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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 37 New Delhi September 1, 2018

Looming Shadow of Fascism

Sunday 2 September 2018

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

The time has come to call a spade a spade. The Modi Government can no longer be called just an ‘anti-democratic’ or ‘authoritarian’ government. It is fast becoming a fascist government. Suppression of all dissenting voices, arm-twisting of the media to fall in line with the official propaganda and make them join the round-the-clock singing of the praise of the Messiah who has come to take the 120 million people of this country to the portals of the Promised Land, arbitrary arrest of the vocal critics of this government—these are the everyday features of the daily life today.

The latest attack on critics of the government came last Tuesday (August 28) when five eminent human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and intellectuals were arrested by the Pune Police in an across-the-country raid for plotting—hold your breath—the assassination of the Prime Minister of the country, no less. There were also early morning knocks on the doors of several others like the 83-year old Father Stan Swamy of Ranchi, And wonder of wonders, the investigation into so serious a plot as the assassination of the Prime Minister is being conducted single-handed by the Pune Police. The National Investigation Agency, whose job it is to conduct probe into such conspiracies, has not been involved nor, for that matter, the Intelligence Bureau, CBI or R&AW.

Modi and his minions got the first jolt when the Supreme Court, hearing a public interest litigation suit filed by historian Romila Thapar, economist Prabhat Patnaik and others, cancelled the Pune Police’s application seeking transit remand of some of the accused and ordered that they be kept under house arrest till September 6. The Apex Court will hold the next hearing on September 7. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, one of the three judges constituting the Division Bench, warned the government in no uncertain terms: “Dissent is the safety valve of democracy. If dissent is not allowed, then the pressure cooker may burst.” Obvious truth. But obvious truths do not enter into the heads of people intoxicated by Power—the headiest of wines. They realise the truth only when they fall from the high pedestal of power.

The judiciary, especially the higher judiciary, is now the last bastion of democracy and democratic rights and institutions of the country. If 2019 returns Modi and his cohorts to power again, the first assault will undoubtedly be made on the higher judiciary. Systematic efforts will be made to subvert the judiciary and pack it with men who support the ideology of the ruling party.

In the present age, when technology is advancing by leaps and bounds (like fraudsters inventing ‘scheming’ machines for cloning bank debit and credit cards), there is not an iota of doubt that techniques will be perfected soon enough to hack one’s DNA profile also which, the government claims with a straight face, will be secure and cannot be stolen. In George Orwell’s nightmarish novel Nineteen Eightyfour there is a telescreen in every household for watching every movement of every member of the family round the clock. And there is the ubiquitous warning: “The Big Brother is Watching You.” Advance of science and technology is fast turning the world into a vast prison house in which a select and fortunate few exercise complete dominance over the people. Unless the fascist forces are defeated, India may soon become a totalitarian state. Freedom is, indeed, in peril. We have to defend it with all our might.

August 30 B.D.G.

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