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Why It Is Imperative To Defeat BJP

By Harkishan Singh Surjeet

People's Democracy
10 February, 2004

Meeting at Hyderabad on January 29-31, the Central Committee of our
party was of the opinion that "Defeating the BJP and its allies is the
main task of the CPI(M) and the Left and democratic forces in the
forthcoming Lok Sabha elections and the assembly elections which will be
held in some of the states. Corresponding to this, the basic aim of the
CPI(M) will be to see that a secular government is formed after the 14th
Lok Sabha elections."

This is in keeping with the analysis made by the 16th CPI(M) congress in
October 1998 that the BJP is not just another bourgeois landlord party;
behind it stands the fascistic RSS that wants to build a theocratic
state in the country.

The type of regime the Sangh Parivar has in mind is clear from the
eulogy VHP leader Ashok Singhal recently heaped on the King of Nepal,
dubbing him as the protector of Hindu Dharma. The Parivar has no love
lost for the life and death struggle the people of Nepal are today
waging for a republican government. The Parivar is all concerned about a
monarch who is widely believed to be behind the murder of his brother
and other family members.

Here one cannot help recall how in 1947-48 the Praja Parishad, an RSS
outfit, helped the Maharaja of Kashmir when he was resisting accession
to India. In fact, the Parishad was busy killing those who wanted the
princely state's merger with India. This was not surprising, as the RSS
was never a part of our freedom struggle. But these episodes also show
that it is a tyrannical form of government the RSS wants to push through
in this country.


HEREIN lies the serious danger facing our whole collective life today.
One cannot afford to forget that India is a multi-lingual,
multi-religious and multi-cultural country inhabited by people of
various religions and ethnic groups. If all these people are distinct
from one another at one level, they are one and united at another level,
and this fact gets reflected in their mutual interactions. For us, unity
in diversity is no empty slogan but a living reality characteristic of
India. Over centuries, streams of people kept coming from various parts
of the globe, settled here, made India their home, and contributed to
what we call Indian culture. This pluralistic culture is the product of
not any one group but of all who inhabit this vast country.

The framers of our constitution were aware of his reality and that was
why they unambiguously decided that secularism and federalism are
essential to maintain India's unity. In fact, even before 1947, our
innumerable freedom fighters were clear that independent India could not
but be a secular state. By nakedly showing what havoc communalism could
play with our people's life, the horrors that accompanied the country's
imperialist engineered partition also strengthened our people's choice
for a secular polity. These horrors went to such an extent that lakhs
were displaced from their hearth and home, lakhs were killed or maimed
in fratricidal wars, innumerable women were dishonoured and children
orphaned. And not only that. The demon of communalism even took the life
of Mahatma Gandhi, the supreme leader of our struggle for freedom.

Forces of the same kind are now active again to throw our great
civilisation into an era of darkness. And with the crucial difference
that, with the help of a bunch of self-seekers, they now control the
state power.

To what extent these forces can go is very clear today to all thinking
people of this country. The BJP rule at the centre started with a spate
of attacks on minuscule Christians who are peacefully living here for
two millennia. And this culminated in the most heinous event at
Manoharpur village in Orissa on January 22-23, 1999 night when a Bajrang
Dal mob burnt alive a missionary and his minor sons. That these attacks
on Christians were launched in several states in a series was a clear
evidence that they were being masterminded from above.

And then came the most gruesome massacre of Muslims in Gujarat with the
active connivance of the BJP regime in the state. There is ample
evidence to conclude that the massacre was being planned for months.
While it was unleashed on the pretext of a heinous crime at Godhra, the
fact is that it would have been unleashed on some other pretext even if
Godhra had not been there. As we know, this massacre of Muslims, the
biggest case of genocide in independent India, continued for months
together. Though the Best Bakery case and the like are gradually
bringing out the horrors of this genocide, what has come to light so far
is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

It is not that the saffron brigade perpetrated this kind of massacre
only after coming to power. Not to talk of the pre-1947 period, the RSS'
outfits have engineered gruesome riots at various places at one time or
another --- in Bhiwandi, Jalgaon, Tellicherry, Aligarh, Moradabad,
Meerut and Bhagalpur, to name only a few among many. If the Gujarat
genocide was much more gruesome than the examples quoted, it was because
it was perpetrated, and continues in a low key even today, with the full
backing of state power. This underlines the gravity of the threat India
is facing today --- the biggest threat so far in the history of
independent India. Such events are an unmistakable indication of what
India would be like tomorrow if the saffron brigade is allowed to return
to power.


BUT naked cruelty is not the only hallmark of RSS controlled outfits.
Just like any fascistic organisation, another and equally distinguishing
hallmark of theirs is the deceit they practise for the sake of capturing
power. As we know, the RSS has created thousands of outfits all over
India --- from national to local level. Many of them speak in different
voices, the VHP for example keeps railing against the BJP, and on any
single issue one can hear two leaders of the BJP saying mutually
contradictory things. But all this has just one aim --- to dupe the
masses and corner their votes. A commission of inquiry into the Bhiwandi
riots of 1969 has already dealt with the way the RSS and its outfits
function. Many of them do not keep a register of members or a record of
proceedings, just to be able to claim they are not involved in a riot
after they engineer it.

This deceit was also evident from the way the BJP fought the Lok Sabha
polls in 1999. Unlike the 1998 polls, this time it refrained from
issuing an election manifesto of its own and preferred to issue a joint
manifesto in the name of the National Democratic Alliance over which it
presides. As we have already pointed out in these pages, this manifesto
was drafted by BJP leaders and that others may have just put their
thumbs to it.

But a far more important thing is that, in 1999 polls, the BJP promised
to keep the contentious issues on the backburner --- the issues of
temple, article 370 and common civil code. But the fact is that this was
just a ploy to rope in other NDA parties. The last five years are a
testimony to the fact that the BJP never cared for the sentiments of its
allies, and went on doing what it wanted to do. Top BJP leaders are on
record that they have not given up these issues, that they have only
"postponed" them till they get a majority of their own.

As for other NDA parties, they did not want to have any burden on their
conscience, and it seems their conscience got clear when the said issues
were kept out of the NDA manifesto! Now, they could afford to be aloof
when Christians were subjected to attacks or Muslims were massacred in

But this is what made the NDA manifesto just a trash. If the manifesto
talked of "genuine secularism" and of "reaching out to the minorities"
and protecting the rights the constitution has granted them, the last
five years give enough testimony of how these words were put into practice.

These five years of NDA rule, which was a de facto BJP rule, have indeed
been a saga of deceit par excellence .


AND the same deceit is being practised today in other forms. Here we
will not go into the story of what the BJP led regime has done in these
five years. The unprecedented burdens they heaped on the masses, the way
they sacrificed our people's interests at various junctures, their
surrender of our economic sovereignty inch by inch, the way they enacted
POTA and other draconian legislations to rule by brute force, the way
they tried to saffronise the whole set-up including the educational
curricula and textbooks in order to produce a generation of fanatic
storm-troopers and cannon fodders, their corruption scams one after
another, and their willing capitulation to US imperialists on crucial
issues --- all these are well known to our people and have been dealt
with in these columns from time to time. Suffice it to say that
independent India has never before witnessed a regime that has so
unabashedly betrayed our national interests at the behest of its masters

In fact, it is the shameful record of five years that forced the BJP to
resort to a series of gimmicks, as it is doing today. While unfounded
claims are being made about growth, development, job creation and road
construction in the last five years, the plight of the mass of people
has gone from bad to worse at the same time. People starved to death
while the godowns were overflowing with grains. Per capita availability
of grains has declined from 177 grams in 1993-94 to 153 grams a day,
while grains are being exported at damn cheap prices to serve as chicken
feed in the US and other western countries. Truly, the life of these
chickens is more valuable than that of hapless Indians!

Even today, an estimated 300 million Indians go without two square meals
a day and some 5,000 of our children are dying of malnutrition related
diseases everyday. Who would believe that India is today shining as
never before!

Do the BJP leaders believe it? Most probably not, otherwise they won't
have felt the necessity of doling out sops to various segments of
population. These gimmicks are perfectly in line with the deceit, the
brigade's stock in trade. As an example of this deceit, one can well
recall here how the Vajpayee regime hiked the petrol and diesel prices
immediately after the last phase of polling in October 1999 was over,
without waiting even for the poll results.

But the political history of India, at least from 1977 onward,
unmistakably testifies to the political maturity of our people who have
overthrown one regime after another, caring a damn for the propaganda
barrages let loose from time to time. Time for the BJP and its
hankers-on to go has come.


THE BJP and NDA are putting up a brave face today, as every potential
loser does. Sometimes they claim the NDA will corner no less than 340
Lok Sabha seats, and sometimes the claim is that the BJP alone will
garner 300. The fact is that compared to 1998, the BJP did not get a
single more seat in 1999, and it was only the TDP's outside support that
enabled it to ride roughshod over the nation's destiny. But the BJP's
allies simply remained mute spectators to the Gujarat massacre and
attacks on Christians, to the saffronisation drive and to the sale of
our national interests to foreign powers even when, by their sheer
number, they could well have put a check on all these things.

Today, if the BJP cares a hoot for its allies' sentiments when it is
dependent on them, one may well surmise that it won't take a moment to
show them the door if by chance it ever gets a majority on its own. Yet,
the NDA parties too will have to answer to the masses for all the
government's acts of omission and commission. Many of them have suffered
erosions in their mass bases and six of them have already quit the
motley combine called the NDA.

As for non-NDA secular forces, the imperative is clear. They do realise
that the coming election is not an ordinary election; rather the fate of
the nation is itself in balance. True, there are serious differences
between them on several issues. But one thing is clear as daylight: that
the first and foremost necessity today is to save the nation and its
secular character, its pluralistic ethos and syncretic culture ---
things that are our basic identity. Policy differences have any meaning
only if the nation remains. If the nation is lost, everything is lost.

This is the understanding with which the non-NDA secular parties will
join the coming electoral battle.

As for the CPI(M), we are aware of the gravity of the situation,
including the divisions in opposition ranks, and we well do whatever we
can to see that the BJP and its allies are defeated. It is true that we
have basic policy differences with the Congress, the main opposition
party, and hence we cannot have a front with it. We are also of the
opinion that if the Congress follows the same policies it had followed
while in power, it can only go in favour of the saffron brigade, and
hence we do ask the Congress to demarcate itself from the BJP on policy
issues. But short of a front with the Congress, we are committed to
prevent a division of anti-BJP votes. This is the most viable course
today to defeat the BJP, which is, as our Central Committee said,
"essential for the defence of secularism and federalism, for ensuring
that India progresses on the basis of democracy, economic sovereignty
and social justice."