The present government has opened almost all areas – from education to defense- for intervention by foreign capital. The loot of the country’s resources and labor is closely associated with this decision of the government. The ministers of the ruling party often make a variety of anti-constitutional announcements that includes declaration about changing the very Constitution. Education is being commercialised and communalized at a fast pace. The critical problem of employment has been changed into a farce by the Prime Minister. All constitutional institutions including the judiciary are being damaged. The entire government, including the Prime Minister, seem to be functioning through a muddle of ignorance, falsehood, superstitions, hypocrisy, conspiracies, hatred and reprisal. The dividing-line needed to separate government duties and religious rituals has been eradicated. Citizens who are known to be committed to human compassion, logic, and constitutional values are being targeted and killed. Non-governmental organizations and individuals, in association with the government, are killing minority citizens in the name of cow-protection, in a planned manner. The crowds can thrash or lynch any citizen anywhere, and the police do not take appropriate action. Instead of the rule of law and order, the rule of mob is taking place all over the country. The nation, certainly, has been placed in deep crisis. This crisis, however, does not have a single perpetuator. It has emerged from the combination of nexus between corporate capitalism and communal fundamentalism. In such a grave situation it is natural for citizens, who believe in the Constitution and the law and order, to be worried.
At present, apart from the center, the BJP has governments in 22 states of the country. Therefore, it is obvious for the people to believe that the alternative is to change this government in the next general election. The opposition too has been making certain efforts in order to defeat the present government in the next Lok Sabha election. But they have not been able to chalk-out any firm strategy till now when only 9 months remain for the general elections. It can be said that, in view of the crisis, the efforts of the opposition unity are directed merely with the intention of getting power to rule. Opposition leaders, in this process, very often want to take advantage of the situation arising out of the existing crisis. It is true that in democracy, people have no choice other than the present opposition parties, and have placed their hope for change only from this Opposition. They do not seem to mind if that would mean merely a change of government for political power only.
However, the conscious and acutely aware civil society of the country can definitely channelize the power-oriented efforts of the opposition towards a better direction, at least to some extent. The search for possible solutions to the problem can be through the mode and model of constitution-sanctioned policies. In view of the crisis, any further delay in understanding the truth that if the prevailing corporate capitalist policies are allowed to continue, nothing lasting will change. The Hindu-Rashtra of the RSS/BJP will continue to flourish unchallenged. The Bharatiya Rashtra (Indian-nation) can only be saved and strengthened with constitution-sanctioned policies and principles of equality in the national life, which have been all but abandoned by all the so-called secular parties and intellectuals, including the Congress. If the re-emergence of the Bharatiya Rashtra, vis a vis the Hindu-Rashtra, is to happen, then, instead of the corporate-sanctioned neo-liberal policies, the constitution-sanctioned policies must be adhered to. This seemingly impossible task is possible, provided the conscious civil society people want to make it so.
A conscious civil society is made up of various intellectual groups existing in the country. It is a pity that most secular intellectuals of India are not ready to recognize the root cause of the crisis even after these many decades. The talk of a solution should come after that. Keeping the neo-liberal policies out of the picture, they consider only the RSS/BJP fascist character to be responsible for the current crisis. The secular intellectuals, till the first decade of this century, used to say that they will deal with neo-liberal policies later, first it was necessary to tackle the threat of fascism. But this was simply an avoidance and an excuse to keep one eye shut to the real issue. Their struggle against fascism could not stop the formation of BJP governments at the center in 1999 under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and in 2014 under Narendra Modi’s leadership. That is, the communal fascist forces increasingly became strong in society and politics despite the so-called strategy. The secular intellectuals, unfortunately, still fail to understand. They still believe that it is adequate enough to get the RSS/BJP out of power in order to sort out the crisis in the country. The neo-liberal policies are no longer the target of their protests.
Politics is called a game of possibilities. The defeat of the RSS/BJP in the next Lok Sabha election might create the possibility of a solution to the crisis. Following this perspective, the solitary campaign of defeating the RSS/BJP by the secular intellectuals becomes meaningful; even if they stop protesting against the neo-liberal policies forever in the process. But in such a case, the question of the integrity of the secular intellectuals would become a moral question, as to what should be sacrificed and for what goal. If they defend the leaders/parties who support the RSS/BJP and are motivated by the fascist-dictatorial tendencies while opposing the RSS/BJP, they and their campaign cannot be trusted. Their much manifested concern for the crisis will also be considered as hollow. Rather, their claim as intellectuals will be in the realm of question. The integrity of secular intellectuals can be examined by looking at the recent example of one such ‘popular’ leader.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a few days ago that if the Center gives the full statehood to Delhi, then he will reciprocate by supporting the BJP in the next elections. The Members of Parliament of AAP did not participate in the voting held recently to elect Rajya Sabha’s Deputy Speaker. Later a party MP disclosed the reason for their absence, stating that Kejriwal had a pre-condition to support the opposition candidate. The condition was that Rahul Gandhi would call him personally. Now, Kejriwal has categorically declared that he will not be a part of the opposition alliance which will be formed against BJP-led NDA in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Of course, Kejriwal does not see any threat from the RSS/BJP regime – neither in the present nor in the future, after 2019 Lok Sabha election. Kejriwal alone cannot be blamed for this position. He, at least, has made his position clear once again by declaring his support to the BJP in the given circumstances. According to this arrangement, such a barter or understanding of mutual gain is an ordinarily condition in politics. He has also made it ample clear that he has nothing to do with any search for answers to the crisis, his sole business in politics is to remain in power.
The secular intelligentsia has not opposed, even in a feeble voice, Kejriwal’s recent declarations, mentioned above. It is indication of the fact that despite the crisis created by the RSS/BJP’s communal fascism to the country and the society, the secular intellectuals have no objection to Kejriwal’s open support to the BJP. Ironically, the intellectuals, especially the communist intellectuals, do not delay at all in pointing out at communal lapses by the leaders/thinkers, right from the time of Indian freedom movement, to the post-independence era, down to the leaders/intellectuals in present times. But their entire logical intellect and scientific approach gets into blinkers when they speak of Kejriwal. They have been in solid support to ‘AAP’ and its supremo, for almost five years now. Kejriwal is comfortable in the knowledge that there is nothing to worry about since the secular intellectuals have taken responsibility of lending him support in the mainstream and the social media, in Delhi and the remaining parts of the country. Several eminent political science experts and scholars regularly write articles for English newspapers and magazines in support and justification of ‘AAP’ and Kejriwal’s politics. This facilitates Kejriwal to focus his attention on advertisements for building up his image through putting up hoardings and posters into which has gone a good amount of the taxpayers’ money. He is an apt competitor of Modi in the race of self-image building.
Although it will be somewhat repetitive, but some facts related to Kejriwal and his secular intellectuals need to be noted once again. Prior to becoming political leaders, Kejriwal and his close associates were NGO activists taking huge money from the big donor organizations of Europe and America, and used to ask for ‘Swaraj’ from leaders such as Manmohan Singh, LK Advani and Sonia Gandhi, advertising such demands through huge hoardings, posters, pamphlets, broachers etc. This ‘ground level struggle’, under the auspices of ‘Youth for Equality’, was however just confined to opposing the reservation policy in education and jobs. They along with Anna Hazare, Ramdev, Shree Shree Ravi Shankar and several retired officers of different departments and other NGO operators formed ‘India Against Corruption’ (IAC) and then tried to build up an anti-corruption movement in Delhi. The movement did not click the first time. The next time, in a subtle manner, they began to work on the strategy of defamation of the ruling Congress. They managed through to get the media in their favour and conveyed the desired message that ‘whoever is not with the movement, is in obvious support of corruption’. Many senior activists from peoples’ movements, civil society activists, progressive intellectuals, communists, socialists and Gandhians enthusiastically joined the movement. The middle class, which had benefited from the neo-liberal policies of the last 25 years, extended unprecedented support to the movement. The RSS recognized the opportunity and took up the charge of entire in-house arrangement of the movement. Anna Hazare, leader of the movement, praised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the first place and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the second place, for their good governance.
Emerging from these very ‘ashes of the anti-corruption movement’, the new party of ‘common man’ has now taken shape. The chapter of ‘Anna Kranti’ ended soon; the ‘Kejriwal Kranti’ chapter started, playing the main lead in the show. While paving the way for corporate politics, it was announced that there should be no discussion about ideology in politics. Money started pouring from all over the country and abroad. Posters messaging ‘At the center PM Modi, In Delhi CM Kejriwal’ appeared on the walls of Delhi. Fearing that the Congress is going to lose its hold and power, the secular intellectuals re-tightened its grip on Kejriwal . Since then, a lot of water has flown down the Ganges. The secular intellectuals hardly dared to oppose several apparently communal and dictatorial actions and decisions of Kejriwal and ‘AAP. This included Kejriwal’s contest from Benaras to facilitate an easy victory to Modi after his holy dip into Ganges, the visit to Baba Viswanath temple before filing nomination, his silence on the Muzaffar Nagar and Delhi riots, his ‘belief’ that his absolute victory in the second round of Delhi assembly election was a gift of God, his pro-active support to the contentious decision about the change of name of the Aurangzeb Road in Delhi suggested by the Central Government, and his generosity in handing over the Yamuna bank in Delhi for Shree Shree Ravi Shanker’s mega event which damaged its ecology badly. They remained silent when former Law Minister of Delhi government, Somnath Bharti, while doing moral policing, made four foreign women in the Malviya Nagar area, flee in fear at midnight. They remained silent when the wife of Afzal Guru, hung on the gallows, came to Delhi demanding her husband’s body for the last rites and the hoodlums of ‘AAP’ entered the press conference and protested against her plea. Prashant Bhushan was attacked in his chamber by the supporters of Anna Hazare and Kejriwal, but the secular intellectuals did not dare to say anything. They were silent when Kejriwal made unwarranted comments on some socialist leaders of the party. Also when supporters of Kejriwal scuffled with socialist leaders in a meeting and ultimately turned them out of the party. The list of such fascist and totalitarian tendencies of Kejriwal and ‘AAP’ is s long one.
Of course, the secular intellectuals continue to tell the public from time to time that there are the RSS infiltrators like Kumar Biswas and Kapil Mishra within ‘AAP’ whose work is only to spoil the image of Kejriwal. It is as if they do not know that ‘AAP’ is an amalgam of opportunistic elements catered to by Kejriwal himself. The amalgam includes the RSS people, the Congressmen, the socialists, the communists and a number of non-political people. The secular intellectuals, while supporting Kejriwal and his government, always argue that it is a government elected by the people. As if the governments at the center and other states have not been elected by the people! At the time of Kapil Mishra episode, a Hindi writer lamented, ‘A lion is surrounded by goblins all around!’ Another Hindi writer has applauded that there cannot be any other Chief Minister like Kejriwal. Be it any subject or any opportunity, a retired professor of Delhi University would start and end his lectures with praises of Kejriwal. Such eulogies of Kejriwal by secular intellectuals too is quite long. When the election approaches, these intellectuals have teamed up with the Delhi government to launch a new campaign. On the pattern the ‘Gujarat model of development’, they are engaged in constructing the myth of Delhi model of education and health.
There is an another aspect to the picture. Sheila Dikshit was Delhi’s chief minister for 15 years. She gave hefty grants, posts and awards to intellectuals-writers-artists from Delhi and across the country while respecting their freedom. She herself went to authors’ homes to honour them. She provided all kinds of assistance including financial support from the government in case of illness. But as soon as they smell that she is going to lost the elections, the writers-intellectuals turned away their attention. Without any hesitation, they became ‘bhakt’ of the person who defeated Sheila Dikshit.
The communist intellectual group in India is the most organized and powerful. It always remains at the forefront with the claims of progressive and scientific approach in making the call to defeat the fascism of RSS/BJP. But at the same time, it also remains the most powerful supporter of Kejriwal and his party. (The three official communist parties of India also have the same line.) There is no need to go into deeper review. The facts speak for themselves. It is clear that most of the secular intellectuals, including the one organized and powerful intellectual group, have not play their role honestly even against communalism, leave aside neo liberalism. This has been the major reason why the country has had to suffer the present deep crisis. The more worrying thing is that the secular intellectuals are pushing the country towards a deeper crisis in order to fulfill short-term interests. They are engaged in nurturing another fascist/totalitarian power structure which is parallel only to the RSS/BJP. The corporate capitalist establishment, supports and encourages this nurturing. Its aim is quite clear, to consolidate its position in order to be in control, and to shape the future of Indian politics.
Dr. Prem Singh, a former fellow of Indian Institute of Advance Study (IIAS), teaches Hindi at Delhi University and is president of Socialist Party (India)