''All is Possible''

People cannot be led by petty politics. As this is written the issue of citizenship in Assam is hotting up. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the face of far right in Indian politics, embodies a familiar mix of communalism, anti-migrant hatred and strange attraction to medieval myths. The Apex Court's assurance that there will be no coercive action by the authorities against 4 million people whose names don't figure in Assam's National Register of Citizens (NRC), has no taker among the victims. Whether they call it NRC draft list or something else, doesn't matter much in the field. They are refugees again—plain and simple. What matters in the end is how to deal with the new refugees numbering more than 4 million. Bangladesh won't take them back. Nor are they welcome guests in West Bengal. In truth Bangladesh is already overburdened with Rohingyas. For all practical purposes this citizenship battle is mainly being fought in Bengal, not Assam. If today the ruling dispensation in Bengal is so vocal about the communal and parochial game-plan of BJP in respect of neo-refugees in Assam, it is because they apprehend an exodus of millions of rootless and homeless people to North Bengal anytime soon, affecting the state's demographic balance and putting tremendous pressure on the economy. Then they have an eye to the 2019 parliamentary elections. The NRC list has paved the way for another round of communal polarisation in Assam as also in Bengal. How far this will help the contending parties in the coming parliamentary polls is open to question. They are trying to cash in on human catastrophe. Unlike the Rohingyas in Bangladesh, these 4 million people are internal refugees, having less possibility of getting international attention. Nobody wants to remain refugee forever. But these people have no option.

Whatever the Modis say about development and corruption free India, ultimately it is communal polarisation, they depend on to win elections and in Assam it is communalism and parochialism. Their policy to make India corruption free is a grand hoax. It's a false propaganda which remains unchallenged by the Opposition. India under the BJP rule is more violent and more corrupt than it used to be a few years ago. There was a 67 percent jump in complaints of corruption as reported by the Central Vigilance Commission. Also, as per a recent survey by Transparency International, an anti-corruption global civil society organisation, India had the highest bribery rate among the 26 Asia-Pacific countries. No public service is available without bribe. This is how Modi's India is advancing to become a superpower, hopefully, in another 100 years. As for violence the less said the better. Mob-lynching by cow vigilantes has become a regular phenomenon in North India.

Demonetisation has shattered the economy. To suppress the failure of demonetisation Modi and his lieutenants quickly switched over to digitisation and cashless transaction to make a hell for ordinary citizens. Then came the notorious GST. All things considered the Modi camp doesn't find it so easy to make it another term. No amount of demagogic showmanship will work. The citizenship row in Assam has now provided a new tool to polarise voters on communal lines in the East and North-East.

In Bengal the political left's response to the Assam citizenship crisis is too clever by half. They are blaming it on the ruling dispensation in Bengal—Trinamul Congress (TMC)—for the rise of BJP without explaining why their cadres who are supposed to be motivated by Marxist philosophy, are joining the saffron party. CPM is a Marxist party without Marxist cadres. They have trained them over the years in the cesspool of opportunism. And so they are now reaping bitter harvest from poisonous seeds they sowed.

How is it that their continued characterisation of BJP as a communal fascist party has little impact on the poor—who actually bear the brunt of communal politics. Communal passion, religious fanaticism to be precise, is endemic in Indian polity. It can be whipped up anytime anywhere with slightest provocation. They attack BJP without attacking its economic base—communalism doesn't grow in vacuum. Communalism under Modi's regime is taking different forms in different regions. In Assam it is citizenship issue, in North India it is cow and dalit-bashing, while in South India it is violent campaign against rationalists who refuse to subscribe to hindutva ideology.

Congress cannot fight communalism because it is not against the economic base that props up communal fascism. The left never looks at the roots of the evil. Communalism stems from inequality in society and inequalities are rapidly growing under the BJP rule. They are mobilising the marginalised on wrong slogans while the left fails to produce counter-slogans to fight communal politics in its entirety. The over-used secular rhetoric cannot work. The saffron ideologues have been demonising the minorities as enemies of the 'nation', rather Hindu nation, for nearly 90 years, since 1925. It's not that easy to demolish their ideological foundation by continually parroting the virtues of secularism and glorifying the wisdom of the constitution makers. Toilers must be mobilised in their millions against the economic base that sustains communal-fascist ideology. Today there is no idealism of freedom movement. There is no sense of community, neo-liberalism promotes individualism. The middle class that associated itself with social movements, including trade union movement, peasant movement, student movement, is vanishing, thanks to bankruptcy of leftist ideology. In its place a section of vocal middle class is emerging that finds their interests best served in 'reforms' which don't address the myriad problems the downtrodden are facing day in and day out. They are trapped by saffronites to believe the unbelievable that the minorities, the 'illegal infiltrators' (or economic migrants) stand in the way of 'development' amd nation-building.

The left is waiting for better times so that they could take on communal fascists on their own terms. It's unlikely to happen in the near future. Fighting BJP and its fascist frontal outfits demands something positive and new in practice and theory. This is an age of total crisis forcing the people to make a choice between absolute terror and absolute freedom. But the left is treading the middle path with no future. Being in saffron India is being in a whirlwind.

Vol. 51, No.6, Aug 12 - 18, 2018