By Nitya Chakraborty
India is passing through a treacherous times. There is no Dickensian dual scenario-it is one way- it is the worst of times. Indian democracy is at peril. The voice of dissent is being throttled. The ruling establishment is encouraging the most heinous type of abuses and abetment to violence in social media.; Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is considered as the darling of the online netizens, has found no time to send any condolence message on the brutal murder of one of the most respected journalists in the country Gouri Lankesh. Rather, he is following in twitter still the saffron heroes of online who are expressing glee at the death of one of the anti- Hindutva voices in the media. There is fear, apprehensions in the Indian media, more so in the states and the districts as the different segments of the Sangh Parivar are getting emboldened to take on the dissenters who question them or oppose their actions. Everything has to be in their way, otherwise?.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stopped talking about acche din in the fourth year of his rule. The economic situation is pretty grim and the NDA government is having comfortable time only because the opposition parties lack the strength and determination and the main party the Congress is rudderless. Vice-president Rahul Gandhi is still not in a position to galvanise the party supporters and connect them to the disgruntled masses who are angry with the policies of the Modi regime. The opposition parties have started making some joint efforts but that still lacks the required dynamism to meet effectively the BJP challenge. The opposition has not been able to mobilize the affected masses against job losses and the distress in the informal sector of the economy which have adversely affected the minorities and the dalits.
Even in the urban sector, distressing reports are coming about job losses. A leading consultancy firm has reported that major manufacturing firms axed around 30 per cent of their staff in 2016 and in 2017, the level of retrenchment will touch 40 per cent. Demonetisation and massive de stocking before the launch of the GST regime took a toll on the manufacturing sector that grew just by 1.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2017-18 as compared to 5.3 per cent in the preceding quarter of 2016-17.While rising automation has impacted job opportunities, the sector has also been hit by low demand and rise in costs.
As a result, the top BJP leadership is worried about the mood of the people in the coming state assembly elections. Their only hope is the opposition disunity and the leadership incapacity of their main opposition the Congress, The BJP leadership is going ahead with the implementation of the saffron agenda with the objective of attaining Hindu Rashtra by 2022 which the Prime Minister terms as New India. The core values of the Indian nation have been challenged by the Modi government and one by one, the institutions are being saffronised with the objective of completing the agenda by 2022.The initial signs of fascism are visible and if the opposition parties who are opposed to the saffron agenda, do not unite to fight the BJP agenda right now, it will be too late later as the saffron forces will further consolidate and the trends of fascism will get further accelerated.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi sometime loosely uses the word fascistic to condemn some of the activities of the BJP and the RSS but he hardly has an overall strategy to fight these forces. It has to be broadest possible front of the democratic forces including the civil society groups, the NGOs, the mass organizations and the urgent economic issues also have to be included in the common programme to fight saffron forces. The opposition panel led by the rebel JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav has to be made optimally functional to act as the pivot of the opposition unity. The DMK in Tamil Nadu has been energized as a result of the recent developments in the AIADMK. Stalin is a capable leader. He has to be used as a major politician by the opposition panel to harness opposition unity in the South.
It is unfortunate that still, the CPI(M) central leadership is refusing to have any firm understanding with the Congress on the formation of an all out anti-BJP front though the present political reality makes it imperative that the time has come to meet the saffron onslaught unitedly and as a part of that, in the elections, efforts have to be made to ensure that the anti- BJP votes are not divided.CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat holds the view that India is still not a fascist state and the fight against BJP cannot be conducted in alliance with the other major party of the ruling classes, the Congress. His view is the dominant one in the central committee and he is expected to continue with this at the next meeting of the central committee in October also which is supposed to prepare the drafty political report for the Party Congress in April 2018.
If the CPI(M) leadership does not change its view on the immediate need of forming a broad anti- BJP front, that will be a grave historical blunder again. The Left is a small force and the CPI(M)’s so called appeal for the broadest mobilization of all democratic and secular forces against communalism, will have little meaning if any alliance with the biggest anti-BJP party the Congress, is avoided while fighting BJP in the elections. Let us call the spade as spade. Removing BJP from power is the major anti-fascist task and that can not be done without the Congress participation. The CPI(M) did the wrong decision in not joining Lalu Yadav’s rally on August 27. Lalu is a steadfast anti-BJP force and his participation in the fight against the BJP is more important at this political stage than bothering about the charges about corruption.
Eminent economist Prabhat Patnaik, who belongs to the CPI(M), has correctly stated that the Left has to take the initiative in bringing everybody into an alliance in which there is some agreed agenda. Such an agenda was there after 2004 Lok Sabha elections before the Left with 61 MPs gave support to the first UPA government headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh. The BJP was a subdued force then, The saffrons lost power in 2004 elections despite their leader Atal Behari Vajpayee’s Rising India slogan. In 2017, the BJP is in majority in Parliament on its own and it rules in most of the major states in the country. The RSS, its mentor, established in 1925, has never made a secret of its fascist ideas. The RSS will implement its programme step by step as the BJP’s power spreads in every level of the polity and society. So, the responsibility of every secularist and democrat, is to join the fight against the saffron forces at every step.
The CPI which is the second party of the Left Front has taken the view that the present BJP government is fascistic but not fascist yet. But the CPI is of the opinion that the Left on its own, is not in a position to undertake the task of cobating the communal forces on the basis of its own programme. It has to be broadbased and has to include the Congress. The CPI attended the Lalu rally in Patna on August27 though the CPI(M) abstained. Here the CPI has a stand which is similar to the position taken by the CPI general secretary Sitaram Yechury and the West Bengal leaders. They understand that no real anti-BJP front is possible without Congress participation. The division in the CPI(M) central leadership is harming the total unity of the anti-BJP forces and that is damaging the future of the Left.
For the opposition, time is running out. Rahul Gandhi has to focus all his attention on achieving maximum unity of the anti-BJP forces and transfer the fruits of that in the coming state assembly elections. The masses are fed up with the BJP governments and the policies of the centre. They have to be given confidence. If the Congress can do well in Gujarat, that will be a game changer and that will have very positive impact on the other crucial assembly elections in 2018.As regards the CPI(M), though it is a bit late, but still the Party leadership can change its anti-Congress position and take a leading role in the fight against BJP as a front ranking member of the opposition front. The fight against the initial signs of fascism has just started. It has to get wider dimensions in the coming days and that is possible with the joint participation of the entire Left and the Congress.(IPA Service)