So how does the government push this discourse of “depoliticization”? By erasure of various sites and bases of politics. We have seen killing by stealth of universities, media, civil society etc. using laws as well as coercive apparatus. Having side-lined non-party political sites of contestation, it singles out and disarms the already weak party-political sites.
The next step is to conflate these “out of power political parties” with the perception of an ordinary, cynical and politically disenchanted Indian. This construction gives the government an ability to engage people in a misplaced goal of criticising “out of power political parties”. Next is to delegitimize hitherto existing bases and axes of politics viz. caste, gender, class, religion etc. using the master narrative of nationalism. What of development, one can ask. Well! development from its inception has been apolitical globally.
One cannot dare drag any person focusing on development in the political arena. This is akin to blasphemy in the era of modern state. By pretending to not identify divisions inside the body politic on no axes whatsoever, this government has made the act of politics meaningless and impossible. In a sense, the government has won the Gramscian “war of position” in establishing its hegemony on the minds of the great Indian middle class.
So where does the government situate itself in this whole discourse? Yes, your guess is correct: In the arena of development. It projects that it is pursuing a spiritual goal for the benefit of mankind rising above everyday bases of politics. It is making policies to undertake the apolitical goals of development with pre-set markers using apolitical tools like bureaucracy and technocracy. Everything becomes a matter of “techne” which warrants no moral consideration and political question. It just permits a “positive suggestion” for incremental improvisation. Since everyone is working at the best of their capacity, there is no space for criticism. Intent cannot be questioned. Silence is the only possibility in this choking discourse.