By Harkishan Singh Surjeet
MEETING at Hyderabad on January 29-31, the Central Committee of our party was of the opinion that “Defeating the BJP and its allies is the main task of the CPI(M) and the Left and democratic forces in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections and the assembly elections which will be held in some of the states. Corresponding to this, the basic aim of the CPI(M) will be to see that a secular government is formed after the 14th Lok Sabha elections.”
This is in keeping with the analysis made by the 16th CPI(M) congress in October 1998 that the BJP is not just another bourgeois landlord party; behind it stands the fascistic RSS that wants to build a theocratic state in the country.
The type of regime the Sangh Parivar has in mind is clear from the eulogy VHP leader Ashok Singhal recently heaped on the King of Nepal, dubbing him as the protector of Hindu Dharma. The Parivar has no love lost for the life and death struggle the people of Nepal are today waging for a republican government. The Parivar is all concerned about a monarch who is widely believed to be behind the murder of his brother and other family members.
Here one cannot help recall how in 1947-48 the Praja Parishad, an RSS outfit, helped the Maharaja of Kashmir when he was resisting accession to India. In fact, the Parishad was busy killing those who wanted the princely state’s merger with India. This was not surprising, as the RSS was never a part of our freedom struggle. But these episodes also show that it is a tyrannical form of government the RSS wants to push through in this country.
INDICATIONS OF TOMORROW
HEREIN lies the serious danger facing our whole collective life today. One cannot afford to forget that India is a multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural country inhabited by people of various religions and ethnic groups. If all these people are distinct from one another at one level, they are one and united at another level, and this fact gets reflected in their mutual interactions. For us, unity in diversity is no empty slogan but a living reality characteristic of India. Over centuries, streams of people kept coming from various parts of the globe, settled here, made India their home, and contributed to what we call Indian culture. This pluralistic culture is the product of not any one group but of all who inhabit this vast country.
The framers of our constitution were aware of his reality and that was why they unambiguously decided that secularism and federalism are essential to maintain India’s unity. In fact, even before 1947, our innumerable freedom fighters were clear that independent India could not but be a secular state. By nakedly showing what havoc communalism could play with our people’s life, the horrors that accompanied the country’s imperialist engineered partition also strengthened our people’s choice for a secular polity. These horrors went to such an extent that lakhs were displaced from their hearth and home, lakhs were killed or maimed in fratricidal wars, innumerable women were dishonoured and children orphaned. And not only that. The demon of communalism even took the life of Mahatma Gandhi, the supreme leader of our struggle for freedom.
Forces of the same kind are now active again to throw our great civilisation into an era of darkness. And with the crucial difference that, with the help of a bunch of self-seekers, they now control the state power.
To what extent these forces can go is very clear today to all thinking people of this country. The BJP rule at the centre started with a spate of attacks on minuscule Christians who are peacefully living here for two millennia. And this culminated in the most heinous event at Manoharpur village in Orissa on January 22-23, 1999 night when a Bajrang Dal mob burnt alive a missionary and his minor sons. That these attacks on Christians were launched in several states in a series was a clear evidence that they were being masterminded from above.
And then came the most gruesome massacre of Muslims in Gujarat with the active connivance of the BJP regime in the state. There is ample evidence to conclude that the massacre was being planned for months. While it was unleashed on the pretext of a heinous crime at Godhra, the fact is that it would have been unleashed on some other pretext even if Godhra had not been there. As we know, this massacre of Muslims, the biggest case of genocide in independent India, continued for months together. Though the Best Bakery case and the like are gradually bringing out the horrors of this genocide, what has come to light so far is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
It is not that the saffron brigade perpetrated this kind of massacre only after coming to power. Not to talk of the pre-1947 period, the RSS’ outfits have engineered gruesome riots at various places at one time or another --- in Bhiwandi, Jalgaon, Tellicherry, Aligarh, Moradabad, Meerut and Bhagalpur, to name only a few among many. If the Gujarat genocide was much more gruesome than the examples quoted, it was because it was perpetrated, and continues in a low key even today, with the full backing of state power. This underlines the gravity of the threat India is facing today --- the biggest threat so far in the history of independent India. Such events are an unmistakable indication of what India would be like tomorrow if the saffron brigade is allowed to return to power.
SAGA OF DECEIT
BUT naked cruelty is not the only hallmark of RSS controlled outfits. Just like any fascistic organisation, another and equally distinguishing hallmark of theirs is the deceit they practise for the sake of capturing power. As we know, the RSS has created thousands of outfits all over India --- from national to local level. Many of them speak in different voices, the VHP for example keeps railing against the BJP, and on any single issue one can hear two leaders of the BJP saying mutually contradictory things. But all this has just one aim --- to dupe the masses and corner their votes. A commission of inquiry into the Bhiwandi riots of 1969 has already dealt with the way the RSS and its outfits function. Many of them do not keep a register of members or a record of proceedings, just to be able to claim they are not involved in a riot after they engineer it.
This deceit was also evident from the way the BJP fought the Lok Sabha polls in 1999. Unlike the 1998 polls, this time it refrained from issuing an election manifesto of its own and preferred to issue a joint manifesto in the name of the National Democratic Alliance over which it presides. As we have already pointed out in these pages, this manifesto was drafted by BJP leaders and that others may have just put their thumbs to it.
But a far more important thing is that, in 1999 polls, the BJP promised to keep the contentious issues on the backburner --- the issues of temple, article 370 and common civil code. But the fact is that this was just a ploy to rope in other NDA parties. The last five years are a testimony to the fact that the BJP never cared for the sentiments of its allies, and went on doing what it wanted to do. Top BJP leaders are on record that they have not given up these issues, that they have only “postponed” them till they get a majority of their own.
As for other NDA parties, they did not want to have any burden on their conscience, and it seems their conscience got clear when the said issues were kept out of the NDA manifesto! Now, they could afford to be aloof when Christians were subjected to attacks or Muslims were massacred in Gujarat.
But this is what made the NDA manifesto just a trash. If the manifesto talked of “genuine secularism” and of “reaching out to the minorities” and protecting the rights the constitution has granted them, the last five years give enough testimony of how these words were put into practice.
These five years of NDA rule, which was a de facto BJP rule, have indeed been a saga of deceit par excellence.
TIME FOR THEM TO GO HAS COME
AND the same deceit is being practised today in other forms. Here we will not go into the story of what the BJP led regime has done in these five years. The unprecedented burdens they heaped on the masses, the way they sacrificed our people’s interests at various junctures, their surrender of our economic sovereignty inch by inch, the way they enacted POTA and other draconian legislations to rule by brute force, the way they tried to saffronise the whole set-up including the educational curricula and textbooks in order to produce a generation of fanatic storm-troopers and cannon fodders, their corruption scams one after another, and their willing capitulation to US imperialists on crucial issues --- all these are well known to our people and have been dealt with in these columns from time to time. Suffice it to say that independent India has never before witnessed a regime that has so unabashedly betrayed our national interests at the behest of its masters abroad.
In fact, it is the shameful record of five years that forced the BJP to resort to a series of gimmicks, as it is doing today. While unfounded claims are being made about growth, development, job creation and road construction in the last five years, the plight of the mass of people has gone from bad to worse at the same time. People starved to death while the godowns were overflowing with grains. Per capita availability of grains has declined from 177 grams in 1993-94 to 153 grams a day, while grains are being exported at damn cheap prices to serve as chicken feed in the US and other western countries. Truly, the life of these chickens is more valuable than that of hapless Indians!
Even today, an estimated 300 million Indians go without two square meals a day and some 5,000 of our children are dying of malnutrition related diseases everyday. Who would believe that India is today shining as never before!
Do the BJP leaders believe it? Most probably not, otherwise they won’t have felt the necessity of doling out sops to various segments of population. These gimmicks are perfectly in line with the deceit, the brigade’s stock in trade. As an example of this deceit, one can well recall here how the Vajpayee regime hiked the petrol and diesel prices immediately after the last phase of polling in October 1999 was over, without waiting even for the poll results.
But the political history of India, at least from 1977 onward, unmistakably testifies to the political maturity of our people who have overthrown one regime after another, caring a damn for the propaganda barrages let loose from time to time. Time for the BJP and its hankers-on to go has come.
ROLE FOR SECULAR PARTIES
THE BJP and NDA are putting up a brave face today, as every potential loser does. Sometimes they claim the NDA will corner no less than 340 Lok Sabha seats, and sometimes the claim is that the BJP alone will garner 300. The fact is that compared to 1998, the BJP did not get a single more seat in 1999, and it was only the TDP’s outside support that enabled it to ride roughshod over the nation’s destiny. But the BJP’s allies simply remained mute spectators to the Gujarat massacre and attacks on Christians, to the saffronisation drive and to the sale of our national interests to foreign powers even when, by their sheer number, they could well have put a check on all these things.
Today, if the BJP cares a hoot for its allies’ sentiments when it is dependent on them, one may well surmise that it won’t take a moment to show them the door if by chance it ever gets a majority on its own. Yet, the NDA parties too will have to answer to the masses for all the government’s acts of omission and commission. Many of them have suffered erosions in their mass bases and six of them have already quit the motley combine called the NDA.
As for non-NDA secular forces, the imperative is clear. They do realise that the coming election is not an ordinary election; rather the fate of the nation is itself in balance. True, there are serious differences between them on several issues. But one thing is clear as daylight: that the first and foremost necessity today is to save the nation and its secular character, its pluralistic ethos and syncretic culture --- things that are our basic identity. Policy differences have any meaning only if the nation remains. If the nation is lost, everything is lost.
This is the understanding with which the non-NDA secular parties will join the coming electoral battle.
As for the CPI(M), we are aware of the gravity of the situation, including the divisions in opposition ranks, and we well do whatever we can to see that the BJP and its allies are defeated. It is true that we have basic policy differences with the Congress, the main opposition party, and hence we cannot have a front with it. We are also of the opinion that if the Congress follows the same policies it had followed while in power, it can only go in favour of the saffron brigade, and hence we do ask the Congress to demarcate itself from the BJP on policy issues. But short of a front with the Congress, we are committed to prevent a division of anti-BJP votes. This is the most viable course today to defeat the BJP, which is, as our Central Committee said, “essential for the defence of secularism and federalism, for ensuring that India progresses on the basis of democracy, economic sovereignty and social justice.”
Source: People's Democracy