Recommendations for Relief?

It may be suicidal for progressives and others to downplay the objective forces and underlying conditions that have pushed so many people to embrace right-wing politics, undercut acts of broader solidarity and refuse to see real reasons behind daily agonies of survival. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) enjoys a kind of special privilege to set agenda for its political adversaries. Ironically it used to do so in the yester years for the ruling dispensation even when it was not in power. So the temple question returns with a difference. With their man at the helm in Uttar Pradesh the saffronites look too restive to revive temple-hope in the immediate future. Suddenly the Supreme Court in a peculiar move asked the parties to the Ayodha dispute to become pragmatic enough while adhering to the policy of ‘‘give a bit and take a bit’’ for a fruitful dialogue to resolve the contentious issue. In other words the apex court now favours ‘‘Out of Court Settlement’’. But the warring parties in the first place failed to resolve the dispute through talks. Also, mediation by religious high priests didn’t work. The Court’s observation that ‘‘religion and sentiments’’ related issues can be best solved across the table has no taker. After all previous negotiations across the table proved futile.

What is more the Chief Justice of India offered himself or other members of the bench to act as mediators if the parties to the dispute so desire. Then what is wrong in adjucating the case on merits and evidences! That ‘Give and Take’ formula which the Supreme Court mooted in response to BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy’s plea for constituting a bench to hear a batch of petitions challenging a 2010 Allabahad High Court order on the matter, won’t satisfy the contending parties, is a fact life. The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court in 2010 had ruled for a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres area at the site. And it was rejected by the parties. True, a court decision may not make everyone happy. But it is its constitutional duty and it cannot avoid it. With the Supreme Court declining to intervene legally, the situation is now back to square one. So showdown in the streets will be the logical outcome of the apex court’s decision which many interpret as a bonus to the temple crusaders.

How the saffron brigade demolished the Babri Mosque on December 6, 1992 is now history. Over the years they have been trying to legalise an illegal act without success. With the BJP governments in place both at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh they now want to aggravate communal polarisation with an eye to the 2019 parliamentary poll, so the temple-mosque tussle is gaining currency again.

But it is unlikely for the Court to get rid of the temple battle so easily as the Supreme Court asked the BJP leaders L K Advani, MM Joshi and other accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case to give their written submissions and adjourned the matter for two weeks.

It’s also unlikely for the Adityanath government in Lucknow to start construction of temple at the disputed site by violating law. But it is quite likely for them to start a fresh campaign for the temple as pledged in their election manifesto. Main issues that affect hundreds of thousands of people in all walks of life, are blurred. What gets wide publicity is unstoppable saffron merch.

As the Modi government with the tacit approval of RSS, is hell bent on rewritting Indian history, the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists. BJP is not only a twisted caricature of every variation of economic, political, educational and religious fundamentalism, it is the apogee of an increasingly intolerant and authoritarian culture committed to destroying free speech, civil rights, women’s freedom and all varieties of social justice and democracy.

Modi is the authoritarian shadow that has been lurking in the dark for quite some time. After demonetisation Modi’s authoritarianism has now become viral, pursuing obnoxious policies to spread their toxic ideology of bigotry, cruelty and pampering of corporate. Allegations of hostility against human rights defenders are multiplying, mostly in BJP-ruled states, with every passing day. Academics, lawyers, professors, journalists—all are hounded by the police and saffron vigilantes across the country. To talk of fighting BJP-sponsored communalism is meaningless unless anti-BJP forces raise their voice against blatant violation of human rights and gaging of freedom of speech in almost all states run by BJP.

Democrats, Liberals and Rationalists having no specific political affiliation, are targeted and silenced whenever they try to raise voice for the voiceless. Democratic space is gradually shrinking which is simply ignored or overlooked by the so-allied secularists. Fighting against communal forces in isolation and that too in election season, is no answer to right-wing ideology which thrives in an atmosphere of fear psychosis and denial of civil liberties. There are so many non-BJP ‘secular parties’ and yet BJP succeeds in marginalising all of them. Secularists are bound to fail so long as they remain sceptical about BJP’s social and economic base while equating communalism with Muslim-bashing only.

Saffron aggression is no longer a figment of the past but a present day reality enshrined in the ethos of neo-liberalism and corporatisation of every aspect of economic and social life. But anti-saffronites, better to say ‘secularists’ never analyse why ordinary people are going against their own interests in supporting the BJP. Progressives must recognise that stopping BJP without destroying their economic and social conditions that produced it will fail.

Vol. 49, No.39, April 2 - 8, 2017