Mainstream, VOL LII No 18; April 26, 2014
Footfalls of Fascism?
Tuesday 29 April 2014
The contours of the rift within the BJP are becoming clear. It is not a mere Advani versus Modi or an ‘old-versus-new’ battle but has an ideological edge, too, which needs to be taken note of. A Bihar BJP leader, Giriraj Singh, said at an election meeting at Deoghar in Jharkhand on April 19 that those opposing Narendra Modi are looking to Pakistan. Such people will have place only in Pakistan and not in India. ‘After the general election those opposing Modi will have to go to Pakistan.’
It is irrelevant whether hundreds of millions of anti-Modi Indians can be sent to Pakistan or whether Pakistan can be made to accept these millions. It was a rhetoric Giriraj was using and that rhetoric betrays a mindset. It is such people with such a mindset who are threatening to take over the BJP once Modi becomes the Prime Minister. It is also noteworthy that while Sushil Modi of Bihar dubbed Giriraj’s speech as ‘irresponsible’, the BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant mildly reprimanded Giriraj but the BJP as a party refused to take any action against him (unlike what the Election Commission did) despite a persistent demand to that effect by one of the BJP’s allies in the NDA, the Akali Dal.
It is no mere coincidence that the very next day, April 20, the veteran BJP leader, Lal Krishna Advani, —whom Modi forced to seek re-election from Gandhinagar in Gujarat rather than Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh which Advani wanted to contest from—paid glowing tributes to Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru at an election rally in a tribal area of Madhya Pradesh. Advani said Nehru as the first Prime Minister of free India, along with the Mahatma, had played ‘a major role in laying the foundation of a strong democracy in this country and strengthening the democratic structure’. Nehru, it may be kept in mind, has all along been the favourite whipping boy and bête noire of the entire Sangh Parivar.
It is also significant that Modi has made the BJP’s election campaign a one-man show in which the party plays second fiddle to its prime ministerial candidate. The government, which Modi is expected to head after the elections, is being aggressively marketed by the party’s propaganda managers and the media as ‘Modi sarkar’ rather than as a ‘BJP sarkar’. Modi is being built up as a Messiah who would make India a strong country and solve all the problems that have been besetting it since independence. It is reminiscent of the way the Nazi party in the 1930s had built up Hitler as a Messiah or Fuehrer or The Leader. It is noteworthy thatparty veterans like Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi are not even mentioning Modi’s name but are highlighting the party rather than an individual. They are not seeing a ‘Modi wave’ either, though they find there is a ‘wave’ for the BJP.
People like Giriraj Singh form the lunatic fringe of the Sangh Parivar. Their adulation for the fascist ideology and for fascist leaders like Hitler and Mussolini is an open secret. Asghar Ali Engineer, a lifelong fighter for secularism who died last year, in an article in the West Bengal Political Science Review, July-December, 2011 issue, quoted from a school textbook of 11th standard in BJP-ruled Rajasthan which says that “the best form of government is fascism and the best leader is a fascist as he can take prompt decisions in the interest of the nation”. The young minds are being indoctrinated in the RSS ideology which is fascist.
A document titled Hindutva’s Fascist Heritage says:
The first Hindu nationalist who came in contact with the fascist regime and its dictator was B. S. Moonje, a politician strictly related to the RSS. In fact, Moonje had been Hedgewar’s mentor, the two men were related by an intimate friendship. Moonje’s declared intention to strengthen the RSS and to extend it as a nationwide organisation is well known.
Between February and March 1931, on his return from the Round Table Conference, Moonje made a tour to Europe, which included a long stop-over in Italy. There he visited some important military schools and educational institutions. The highlight of the visit was the meeting with Mussolini. An interesting account of the trip and the meeting is given in Moonje’s diary and takes 13 pages. (www.sabrang.com/cc//comold/mar00/document.htm)
The write-up then says:
According to the literature promoted by the RSS and other Hindu fundamentalist organisations and parties, the structure of the RSS was the result of Hedgewar’s vision and work. However, Moonje played a crucial role in moulding the RSS along Italian (fascist) lines. The deep impression left on Moonje by the vision of the fascist organisations is confirmed by his diary.
It is this ‘vision’ that has reared and nurtured the cadre raised by the RSS and the plethora of organisations it has spawned over the decades since the 1920s. Behind all the sweet and persuasive talk of ‘development’, ‘industrialisation’ and ‘employ-ment generation’ that Modi is indulging in during his poll campaign, lurks this ‘vision’ which may gradually translate into reality if the BJP under Modi’s leadership really gets 300 seats or thereabouts as is being loudly claimed by the party propagandists.
Party veterans like Advani, who have spent their lifetime in mass politics, know the ground realities. They know that the plural character of the Indian polity is a harsh reality that cannot be changed by any Messiah or dictator. Sending people of a particular religion to gas chambers is no longer possible in any country anywhere in the world. Giriraj Singh and others of his ilk will have to learn to live with those who are opposing Modi and will continue to oppose Modi whatever the election results.
It is the hard-headed realism of Advani that made him say during his visit to Pakistan in 2005 that “The partition of India is an unalterable reality of history”—an assertion that challenges the very ideological basis of Akhand Bharat which refuses to accept partition as unalterable and seeks to change the reality. Little wonder that Advani fell from the grace of the RSS bosses after his Pakistan visit. It marked the beginning of his declining importance in the BJP leadership.
If the BJP along with its allies really come to power—which seems quite unlikely at the moment of writing—the consolidation of Modi’s unchallenged power in the party and NDA will not be very easy. This writer knows that in many States prominent BJP leaders, who joined the party directly and did not come through the RSS, resent that the party should be subservient to the overlordship of the RSS. “We are a political party which fights elections. We are answerable to the people, not to the Nagpur bosses who never contest an election.” This was the sentiment of a BJP leader of a State expressed during the crucial election battle of 2004 which the BJP lost. There is an RSS man in every State who oversees the functioning of the State unit of the BJP and in every crucial matter his is the final say.
Finally, the gullible ones, particularly among the youth, who sincerely believe that the advent of Modi will transform India into the proverbial cloud-cuckoo-land flowing with milk and honey, should bear in mind that Narendrabhai’s best friend and his beneficiary-cum-benefactor, Mukesh Ambani, claims that both the Congress and the BJP are his two ‘dukaans’ or shops. Ultimately, who runs this country—the Congress or the BJP or the Reliance Industries? For an answer we have to turn to what Gopal Krishna Gandhi, an erstwhile diplomat, a former Governor of West Bengal and Mahatma Ganhi’s grandson, has to say. In the course of his 15th D.P. Kohli Memorial Lecture, aptly titled “Eclipse at Noon: Shadows over India’s Conscience”, delivered at Vigyan Bhavan on April 15, Gopal Gandhi said:
Reliance is a parallel State. I do not know of any country where one single firm exercises such power as brazenly over the natural resources, financial resources, professional resources and, ultimately, over human resources as the company of the Ambanis. From Ambedkar, who spoke of economic democracy, to Ambani, who represents a technocommercial monopoly of unprecedented scale, is a far cry indeed!
At the same time what is unmistakable is that fascism has started to bare its fangs even before the BJP has come to power with Modi as the PM. The Sangh Parivar hounds have unleashed a vicious campaign against Father Francis Mascernhas, the Principal of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. His ‘crime’ is that he sent an SMS to all his students pointing out that the Gujarat model of development has seen high drop-outs among school students, high growth of big business and huge profits. He has praised the UPA’s Rojgar Yojana scheme and the Food Security Bill. The hounds are after his blood. They maintain that as an Indian citizen—who is the head of a State Government-funded educational institution—he cannot criticise another State Government. A BJP spokesperson even challenged the competence of the Principal to talk about Gujarat’s development as he is not a Professor of Economics. As if no citizen of this country can call into question the nature and quality of growth under a State Government unless he is a Doctorate in Economics. [By the same token Narendra Modi has no competence to cast aspersions on the economic growth rates of State governments other than that of Gujarat, but he continues to do so in public rallies across the nation. There must be some limit to the hypocrisy of the Sangh Parivar!]
These are the first signs of fascism: to terrorise every critic and opponent of Modi and the BJP and gag them into silence. Every voter has to understand the nature of the 2014 elections. It is no longer a fight between the BJP and Congress or between Modi and Rahul Gandhi. It is a fight between those who want India’s secular and democratic polity with all the traditions and values created during the freedom struggle to be protected and promoted and those who want to destroy the democratic structure and foist a fascist raj on the people. What is at stake is the preservation of democracy against a nakedly fascist onslaught. The Indian electorate will have to decide in the course of these elections whether they will allow the country’s collective conscience to be oversha-dowed by those whose ideology bred and nurtured the assassins of the Father of the Nation.
April 23 B.D.G.