“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx


BJP's Election Strategy: Data is the New Opium

In Homer's epic Odyssey, the Greek hero Odysseus comes across a tribe of 'lotus eaters' who remain in a state of blissful forgetfulness after eating psychotropic plants, probably poppy pods or blue water lily. In the 19th century, Lord Tennyson revived this charming vision in his poem 'The Lotos-Eaters'. Such was the popularity of this idea that essayist Thomas de Quincey even wrote a book called Confessions of an English Lotus Eater, describing his own experiences when high on laudanum.  

Why this foray into obscure literary history? Because recent political events have resurrected the vision of the mythical lotus eaters of yore.  

The BJP has claimed that its schemes have benefitted 22 crore (220 million) people and, along with its 11 crore (110 million) members, this should put them within striking distance of another spectacular win in next year's general elections.  

Party President Amit Shah has been drumming this into the heads of BJP workers across the country, charging them with meeting all these 'beneficiaries', having tea with at least 20 of them and generally consolidating their support. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has interacted with such 'beneficiaries' through his NaMo app. He even addressed rallies in which such people were specially invited.  

In sum, this 22+11 crore base is now the cornerstone of BJP's strategy for the coming general elections. Of course, there is the possibility that Shah is simply hyping up the 22 crore number without seriously thinking that they will vote for BJP. In fact, in a recent interview, he seems to have said that "even if half of their family members vote for us...". So, there is some self-correction going on.  

But the lotus-eating category in which all this falls is surely unmistakeable, even for a common not-too-educated Indian. Who has ever heard of all those people who are part of the gigantic government programmes voting for the government? If that was the case, Congress would be still ruling India!  

Where from These Numbers?  

The numbers themselves are questionable, something that mainstream media has been reluctant to dissect. Shah or his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not given any break-up, as is their wont. They just pull out these numbers, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

If you check out a section of the Narendra Modi website called Infographics, you will find a mind-bending array of numbers ranging from how many LED bulbs distributed (29.83 crore), how many direct benefit transfers taking place (20.14 crore), toilets constructed (7.25 crore), Mudra loans given (12 crore), ante-natal check-ups done (one crore) and so on, endlessly.  

Surely, these can't be added up! There must be an overlap – a family that got a toilet could also have taken an LPG gas cylinder under the Ujwala scheme. Adding up will mean duplication or even triplication.  

Then there is the question of whether you are going to count the family members as beneficiaries or not. Technically speaking, family members will also be benefitting. So, are they included in this 22 crore or not?  

Strangely, there is even a dispute about the 11 crore membership figure. According to various news reports, Shah and various BJP leaders have been claiming BJP membership from nine to 14 crore at different places and times. On September 8, Shah reportedly said that in his tenure, BJP membership increased from eight crore to nine crore. But earlier, in July, he had said it was 11 crore. Meanwhile, Kashmir BJP leader Ali Mohammed Mir had claimed 14 crore in April while BJP Mahila Morcha leader Vijaya Rahatkar had gone with 12 crore with three crore women members.  

This confusion apart, even this so-called membership is suspect. In November 2014, BJP had launched a membership enrolment drive that included a mechanism by which you can become a BJP member by just giving a missed call to the given member. Later reports indicate massive confusion as – in one case â€“ a resident of West Bengal called an online retailer's number to register a complaint and found himself enrolled as a BJP member!  

With this kind of membership, can it be assumed that these 'members' will all vote for BJP, leave aside their family members? And, will these members even campaign for the party? If not, then the house of cards will collapse. Or, you are a lotus eater.  

Are They Really 'Beneficiaries'?  

Setting aside the condescending way in which the suffering people - who are being given what they are entitled to - are referred to as 'beneficiaries', the experience of all these schemes and programmes shows that they are not as successful as Shah et al are scoping them out to be. Whether it is the high cost of LPG refills or non-functional toilets (due to lack of water connection), or bribery in housing schemes, or alleged distribution of Mudra loans to cronies, or bank accounts lying empty, or people working in the rural jobs guarantee scheme not getting wages for months – the list of faults and lacunae is as endless as the numbers BJP is high on. So, it is very doubtful that all the 'beneficiaries' of  schemes will be overjoyed and rush to press the lotus button on EVMs.  

Then there are those who have been either left out or failed to get benefits despite enrolment. This would include families of at least 14 people who died of starvation in Jharkhand, half of them because they were refused rations. There are millions more who struggle to get food even today due to non-coverage or irregular supplies through ration shops. Similar is the case of those who are turned back by the MGNREGS officials – about 1.3 crore in 2017-18.  

Can Schemes Replace Jobs and Incomes?  

And lastly, the biggest question: there are no jobs, farmers' incomes are dwindling, workers and employees are on the streets demanding minimum wages, there is deep and endemic economic distress in the country, so are all the schemes and programmes sufficient to ameliorate this crisis? The answer is obviously that they are not. Otherwise, why should everybody be up in arms?  

Like the lotus eaters, the BJP is living in a fool's paradise, a state of altered consciousness having lost touch with reality. And, if this is their election strategy, then they have a shock awaiting them next year  



  • The Taj That is India
  • The BJP and Triple Talaq
  • Rohingya: A People Condemned!
  • 9 Key Qs Raised on First Day of Aadhaar Hearing in the Supreme Court
  • A Critical Analysis of Delhi's Human Development Index
  • 3 Army Divisions For 300 Terrorists In JK But No End to Violence: Certainly the Answer Does Not Lie in Force
  • 'It is Not the Left But the Congress That's the B-Team of the BJP'
  • Kasganj: A Story of People's Unity Fractured by Engineered Hate and Violence
  • Invisible Children Of Delhi
  • India 81 in Corruption Index, Amongst the "Worst Offenders"
  • Economists Hit Out Against Move to Privatise Public Sectors Banks
  • Tripura Trades Decency For False Eldorado
  • Syria's Bloody War
  • Pakistan And China Fill Space In Maldives Willfully Vacated By India
  • The Big Private Crop Insurance Scam: Farmers Par Premium of Rs 482, Receive Rs 5 as Insurance!
  • US Attack on Syria Violates International Law, Total Hypocrisy
  • Death Penalty Is Not The Answer To Sexual Violence: Implement Justice Verma Committee Report
  • Walls on Every Side: Trying to Get Data in India
  • The Ascent of Multi-Politics In Malaysia
  • Why the Objections to Marxism are Mistaken
  • The Rise and Fall of the Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim
  • BDS Has Placed Israel on Notice
  • Can We Promote Peace in India, Today?
  • Burying The Two-State Solution
  • Corruption And Class Rule
  • Is Ethnic Cleansing Coming to India
  • Our Real Heroes
  • Confronting Journalism's Misogynistic Trolls
  • After 17 Years of War, A Peace Movement Grows in Afghanistan
  • Taking Play Seriously: Time to Make Sports A Fundamental Right!
  • Law Commission Publishes Consultation Paper on Sedition
  • Foreign Policy: Between Folly and Foibles
  • Suu Kyi's Continued Denial And Bangladesh's
  • Economy Crumbles as Fuel Prices Skyrocket, Household Budgets Hit
  • Rupee's New Low: A Dangerous Drift
  • Are We Still Ruled by The British?
  • From Anti-National to Urban Naxal: The Trajectory of Dissent in India
  • Learning the Power of Lies: Facts vs. Falsehoods in the Age of Trump
  • The Indian Economy is in a Tailspin
  • China Walks a Tightrope on The Uighur Muslim Issue
  • Is Ram Mandir a Mere Election Strategy of the BJP?
  • The Harsher Counters of India's Drug Legislations
  • BJP's Election Strategy: Data is the New Opium
  • Geographical Indication - India's Untapped Resource
  • Climate Change to Make Prediction of Furious Storms More Difficult
  • Mountain echoes for India
  • Maldives: Has the Wheel Turned Full Circle?
  • President Sirisena Needs to be Reached Sooner Rather Than Later
  • Plastic Pollution in India
  • Prejudice by Any Name
  • 29 Years After Fall of Berlin Wall, Europe Has 1,000 Km of Walls to Stop Migrants
  • The Leftover Women of Afghanistan
  • Harmony of Music and Politics of Silencing
  • The Economics of Policy: Prohibition and Free Water Supply
  • Threat to Democracy in the Age of Social or Anti-Social Media
  • Intellectual Property- A Vital Discipline
  • What Happened in Britain, and What's Next
  • Assembly Debacle: BJP Got Taken in by Its Own Fake News
  • India: Secular Democracy or Hindu Rashtra
  • Adani is Byword for Government's Climate Inaction as Australia Gears for Elections
  • How The Modi Government is Killing Off MGNREGS
  • The Year of the Gazan
  • Assembly Polls: Ten Crucial Takeaways Ahead of 2019
  • The Real Effects of Fake Propaganda on Migrants
  • Why NGOs in Pakistan Are at The Brink of Extinction
  • Dogged by Brexit
  • In My Own Voice: Citizenship Amendment Bill And You
  • Oil Giant Shell Finally Faces Its Day In Court For Complicity In Rapes And Murders in Nigeria
  • The Geopolitics of Pulwama
  • Shah Faesal Cuts Through Calls for Blood and Lays Out a Roadmap for Kashmir
  • Modi's ABC: Avoiding, Burying, Confusing
  • The Kashmir Question: A 'Made in India' Problem
  • Opposition Must Take a Stand Against the War Politics of Hindutva
  • 'Patriotism' Made Easy in Times of 'WhatsApp Elections'
  • Urban Poor Have Set Agenda for 2019 Elections
  • Will the US End Up Putting Sanctions on Every Country That Doesn't Bend to its Will?
  • Minority and Indigenous Women Human Rights Activists More Prone to Harassment UN Report
  • Tribute to Speaker Rabi Ray (1926-2017)
  • International Participation is Necessary Where State is Part of The Problem
  • Italy Takes Belt and Road to The Heart of Europe
  • The Legacy of Shaheed-e-Azam
  • In My Own Voice: Heroes or Hiroshima
  • The Modi Years
  • Election in Israel: A Race to the Bottom
  • Why Bangladesh Overtook Pakistan
  • Digital Monopoly Platforms, Modi Regime and Threat to Our Democracy
  • Elitism and Development
  • Jawaharlal Nehru and Organised Religion
  • A Brief History of the IUML and Kerla's Muslims
  • The Immunisation of Human Rights
  • How Can India Win The Struggle on Poverty?
  • The RSS's Chanakya Neeti
  • Diversity, Belonging and Multiculturalism
  • The Chinese Ambition
  • The Role City Govts Can Play in the Health of Citizens
  • Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew: Forgotten Warrior of Our Freedom Movement
  • Fighting Climate Change, Building Resilience
  • Mridula Sarabhai(the orignal anti-national)
  • Right to Education: A Dream Half Forgotten
  • Decoding One Nation One Poll
  • Tunisia Heads for Polls Amidst Economic Slowdown, Squsbbling and Crack Down on Islamic Extremist
  • Lynchings, Litchis and No Water: What the International Media is Saying Abount India
  • Blood in the Nile
  • Will the BNP Ever Again be a Major Political Force in Bangladesh?
  • 'Real Estate Brokers' Cannot Dampen The Palestinian Spirit
  • The Indian Liberal's Conundrum
  • Hope For Democracy in Sudan
  • In Depth: Water Crisis Looming Across Tamil Nadu
  • Missing Secularism in New Education Policy
  • Religion, Nationalism And Insurgency in Balochistan
  • Dim Lights, Closed Blinds: History Lessons From a Party in Power
  • Loan Waivers Need Better Designing to Prevent Farmer Suicides
  • Makimg Best Use of Sri Lanka's Strategic Location
  • FDI in Coal: Look Who's Coming to the Party
  • Weapons and the Never Ending Space Race
  • Thirty Years the Berlin Wall Brought Down
  • Reclaiming the Opposition and Political Space in India
  • An Interreligious Conference to Build Bridges in Sri Lanka
  • On 'Correcting' History and Akbar's Invasion of Kashmir
  • The Evolution of the 'Nobel Prize' in Economics
  • Close Coordination Between Turkey and Russia in Syria
  • Sri Lanka's Election Time Promises Costly to Keep
  • The India Economy and The Cobra Effect
  • Fascism: Is Liberal Use "Trivialising" This "Destructive Phenomenon?"
  • Treating the Poor as Development Guinea Pigs
  • A Not sp 'National Education Policy: Analysis Reveals Exclusion in Education Sector
  • University Fee Hikes Pave the Way for Selling Public Assets
  • The Truth About Middle Class 'Revolutions?
  • 50 Years of US Arms Trade: The Lasting Impact on West Asia
  • India Abjures Secularism in Bangladesh's View, Will Regional Cooperation Take a Hit?
  • Amidist Resistance to "De-Tribalisation", A Look at Why Jharkhand Polls are More Critical Than They Appear
  • The Dangerous Game of Citizenship: BJP Creates Divisive Agenda Through NRC
  • Revealed: US Losing Aghan War Due to "Fatally Flawed" War Strategies and Lack of Clear Objetives
  • 'Politics and Prejudice': Can Dalit-Bahujans and left Progressives Join Hands?
  • State Power's Attempts at Rewriting History
  • Afghanista's Tumultous Fourty-Year Journey
  • Nepal: Citizen's Needs Remain Sidelined as Turbulent Game of Politics Continues
  • "Enough is Enough": Secular India Revolts Against a " Majoritarian State"
  • Looking at Cuba's Revolution 61 Years On
  • Soleimani Murder Set to Spiral Out of Control, US Expected to Pressure India Under LEMOA
  • The Rise of Digital Media and The Viral Phenomenon of "Nowledge"
  • Thus Spake JP: Beware the Writing on the Wall
  • Sri Lankan Government Must Pay Attention to Problem-Solving in the North
  • Drowning Nation Clutches at Military Might?
  • India's Neighbourhood First Policy Crumbles
  • A Gobal Assault by the Far-Right
  • Delhi Riots: Historical Patterns, Complicity of Forces Point to Planned Violence
  • Behind The Protests Defending Public Education
  • Putting The Judiciary on Trial
  • "Sanctions Are a Crime": During Coronavirus Pandemic, Sanctions Against Iran, Venezuela Causing Medical Shortages
  • Social Messiahs or Smart Entrepreneurs?
  • Justice Gogoi Joining Rajya Sabha Points to a Constitutional Crisis
  • A Russian "Plays Long Game" Firewall for Venezuela Against US Sanctions
  • RSS and the Question of Morality
  • Establishing COVID-19 Hospitals in Record Time
  • A New "Medical Internationalism" Needed: Cuba At the Pandemic Frontlines Even As Wealthy States Neglect Healthcare
  • Why They Suffer: The Human/Animal Conflict
  • More Books and Snowy Mornings
  • Statesmanship Required to Avert Constitutinal Crisis in Sri Lanka
  • Combating 'Hate Virus': Communal Forces Divide in times of Global Pandemin
  • How Biometric Authentication Has Excluded MAny From The Public Distribution System
  • Lessons From Iraq: Before Trump Sues China, US Must pay for Unjust War on Iraq
  • The American War System And The Global 'War of Error'
  • Demilitarising Patriotism in The Covid Fight
  • Muslims Need a Fair Media
  • Sri-Lanka: Shock of Covid-19 Wanes, Nationalist Sentiments Rise as Elections Approach
  • Covid-19 in Brazil: A 21st Century 'Reenactment' of the 19th Century Yellow Fever?
  • Iran's Fuel Tankers for Venezuela Sail to Safety Under 'Chinese Shield'
  • US Protests Bear Lessons For Sri Lanka
  • India and Nepal in For A Prolonged Standoff?
  • The Fifth Schedule: Tribal Advisory Councils and International Perspectives
  • The Asian American Response to Pandemic-Era Racism Must Be Cross-Racial Solidarity
  • Is Police Brutality Exclusive to the USA?
  • Libya's Future Seema to Rest on Arrangements Between Russia And Turkey
  • China's strategic Mind And Method: "Long-Term Planning" Behind Country's Geo-Political Moves
  • Returning Migrants: A Boon For Rural Industrialisation?
  • Why Refugees in Greece Are Afraid of the Word 'Camp'''
  • Black Lives Matter Movement And Its Lessons For India
  • US Provocations Trigger Tension in Sino-American Relations