Coming on the heels of the explosive RBI verdict on demonetization, the outrage over Lankesh’s murder is more than just whataboutery. It speaks volumes about the elite left liberal forces and their comfortable politics. I am not among those who say that we must wait till the police investigation is through before pronouncing who’s responsible. There are too any arrows pointing in the same direction to ignore the pattern of such occurrences. But the glaring dismissal of the RBI verdict by media, politicians of every colour, twitterarties, and the attention grabbing vocal elite lot is too painful to ignore. Is demonetization a thing of the past and hence not tweet worthy? Or does it need one to do some hard work/ thought to critique the government’s economic debacle, not worth the time. Can’t we just string up a few slogans against demonetization exposing the government’s hollow economic policy? That would work wonders. No?
Why do matters of health and economy take a back seat when pitted against the rhetoric of freedom of speech, right to dissent etc? Over the past few weeks the headlines have been busy. The turnover is so fast that it’s really hard to keep pace with the appalling news each day. Today what should have made the headlines was India’s refusal to sign the global declaration against the Myanmar government on the Rohingya issue. But that is not what this is about. The demonetization drive was declared a dud on 30th August. The silence from the center and the opposition and all those people who are very anxious to get themselves heard, is deafening. It is news that’s hardly old for it to be forgotten. More importantly it was a policy that cause immense national hardship and lots of deaths, loss of livelihood and continual suffering to this day, for it to be forgotten or forgiven so easily. It was a policy that should have brought out national outrage, nation-wide protests, media coverage that we have seen over Gauri Lankesh’s murder. Demonetization was murder of a few hundreds but is reported as death, is that the difference?
This is not to say that Lankesh’s murder doesn’t deserve its due or some life is more important than the other. But in fact this is the same message that is sent by the liberal elite media or political class who are outraged at this gruesome murder. Why were we not spitting with rage over the declaration of the RBI just a few days ago? Why did we not have a notinmyname type of protest that brought together the left liberals on the streets?
Oh! Let’s not compare apples with oranges. A lot of people die for a million reasons, you cannot bring them under the same big umbrella of national causes. Let us talk of freedom of speech, threat to activists and journalists in India. Well then, do you know how many journalists have till date died in the Vyapam scam of MP? It is one of the biggest national cover ups that have the involvement of every big and many small political parties. 45. Yes, forty five journalists and activists have died trying to tell the truth of the scam. I hear no national murmur against this curbing of free speech. Of course not! Those who are clamouring for the right of Lankesh are themselves elbow deep in dirt in the Vyapam scam. And for the non-political vocalites in the media space, there is no gripping tale of rightwing-bashing in the scam, again like demonetization, a waste of brain space.
So, we come back to the original problem. What is left liberal politics about exactly? The left liberal critics of the government hog much of the English media space and yes, they by sheer might can oust Modi from Twitter. But is that the battle to be won? If that is what it is about then they are doing a fine job of being the opposing voice of Twitter or Facebook. But I am sure that in not the sole purpose. The left liberal have alienated themselves so much from the causes of the poor and the marginalized that their attack of BJP of communal politics too is looked at with suspicion. You have not won their trust how can you win it by solely denouncing their religious identity? To chip at the religious block/sentiment one has to first hit where it has hurt, the economy. Demonetization debacle was the perfect way for the left liberals to knock a blow on the support base of the BJP.
It should have caused national outrage among all classes bringing out everyone on the streets. There should have been calls for PM Modi’s resignation from the job and even Twitter if need be. All political parties should have come together just like they have now and exposed the government to the people, of its corrupt, insensitive nature. This would have narrowed the gap between the elite and the non-elite. This was the national cause that the opposition should have been waiting for. We cannot ask the entire nation to grieve with the elite without also grieving with those who make up the nation. We are not a nation of few thousands on Twitter or social media. Will the liberals ever understand that? The same old ideology bashing is going to gain you little ground. Rant about the ailing health sector, railways, education system and the economy. Maybe then someday you may change their faith.
Debjanee Ganguly is a PHD scholar in JNU