INDIA’S prime minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing BJP party suffered a massive political defeat at the hands of voters in West Bengal on Sunday.
Modi confidently expected to make large gains in elections in this state.
Instead, the BJP was trounced by the opposition All India Trinamool Congress despite Modi and the BJP throwing everything into winning including holding numerous mass BJP rallies in defiance of the coronavirus pandemic that is turning India into a graveyard for millions of workers and rural poor and becoming the world centre of the virus.
Horrific scenes have been seen of people dying in hospital corridors, in the open, and in their homes while crematoriums report they have run out of wood to cremate all the bodies.
UK doctors have raised £20,000 in the first 24 hours of a campaign to boost oxygen supplies to India, with the BMA doctors and the RCN nurses unions calling for the UK government to take urgent, practical action to support and aid countries tackling a worsening Covid-19 crisis, including India.
According to official Indian government figures the total of coronavirus cases now stands at 19.56 million with 215,542 deaths. These official figures deliberately understate the true infection and death rate.
Crematoriums have reported that they are having to deal with far more bodies than the figures released by the government state, with one manager of a crematorium in Delhi telling the press: ‘I can easily say that around 1,000 Covid cases are getting funerals every day. This figure is seven to eight times higher than the official figures.’
Harrowing film of hospitals turning away patients to die at home, along with the deadly lack of vital oxygen supplies required for those struggling to breathe, have no effect on Modi and India’s ruling capitalist class. Their only concern is to keep capitalism open to ensure the profit of the Indian capitalist class.
In the midst of this massive humanitarian crisis ripping through the country, Modi issued a warning to regional authorities only two weeks ago not to implement lockdowns to contain the virus.
In a televised address Modi insisted: ‘We have to save this country from lockdown. I appeal to states to consider lockdowns only as a last resort.’
Indian scientists warned the BJP government in early March of a new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus sweeping the country but the federal government refused to take any notice and impose restrictions to stop its spread.
Coronavirus has crushed India’s health system, which has suffered years of neglect and underfunding by the BJP which has spent only a derisory 1% of India’s GDP on public health for 15 years.
As Modi’s unexpected election defeat at the weekend shows there is a growing anger and hatred spreading throughout India over his willingness to see millions of workers and poor sacrificing their lives for the profit of the ruling class.
This joins with the mass movement that has erupted amongst India’s farmers who have launched a nationwide general strike against new capitalist laws that enrich agricultural businesses while impoverishing the farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers are camped out on the outskirts of Delhi to force the government to withdraw these laws.
In January 2020, over 250 million workers staged a one day general strike against Modi’s anti-working class policies, including the selling off of state owned industries.
With India under the BJP now recording the highest levels of deaths from Covid in the world, this anger will explode in mass revolutionary uprising as the Indian masses contrast the death toll to that of China with an even larger population which, despite the deformities of Stalinism, has used the strength of a workers’ state to defeat the virus with just 4,636 deaths in total since the outbreak of the pandemic.
The lesson for the working class is that this murderous capitalist system that puts profit above the lives of people and must be smashed and replaced with a socialist society.
The urgent issue today is building a section of the Fourth International, to provide revolutionary leadership to carry the developing Indian socialist revolution to victory.