Modi Phenomenon: An Attack On Indian Democracy
By Ram Puniyani
22 August, 2013
Currently (August 2013) Narendra Modi is trying to dominate the media, print social and TV through his carefully constructed propaganda machinery and his potential of being nominated as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate by RSS-BJP. Modi has openly used the words like puppies dying under the car wheel, while referring to the victims of Gujarat carnage of 2002. He has also asserted that he is a ‘Hindu nationalist’. While most of the older allies of NDA, are deserting NDA, RSS-BJP hope that he will be able to win the 2014 elections due to his image of a non corrupt, efficient administrator who has taken Gujarat to the heights of development. In social media and other platforms the polarized section of Hindus and the section of middle class are very appreciative of Modi and are creating a delusion of his becoming the next prime minister.
All this is mostly a pipe dream. One knows that Modi is totally disliked by the victims of communal violence, most sections of religious minorities Those who have gone deeper to the issue of Gujarat development model point out that it is more of a propaganda than reality. We still need to understand as to why ‘Modi phenomenon’ has arisen on the Indian scenario and the dangers of ignoring the politics represented by Modi as such. Even though he may not be able to be the PM after 2014 we need to realize that politics represented by Modi and his ilk is the politics of ‘Communal Fascism’, which at surface looks to be just against minorities, but as a matter of fact, aims to abolish democracy after usurping power through democratic means. Its agenda is to do away with the human rights of the dalits, Adivasis, workers and women in Indian context.
RSS-BJP: Rise in 1980s
Modi is a trained Pracharak (propagator) of RSS, deeply soaked in the ideology of Hindu nationalism, working for the agenda of Hindu nation. In the decade of 1980 multiple factors at global and local level led to the rise of conservative middle classes, the petty industrialists, the rich farmers, the affluent professionals, who are always for the politics of status quo. During this time the global changes, the creeping globalization was on and the attacks on working class movement were stepped up. RSS-VHP during this phase started promoting the religiosity all round. Using the Shah Bano judgment as the pretext, RSS launched the tirade against secular values by putting forward the word ‘Pseudo secularism’ and phrases like appeasement of minorities.
In this backdrop Advani started his Rath Yatra for Ram Temple. In the country where the dire need of basic amenities for life and the need for protection of the human rights of weaker sections of society are paramount, the RSS combine deliberately brought forward the issues related to identity of a section of Hindus. At the same time their propaganda targeted the religious minorities, a mix of distorted version of history, and presenting the victims as culprits. The rath yatra of Advani created the atmosphere of ‘Hate towards minorities’ and this led to series of acts of violence.
The major outcome of this campaign for Ram Temple was that the issues related to human rights and the bread, butter, shelter and employment issues got relegated to the background and social-political scene started revolving around the identity issues. As a part of the communal politics unleashed by RSS combine, the anti Christian violence in Adivasis areas also got stepped up. In these areas the corporate giants want to have a free hand and have been able to encroach the lands of Adivasis.
RSS Combine: Epitome of Communalism
RSS began in India during the freedom movement as an organization opposed to the freedom movement, opposed to the concept of Indian Nationalism and harping on the glory of ancient Hindu kings, era of pastoral Aryans and ancient Hindu scriptures. RSS began as a response to the struggle of dalits for their land rights and the rising opposition to the values of Brahminism prevalent in the society. The non Brahman movement was inspired by Jotiba Phule and Dr. Ambedkar. As the average people started coming up in the society, started participating in the freedom movement, the elite-upper castes sections felt threatened and they came together to form Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). This organization began by holding shakhas, and developed a training module according to which this (India) is a Hindu nation from times immemorial. The freedom movement’s values of incorporating people of all the religions in the movement were not acceptable to them. They trained the young boys into swayamsevaks, who took oath to work for Hindu nation. They also kept totally aloof from freedom movement. RSS was founded by the Chittapvan Brahmins and is an exclusively male organization.
RSS went on to form various subordinate organizations like Rashtra Sevika Samiti (for women). In this name the word swayam is missing as RSS being a male dominated patriarchal organization, it believes in the inherent subjugation of women as secondary beings. Later RSS went on to form Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad, (Student wing), and then in collaboration with Hindu Mahasabha it formed Bhartiya Jansangh, the previous avatar of the present BJP, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (for bringing together different Hindu sects under the control of RSS) Vanvasi Kalyan Ahsram (to work amongst Adivasis to Hidutvise them), Bajrang Dal as its foot soldiers (for unleashing street violence against religious minorities) and many other organizations like Durga Vahini etc.
On similar lines it began many an institutions to propagate its views (weeklies like Panchjanya and Organizer), started Sarswati Shishu Mandirs and Ekal Schools for Adivasi children. Its ideological spread was achieved through spread of brahminical norms through various channels. Infiltration of its RSS swayamsevaks into the state apparatus, police, military, bureaucracy is also very deep.
The ideological indoctrination
Through its shakhas it started spreading the hate for minorities, opposition to the values of secularism and Indian Constitution. This relentless opposition went on through many other channels also. It also made inroads to the IT professionals by the web meetings called IT milans (Gathering). The social media also was and has been used by RSS combine in a very effective way. To add to all these many a Godmen of the likes of Pandurang Shastri Athwaley, Asaram Bapu, Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravishnkar etc. started propagating the social concepts of RSS, the values of Hindu Nation through their subtle and direct activities. The result has been that the social scene has come to be dominated by the conservative thinking. Meanwhile RSS also popularized the word, Hidnutva. This word Hindutva stands for the politics based on Brahimincal values of caste and gender hierarchy. Mistakenly the politics of Hindutva is supposed to be ‘a way of life’ by many.
Throughout the decades of 1960 and 1970 there were sporadic episodes of violence. This led to polarization of the religious communities and provided the ground for rise of electoral strength of communal party. In the decade of 1980s, with the Ram Temple campaign picking up, the intensity of violence also started going up. Major episodes of violence took place in various cities of North India. All this was dwarfed by the communal violence Post Babri demolition. The violence in cities like Mumbai, Bhopal and Surat was too horrific for words. The violence unleashed in Gujarat on the pretext of Godhra train burning shamed the nation as a whole, beyond all previous acts of violence.
Modi: Gujarat Violence and After
The post Godhra violence was a sample of the way state can actively promote violence. So far in the communal violence in India, the police, the state had been by and large an onlooker, mostly police siding with rioters. In Gujarat the equation was worsened much further with state, led by Modi actively promoting violence. Though it is claimed that Special Investigation team has given the clean chit to Modi, the fact is that based on the same report, the Supreme Court appointed Amicus Curie Raju Ramchandran feels the report has enough evidence to prosecute Modi for his role in 2002 violence. After the violence the state of Gujarat totally washed its hands off the responsibility to rehabilitate the violence victims. The process of marginalization of religious minorities went quite far. A large section has been living in ghettoes in Ahmadabad itself, while their civic and political rights have been trampled and they are living like second class citizens. There is an intense propaganda that Gujarat is most developing state, the fact is that Gujarat was already amongst the more developed states, the claims of huge investments through Vibrant Gujarat summits have little substance in them, promises have been more than the actualizations. The real indices of social development are lagging behind. The rate of employment generation is very low, Gujarat is low on the per capita spending, the Hemoglobin level of pregnant women is on the lower side and sex ratio has also fallen during last one and a half decade.
Hindutva: electoral Strategy
RSS combine has been entering into the electoral arena by and by. While in 1984 elections when it was giving the slogan of Gandhian socialism, it had only two MPs in Lok Sabha. In 1996, it went on to more than 150 MPs and it emerged as the largest single party. That time no other electoral party was willing to ally with it. The BJP government fell. After going through couple of ‘third-front’ experiments, BJP managed to cobble up the coalition, National Democratic Alliance. For this it had to give up the core issues of Ram Temple, abolition of Article 370 in Kashmir and Uniform Civil Code. This strategy worked and BJP led NDA ruled for nearly six years. During this time it communalized the text books and recruited RSS volunteers in to various government schemes and supported many NGOs with RSS agenda and RSS got a big boost in the political arena and its dominance was painfully perceptible in different walks of life.
The Hindutva combine knows that it was so far not able to come to power on its own. Now it is hoping that it will go with aggressive Hindutva agenda and by coming to power on its own it will bring in Hindu Rashtra.
Agenda of Hindu Rashtra- Hindutva Politics
Modi is the aggressive form of Hindutva agenda. He has openly started saying that they believe in Hindu nationalism. This is a subtle and open hint at the communal fascism which RSS combine, of which Modi is the major leader, wants to bring in. The major support base for RSS combine, more so with Modi at the helm is the corporate sector on one hand and the middle level corporate employees, the Information Technology-MBA groups on the other. Modi has demonstrated in Gujarat that he can open all the state coffers for the industrialists, land, loans and necessary paraphernalia. This has impressed the corporate sector and they are pitching for him in a large way. The corporate media has uncritically propagated his claims about development. The social welfare schemes have been kept in abeyance, due to which the poorer sections are suffering. As for as minorities are concerned all the central schemes related to Sachar Committee are not being implemented, the scholarship funds for the Muslim students is being returned back year after year. Modi in this sense is ruthless as for as schemes related to religious minorities are concerned.
He is the choice of corporate, middle classes, the traders and the RSS support base. Each of these has their own understanding of Modi and he fits in to the bill of these all. Corporates think he will give them a free hand to plunder, the middle classes know Modi is the best guarantee against social change for betterment of the deprived sections and religious minorities. The RSS, discarded Advani on two grounds, one that he made that statement about Jinnah being secular and other that he is on the wrong side of the age. RSS, the real controller of BJP and other affiliated organizations see in Modi a ruthless swayamsevak out to bring in Hindu Rashtra.
While Modi and RSS agenda is being projected and Modi’s rise is being anticipated it is clear to most that Modi’s coming into the top of power ladder will instill an autocrat who will soon follow the path of Hitler. Our country is rich of diversity with varying interest groups, who know Modi-RSS are going to impose Hindu Rashtra a synonym for communal fascist state. This diversity of the country and the realization of this sort amongst large sections of Indian voters should wake up to this danger to our democracy and ensure their defeat in the electoral area. While RSS combine and corporates will try their best to prop him up, the large section of Indian electorate should not be taken in by such propaganda, as Modi’s reality is too well known to most by now. Though Modi is trying to project as if he is changing his profile and becoming liberal, one knows that a leopard cannot change its spots. And that is the reason as to why Modi’s tricks on the electoral arena should be made to fail in the coming elections.
The responsibility of ensuring that mishap of Modi’s victory does not take place will also rest on the progressive sections of society, the sections who are getting affected by the agenda of communal politics and the religious minorities who have experienced the Modi’s deeds of commission and omission. The realization of this sort will be in the center stage of the progressive sections of society and it is crystal clear that they have to come up to fulfill this historic responsibility to understand the Modi phenomenon and to make the large sections of population aware about this truth. This truth they are trying to mask by the propaganda unleashed by Modi and his minions. Some facts are known and others will have to be made known to the struggling masses, which is the need of the hour for democratic movement in the country. While we have to intensify the struggle for human rights of all, we may have some differences, we also have to come together on this common goal of saving democracy which is being attacked by the communal fascist forces as represented by Modi and those who are prostrating in front of him.
Some people, ideologues try to argue that more violence has taken place in non BJP ruled party, that other parties are not truly secular. What we have to remember is that BJP as a party cannot and should not be compared with any other party, as BJP is not just and electoral party, it is basically the electoral wing of RSS, whose agenda is opposed to the agenda of secular democratic India, the dream of Indian nationalism, the dream of those who contributed to the ‘Making of the Nation-India’, the diverse streams represented by Gandhi, Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar!
Ram Puniyani was a professor in biomedical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and took voluntary retirement in December 2004 to work full time for communal harmony in India. He is involved with human rights activities from last two decades.He is associated with various secular and democratic initiatives like All India Secular Forum, Center for Study of Society and Secularism and ANHAD.
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