Beyond ‘Delhi’


Narendra Modi has suffered a setback in the Delhi assembly polls. Well-meaning people all over the country are jubilant. Not only Modi's economic programme, but the agenda of Hindutva also, along with the concurrent process of distortion of history, has come up against a barrier. The question is whether it is a passing predicament for Narendra Modi and his party.

In West Bengal, supposed to be the seat of progressive and enlightened thought, the forces of Hindutva have been gaining ground and becoming more and more important in electoral politics. Even when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was a weak force here, the ideology of Hindutva was very much alive, although not always articulaled. When Indira Gandhi was assassinated, there was a wave of mourning in West Bengal and the Chief Minister and his party joined the bandwagon. But there were few incidents of mourning for the thousands of innocent Sikhs who were killed after the assassination. There were however official initiatives to prevent the outbreak of anti-Sikh violence in West Bengal, and progressive people from various walks of life participated in the effort to maintain communal harmony. Yet in West Bengal, there are many educated bhadraloks who love to believe that the killing of Sikhs was a spontaneous reaction of a section of the population. It may be mentioned that a considerable section of them habitually votes for the CPI(M). In 1988, quite a few Muslims were killed for demanding the right to perform namaj in the Katra Masjid of Murshidabad. The killed included a high-school teacher who had gone in search of a missing relative of his. A few educated young men of Hindu birth tried to launch a campaign against this communal violence, with the result that they were taunted and jeered at by the fellow upper caste Hindus. The killings were done not by RSS or VHP activists, but by others. The Left Front Government, which ruled West Bengal for more than two decades thereafter, did not make any serious effort to punish the guilty.

When the US government, under the false pretext of accumulation of weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussian, invaded Iraq and sent Saddam to the gallows, many bhadraloks did not try to suppress their heartfelt joy at the ‘klling of Muslims’. There has been little reaction among the bhadraloks at the brutal and inhuman attacks on Palestinians by zionist fascists. Still there are persons trying to prove that the genocide in Gujarat in 2002 was an inevitable reaction against the Godhra episode, although after the mass slaughter of Muslims, Pravin Togadia, the veteran RSS leader, boastfully declared that their Gujarat experiment had been successful. Apologists of Narendra Modi find it convenient to suppress this fact.

Hence it is uncertain if the rise of the BJP and its propaganda of Hindutva will be halted in West Bengal in the wake of the crushing defeat in the Delhi polls. Right now, there are many in this state, who feel sad at this defeat in Delhi. The Trinamul Congress is fast becoming a symbol of corruption, which has rendered it impotent to check the growing influence of the BJP, while the parliamentary left is yet to find its feet. The strength of the far left is not cohesive. Thus the ground is becoming fertile for the spread of the BJP ideology. Defeat in Delhi may not significantly influence the course of events as it is seen in the recently held bypolls in Bengal where Trinamul despite its corrupt and authoritarian image won both the parliamentary as also the assembly seat with thumping majority.

Vol. 47, No. 35, Mar 8 - 14, 2015