The title of the article is not reflective of the defeat of politics that stands against the politics which imposes neo-imperialist slavery on the country. That defeat has already been taken place. The reason is that almost all the claimants and intellectuals of socialism, secularism and democracy in the country are against the anti-neo-imperialist politics. The experience since 1991 i.e. the era of beginning of the New Economic policies, has amply shown that the intellectual leadership of the country out did the political leadership in paving the way for neo-imperialist slavery. When New Economic Policies were implemented, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had stated that now the Congress has taken up the work of the BJP by replacing the constitutional socialist system with the capitalist one. The Intellectual leadership could not hear the call of fascism then. It did not mind and remained unnerved at the sacrifice of the constitutional value of socialism at the altar of neo-liberalism. Being itself a beneficiary of the neo-liberal policies it strengthened its economic status rapidly from country to abroad at the cost of the poor farmers, laborers and the unemployed. The status of top-class intellectuals and artists, who had already attained level of a world-class life style on government spending, became more and more entrenched.
It is no longer a hidden truth that the intellectual leadership of the country is determined not to allow the structure and struggle of anti-neo-imperialist politics to become complete and decisive. Even today it poses that no situation like neo-imperialism and studies/discussions related to it exist in India or in the world. It transformed the meaning of politics, political ideology, political activism and political party by decorating various retail shops of NGOs and discourses. In short, it can be remembered that the intellectual leadership had launched the first united attack on anti-neo-imperialist politics under the auspices of the World Social Forum (WSF). It was a world-level event of the NGO network, in which a slogan of ‘another world is possible’ was raised. People were told that another world would come into existence against the current neo-liberal world without politics. There is a need to sing, dance and eat together in between. And for all of this funding was required. It meant that for the creation of another world there was no need to talk about alternative politics vis-a-vis corporate politics. They were supposed to apprise when the time will be opportune to talk not only about politics, but most importantly about what kind of politics!
That moment arrived soon. The intellectual leadership launched another attack in the form of anti-corruption movement under the aegis of India Against Corruption (IAC). It was a unique scene of NGO mobsters’ actions. From progressive and secular intellectuals to corporate houses, almost everybody queued up in that movement. This time it was joined by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and various religious-social-civil-administrative personalities. ‘Gandhian’ Anna Hazare, who was made the face of the movement, praised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a ‘Vikas-Purush’ (man of development) from the stage at Delhi. Humble Modi wrote a letter of gratitude and warned that enemies will try to mislead him. But the ‘enemies’ did nothing of the sort. They were already intoxicated with the second-third ‘revolution’. They had no inkling that Narendra Modi could become the Prime Minister of India. It was worth seeing the naivety of this very intellectual leadership that the two-time prime minister Manmohan Singh, who was all of a sudden painted as dishonest, would be replaced by the ‘honest’ NGO kingpins and that too in such a huge country.
This time, the sophistry of non-ideology was carried out. Even the ideology of the Constitution was directly attacked. The country and the world were told that ideology-less politics is the only alternative. And, thus, a new specimen of corporate politics emerged in the form of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Slogans of ‘Modi in the country, Kejriwal in Delhi’ started echoing. There was no end to the enthusiasm of intellectual leadership. It threw away the veils like communism, socialism, social justice, Gandhism, modernism etc. and proactively covered itself with the ‘Ramnami’ of non-ideology. The neo-imperialist establishment had been wishing direct intrusion of NGO players in India’s politics for a long time. The anti-corruption movement, which was said to be bigger than the JP movement and of the level of the freedom movement, not only set up Narendra Modi, who was restless in Gujarat, on top of Advani in the BJP, but also opened the highway to power with absolute majority at the center. Kiran Bedi’s ‘Chhota Gandhi’, having completed the task, fought election from Benares and hoisted the flag of Modi’s invincibility. In this way, the politics of India, which was set on the axis of the neo-imperialist establishment by removing it from the axis of the Constitution was strengthened forever. This dynamics of corporate politics was worth seeing – India’s intellectual leadership was calling the counter-revolution a revolution.
The concerted attack of intellectual leadership was bound to prove fatal to the already weak political ideology of anti-imperialism, which was built on and inspired by the values of the freedom struggle and the Constitution. Also it proved to be the last nail in the coffin of Constitution of India. It is not without reason that when intellectuals cite the Constitution while opposing the decisions of the RSS/BJP, the public no longer trusts them. If the public agitates in a spontaneous manner, then these intellectuals, who themselves have lost their credibility by invalidating the Constitution, reach there to take possession of that movement having Ambedkar’s photo in their hands.
The phrase ‘political defeat’ in this article refers to the opposition’s defeat in the 2019 general election. I have written in detail that this defeat could have been avoided in view of the dissatisfaction among people that was expressed in the last five years. But the opposition contested the election in a retail manner without proper preparations. The political leadership and the intellectual leadership remained poles apart. I wrote in June 2018, “The intellectuals and activists of the country, who are worried about the basic values of the Constitution – socialism, secularism and democracy – and the erosion of constitutional institutions, should play a positive role in the formation and acceptance of the National Front. In India, leaders have often inspired intellectuals and artists. Now it is the turn of the intellectuals, artists and conscious representatives of the civil society to extend their guidance and co-operation to the leaders in the times of crisis.” (Lok Sabha Elections 2019: A Perspective for Opposition Unity). This did not happen last time. If this happens in view of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, then the chances of defeating the BJP in the realm of corporate politics will increase.
It was no secret what would the BJP government’s ‘solutions’ be about the Kashmir-problem, the temple-mosque dispute, the Assam-problem (National Register of Citizens) and the Citizenship Law when it comes to power again in 2019. The government has done its work one after the other. The work of political and intellectual leadership has once again been restricted to only react to the government’s agenda of communal polarization. It seems that the situation which surfaced between 2014 and 2019, will also remain extant for the next five years.
A cursory glance at the call that has been made after the political defeat shows that the progressive/secular citizens have no serious concern about the election of 2024. They feel delight in mere protests. Some of the hallmarks can be seen floating on social media day and night : ‘Read this entire article, listen to this speech, watch this video of such and such and forward it to as many people as possible, so and so has silenced, exposed, taught a lesson, played the band, licked the dust so and so (usually addressed to Modi-Shah or ‘Bhakts’), so and so gave such a impressive speech that there was a lot of applause, such a speech that the people got emotional, so and so leader tweeted this, so and so celebrity tweeted that, the heirs of such and such have come out to save the Constitution, the public has understood the game, people have woken up, Dalit-Muslims have united, the backward have made a ruckus on Manuwad, such a protest was never seen before, a wave of protests have arisen in the universities, the youth of the country are bent upon to take freedom … ‘ and so on.
Along with this, a variety of contrary sayings, idioms, stories, legends, statements, poems, slogans, jokes are being circulated in such a manner as if the days of the RSS/BJP/Modi-Shah and their fascist government are numbered and that it is only a matter of time before they will be wiped out. But amidst all this a question is not asked that if they themselves have all the knowledge and scientific perspective, then why is the agenda of RSS being percolated in such a vast country? Why did the innumerable magazines and books are overshadowed by just an RSS mouthpiece? Why did the ‘Bauddhik’ (knowledge classes) held in the RSS ‘Shakhas’ (gatherings) defeat the doctrines/discourses propounded in national and international seminars? The fascist character and face of the RSS is being demonstrated repeatedly in order to save the democracy. But the basic truth is again being hidden that the constitutional democracy in India was not adopted to serve the present corporate capitalism. It is also reiterated from some corners that communal polarization is used to divert attention from the plight of farmers, laborers, small-scale businessmen, unemployed etc. But the reality is being hidden that if the economy of the country is not run on the basis of constitutional Directive Principles of State Policy, and the same will be run on the dictates of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO), World Economic Forum (WEF) and domestic and foreign corporate houses, the economic plight will continue like this; The pillar institutions of the economy will continue to be destroyed.
Modi is providing a good training of ‘Jumlebaji’ even to his opponents. Recently, a fellow who cast a curse of death on the Congress said in connection of National Citizenship Register (NRC) that a national unemployment register should be prepared instead. Some good people took that jumla hands-on. After reading the lesson of ideology-less ‘Swaraj’ in Kejriwal’s school, such wisdom flows that a simple truth becomes elusive i.e. if privatization continues unabated under the corporate capitalist system, there will no longer be permanent jobs.
The intellectual leadership does not want to leave space for proper political preparations against this outright attack of counter-revolution because if it happens, then their visibility is bound to be affected even if for a short while. The leadership, in fact, follows the prop of ‘what you see sells’. It is not ready to introspect for a moment whether it is a participant in this counter-revolution itself? At least in the form that it did not pursue the agenda of revolution honestly. As a result, this horrific debris of the counter-revolution has fallen on the society. Actually the problem is that most of the intellectuals of the progressive-secular camp are hidden neo-liberalists. They oppose the neo-liberal system on one hand and reap its rewards on the other. Needless to say that these people are more dangerous for the constitutional sovereignty and values of the country than the open neo-liberalists.
However, the new Chief of Army has announced in his first press conference that Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) will be merged into India whenever the government wishes. Pakistan has dismissed the general’s announcement as a routine rhetoric meant for public consumption. But such an action can happen before the general election of 2024. If this happens, election can also be won. After one more political defeat, the call of protests may continue again for next five years!
(The writer is a teacher of Hindi at Delhi University)