Modi’s Victory: Portents for Indian Democracy

Surpassing many predictions, Modi did very well in the recently held assembly elections, (December 2007) bringing his victory tally to the one close to post carnage elections of 2002. While 2002 elections were preceded by an unprecedented polarisation of the society, in the current one it appeared as if there are many factors which will…

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Surpassing many predictions, Modi did very well in the recently held assembly elections, (December 2007) bringing his victory tally to the one close to post carnage elections of 2002. While 2002 elections were preceded by an unprecedented polarisation of the society, in the current one it appeared as if there are many factors which will go against Modi, the internal dissidents, the incumbency factor, the efforts of secular groups and slightly better efforts by Congress. This gave the impression that the results will be touch and go, but they turned out to be similar to the previous one giving him a massive mandate.
This makes many things clear for us. One, the polarisation has seeped very deep in the Gujarat society. The observation is that after every communal-violence, the major player of the violence, in this case, RSS affiliate, BJP, becomes stronger. In this election also, as was the case in the last elections, BJP’s performance has been best where the carnage was maximum. In other parts of the country the polarisation is reaching towards the critical line from where the rupture in social fabric becomes irreversible. It seems it has already become so in Gujarat. Gujarat which began as a Hindu Rashtra laboratory seems to be turning into a factory of Hindu Rashtra. One of the major successes of RSS combine is that it has been able to propagate successfully that Hindu Rashtra is for the benefit of all the Hindus; there is a struggle between Hindu and Muslim interests; RSS is on the side of Hindus while others are against the interests of Hindus. The fact is that in the name of Hinduism, RSS is merely playing with the identity of Hindus and enhancing an agenda which is against the social transformation of caste and gender, which is against the interests of majority of Hindus.
Further it has succeeded in instilling the fear of Muslims in the majority community. The formula used is that all terrorists are Muslims, baying for the blood of Hindus and RSS combine is their only saviour. The propaganda is that while so many terror attacks are taking place all over the country, the Hindus in Gujarat are safe due to Modi/BJP/RSS. The fact is that during the NDA regime at the Centre and also during the rule of Modi major terror attacks including the attack on parliament and Akshardham took place. This so-called attitude towards terrorists is projected by RSS combine as Nationalism. Nationalism as such should mean sticking to the values of freedom movement and the Constitution of India. The second illusion created is that of progress of Gujarat. As such Gujarat was already amongst the leading developing states. Now it is being presented that all this is due to Modi. Goebells is being beaten hollow in the techniques of innovating the propaganda techniques.
Sometimes what matters is not the truth but as to what is propagated and made a part of social psyche. One cannot but draw many analogies from Hitler who went on to create a fascist state, and in due course do away with the democracy. This also led to the disintegration of Germany and its terrible defeat in the World War II, rupturing the German national fabric. There also, one saw the charisma of one person overshadowing the party. There also the polarisation was brought in and sustained by targeting one after the other community or social group. In Gujarat one sees the targeting of Muslims followed by the Christians. What will follow next will unfold shortly? The only difference between the German and Indian analogies is that in Germany the nation came under the impact of the fascist boots at a rapid pace in most parts of the state, while here the trishuls are marching at different pace in different states. In Gujarat the RSS agenda seems to have come close to the peak, while in other states, the march is on and is in different stages of intimidation of democracy.
The journey of Hindutva fascism in Gujarat began with the anti-Dalit riots of 1980-81, followed by anti-OBC riots of 1986. Both these crystallised the support base of Hindutva, the upper caste, and affluent sections. The NRI Gujaratis, the money order senders, played no mean role in consolidating the native fascism. The alienated NRI Gujaratis fed the local divisive politics with dollars and pounds, aggravating the divisive politics. Conscious social engineering was deployed to co-opt Adivasis and Dalits into the Hindutva fold from the late 1980s. For co-opting Adivasis, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram campaigned against the miniscule Christian missionaries and attacked the tiny Christian community. For co-opting other deprived sections, including Dalits, intense religiosity was promoted, Pandurnag Shastri, Asaram Bapu and Morari Bapu etc. ploughed the ground for BJP to reap the harvest. A section of urban people saw the benefits of the type of intimidation brought in by RSS affiliate politics. While Muslims and Christians were directly hit, the major goal was to subdue the Dalits and Adivasis, to ensure that they remain where they are, that the status quo is maintained.
With Ram Temple movement, the polarisation along religious lines went on deepening. The state sponsored genocide on the pretext of Godhra sealed the issue. The laboratory took clear shape, all necessary instruments in place. The experiment began. Carnage was conducted with RSS affiliates playing the coordinating role. No rehabilitation for the carnage victims, no justice for those who suffered violence and then their gradual marginalisation from social sphere. The relegating of Muslim minority as second class citizens has become an established fact and a section of Muslims even started the campaign to reconcile to their changed status. A large section of Muslims saw that the only alternative for them is to be on the bent knees, to join in the victory celebration of the murderer-in-chief of the genocide, which led to their miseries. Yes, life has to go on irrespective! Some sheep are beginning to cultivate the illusion that the wolf is their saviour.
The indirect fallout of this was the eventual ghettoisation of the community in Gujarat and its fallout all over the country was in the form of widening gulf between religious communities. It set rolling the similar phenomenon all over the country. While electorally BJP sounds weak at all India level, the seeds of communal politics and polarisation have been sown all over.
While comparing the BJP/RSS politics with fascism in the decades of 1990 one was hard pressed to explain the absence of a charismatic leader at the national level at that time. Classically fascist movement has to have a charismatic leader at the helm. While Advani was spearheading Hindutva agenda and Vajpayee wearing the liberal mask very cleverly, none of them had the requisite charisma to send the crowd into frenzy to call for the extrajudicial killing of a criminal. Modi has filled the gap and that too very effectively. Not only he is getting away with justifying the fake encounter, he is able to project it as a sign of bravery and courage. With observations of Gujarat poll, with the type of charisma, which Modi has cultivated, the analogy with Modi-Hitler, Hindutva-Fascism is more or less complete.
History does not repeat itself in the same manner. In Germany, Fascism rode all over Germany with uniform speed – with the speed which was blinding, and went on to target Jews to begin with. RSS, the patriarch of all Hindu right wing organisations, began in 1925; it is from 1980s that is has been able to actualise its political agenda in a serious way.
While Modi’s victory will pave the way for total abolition of liberal space in Gujarat, the party, BJP, has already been overshadowed by one supreme leader. Those dissatisfied with him are shown the door. The plight of minorities and weaker sections is going to be worse. A section of affluent middle class will shine while the majority deprived sections’ voices will be put under the carpet in the name of Gauravi Gujarat, under the slogan of development. And of course development will never reach them.
At national level, the rising communal forces will derive encouragement from this and in other states like Karnataka; BJP will try with stronger assertion. The BJP ruled states will strongly implement the Hindutva agenda i.e. emotive, anti-minority and anti-poor policies in a more systematic way.
Modi’s victory is a warning signal of transition of sub-critical fascism, transcending the critical line to strangulate democratic values in an ideological form all over the country. The disarray in the BJP will give way to strong optimism, to strive for power at the Centre. All this may take place sooner than later if the secular movements do not wake up and broaden their reach. Even today those standing for secular values are much more in number and strength than those who have come under the spell of divisive and communal forces. The point is: can they come together to ensure that the country does not go in the direction being asserted by Modi/BJP/RSS type politics? Need that the vision of founding fathers of India is brought back to the social and political arena, that pluralism, justice and harmony is made the central focus of our movement.