Bad Omens

Hiren Gohain

Astrange phenomenon seems to have become rather commonplace these days. An unknown person suddenly becomes feverishly patriotic, and brings in a suit against a political leader, or a writer or a social activist that he/she has offended against religious sentiments of a community or insulted the national flag, or gone against some rule or other in IPC. Such allegations are so childish that these should be dismissed at the level of police stations or lower courts. But these are taken cognizance of and pursued to the level of the Supreme Court, where their lordships gravely deliberate on them. Such blatant violations of justice in literal pursuit of law do not raise a scandal but they have become the 'new normal'.

How has this come to pass? There is no doubt that it is by and large the innovation of BJP/RSS that inspire such patriotic persecution. Everyday there is a new evidence of the government invoking some law or rule to victimize somebody or other. The opposition condemns it, the press expresses disapproval but the authorities turn a deaf ear. The game is clear as daylight. The constitution is being rendered hollow by subverting all the implicit unspoken values that give it any substance. There is a background to this.

Actually the conventions of democracy and its implicit values have long been under siege since the onset of neo-liberalism. Because the new order was hostile to national sovereignty, social justice and the principle of equality, all sorts of legal chicanery and subterfuge were undertaken to bring in anti-people legislation to favour big capital, domestic and international. And intellectuals and civil rights activists were either bribed or blown up like balloons until they became oblivious of the thin ice they were skating on. Political parties were given a false sense of security by holding so-called national debates where they could vent their ire while rulers were putting in place dangerous laws and introducing unconstitutional measures. For example by invoking "safety net" the government signed away hard-earned labour rights and social security. Land rights and right to universal education of the people were being bartered away to big business under the umbrella of benign phrases. The Congress initiatives brought about a crisis in life and livelihood of the people and resistance was slowly shaping. The Left parties could have mounted genuine opposition, but they were hoodwinked and sidelined. Anna Hazare became the innocent stalking-horse used by the Hindutva scouts and guerilla forces of, BJP which came to power at that juncture.

BJP's strategy is to continue the attack on the people by diverting public attention with anti-corruption stunts and using naked force to intimidate opposition. Years of hollow democratic rhetoric covering up the opposite have left people jaded. The ruling classes are unsheathing their claws now through BJP. Hence the attack on labour rights and autonomy of institutions, and freedom of the press. Also the reason for the threat to Kashmir's special status.

People who have become complicit on the universal loot speak in muffled voices or with forked tongues. Editor of a radical magazine was hounded out by left liberal stars under a trivia! pretext because he had exposed one of the big gangs. These are bad omens. It is the supine surrender of democrats which has paved the way for fascists. There are embers of genuine resistance every-where, but one cannot expect opportunists and glamorous hucksters to provide leadership to blow them into a blaze. But the people can and will fight under leaders they can trust. Parties must earn this trust.

Vol. 50, No.10, Sep 10 - 16, 2017