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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 16, April 4, 2009

Rally behind Mallika Sarabhai in her Fight against Communal Fascism

Thursday 9 April 2009

The following are statements from individuals and organisations endorsing the candidature for the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat of noted danseuse and cultural personality Mallika Sarabhai against BJP leader L.K. Advani.

We support the candidature of Ms Mallika Sarabhai, distinguished danseuse of international renown, for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Ms Sarabhai hails from the area, and enjoys considerable reputation among the artistic and cultural fraternity as well as ordinary citizens there. What is more significant, she has waged a spirited and consistent struggle on various fronts—judicial, social, cultural, political—against the forces of communalism and majoritarian extremism in the State since post-Godhara Gujarat carnage in March 2002. Pitted against BJP leader L.K. Advani, Ms Sarabhai, we are confident, will, if elected, uphold the secular and democratic principles as enshrined in our Constitution. We believe that persons like Ms Sarabhai should be elected in large numbers to the Lok Sabha as they have much to contribute to Parliament and the country in terms of reinforcing our pluralistic ethos and ameliorating the conditions of the poor and the marginalised who constitute the teeming millions of our nation and represent the asli Bharat (real India).

Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer (Former Judge, Supreme Court of India); D. Bandyopadhyay (Former Secretary, Revenue, Government of India); Surendra Mohan (President, Secular Janta Dal); Prof S. M. Dubey (Former Vice-Chancellor, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong); Prof Anand Kumar (Professor of Sociology, JNU, New Delhi); Prof Arun Kumar (Professor of Economics, JNU, New Delhi); Vijay Pratap (National Convenor, Socialist Front); Praful Bidwai (Columnist); Anil Nauriya (Advocate, Supreme Court of India); Sumit Chakravartty (Journalist, Editor, Mainstream), Suhas Borkar (Independent Film-maker and Social Activist)

While supporting Ms Mallika Sarabhai’s candidature, Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer has stated: “Values must matter in politics and public life. Enemy number one of the country today is communalism. He/she who opposes this force is a true patriot in shaping our grand tryst with destiny and our swaraj ordains for generations to come.”

The contest between Mallika Sarabhai and Lal Krishna Advani in the Lok Sabha elections for the Gandhinagar seat is a contest between two very different visions of India.

Mallika, daughter of a dancer and a space scientist, represents a vision of India where ancient culture and art can develop to be in tune with contemporary times. She represents a vision in which there is no contradiction between modern science and ancient art forms. She represents the vibrant colours of our diversity in culture and unity with the political ideals of our freedom fighters who laid down their lives so that India could be truly free.

Lal Krishna Advani represents a vision of India where culture is used to suppress modern scientific ideas and becomes a weapon for killing creativity. He represents a vision of India where there is no diversity and citizenship is limited to only a tiny section of our population. His talent lies in creating unity through hate, fear and suspicion.

Choose wisely and carefully between the two visions.

Nandita Haksar (Human Rights Lawyer and Writer)

As you must be aware, Mallika Sarabhai is contesting from the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat against the BJP’s Prime ministerial candidate, L.K. Advani. Ms Sarabhai’s electoral fight against Mr Advani assumes utmost political significance because it has become a symbol of struggle between the forces of secular democracy and communal fascism. This is a struggle for pluralist democracy where the religious minorities are respected as equal citizens against the fascist Hindutva ideology of creating a demonic “other” and carrying out pogroms against religious minorities and treating them as second class citizens by undermining a modern liberal democratic society. This goes against the very ethos of our Constitution.

One recoils in horror at the memory of the gory murder, rape and mayhem—the ghastly state sponsored communal carnage in Gujarat in the year 2002. Mr L.K. Advani as the Home Minister of India and Narendra Modi as the Chief Minister of Gujarat presided over this utterly shameful chapter of post-independent Indian history.

It is needless to recall Mr Advani’s role as the prime mover of communalising the Indian society and imposing the fascist Hindutva ideology on toiling workers, peasants and peace loving citizens of our country, thus tearing apart the social fabric of our society, which continues to bleed till today.

L.K. Advani’s infamous Rath Yatra in 1989 spread the communal poison across the length and breadth of the country, polarised the society on religious lines, inflicting a severe blow to the very basis of peaceful, dignified coexistence of various religious groups in a pluralist liberal democratic society undermining the secular democratic foundations of our Constitution, which was achieved after numerous sacrifices in our long drawn freedom struggle.

The Rath Yatra of Advani and the resultant communal frenzy culminated in the shameful demolition of Babri Masjid which traumatised the Muslim community and also secular citizens of India. Mr Advani was present on the spot along with other front-ranking BJP leaders encouraging the lumpen kar sevaks when they forcibly brought down the Babri Masjid.

The recent incidents like the horrifying killing of Christians in Kandhamal, the attack on women in Mangalore and other places are frightening indicators of the Hindutva ideology led by Mr Advani. It bears ominous signs of the fascist takeover of India if we don’t make the necessary effective intervention to stem this tide of regressive medieval barbarism.

Mr Advani is the symbol of both communal fascism and patriarchy, which spells doom for religious minorities and women in this country. Therefore it is imperative all of us join hands to defeat the nefarious designs of the Sangh Parivar.

We appeal to all secular, democratic organisations, women, students and youth to actively campaign for Ms Mallika Sarabhai in her principled electoral battle against Mr L.K. Advani in Gandhinagar.

Vijay Pratap (National Convenor, Socialist Front); Babulal Sharma (Global Gandhi Forum); Wilfred (Insaf, New Delhi); Kiran Shaheen (Journalist and Political Activist, New Delhi); Faisal Khan (NAPM, New Delhi); Prakash Kumar Roy (Research Scholar, Film Studies, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU, New Delhi); Usman (Research Scholar, Centre for Indian Languages School of Languages, JNU); Rishika Meherishi (Research Scholar, School of Art and Aesthetics, JNU); P.K. Sundaram (Research Scholar School of International Studies, JNU); Laxman Singh (Research Scholar, Third World Studies, Jamial Milia Islamia, New Delhi); Putul (Social Activist, New Delhi); Asit (Activist and Researcher, New Delhi); Sayantoni (Researcher, New Delhi); Bhuwan Pathak (Social Activist, Uttarakhand); Kumar Sameer (Social Activist, New Delhi); Anil Pushkar (Research Scholar Centre for Indian Languages, School of Languages, JNU); Ajit Jha (Reader, University of Delhi); Sukla Sen (EKTA, Mumbai); Prem Krishan Sharma (President, PUCL, Rajasthan); Radha Kant Saxena (Vice President, PUCL, Rajasthan); Kavita Srivastava (General Secretary, PUCL, Rajasthan); D.L. Tripathi (President, Ajmer District, PUCL, Rajasthan); Anant Tripathi (General Secretary, Ajmer District, Rajasthan); Prakash Chaturvedi (Secretary, Rajasthan Jan Morcha, Front of Alternative Politics in Rajasthan); Than Singh (Chairperson, Rajasthan Jan Morcha); Nishat Hussein (VP, PUCL, Rajasthan); Dr John Dayal (Ex-President, Catholic Union, New Delhi); Anil Chaudhary (Insaf, New Delhi); Piyus Pant (Editor, Lok Samvad, New Delhi); Amit Pokhriyal (Research Scholar, JNU); Aftab Alam (Research Scholar, Centre for Political Studies, JNU); Dr Anupam Anand (Lecturer, Allahabad University, UP); Alka Prabhakar (Nari Mukti Sangthan, UP); D.P Singh (Bihan, Allahabad, UP); Adiyog (Awaz, Lucknow);

Bhan Sahu (Gurmil Morcha, Chattishgarh)

The 15th Lok Sabha poll is going to take place at a time when a gloomy and dark future stares in the eyes of the millions upon millions of working people in the country. Recession is taking the toll of millions of jobs throughout the country. In Gujarat alone about 15 lakh diamond workers have lost their jobs in one stroke. The less said the better about the ruination faced by the peasants of the country, of whom already more than 1,82,000 have painfully embraced suicide as the last resort in different States including Gujarat.

Rape, sexual harassment have become a normal affair, criminalisation, communalisation and corruption have invaded all spheres of lives in the State under BJP rule. The rule of law is a far cry. There is a systematic erosion of value-based politics associated with the deterioration of moral and ethics. The Congress-led Central Government and the BJP-led government in different States are resorting to all kinds of heinous tactics to divide the unity of the people on the basis of caste, religion, region, language etc., and on the other hand divert people’s anger away from capitalism, the root cause of all evils.

Under these circumstances it is the call of the hour to turn this election into an instrument of struggle and develop people’s political power and defeat money-muscle power and the divisive communal and casteist forces and ensure the victory of pro-people, pro-democracy, secular and progressive candidates.

Ms Mallikaben Sarabhai, who played a significant role against Carnage 2002, is contesting as an Independent candidate from the Gandhi-nagar constituency against Mr L.K. Advani, the Prime Minister-in-waiting. The SUCI appreciates her concern for the victims of Nandigram, Kandhamal, Mangalore and the farmers of Yavatamal, her commitment to fight for the dignity of women and social justice, rule of law and democracy in the State. The SUCI supports her and extends full support to ensure her victory. The SUCI also appeals all the progressive, democratic and secular forces, concerned citizens and people to stand by Ms Mallikaben Sarabhai and ensure her victory against the communal forces and ruling parties who advocate development minus human face.

The Socialist Unity Centre of India would like to reiterate that Mr Tapan Dasgupta is contesting from Vadodara Lok Sabha constituency as the SUCI’s candidate. Moreover the SUCI has fielded 40 candidates from 12 States in the country.

Dwarika Nath Rath (Secretary, SUCI Gujarat State Organising Committee)

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