‘In Search of Fascism’

Having failed to thwart saffron march Congress is now enacting a Bofors drama in reverse. So Rahul Gandhi has finally found something to cheer about in Rafale, rather Rafale defence deal in a political situation otherwise dominated by Modi and his showmen. It's all about corruption. 'Bofors' vs 'Rafale'. Whether 'Rafale' is more scandalous than 'Bofors' is immaterial to ordinary people but it matters to the dynastic Congress because they think they could now pay the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the same coin. For many years opposition parties depended heavily on 'Bofors' to grill the Gandhi-family controlled Congress to gain political mileage in elections. But 'Bofors' didn't really influence the outcome of poll results in a big way in favour of the opposition. It's unlikely for Rahul Gandhi to convert 'Rafale' into something akin to swing or wave in favour of Congress. One corrupt party is asking another corrupt party to prove before the electorate that they are clean. Surprisingly 'Rafale' unlike 'Bofors' is not yet a staple for the media. While replying to the allegation made by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley dismissed the charge as baseless. He would like to accuse Congress of manufacturing corrupt charges against BJP out of sheer desperation. Also, he made it clear that he won't divulge the 'Rafale' transactions because it was a defence matter. It's easier for players operating in defence field to make money without being accountable to public. Any criticism, real or concocted can be silenced by raising the spacious plea of secrecy and national security. Strangely, they are not even accountable to parliament. People hardly take charges and counter-charges of corruption in high places seriously because it is now part of the elitist game called parliamentary culture. The issues that affect the masses don't really figure in their mock-fight over corruption. Again, it is now fashionable to carry on this mock-fight in social media only to avoid hazards of mass involvement in the streets.

The hard reality is that the BJP is not at all worried about corruption charges; their foot-soldiers can manage it well at social media level. After all majority of voters won't decide their opinion by going through social media niceties. Drawing room political culture is not for the poor voters. For all practical purposes the BJP is in a hurry to expedite three notorious 'reforms'—demonetisation, use of Aadhaar card and GST—before the on-set of 2019 electioneering season. Also, they have a point to prove to big business houses that they are better 'reformers' than Congress. All of them are accountable to corporates, not people. As Congress doesn't differ from BJP on all these three-monstrous policy matters they have no option but to raise corruption charges to keep their leaky boat floating. In truth BJP is executing Congress policies with more aggression and ruthlessness to show the corporate lobby that the policy paralysis of Congress regime is a thing of the past. And by any standard, at least by Indian standard they are better mercenaries than Congress. Like the saffron brigade the Gandhis too are trying to divert public attention from real issues to secondary ones. So 'Rafale' is now making rounds in electoral vocabulary. Everybody knows no overseas business deal is free from behind the scene 'give and take' philosophy. Deals are sold with bribes and deals are purchased with bribes. Both sellers and buyers get cut money and it is as normal as anything else. What varies is the scale, quantum of corruption.

The Congress is now arguing against some aspects of the draconian Aadhaar before the 5-man constitutional bench of the Supreme Court. But their approach is too clever by half. They are not opposing it in its totality. Finding the bench is somewhat convinced about the Congress lawyer's argument that lack of Aadhaar infrastructure must not deprive the poor of their rations and widow's pension, they think even a temporary order on making the Aadhaar not mandatory would be nice for the coming electoral gamble. What is needed is a permanent stay order, not a temporary one. They are not against Aadhaar as such because it was after all their brain child. The government has already made it mandatory in the field of public life without much resistance from national or regional parties. If it is in legal tangle in the apex court at the moment, it is because some social activists are determined to expose the real intention of Aadhaar—they are obliging a few IT giants both domestic and foreign while compromising on national sovereignty and security.

Tragically, political parties, not excluding left parties, look reluctant to take to streets against the so-called major 'reforms'—demonetisation, use of Aadhaar and GST—that contain seeds of fascistic tendencies. While the official left, CPM to be precise, doesn't see any immediate danger of fascism or semi-fascism emerging in the polity despite ruthless suppression of voice of dissent and making citizens virtual prisoners through mandatory Aadhaar, the far left too is in a dilemma as to how to combat this menace called saffronised dictatorial regime headed by the poster boy of Bharatiya Janata Party Narendra Modi. Their sole agitational programme revolves around hindutva or hinduised religious fanaticism but the idea of hindutva is not without its economic base. This economic base is the stepping stone for the BJP brand of fascism. As for the CPM they failed to identify in their January conclave in Kolkata the principal enemy in present situation. A section preferred to ally with Congress to fight BJP but this minority view was overruled by the dominant ideologues who would like to maintain equidistance from both Congress and BJP and they see no immediate danger of the nation being gripped by fascism. Their draft political resolution reflected nothing but 'old wine in new bottle'. The final resolution to be adopted at the party congress scheduled to be held in April won't be any different.

For one thing most left parties don't see writing on the wall, they don't admit that they are totally isolated from masses and fascism won't oblige them because of their soft stance towards the saffronites. The left in general has lost the course in the middle—their 'wait and see policy' for better days can at worst compound their agony for survival.

Reforms have crippled the economy, investments falling despite periodic claim of high growth rate, job growth sluggish, a desperate situation for the 90 percent of population and there is no hope of course correction so long as the Modis have their way to do whatever they like. Despite severe oppressive conditions people are being forced to live in there is no possibility of a broad-based united front against fascism which is anyway coming.

Vol. 50, No.33, Feb 18 - 24, 2018