Indian publication, Newsclick www.newsclick.in recently interviewed distinguished social activist, author and Caravan columnist Subhash Gatade on the recent spurt of communal incidents in Delhi and elsewhere in India and its implications. Subhash Gatade thinks that the controversial statement and communal incidents are part of a game plan by BJP to win elections in Delhi. The areas they have targeted have voted for Aam Aadmi Party in last assembly elections and BJP aims to make inroads into it through polarization. On the question of credibility of secular forces in creating resistance to the communal tactics, Gatade feels that they were not ready to take on the majority and hence they failed. He thinks that the people who are already raising questions about the economic policies of the Narendra Modi government will also resist the communal plan of the BJP. Excerpts from the interview conducted by Nakul Singh Sawhney:
Nakul Singh Sawhney: Hello and welcome to NewsClick. We have with us Mr.Subhash Gatade and we are going to discuss with him the recent spurt of communal incidents in Delhi. Subhash ji welcome to NewsClick. Subhashji, if we look at the recent controversial statement that was made by Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and about how everybody in this country irrespective of religion is actually descendant of lord Ram and then she used abusive language saying that you on the one hand you have “Ramzaade” or on the other hand “Haramzaade” and then at the same time we have seen a spate of other such incidents be it the Trilokpuri riot or be it the controversies in Bawana either before or just after Bakrid and then after that around Muharram when there was a big panchayat which was also attended by the BJP MLA over there and at the same time then an incident in Okhla where a dead pig was thrown into a mosque and then of course most recently in Dilshad Garden where a church was burnt down. Subhashji after 1984 Delhi may have seen small skirmishes and clashes between communities but never at this scale and after 84’ never seen them happening at this frequency. So what do you think is happening?
Subhash Gatade: I definitely see a pattern behind all these incidents. These incidents may appear spontaneous local incidents but one can definitely see a pattern. Right from the controversial statement made by Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti to the local level incidents because I see that elections are coming, we have elections next year in January or February and BJP wants to gain an upper hand in all those areas, basically those areas which are Dalits or Muslim populated areas. Those are the very areas where AAP has got many MLAs. AAP could get many votes or gather many votes. So it wants to polarize the voters at the grass root level. So it is adopting this method of raising incidents, raising controversies so that there is polarization and it can get its votes. If we look at the statements made by the union minister also, that is also an attempt to do that and I think if the government is serious about it than it should take action.
NSS : Subhashji what we have also seen is the riots that broke out last year in Muzaffarnagar, in Shamli districts and in west U.P, there was Samajwadi Party government in power and even the riot in Trilokpuri there is an Aam Admi Party MLA over there; lot of such secular parties. Why do think they have been unsuccessful in curbing this kind of violence?
SG: I think there is weakness in secular parties or secular movement in this country; they are not ready to take head on the challenge of majority communalism. We have seen it in 1992 when the Babri mosque was demolished despite of have Left and many secular parties we could not take the challenge or we look at the question of Hindutva terror also in 2008. So somehow there is some problem in the secular parties that they are not ready to take the challenge head on. So they will adopt the legal route and these fascists and communal forces will be on the streets. So I think the secular parties need to rethink over there strategy and they should take a head on and that can be done. That should be done rather.
NSS: But again you know in the recent past we were just talking about the Muzaffarnagar and Shamli riots that broke out last year and if we look at the Lok Sabha results, it is the BJP that gained from that and specially in Uttar Pradesh and with the kind of clashes that have been happening in Delhi or at least attempts at creating clashes and the kind of statements that we were just talking about, do you see this kind of communal polarization successfully happening in Delhi which would benefit the BJP in the coming elections?
SG: Yeah, it is definitely helping the BJP one can easily see it and on the other hand we should see that there are some silver linings also because when the incidents happened the secular forces, the secular groups in Delhi, they came together, they raised their voice, they tried to form peace committees, they went to all those areas, they tried to go to jail to meet those people who were in jail. So I think there is a scope.
The BJP and Hindutva organizations are trying their best to polarize the situation in Delhi looking at the fact that elections are coming but I also see a scope for secular interventions and you see the Trilokpuri Muharram processions was led by Hindus as that was reported. So I think there is scope of intervention and as far as the common people are concerned Dalits, Muslims and everybody, nobody wants these communal situations should stir up, nobody wants riots. So that can be done.
NSS: So like you are saying where the common people are concerned nobody wants riots and specially the more economically marginalized communities and socially marginalized communities be it Dalits, be it Muslims. What we are actually seeing is that polarization and every time they have actually gone out on these kinds of polarization drive it has worked in their favor. Do you see a laws of diminishing returns in the near future? Do you see people standing up against this kind of communal polarization and rejecting it?
SG: Immediately I don’t see that people are raising their voice against Modi regime but if you look at the fact that May 2014 they won the elections and now after six months down the line questions are being made about the claims and promises they made and if you see at the newspapers and the comments that are coming; all the promises of bringing back black money and other promises and the manner in which the BJP government is trying to target all those poor schemes may it be MNREGA or may it be the labor laws and the way in which it is trying to help the corporate; the loan which was given to Mr. Adani on the Australia tour and then there was a controversy around it, the State Bank gave a clarification that they have not given a loan it is just a memorandum of understanding. So the people are slowly realizing that it is the government which is for the corporate sector and anti-poor slowly but immediately I don’t see any big mobilization against them but yes we have experiences that Indira Gandhi in 1971 had won by huge majority and in 1984 Rajiv Gandhi had also won by huge majority but within one or two years their people came on streets against them. So I do see hope.
NSS: Do you sense a resistance against the government more on their economic policies rather than on issues of secularism and communalism?
SG: I think the immediate resistance is bound to come on bread and butter issues. Yesterday there was a big protest, around 5000 or 10000 people had gathered at Jantar Mantar. All people associated with different mass movements giving out the slogan “Ab Ki Baar Humara Adhikar”. Slowly immediate mobilization is going to happen on the issue of bread and butter and people’s rights. On the issue of communalism and secularism it will take time but when people will gather for their daily issues of bread and butter, they will realize that this communal mobilization is not going to help them in long run.
NSS: So well on that note of resistance, thank you so much Subhashji for coming to NewsClick and hopefully we will have you again soon.