Scared by Tripura

With Modi happily completing his first term in office, India has drawn closer to some notoriously far-right governments of Eastern Europe where anti-communism coupled with immigrant-bashing is the order of the day. After Lenin's statue was removed in Tripura and Periyar's statue was vandalised in Tamil Nadu, statues of B R Ambedkar were damaged in parts of Uttar Pradesh. At least four such incidents have been reported recently from Aligarh and Meerut. Despite saffron march in Uttar Pradesh the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost two sensitive city corporations of Aligarh and Meerut due to the emerging Dalit–Muslim polarisation which may be critical in the coming 2019 parliamentary polls. The BJP's intolerance to any ideology other than hindutva is now taking different forms—vandalising statues of popular icons is one of them. Not that they solely depend on communal riots to win elections and polarise voters on religious fanaticism. By vandalising statues, they are clearly sending message to the communist left and oppressed communities that they have waited for too long for moulding India into their obnoxious majoritarian image.

India has changed a lot since 1947. In retrospect the Congress regime's systematic crushing of popular movements of the down-trodden in the yester years can be seen as a dress-rehearsal for the saffron brigade's more aggressive posture today to make a desperate attempt to murder whatever remains of democratic space and constitutional values. Intolerance is the hallmark of every reactionary ideology and BJP's regressive vision of society cannot sustain itself without showing more intolerance towards progressive ideas and parliamentary opposition parties.

In truth there is no serious opposition to the BJP at any level. Walk-out in parliament is no answer to BJP's massive campaign against anything rational and liberal clauses of the Constitution. They are rewriting history, falsifying facts and fanning prejudice and bigotry without much resistance. Defeating CPM in Tripura otherwise described as the second Bengal where Bengalis have outnumbered original inhabitants they are now doubly encouraged to monopolise power from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Blaming it on muscle and money power cannot really explain the inglorious demise of CPM in electoral politics. Over the years they have been demanding more doles from the Centre while following the same neo-liberal model of economic management in practice.

For the unemployed the heaven will not fall if CPM loses. For the distressed peasants it is immaterial whether BJP loses or CPM wins, they have no option but ro resort to self-destruction—suicide—for salvation. For the workers of vanishing factories there is no difference between the red flag and the saffron flag. Not that tribals in Tripura will miss autonomy and right to forest produce if CPM ceases to exercise their authoritarian rule all in the name of the people. All their politics revolves around electoral permutations and combinations. In election everything is fair, the perception of friends and foes changes according to alignment and realignment of vested interests. The Marxist party has long forfeited the right to fly the red flag. This crimson red party cannot motivate the poor anymore because it hardly talks of the class it is supposed to represent. It has totally changed its class out-look. Maybe, in their revised formulation of Marxism, formation of government by any means, fair or foul, is the highest form of class struggle! Their struggle is not against big business, rather they are more interested in pacifying the aggrieved and deprived. Politics of collaboration matters in all their activities which are specifically election oriented. Most of their young cadres seem to have not heard the existence of a party programme adopted in the sixties promising to complete a people's democratic revolution! Today they represent the forces of counter-revolution, not revolution. If electoral compulsion demands they may one day join hands with BJP, all their outbursts against BJP are too passive and skin-deep to make it a point of no return. Condemning communal riots and atrocities on Dalits from afar cannot make people believe they are genuinely secular and pro-people. They are isolated from basic masses everywhere. Tripura is not an isolated island. They are no less communal and casteist than BJP—only difference is that they don't make it in terms of temple and mosque or for that matter cow. Like the Euro-communists they are destined to go into the garbage of history not in the distant future.

Panicked by the saffron avalanche in Tripura, some opposition parties and regional groups have begun to voice their desire to project an alternative platform to the BJP in the 2019 parliamentary polls. They have called a meeting of such anti-BJP parties in Delhi on March 27 and 28 under the initiative of Shared Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party. But most regional parties are opportunist to the core—they have no sound political basis to call themselves regional in the first place. A little dose of liberal grant-in-aid from the Centre will be enough to silence them. Some politicians in Tamil Nadu see in vandalising Periyar's statue a diversionary tactic to divert public attention from the burning issue of Cauvery water dispute. Communal BJP is not their headache. All opposition parties including Congress and dozens of communist outfits are too impotent to fight against the economic base that sustains Modi and his party. When it is the question of economy and impoverishment of vast majority of people Congress has no case at all. After all BJP is executing more faithfully and ruthlessly the Congress policy of corporatisation and privatisation. Talking about corruption here and there makes little impact on the voters because they accept it as part of birth right of politicians and bureaucrats who manage the administrative system.

It is unlikely that a strong federal front or opposition front will emerge out of Tripura panic. Without an alternative economic model and a common ideological bond no opposition platform can last for long even if they succeed in making a makeshift arrangement. A powerful opposition movement against the saffronites can succeed only if it begins where the Janata experiment in 1977 ended. An idea of democracy existed in the streets during the post-emergency period, and for those who care about other India's future, that idea becomes even more compelling as it requires to build resistance against this terrible present.

Vol. 50, No.37, Mar 18 - 24, 2018