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Editorial

Whither the Country?

Narendra Modi and his party's election victory, despite his so many failed promises, despite the grim employment situation, despite the damaging impact of demonetization and some other factors, has shown that the systematic attempt at communal polarization has largely succeeded and that the forces of regionalism have weakened under the onslaught of the campaign backed by the corporate bourgeoisie. It is also clear that a kind of hate politics gripped the minds of a large section of the electorate. It must, however, be admitted that the fight against this hate politics symbolised in the cult of Jay Sri Ram has been feeble and half-hearted. One specific example may be provided. When the BJP organized an aggressive Ram Navami programme in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee too organized another Ram Navami. Both sides forgot that except in some areas, which were considered by the early exponents of the Jharkhand movement as part of the Jharkhand region, Ram Navami was never a general festival of the Bengali population. Professor Amartya Sen earned the ire of the Hindutva brigade by pointing it out; he has also incurred their wrath by his fully correct comment that Jay SriRam is now an instrument of beating people. The ruling powers do not care for Amartya Sen, simply because they have no idea about Amartya Sen's long quest for learning. Probably they are ignorant of what Meghnad Saha, one of the most eminent physicists of modern India, said of the cult of Rama. On the other hand, Mamata Banerjee's policy of remunerating imams of masjids have not benefitted the Muslim community at all, but has provoked many to question why Hindu priests of temples should not have been remunerated in a like fashion, as if remunerating Muslim imams and Hindu priests at the same time would have been very good. Thus, religion comes to dominate politics in this subcontinent.

That the Indian state is clearly moving to be a fascist one, although without the economic foundation that marked European fascism, is evident from many events other than mob lynching by 'cow vigilantes', arrest of Sudha Bharadwaj, Soma Sen, Gautam Navlakha et al, on patently false charges, murder of rationalists and stupid, but systematic promotion of anti-science by the ruling party everywhere. One of these events is the way the ruling BJP has behaved in Tripura during the panchayet polls. In this state, most of the BJP leaders are erstwhile functionaries of the Trinamul Congress. It may be recalled that during the panchayet polls in West Bengal, held in 2018, the TMC, with the connivance of the police and by using its muscle power, prevented a large number of opposition candidates from filing their nominations and in about 40% of the seats, won uncontested. There were severe protests from all other parties including the BJP and the explanation, a blatantly false one, offered by the TMC was that the opposition did not find candidates in those seats. It is surmised by several commentators that this is one of the reasons why the TMC has suffered setbacks in West Bengal in the latest Lok Sabha polls. Recently, in the Tripura panchayet polls, the BJP has won 85% of the seats uncontested, and it is clear how it has done so. Here too the BJP's explanation is the same as that offered by the TMC to explain its sweeping victory in the West Bengal panchayet polls. Regional mendacity is now metamorphosed into central mendacity. The signs are ominous, but the fact is that there has been no resistance worth the name in either of the cases. A recent most occurrence is that of the killing of 12 adivasis at a village in the district of Sonbhadra by the private army of a village chief. To which party the chief and his army belong is anybody's guess. Priyanka Gandhi has been prevented from going to the village and meeting the families of the killed. It may be recalled that when Indira Gandhi, with the infamous record of the Emergency just behind her, went to visit Belchi, a Bihar village, in the immediate aftermath of the killing of 11 dalits by upper caste people, the Bihar government led by Karpoori Thakur did not block her way. An almost concurrent event is the lynching of three persons just on suspicion by cow vigilantes at a village in the district of Saran in Bihar. It goes without saying that unless there is a nationwide movement, such events will be multiplied, and those sections of dalits and OBCS, who are rejoicing over the persecution of Muslims will have to pay their price at some future date when realization of their follies will no longer be fruitful. Historical parallels may be given, but they are of little use now. What is now the role of the civil society? Does it prefer to remain somnolent?

20-07-2019

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Frontier
Vol. 52, No. 5, Aug 4 - 10, 2019