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The Fight Must Go On

By Ganesh S. Iyer

24 May, 2004

The recently concluded elections in the subcontinent have baffled psephologists, media persons and political analysts alike. How could a nation reject a ruling alliance that had projected India as an economic superpower and had done so much to make that happen? Were the high voltage, high decibel publicity campaigns launched by the BJP so ineffective as to result in its humiliating defeat at the hands of the electorate? One needs to look closely at the ground realities and no further to find out the reasons for this

The BJP prided itself as the party of governance and with great fanfare stitched together a coalition of parties to stake its claim to power after the 1998 elections. It projected Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee as its Prime Ministerial candidate. He was seen as the most acceptable face of the Sangh Parivar and it must be said to his credit that he managed to rally ideologically disparate groups around him in his effort to make the government happen. Despite the pulls and pressures of running a coalition government and the innumerable scandals that rocked the NDA government, the gentleman was made to appear invincible by the BJP spin doctors and their collaborators in the media.

This was what the image makers wanted us to believe. The nuclear test at Pokhran and the Kargil crisis gave a clear indication of the ruling dispensation's real intentions- to militarize the subcontinent and keep it in a state of permanent siege. We were told that all this was necessary to contain our neighbour, because "strength respects strength". The consequences of this policy became evident with the increased confrontation between the two nations, the spate of terrorist attacks culminating in the December 2001 assault on the Indian Parliament and its typically short sighted response- Operation Parakram.

In the background, the storm troopers of the Sangh Parivar were working overtime to communalize Indian society with their vicious, offensive propaganda of religious nationalism.Ayodhya was raked up from time to time to pressurize the government into acting in the" interests" of the "Hindu" community. The riots in Gujarat in February 2002 and the state sponsored massacres of the Muslim community were all part of an offensive to promote "Hindu" interests. One expected the NDA allies and the honorable Prime Minister to intervene decisively and dismiss the Modi Government for its shameful role in organizing the riots. Nothing of that kind happened. It was left to the handful of NGO's and a few courageous publications to expose the misdeeds of Modi and his henchmen.

The passage of POTA in Parliament with the then home minister passionately vouching for it, without a debate on such a crucial issue, only served to highlight the BJP's contempt for parliamentary democracy. Equally disgusting was its riding roughshod over the opposition in pushing through its PSU disinvestment & privatization programmes. Top BJP functionaries in the government did not bother to hide their contempt for the Public Sector and the reasons for its establishment. It was very clear that the Indian economy was being geared to cater to the interests of a privileged few.

Education was another area of interest to the Sangh Parivar where it could reap the fruits of its divisive ideology. The HRD Minister used his office as a battering ram to put his nominees in place to rewrite the history of India and give it a communal slant. Eminent academicians and historians were unceremoniously ousted from their posts in institutions like NCERT & ICHR to accommodate those who shared the RSS viewpoint. This represented the most audacious attempt by the RSS to degrade hallowed institutions to serve its spurious ideas of nationalism.

Finally, the spin doctors of the BJP, carried away by their own "feel good" propaganda, did not take into account the goings on in the mind of the average voter- a disgust for their arrogance and their contempt for the institutions of democracy. There is a lot of truth in the saying- the voter knows all and spares none.

The elections have seen the rout of the BJP from the political arena. A Congress led coalition will assume power shortly and hopefully undo the damage inflicted on society and the polity by adopting a magnanimous attitude towards its electoral allies and combating divisive issues with their help. Sonia Gandhi's refusal to assume the reins of government has deprived the Sangh Parivar of one issue which had the potential to assume Ayodhya like proportions.

The monster of communalism still stalks Indian society and has the potential to catapult its practitioners to power. We must not forget that the results of the Karnataka Assembly elections represent a victory of sorts for the BJP, since it was the communalization of politics that gave it a tally of 80 plus seats.MP, Rajasthan & Chattisgarh have voted in favour of the BJP.
The fight against communalism must go on and it is the average citizen of this country who will play a crucial role in ensuring that India remains a secular nation wedded to the spirit of tolerance and accommodation.

13/47, "Anjali", Scheme #6,
Road #2,
Sion (E), Mumbai-400022.)