Saffron Storm Troopers

Smash the Modi-Shah combine

Sumanta Banerjee

The urgent need is to shred to pieces (tukde tukde) the Amit Shah—Narendra Modi gang of the Sangh Parivar, before they could destroy India's secular and federal structure. India's youth are coming out in the streets to preserve that structure. It is important to note that during demonstrations, they read out the Preamble from the Indian Constitution, thus reiterating the basic principles of the Constitution that are being subverted by the present BJP regime.

How can one defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime and its nefarious influence on the populace ? It is going to be a long haul during the next crucial four years leading up to the Lok Sabha elections of 2024. The struggle to dislodge the Sangh Parivar from power has to be carried out at different levels—(i) in the electoral space provided by state assembly elections (as evident from results in Jharkhand and Maharashtra); (ii) on the streets (through non-violent and civil disobedience movement as manifest in the youth upsurge against CAA, NRC and NPR other discriminatory and oppressive laws); (iii) through legal channels like approaching the high courts and the Supreme Court challenging the BJP government; and (iv) by physical resistance against the violence by the Bajrang Dal, ABVP and other lumpen outfits of the saffron camp.

It is necessary to galvanise this spontaneous uprising by bringing together its various strands into a coherent organisational form that will include the farmers agitations and the industrial workers (whose discontent found protest in the general strike 8 January). Who will bell the cat? What is required is an alliance of these grass roots agitations with the mainstream Opposition political parties during the next four years, so that the BJP regime can be overthrown in 2024, if not earlier.

As it is, the Modi-Shah regime is lunging from one crisis to another, given the declining growth rate and rising unemployment followed by the socio-political turmoil created by the CAA, NRC and NPR draconian measures. The erstwhile supporters of Modi in the business world, and its hitherto toadies in the media have started singing a different tune. The publicity that the mainstream newspapers are giving to the anti-CAA popular agitations has unnerved the prime minister to such an extent that he was compelled to urge BJP workers at a function in New Delhi on January 20 to disregard the coverage of these agitations by the media. (Re: Times of India, January 21, 2020). The BJP's allies in the ruling coalition—the SAD and JD(U)—are trying to distance themselves from the unpopular measures, because of internal pressures from within their own parties. In Bihar, the JD(U) chief minister Nitish Kumar is facing dissent within his party, with his spokesman Pawan Verma publicly expressing his differences from his policy of aligning with BJP.

Even within its ranks, the BJP is facing dissidence—with its members in Assam opposing the CAA, who suspect that it will allow Bangladeshi immigrants to be citizens that will upset the demographic composition in Assam. In West Bengal, the BJP spokesperson Chandra Bose has expressed his reservations about CAA on the grounds of religious discrimination.

This is the opportune moment for the Opposition parties to corner prime minister Modi, and fracture his ruling coterie, by mobilising all these disgruntled and dissenting elements within the BJP and among its allies, through agitations to pressurise them to desert the Modi-Shah led ruling gang. The next four years are crucial for the survival and continuation of the Modi-led government. In order to divert public attention from the growing domestic popular discontent, Modi may try to get into another military confrontation with Pakistan on the external front, to trump up popular national patriotism—as he did by the pseudo-adventurist Balakot strike which earned him votes from a deluded electorate at the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Will the Indian state's militarist nationalist claims prevail over the Indian citizen's existentialist concerns over hunger, unemployment, health problems without adequate medical support, environmental destruction among other things? These are the issues which the Opposition parties have to prioritise in their campaigns in the coming years. The spontaneous popular agitations against CAA, NRC and NPR have provided them with avenues for joining them and orienting them towards a wider political movement aimed at dislodging the BJP government.

Coming to the last point which was raised at the beginning—the need to resist the violence of the lumpen outfits of the Sangh Parivar—it is essential to combine non-violent civil disobedience type demonstrations (that people are observing on the streets and the campuses today) with physical resistance against the goons of the ABVP, Bajrang Dal and other outfits of the Sangh Parivar who attack rationalist and secular intellectuals, and disrupt their meetings. These outfits lack the intellectual calibre to engage in debates and discussions, and therefore resort to physical violence to counter opposite opinions. Since they have introduced the language of violence in the political scenario, they have to be countered in the same language—the only language that they understand.

But who can launch such a physical opposition against the Sangh Parivar? Among the anti-BJP forces, the only armed opposition was expected from the CPI(Maoist) party. But then, its leaders belittled the threat of the all-India Hindu fascism, and concentrated instead only on safeguarding their local enclaves in the forests of Chhattisgarh. Today, most of its ideological leaders have been disseminated or imprisoned by the state, and its cadres have been reduced to rudder-less gangs of armed opportunists extorting money from contractors, and killing poor villagers whom they suspect as collaborators with the police. The main target of this party should have been the Sangh Parivar, which deserved retributive punishment. Since the CPI(Maoist) has abandoned its responsibility, it is necessary for other political and civil society activists to come together and organise self-defence squads to resist the ABVP-Bajrang Dal-Vishwa Hindu Parishad-RSS goons.

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Vol. 52, No. 32, Feb 9 - 15, 2020