From the Masses, to the Masses

No, this doesn't happen in the biggest showcase of democracy. This multi-party system is unique in the sense that only during election season people get some idea about the number of political parties operating in the field. That something begs many questions, not least: what is the root of present crisis of democracy in India? It surely is not enough to call upon an 'idea of India' without specifying the content of that idea. That the far right threatens the 'idea of India' is a fact of life. That the political rise of the Right is a global phenomenon is also a hard reality. Unless something changes drastically, unless something comes along to turn back the swelling saffron tide, unless a new spirit of resistance emerges, the highly contested 2019 general elections promise to be the most catastrophic that people have known. The far right destroys democracy and still they may manage to make significant gains in the ensuing polls because of the failure of the Opposition to launch a united fight to save the 'idea of India'. Despite splintered opposition the 2019 elections may be viewed as a referendum between the India of the corporate elites, of banks, of FDI, and mutual funds and the India of peace loving people and toilers. For all practical purposes India is under fascist siege and helpless people are in a state of permanent disappointment with the so-called anti-Right parties. The passivity of secularists and politicos to comprehend the meaning of the other India has given the far right much of its powers. The Opposition parties are sadly repeating their cautious approach, rather non-response to the broader issue of human rights and more precisely violations of human rights by the powers that be to make democratic norms farcical. Their poll manifestos talk of doles to be offered to the poor. But they are too naive to speak the truth about why hundreds of thousands of political prisoners who are mostly from the oppressed communities are languishing in jails across the country. They are 'terrorists', 'maoists', or just individuals who refuse to kowtow to the ruling dispensation. They are the victims of the right-wing surge; they are being incarcerated for opposing irrationality and corporate horror. All are releasing useless manifestos because everybody will stop talking about them after the polls. These manifestos are at worst pamphlets of competitive populism having very little impact on masses, after all they don't reflect the aspirations of masses.

Despite adult franchise people continue to feel powerless and helpless as they cannot resist the multi-pronged attack of the ruling establishments legally. All the sensitive issues that affect daily life of people are gone. Tragically Modi continues to derive comfort from 'Balakot' and 'shooting down of satellites in space'. He has been deliberately politicising the army and the scientific community just to confuse the 'confused'.

As for non-left Opposition their position is understandable. But why the parliamentary left is shying away from raising the burning question of political prisoners and incarceration without trial for years is no less intriguing. If they think they could save their skin by making half-hearted noises about curtailment of constitutional rights here and there then they are living in a 'safe haven' that doesn't exist. There is still ample scope to make it a point in poll rallies if they are at all serious to fight fascism and work for a broad-based anti-fascist front. Today they are targeting human rights activists and climate crusaders who are individuals having no political party affiliation but tomorrow their party workers would be thrown behind bars without any trial. With the spread of policy of exclusion they are creating an atmosphere of more civil wars and insurgencies. Whether they like it or not the citizenship issue in Assam and North East has every possibility of degenerating into violent outbursts. They are trying to resolve a humanitarian problem by building more and more concentration camps which are anything but living hells. With lakhs of stateless people, having nowhere else to go, a violent conflict is likely to emerge in due season, particularly in Assam and that won't be a happy situation for the chauvinists and jingoists. Even the universally accepted norm of 'citizenship by birth' is ignored by the governments of the day both at the centre and in the state of Assam. Most left parties, not to speak of non-left parties, have so far failed to raise this issue—natural citizenship by birth. Maybe they too are playing it safe allowing the Modis to polarise people on communal lines further. Fascism and populism go hand in hand and in a situation of dire economic crisis, the pauperised poor are always ready to serve as mercenaries of the Modi brigade unless there is some radical change in the polity.

Vol. 51, No. 40, Apr 7 - 13, 2019