SOROOR AHMED argues that the victory of Narendra Modi cannot absolve him of the charge of being a fascist.
Fascists often use ballots rather than bullets to come to power. Hitler and Mussolini are the two notorious examples in the 20th century Europe. And when democratically elected Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency in 1975 she too was accused of being a fascist – but a fascist who lost two years later in 1977.
So Narendra Modi’s victory in 2007 assembly election does not absolve him of the charge of being a fascist. Like the above mentioned fascists, Modi and his outfit, the Bharatiya Janata Party, too used all the methods, fair and foul, to come to power.
The biggest success of the fascists is that they whip up the fear of external and internal enemies in the mind of a large section of people. In The Anatomy of Fascism Robert O. Paxton, a famous political theorist, writes: “Fascists need a demonized enemy against which to mobilize followers.” He points out that once an enemy is identified, the elite create myths inflaming the fears that the population begins to suffer from. This is happening in Gujarat.
The fear is so forcefully whipped up that it renders the opposition powerless. Be it in Germany or Italy or even in Gujarat, more than half of the voters were against the fascist rulers yet they managed to render the opposition irrelevant and useless. If the fear of Communist takeover and Jewish back-stabbing was so forcefully advocated in Germany and Italy, Narendra Modi whipped up the fear of ‘Muslim terrorism’ to such a scale that it became virtually impossible for the Congress to match him. Just as the Social Democrats in Germany, the Congress in Gujarat feared that if they go all out and speak something against the approach of Modi towards the so-called Muslim terrorism it would lose the vote of a sizeable section of Hindus.
Development is the one word behind which fascists take refuge. They have their own definition of development. Hitler’s Germany progressed at many times faster rate than Modi’s Gujarat. Even during Emergency Indira Gandhi apparently succeeded in checking the price rise, corruption and lawlessness, yet in the name of external enemy she managed to strangulate the entire opposition.
Since the elite and the media have been subdued in the state, the Congress had to dance to the agenda set by Modi. There is a difference between ordinary communalists and fascists. Thousands of communal riots have taken place in India in the last some decades yet after the violence subsided, sanity prevailed and within a few months many people would start regretting as to what had happened. Even after the partition riots in Punjab, in which more than half a million lost their lives, after a few years people started regretting what they had done. If today two Punjabis of East and West Punjab (now Pakistan) come across they meet with full enthusiasm and zeal.
But in Gujarat five years later an overwhelming percentage of Hindus of the riots affected areas have no regret whatsoever as to what happened about six years ago. So if 6,000 families are living in refugee camps, there is no urgency to re-settle them.
Not to speak of male even many women justify the sexual attack on Muslims during the riots. There is a sense of victory in Gujarat. In such a situation it needs an extraordinary courage and strategy to counter the fascists. With the so-called soft Hindutva policy Congress was nowhere in the race. Had Modi lost this election it would have been more because of his own misdeeds and not the Congress party’s strategy or policy.
The problem with the Gujarat politics is that, unlike in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, there was no backward or Dalit leader to cash in on the anger against Modi among this class of people. Secondly, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, though a small force, did contest election here. The BSP or other secularist cut the votes of the Congress and not the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In India we often witness that if one party wins the election more than once, it is really difficult to dismantle it. This happened with the Congress for the first 30 years. Similarly Left has been in power in the West Bengal for the last 30 years.
But be it Congress in the earlier decades or Left, they remained glued to power by sheer political manoeuvring and not by the so-called slogan of development. In contrast chief ministers like Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh and S M Krishna of Karnataka lost notwithstanding ‘developing’ their respective state in much faster pace than Modi’s Gujarat. But in the case of Gujarat instead of holding the fascism responsible for the victory the apologists in the media are projecting Modi as the champion of development. This is a sheer lie. Herein lies the success of the fascists.
But results of Gujarat cannot necessarily mean the return of power of the BJP in Delhi as many in the media is trying to project. After all the BJP lost by-elections in Madhya Pradesh and are not doing well elsewhere in the country.
The problem with the fascists is that they eat up their own organisation. Hitler destroyed his own party so did Mussolini and Indira Gandhi in 1977. Modi might have won in Gujarat, but has destroyed the BJP organisation as such. Herein lies the hope for Congress.