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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 1 New Delhi December 23, 2017 - Annual Number

We Shall Overcome!

Sunday 24 December 2017, by SC



With this issue Mainstream completes fifty five years of its long, arduous, modest yet purposeful existence.

Affirming that what we face today in this country “has no parallel”, it was written in these columns a year ago on December 20, 2016:

From the time the present dispensation at the Centre seized the levers of power in mid-2014, the attack on the minorities—in order to distort the face of India and transform the country into a Hindu Pakistan by subverting the Constitution carefully crafted under the inspiring leadership of Dr B.R. Ambedkar .....—has been unabated. (This has been lately reflected in the preposterous public statement by a BJP MP from the Capital that Muslims “have never voted for us and never will” as the “BJP is a patriotic party”; it should not also be ignored that the body of one of the alleged killers of Mohammad Akhlaque—who was lynched to death for the ‘crime’ of having stored beef in his fridge—was draped in the national tricolour on his death, an honour bestowed only on national heroes.) Of course, one should not minimise the resistance to such an attempt from the civil society in general and leading intellectuals, writers, artists in particular, even if the pressure from the political parties in the Opposition was of limited value. Yet it must also be acknowledged in all candour that those currently in power in South Block are having their way as latest events conclusively prove.

Since then the outcome of the UP Assembly elections this year found Narendra Modi and his team improving their performance in the State over the 2014 UP Lok Sabha poll results wherein the BJP and its allies had won an incredible 73 out of 80 seats. That came as a major blow to all secular democrats who had expected at least some resistance to the electorate’s hardships, especially after the move of demonetisation, to be reflected in the poll outcome. On the country those in power at the Centre took the results as public endorsement of the demone-tisation drive by the PM that was unequivocally opposed by all distinguished economists across the globe. It was then that a campaign against the use of EVMs began in the social media in a big way even if the electronic media by and large took a pro-BJP stance approving Modi all the way.

However, what is significant lately is that the Gujarat Assembly election results have given a definite jolt to the ruling party at the Centre. Even if the BJP has returned to power once again, its victory has not been a thumping one this time. This consequence in the State which saw the genocide of Muslims in 2002 was doubtless noteworthy. What is more, it was a rare spectacle of the PM (who hails from the State and was its CM for a considerable length of time before coming to the Centre) bending over backwards in a strenuous endeavour to secure victory in the face of heavy odds marked a setback, however partial, for the Hindutva project. Additionally the results underlined the complete failure of the much-touted Gujarat model of development.

As a perceptive analyst, well-known diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar, has written today, BJP President Amit Shah’s promise of winning 150 out of 182 seats for his party in the State Assembly remained unfulfilled and the party had to strain its utmost to secure the 99 seats it eventually won. He then observed:

The BJP tried all the tricks in the trade. No Prime Minister in India ever before wore on his sleeve his ethnic identity and openly spoke about it to plead for votes in his home State. No Prime Minister ever stoked the fires of slumbering anti-Muslim feelings so daringly. No Prime Minister put the fear of Pakistan into the Hindu mind to frighten the voters. No Prime Minister ever flew a seaplane or charioted a roadshow on voting day to impress awe-struck natives. But the PM still couldn’t get for the BJP anywhere near a political knockout he’d aimed at.

That development in Gujarat alongside Rahul Gandhi’s indefatigable campaign in favour of the country’s secular democrats offers a real silver-lining in the present dismal scenario all around us. It throws up hope in the midst of despair. But there is a precondition: the unity of all secular, democratic, progressive forces against the ruling party at the Centre which, alongwith its so-called fringe elements, has repeatedly bared its fascist fangs.

Three years ago it was written in these columns on December 23, 2014:

In the first issue of this journal (which came out on September 1, 1962) it was pointed out in the editorial that “it shall be our endeavour to try relentlessly to demolish the wall of misundersanding, mutual suspicion and even personal pique that divides progressive sections in the country from one another”.

That remains the policy-perspective of this periodical even today.

In fact when dark clouds of uncertainty and chaos are hovering over the Indian horizon with the setting turning ominous as never before, that policy-perspective assumes greater significance than at any time in the past.

Against the backdrop of what we have lately experienced in this country, it is time to reiterate once more: come what may, we shall overcome!

December 19 S.C.

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