinct approaches for the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons: (a) a comprehensive nuclear weapon convention; (b) a nuclear weapon ban treaty; (c) a framework agreement; and (d) a progressive approach based upon ‘building blocks’ of legal and non-legal measures as well as confidence-building measures.

Some NATO states responded that there was no such legal gap and that the NPT provided an essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. They stressed that the international security environment, current geopolitical situation and role of nuclear weapons in existing security doctrines should be taken into account in the pursuit of any effective measures for nuclear disarmament, and as such, a nuclear weapon ban treaty was not in their national security interests. These states also maintained that a nuclear weapon ban treaty would create confusion regarding the implementation of the NPT and complicate fulfilment of the NPT’s nuclear disarmament obligations.

In fact, a nuclear weapon ban treaty would not affect the NPT. Those states that are parties to the NPT would still be bound by it and obligated to its full implementation. A nuclear ban treaty could go beyond the NPT and prohibit possession of nuclear weapons and deployment of nuclear weapons (including in foreign states, as for example in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey which host US nuclear weapons under NATO auspices). Just as the 1963 Partial Test-Ban Treaty banning nuclear test explosions in the atmosphere, outer space and under water does not conflict with the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty banning all nuclear test explosions, a nuclear weapon ban treaty would not be in conflict with the NPT.

All the signs are that the negotiations in March and June–July will be fraught with deeply held differences among the participating non-nuclear weapon states. There are fears that those NATO and allied non-nuclear weapon states which might participate will run interference and complicate the discussions on behalf of the nuclear weapon states. Another fault line could be between those non-nuclear weapon states that want a quick, short norm establishing a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons and those that might prefer a more detailed treaty with provisions on verification.

Civil society participation at the UN conference in March and June–July could be a prominent feature for the first time in multilateral negotiations on a nuclear weapon treaty. However, some states have already raised concerns at the organizational meeting in February regarding the participation of civil society and may attempt to curtail its influence or involvement.

Whether 2017 will be the year that finally sees nuclear weapons being banned or whether the effort to achieve this objective is stymied remains to be seen.


Shailendra – the lyricist and songwriter extraordinaire

Rupen Ghosh is a Delhi-based retired government officer with a keen interest in arts and literature.

Rupen Ghosh

The fifties and the sixties saw the finest hour of Urdu poetry with Sahir, Majrooh, Kaifi, Shakeel Badayuni, Rajinder Krishan, taking the film music to its zenith. Most of them came from the IPTA stable and had pronounced progressive leaning, which was reflected in their poetry of increasing disillusionment with the project of the nation state, of decadence creeping in, but also holding a note of optimism, and hoping all the while of India breaking free of its feudal shackles to emerge as a nation of reckoning, from its periodic crises. shailendra-with-nehru-ji

Hindi poetry was somehow missing, and the gap was so admirably filled by the great Shailendra, followed later by Kavi Pradeep and Neeraj. He was clearly the one of the greatest Hindi lyricists, songwriters and poets that the world of Hindi cinema had seen. His poetry, true to the local roots, had profundity as well as simplicity, creativity as well as sensitivity. Unlike some of his other IPTA fellow-poets and writers, his lyrics and songs didn’t in any way sermonise or propagate any ideology. They were just simple truths articulated without any pretensions, whatsoever.

shailendra-759Shailendra drew from the long tradition of folk poets that medieval India had like Kabir, Meera, Amir Khusro, as a biographer of Sahir once said so famously. Shailendra wrote for Raj Kapoor portraying him as the loveable tramp from the lower section of the society and who struggled against the viciously greedy big, bad world of lucre and greed. He became inseparable from Raj Kapoor all through the ‘50s and ‘60s with films like Awaara, Shri 420, Anari. It is an irony that Kapoor let him down so badly by interminably delaying the making of Teesri Kasam, a Phanishwar Renu classic, which eventually destroyed him financially, taking a toll on his health, more of when someone who had contributed so much to the making of Raj Kapoor, as the voice of the underprivileged and that of a trifle guileless and naïve man, who didn’t understand the machinations and intrigues of the corrupting influences of the world.

Shailendraji’s collaboration with SD Burman in Bandini, Anuradha and Sujata, and with the inimitable Salil Da in Madhumati led to some great musical epiphany. Simplicity was his forte to convey some of the deepest thoughts, so also the sincerity of expressions, that had a profound impact on the sensitive minds. His countless songs with great human values, timeless and eternal as they are, will linger in our collective memory for a very, very long time. Here, this song from the film Bandini, a period when we were in the last days of the British oppression, a story of a woman bound by the rigid social customs of the day, and also by love.

It’s a very touching portrayal of India of 1920’s and 1930’s, of freedom movement at its height and India trying to emerge as a modern nation, not tied to its past. It’s also a timely reminder to us not to judge events from the past, from today’s perspective, with the benefit of hindsight, and view events and happenings from an earlier period, from the standpoint and perspective of moral, cultural and social values of that era alone.

Those were different times, after all, and watching a film like this brings home a timely and welcome reminder that how far we have travelled in trying to bring a sense of equity and justice to all those who were tethered to a past, painful and seemingly hopeless to so many.

A note on the Dutch elections

Kevin Ovenden is the author of Syriza Inside the Labyrinth and a longstanding socialist activist and writer in Britain. He has closely followed Greek politics, society and culture for over twenty-five years. He was for many years a member of the Socialist Workers Party in Britain and then a leading figure in the Respect Party. He writes particularly on racism, the politics of the Middle East and the crisis of the Eurozone for a range of outlets. He is a national officer of both the Stop the War Coalition and of Unite Against Fascism. He lives in east London, but spends time in Greece and in the Middle East. Kevin was aboard the Mavi Marmara when Israeli commandos boarded it five years ago killing 10 Turkish aid workers. He led five blockade-busting aid convoys to Gaza and is on the executive committee of the International Campaign to Return to Palestine. Contact Kevin: e-mail me at: kevin.ovenden[at]gmail.com. On facebook here. On Twitter: @kevin_ovenden

Kevin Ovenden

We do face a threat from the far right. But at least some of the European radical left has been aware of that for some time, and independently from the sudden – and capricious – attention paid to the problem by liberal centrists.

It is worth looking at the electoral cycles in the Netherlands back to 2002. It is not so very long ago.

It was at that election 15 years ago that the anti-Muslim right wing list of Pim Fortuyn (who had been assassinated) took 17 percent of the vote.

Part of that came via a severe collapse of the Labour Party, whose vote halved to 15 percent. It is important to recall that at the time most of the international response to Fortuyn normalised him as some “Dutch liberal” reaction to the threat of “militant Islam”.

That was thanks to the ideology of and political justification for the “war on terror”.

In 2006, the successor to Fortuyn, Geert Wilders took 5.9 percent.

In 2010 he won 15.4 percent.

In 2012, 10.1 percent.

And this year, 2017: 13.1 percent.

Turnouts have fluctuated a little, and this year’s was high.

So the far right has been able to consolidate a presence. It is now second placed. But that is with a lower share of the vote than it got in 2010. (Though we should note that the more fascistic Forum for Democracy entered parliament this year with two MPs and 1.8 percent of the vote.)

The reason why it can be second placed with the support of less than one in seven Dutch voters is the growing fragmentation of the Dutch party political system.

That has accumulated over time. Each of the three historic main poles of the Dutch political system – the right wing conservative CDA, the social democratic PvdA, and the liberal-conservative VVD – has seen their support rise and fall in the years of EU expansion followed by the long crisis beginning in 2007-8.

But the overall trajectory is downwards.

So the CDA, for example, gained votes this year and took 12.5 percent, giving it 19 MPs.

But at the beginning of this political sequence in 2002 it was the largest party with 27.9 percent.

dutchThe PvdA Labour Party was able to hold together its vote and even grow slightly in the crisis years. But then it entered coalition with the VVD and has slumped from 24.8 percent to 5.7 percent. It is now the seventh party in the industrial port city of Rotterdam.

The VVD grew to 26.6 percent in 2012 and fell to 21.3 percent this week, in an election which saw advances for the social-liberal D66 and the GreenLeft.

A lot more has to be considered in seriously analysing where things are going: from the ideological spectrum of where Dutch voters place themselves to the hard evidence of where voters switched from and to. And there is room for varying interpretations of the evidence.

But some things do stand out, I believe, for the left.

1) The impression given by the liberal centre is that there is, in what they call “the era of Trump and Brexit”, a popular shift to the hard right. The implication, and they are often explicit about it, is that the the answer is a re-formed centre which both defends the economic regime and also adapts to “the identity issues” which the far right play on.

2) But the Dutch story is not one of the secular growth of the far right at the polls. It is rather one of the fragmentation of the historic governmental parties.

3) The political and ideological resources which the far right thrives on were not introduced by them. They do not sail under their own steam. They have depended upon the turn to scapegoating, above all Islamophobia, which has come from the centre.

4) The indisputable standout of the Dutch election on Wednesday was the collapse of the social democratic Labour Party.

5) That is a crisis for the governing centre of the Dutch system. The prime minister of a rival party is grieving over the fall of his coalition partner. It is not because he cannot form another coalition. He can. It is because, as elsewhere in northern Europe, Dutch social democracy has played a role in capitalist stability over the years, outsized compared with its overall national share of social support.

6) The fall of the Dutch Labour Party is also an issue for the left – precisely because it is considered on the left of the political spectrum. The fact that its voters have gone in a number of directions – some to the left (to the GreenLeft), but others to one of the centrist formations – can lead to thinking that there is a “shift to the right”.

7) It remains to be seen whether Dutch voters as a whole or on average have adopted more right wing positions. Determining that depends on detailed evidence and careful analysis. And an average can mask a polarisation, with some moving left and others right.

8) The elephant in the room is the radical left. Why has it not been able to advance? The Dutch Socialist Party remains on 9+ percent. But in 2006, following the campaign against the EU constitution, it was on 16.6 percent.

When we start to look at that question we are led in a different direction from trying to discern apparently objective ebbs and flows, or swings, among the aggregated body of people known as the Dutch electorate.

We have to look at the politics of the radical left and at our experiences over this same 15 year cycle, beginning with Genoa and 15 February 2003 and leading to the struggles we are involved in today.

We have to look at the strategies pursued – from Rifondazione in Italy to the (better) path of Syriza in Greece. And we need to revisit the critical debates about them.

The serious forces of the far right do this. They consolidate and build. That is the primary reason why they are in the position they hold now but with not that much more support than they mustered previously.

The historic governmental party with a base inside the organised working class in the Netherlands has just collapsed at the polls.

A radical left does exist in the country. The critical investigation as to why it did not advance does not lie with imputing objective trends.

It lies with examining the political weaknesses of the left.

The complete statement : Foreign language Oscar nominees blame ‘leading politicians’ for inciting fear and bigotry across the world

The six directors in the running for this year’s foreign language Oscar have issued a joint statement blaming “leading politicians” for the fear they feel is creating “divisive walls”.

These filmmakers have condemned “the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the US and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians”.

The statement is signed by Asghar Farhadi, the director of Iran’s The Salesman, Martin Zandvliet, director of Denmark’s Land of Mine, Hannes Holm, director of Sweden’s A Man Called Ove, Maren Ade, director of Germany’s Toni Erdmann and Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, joint directors of Australia’s Tanna.

On behalf of all nominees, we would like to express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians.

The fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on – not only as artists but as humans: the diversity of cultures, the chance to be enriched by something seemingly “foreign” and the belief that human encounters can change us for the better. These divisive walls prevent people from experiencing something simple but fundamental: from discovering that we are all not so different.

So we’ve asked ourselves: What can cinema do? Although we don`t want to overestimate the power of movies, we do believe that no other medium can offer such deep insight into other people’s circumstances and transform feelings of unfamiliarity into curiosity, empathy and compassion – even for those we have been told are our enemies.

Regardless of who wins the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday, we refuse to think in terms of borders. We believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best color. We want this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.

Human rights are not something you have to apply for. They simply exist – for everybody. For this reason, we dedicate this award to all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity – values whose protection is now more important than ever. By dedicating the Oscar to them, we wish to express to them our deep respect and solidarity.


Ved Prakash Sharma and the ‘pulp’

Awanish Kumar is a social science researcher.

Awanish Kumar

Ved Prakash Sharma, one of the towering figures of popular Hindi novel, is no more. Sharma had written more than 176 novels and most of his novels sold more than half a million copies. His most famous title was Vardiwala Gunda, published in 1993.

Sharma considered himself as the inheritor of the tradition of popular detective novels started by Devki Nandan Khatri, Ibn-e- Safi, and Ved Prakash Kamboj. He also wrote the script and dialogues for a number of Bombay films such as Sabse Bada Khiladi and International Khiladi. Lately, he was associated with Balaji Telefilms.ved_prakash_sharma

There are multiple ways of understanding what Sharma and the entire Meerut model represented. First, as senior journalist Mrinal Pande once pointed out: the revenue model of the Meerut publishing was quite simple. The novels had catchy titles and typically sold for 40 rupees out of which the publisher made a profit of 18 rupees and the writer got 5 rupees of royalty. This was the western airport model that got translated into the bus stands and railway stations of small town India.

Secondly, it is important to understand that Hindi literature, unlike the literature produced in other languages, has historically been confined to university departments. This is a direct fallout of the nature of the language itself and its relationship with the people it claims to represent. Hindi, that we know as a spoken language, is limited in geography to Delhi and western UP. Hindi does not represent a Hindi culture. Hindi seeks to represent, for instance in the context of Bihar, a Hindi-Urdu-Bhojpuri-Maithili-Bajjika-Magahi-Khortha-Angika culture.

Even today, a typical book stall in small town north India would sell Premchand and Surendra Mohan Pathak with of course, some titles of Sharat Chandra and Manto. The Hindi belt exists in twin extremes- there is a Hindi high culture represented by what is known as Hindi literature and there is Hindi pulp. In a largely semi-literate context, Meerut publishers filled the gap with their embrace of the popular/filmy/Bazaar language.

Thirdly, even when Nayi Kahani/Kavita sought to speak to the emerging middle classes in towns across north and west India, it was limited in its appeal. The turmoil and conflict of an average character in Nayi Kahani was distant and, in fact, alienating to a social class in transition.vardi-wala-gunda1

Lastly, as Mrinal Pande has highlighted, the demand for the so-called “Hindi pulp fiction” came from the upwardly mobile middle classes who had recently migrated from villages to small towns. Most of these families came from upper and middle caste groups and conservative backgrounds. The Hindi pulp supplied to them a sense of release and connect with the outside world.

The Hindi pulp rarely disrupted the norms and taboos held dearly by these caste and class groups (as is true of Bombay cinema). Nevertheless, with its deadly mix of crime, suspense, mystery and sex, the Hindu pulp appealed to the young and the old, the man and the woman in the house, all of them tied to the conservative social milieu that prohibited any display or expression of dissent.

I am reminded of an interview he gave to The Hindu two years ago, where he says, “Quite frankly, now I don’t have records of my readership, but unfortunately, whatever I write has been called by the high-brow literary bodies “pulp” fiction in English or “lugdi sahitya” (lugdi being Hindi for rough, referring to the paper it gets printed on), but that doesn’t affect me.”

क्या इज़रायल को ट्रंप का अंध-समर्थन अस्थिरता को बढ़ावा देगा?

प्रकाश के रे बरगद के संपादक हैं.

अमेरिकी राष्ट्रपति के चुनाव के दौरान डोनाल्ड ट्रंप और हिलेरी क्लिंटन में इस बात की होड़ लगी थी कि कौन इज़रायल का सबसे बड़ा पैरोकार है. इसका तात्कालिक कारण कट्टर अमेरिकी-यहूदियों का वोट और चंदा था, पर इसके दीर्घकालिक कारण अमेरिका का स्थायी इजरायल प्रेम है जो अरब के देशों पर दबाव की राजनीति का एक हथियार भी है.

ट्रंप और नेतन्याहू (फोटोः ट्रंप के फेसबुक पेज से)

बहरहाल, बुधवार को राष्ट्रपति ट्रंप और प्रधानमंत्री नेतन्याहू की बीच बातचीत से यह बात स्पष्ट हो गयी कि ट्रंप को अलग फिलिस्तीनी राज्य से परहेज है, उन्हें वेस्ट बैंक में जबरन बनायी जा रही कॉलोनियों से कोई परेशानी नहीं है तथा वे अमेरिकी दूतावास को तेलअवीव से जेरूसलेम स्थानांतरित करने की प्रक्रिया में हैं.

हालांकि उन्होंने यह जरूर कहा कि दोनों पक्ष ‘शांति’ के लिए जो तय करेंगे, उन्हें मंजूर होगा. वहीं इजरायली प्रधानमंत्री ने कहा कि अगर दो अलग राज्य बनते हैं, तो पूरे इलाके की सुरक्षा का जिम्मा इज़रायल के हाथों में होगी.

मतलब यह कि आधिकारिक रूप से अमेरिकी की दो-राज्य नीति को खारिज तो नहीं किया गया, पर विवरण से साफ है कि फिलस्तीन को अलग करने में ट्रंप की कोई दिलचस्पी नहीं है.

ट्रंप के निर्वाचन के साथ ही इजरायल का धुर-दक्षिणपंथी तबका जोश में है और कब्ज़ा की गयी जमीन पर यहूदियों को बसाने का काम तेज कर दिया गया है. नेतन्याहू अपनी आक्रामक नीति पर ट्रंप की मुहर लेकर वाशिंगटन से लौटेंगे.

पूरा लेख द वायर पर पढ़ें.

The Road to 2019

Mohan Guruswamy is Chairman and founder of Centre for Policy Alternatives, New Delhi, India. He has over three decades of experience in government, industry and academia. He can be contacted at mohanguru[at]gmail.com.

Mohan Guruswamy

The general belief that the SAD led NDA is facing an ignominious defeat in Punjab and that it is the AAP that seems to be in pole position has opened up room for all sorts of speculations about new political alliances. This has acquired piquancy now that most knowledgeable observers now hold that BJP is facing a similar rout in western UP. (We will have to wait for the results on March 11.).  In 2014 the BJP won UP with over 42% of the vote wining all the Lok Sabha seats except the seven Yadav and Gandhi family fiefdoms. But it was in western UP that the BJP fared really spectacularly. Here, in the area that went to vote on February 11, the BJP won 18 of the 22 seats by polling more than all other parties together.

In the months before the elections there were bloody communal riots in Muzzafarnagar and surrounding areas in the epicenter of the Jat heartland. The RSS whipped this into a frenzy that gave the BJP 52% of the popular vote. Narendra Modi himself led the charge here and made sneaky references to the recent relative prosperity of some of the Muslim community to the “pink revolution”, which was a code phrase for cow slaughter. The blood soaked green fields yielded a bountiful saffron harvest. If the BJP loses its primacy here its experiment with its not very covert sectarian politics is over. Its chances in 2019 are then seriously imperiled.

The Congress is in retreat everywhere in the country. If it gets more MLA seats now it will be because it clung on to Akhilesh Yadav’s coattails. There is now no Indian state where the Congress has primacy. In the big states of UP and Bihar it is a coattail party. The AAP is muscling in some other regions just as it muscled in Delhi and Goa at the cost of the Congress.

Shortly after the AAP victory in Delhi in 2015 I had written that the AAP victory was more due to the wipe out of the Congress than due to any precipitate decline of the BJP base. My comment attracted the ire of many AAP trolls. (Their tribe is increasing.)

arvind_kejriwalBut let the numbers do the talking. The AAP popular vote went up from 29.5% in 2013 to 54.3% in 2015. The comparative BJP figures were 34% to 32.7%, a decline of a mere 1.3%. The Congress on the other hand declined from 24.6% in 2013 to 9.7% in 2015. Others like BSP, JD (U) and independents got really crushed from 11.9% to 3.3%. Clearly the AAP took away space from the Congress and the so-called secular opposition. The message is clear.

The AAP is now poised to expand into other states. Gujarat is next in its sights. It is going straight for Narendra Modi’s jugular. It is this kind of daring that endears AAP to the youth. I am veering around to the view that the main challenge to the Congress now is not from the BJP, despite its exhortations of a Congress Mukt Bharat, but the AAP that is rapidly positioning itself as the party to go to in many supposed Congress strongholds.

For decades opposition politics in India centered on finding an alternative to the Congress. This activity consisted mainly of forging improbable, impossible and often even unholy alliances. After 1991, anti-Congressism was not longer a binding force.  The post VP Singh era of the cobbled up alliances with the Congress, as part of it did not inspire too much confidence either. The BJP expanded into the subsequent unrelenting anti-Congress space. It still holds this space. Ironically the parties that once were united by Lohia’s battle cry against parivarvaad have now become parivar-dominated parties.

In states like Orissa, Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, UP, Maharashtra, AP and Telangana the regional parties have reduced the Congress to a rump though from time to time they team up with the Congress tagging on as their junior partner. These state elections will definitely see the Congress getting more seats than it had in Punjab and UP. But it will not mean any long-term gains for it. In UP it will be entirely thanks to the SP and in Punjab it will have to hold off the now apparently relentless AAP expansion.

The other non-BJP and Congress parties are now squeezing what is left with the Congress, i.e. states where it is either the dominant or next leading party.  Soon it seems like it will only be in MP that the BJP and Congress will face each other as the two dominant parties. This is rather ironical considering that LK Advani, who strategized the rise of the BJP to power, would from time to time loudly contemplate a two party democracy in India, and that this would be ideal for India. He never wanted a Congress Mukt Bharat. He saw the emergence of a right of center and left of center contested polity as the ideal. But this is alas not going to happen. What we are going to get seems to be a contested polity between an ultranationalist rightwing and a formation of populist regional forces.

Ironically enough it is the AAP that gave hope of new politics and political style. Will it be able to regain its idealism and hold its course?  India now has 120 million voters in the18-23 age group. By 2019 another 130 million will join this phalanx. Truly the future belongs to the youth. Over 60% of India lives below a universally accepted poverty standard. India’s poverty line is a starvation line. Almost the entire youth cohort now is educated, having benefitted by the huge expansion of the education system. Their aspirations and the popular aspirations have changed. To grow the AAP has to uncompromisingly nurture this and build on this. It has so far done this fairly well in Delhi despite the gang up of the BJP establishment and establishment media against it. But can it replicate it nationwide?

But Narendra Modi unites the opposition, like Indira Gandhi once did. That time the RSS joined it against the Congress. Now the Congress is with it against the BJP.  The temptations for the AAP to team up against the BJP are many. But the moment it gets sucked into the caste permutations of the BSP, SP, RJD and JD (U), and gets drawn into their coalitional politics, it will become just another political party. Another ayaram, gayaram party.