A Democratic Path to Tyranny?

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First time voters show their fore fingers marked with phosphoric ink after casting their votes during the third phase of 2014 Lok Sabha Polls in Jabalpur on April 10, 2014. IANS)
First time voters show their fore fingers marked with phosphoric ink after casting their votes during the third phase of 2014 Lok Sabha Polls in Jabalpur on April 10, 2014. IANS)

It is important to introspect whether the choice for BJP stems simply from cynicism and anti-Congress anger; or is the nation consciously tilting towards right wing politics of chauvinism and fascism?

ANURADHA BHASIN JAMWAL

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]id-way through the parliamentary elections, the high voter turnout is being celebrated as some kind of a measure of good democracy and good politics. This, unfortunately, is neither an indication of healthy politics, nor of mature level of political conscious. It is still a fluid situation about the permutations and combinations likely to go into the final government formation next month but in all likelihood none of the major parties is set to get an absolute majority.

The Congress is over-weighed by the anti-incumbency factor and it may have its own shortcoming of arrogance and corruption to blame for that. Butwhat is worrisome is the rise of the Hindu right wing and its likelihood of improving its previous tally, even though it may be way away from forming government on its own strength. It may eventually not be in the saddle, despite the heavy support from corporate sector and the corporate backed media. But even that narrow escape may not bring a sigh of relief.

The inherent danger lies not only in the probable take-over of the reins of a liberal democratic country by a right wing group inspired by fascist and communal ideology but more in the nation’s increasing tilt towards the aggressive right. Is it a conscious ideological tilt? Or does it stem simply from the naivette of angry cynicism for ‘change’?

However, one garbs this likely swing, it is part of an unforgettable history that the BJP and other right wing allies could improve their tally only after the 1992 Babri mosque demolition. It has renewed its appeal after a slew of incidents of communal violence and communal polarization – from Kishtwar to Muzaffarnagar, led by a man who presided over the Gujarat genocide. Whether one packages it as a development model that does not exist, fighting terrorism or ‘change’, it is a hate soaked agenda that propels the possible popularity of the BJP and its saffron brigade.

Then what is the likely ‘change’ that is being sold out? During its five year stint from 1998 to 2004 in centre, the BJP led NDA alliance’s ‘India Shining’ slogan was built on the foundation of rotting foodgrains, farmer suicides, Kargil coffins and other scams. Its fight against terrorism found laws like POTA an easy tool of vendetta against political adversaries and minorities.

Not only did Kandhar hijacking and parliament attack take place, a minister of the government escorted five prisoners to Kabul in a plane as ransom for the release of hijacked Air India flight passengers. The BJP totally overlooked the homegrown terror of the very constituents of the saffron brigade and peace internally was woven with a tapestry of worse ever communal genocide – from Gujarat to Kandhamal. For all its failures, BJP was voted out in 2004. What is the change that those enamoured by BJP and Modi are looking for? What illusions make them fantasize BJP as the saviour of the nation?

While Congress or many key regional parties (even though they fail to deliver) stand ideologically committed to protecting the very basic essence of Indian constitution – secularism, equality and welfare of the socially and economically oppressed, the RSS is inspired by Hitler’s fascism and BJP is an offspring of the RSS; ideologically the Sangh Parivar is communal and fascist and the pace of destruction of institutional democracy and secularism under this party can be unimaginable. Their sense of liberal democracy is betrayed by their many remarks. In run up to the 1998 elections, former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, considered a moderate within the saffron brigade, had said, “let us come to power and we will end this system of repeated elections.” Beyond the façade of the popular eulogisation of Vajpayee and his rule lies the debris of saffronisation of everything under the sun – education system, bureaucracy and even the armed forces. The answer to the many controversies involving the former army chief V.K. Singh lies in the BJP rule. The army-saffron nexus also came to the fore with Col. Purohit’s arrest in the Malegaon blast case. The BJP excessively militarized civilians in the name of security with an obvious saffron agenda in Jammu and Kashmir, a policy that Congress sheepishly later followed in Chattisgarh minus its communal hue.

The flaws of the Congress, the Left Parties or even other regional secular and socialist parties have been their inability to live up to their committed ideals of inclusiveness, secularism and socialism. If Congress despite its ideology destroyed the very edifices of the values it believed in, its report card of many decades marked by patronizing communal violence, imposing Emergency and promoting economic neo-liberalism that seeks to increase disparities and leave the poor more impoverished; then think of the dangers that BJP can wreak with firm belief and pride in demolition of everything that the Indian constitution stands for. It took Congress rule of many decades to betray the trust of the Indians. BJP has tasted power, it is a tried and tested experience and did not last for more than six years – a speed that evenCongress with all its massive flaws could not match.

Congress, in its present shape and form, with all the corruption, dynastic politics and arrogance that it has come to represent, is not an ideal choice for the country. But BJP is a disaster, and Modi, with his baggage of 2002 and his fake publicity based on distortion of facts, in the lead, an even bigger disaster. It is likely to pursue an agenda of ferocious neo-liberalism, no consistent foreign policy, aggressive attempt to homogenise a country as diverse as India and completely overlook the social sector in a land of impoverished and socially oppressed. Alternatives in politics are important and the road to such a future may require a more active participation of the public in a country where politicians have failed, not only through engagement in electoral battles but in forcefully seeking greater accountability. But until that happens, what needs to be discarded is the over-simplicity of expecting some kind of a healthy change and stability from a government run by BJP, much less by a man whose knowledge of India is periled by his ignorance of history and whose ideology seeks to rebuild India with authoritarian control at the cost of marginalization of many sections of the society.

It is important to introspect whether the choice for BJP stems simply from cynicism and this anti-Congress anger; or is the nation aggressively and consciously tilting towards right wing politics of chauvinism, fascism, communalism that BJP symbolizes? It may, if not fully, partly be the latter. The sad thing is that if at all the BJP government with Narendra Modi in the lead does become an eventuality, it would not be a fascist take over by force but with the willing co-operation of a nation. Gullible or consciously driven by myopia, it is a sad telling comment on the nation which in its blind search for progress and stability is set to destroy the very foundations that are its major strength. The situation highlights the flaws in a functional democracy, which poet Iqbal had thus lamented:

Jamhooriat wo tarz-e-hakoomat hai ke jis mein

Bandon ko gina karte hain, tola nahin karte 

(Democracy is a way of governing in which, people are counted not weighed.)

 

All opinions and views expressed in columns and blogs are those of individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Caravan

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