August 10, 2014

Resist BJP’s Efforts to Disintegrate our Social Fabric

DURING the course of the 2014 general elections, we had pointed out, more than once, various features of the Narendra Modi-led BJP campaign that led to the unmistakable conclusion that `development’ and `Gujarat model’ employed as election mascots were only the veil concealing the actual ground reality of the campaign that focused on the sharpening of communal polarisation. Thus, much of the BJP’s electoral gains, apart from various other factors, including a widespread disgust with the Congress-led UPA-2 rule during the last few years, has been due to such brazen `vote bank’ politics, i.e., the communal consolidation of the `Hindu vote bank’. It is, therefore, quite natural that this BJP victory, albeit with just a 31 percent share of those who voted, would lead to the aggressive pursuit of the RSS ideological project and vision of converting the secular democratic Indian Republic into their version of a rabidly intolerant fascistic `Hindu Rashtra’. After all, the BJP is merely the political arm of the RSS tentacles. Even during the so-called `honeymoon’ period, even before the completion of the first hundred days of this government, this agenda is already unfolding rapidly. Far from the hopes of many a naïve and gullible, the people’s component of the `development electoral agenda’ is simply vanishing into thin air. Soon after assuming office, this government has hiked the administrative prices of petroleum products like diesel, cooking gas etc and steeply raised the railway fares. Its budget and the parliamentary legislative business priorities reflect the unabashed pursuit of neo-liberal economic reforms. Given the massive support rendered by international finance capital backed India Inc., to the Modi election campaign, it is probably only natural that such a course should appear inevitable. Facilitating greater inflow of foreign investments to permit profit maximisation at the cost of our people and country’s sovereignty and greater concessions to India Inc. have been the result. Within a few weeks of the new government, those who were arguing during the election campaign that the BJP is downplaying its communal agenda are feeling already betrayed and, thus, silenced. Core Hindutva agenda – abrogation of Article 370, Uniform Civil Code, building of Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya – have all been articulated by cabinet ministers. A Goa minister has stated that with the BJP victory, the establishment of a `Hindu Rashtra’ has begun! At the ground level, this is reflected in the sharpening of communal tensions across the country leading in some places to brutal riots and the death of innocent Indians. Even in the build-up to the elections, we had the occasion to point out that such communal polarisation was being resorted to as evidenced in the Muzaffarnagar riots where many were killed and injured apart from over 50,000 being internally displaced. According to home ministry statistics, a total of 823 incidents of communal violence have been reported across the country in the run-up to the elections during 2013. In Uttar Pradesh alone, where the BJP won 71 plus 2 of its allies, out of a total 80 Lok Sabha seats, 247 incidents took place in 2013. The first few months before the elections being no different making the state top the list in the country’s record of communal violence. During the second quarter of 2014, April-June, 149 communal clashes were reported across the country. Maharashtra, where assembly elections are due, closely follows Uttar Pradesh in the number of such clashes. The national media has reported, on the basis of official statistics, that in the ten weeks after May 16, when the new government took over in Delhi, 605 incidents of communal nature took place in Uttar Pradesh alone. Significantly, two-thirds of these took place in and around the 12 assembly constituencies where by-elections are due shortly. Similar reports are also coming in from Bihar where 10 assembly by-elections are due. Clearly, having won the general elections and formed the central government, the BJP has given a go-bye to its electoral slogans like “acche din aanewale hein” and brazenly returned to its RSS roots of sharpening communal polarisation for further electoral gains. There is also an element of `social engineering’ in fomenting such communal tensions. While the Muzaffarnagar riots brought the Jatavs into conflict with Muslims, the Saharanpur riots brought the Sikhs in conflict with the Muslims. At a time when the BSP is staying away from the by-polls, the BJP is seeking to garner the dalit support. BSP founder, Kanshi Ram, in the late 1980s brought the Muslims and dalits under one umbrella. This subsequently led it to form the state government. The BJP is seeking the disintegration of this unity to work for its electoral advantage especially in western UP. The destruction of social harmony has disastrous consequences for the unity and integrity of our country and people. The RSS/BJP, however, has no compunctions in damaging such harmony amongst our people in pursuit of its electoral and political gains. That such efforts will relentlessly continue is reflected in the incendiary speeches given by the leaders of the RSS constellation. Last week a VHP leader thundered in Indore that the Muslims may have forgotten Gujarat 2002 but would remember Muzaffarnagar riots last year. Threateningly he said, “If you set Hanuman’s tail on fire, Lanka will burn”. This comes on the heels of another VHP patron saying that, “Tables had turned for the Muslims” in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. The signals, thus, are amply clear. Being forewarned must mean being forearmed. Every patriotic Indian must rise to the occasion to prevent such sharpening of communal polarisation which has the potential to weaken and disintegrate the immensely rich and diverse social fabric that has woven together our great country. Such efforts have to be resisted with all our might. (August 6, 2014)