Fire Underground

Violence begets violence. And when it is the question of communal violence a single spark can start a prairie fire. Right now the country is burning over derogatory language used by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson against Prophet Muhammad. Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Karnataka and Jharkhand witnessed large-scale violent protests, with many government vehicles and properties destroyed. The saffron activists have developed a habit of issuing provocative statements every now and then hurting religious sentiments of the minority community. When efforts were underway in several parts of the country to pacify the aggrieved, a BJP legislator from Uttar Pradesh added fuel to fire by circulating a video clip showing two persons in police uniform were caning nine young men in a room as they scream and beg for mercy. And he called it a return gift for the rioters. The Yogi Adityanath government in Lucknow started his bulldozer action programme demolishing the houses of alleged rioters. An atmosphere of fear has been created across the country. Any voice of dissent is being crushed ruthlessly to mock at what they call the biggest democracy in the world. The very name of police, the law and order maintaining authority, sends shivers down the spines of poor and socially disadvantaged.

Surprisingly the so-called secular parties are virtually absent to face the supercharged situation. In truth secularism as they talk about from time to time has very little relevance to the ground reality. Protesters or rioters as the BJP camp calls them are mostly young men having no future in India’s shrinking job market. The huge army of unemployed could be utilised easily by the religious bigots or by political parties to further their vested interests. The simmering discontent among people gets ventilated under one pretext or another. They just need an occasion.

The BJP has long been trying to communally polarise the society. All the ‘registered’ secular parties are totally ineffective against BJP’s machinations. As for the Congress nobody takes its secular credentials seriously. Not that the country was communal riots free under Congress rule. Those who think communalism can be combated by appealing to the people to maintain peace and harmony are at worst deceiving themselves. Fighting communalism without attacking its economic base is anything but shadow-boxing.

Left parties once tried to fight communalism in its totality by organising mass movements. The areas that have past history of peasant struggle are less prone to communal appeal. The Bengal districts that witnessed massive ‘Tebhaga Movement’by peasants under the leadership of communists were hardly rocked by riots even during partition days. Those days are gone. Communists no longer organise peasants on the issues that affect their livelihoods and well-being in the changed context. Communalism or secularism, it is the class question that matters . The communist left has virtually abandoned the path of class struggle. Their one-point agenda, rather survival agenda, is how to motivate voters by offering sops. Communist parties have been reduced to election-oriented parties, their Marxist or anti-Marxist world revolves around winning elections or losing them. So communal riots will recur and they will remain silent spectators, sometimes criticising the ruling dispensation for not taking timely police action.

As for the far left the less said the better. They don’t bother about minor issues like communalism, unemployment, price rise and all that. They will solve all the vexed questions after revolution. They think only in terms of armed revolution. But continuing armed counter-revolution, is eating the vitals of society, particularly after the rise of saffron power. They are totally isolated from urban population. These days their violent actions in some rural pockets no longer hit the headlines. They are losing ground even in some tribal hamlets--their traditional base. At least 300 naxal activists and sympathisers including village committee members recently surrendered before the Malkangiri police bosses in Odisha. Earlier in the same region 50 maoist supporters reportedly surrendered while pledging to sever ties with the naxals. Whether they admit it or not, the maoist influence in the earstwhile cut-off areas and epicentre of their major operations in Malkangiri referred as ‘ Swabhiman Anchala’ in official parlance, is steadily disintegrating. They claim to be mass party without any mass-line. They have never been able to form a united front against the common enemy. This time it is none other than Modi’s BJP. Their idea of protracted people’s war is aimed at war, not people. Divisive politics pursued by the persons in power has reached alarming proportions. The Modi brigade is playing with fire without realising how ‘fire’ is engulfing underground. Sporadic outbursts are just symptoms for a larger upheaval!



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Vol 54, No. 52, Jun 26 - Jul 2, 2022