Populism, Democracy And Fascism

Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra 1

Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra’s new edition that focuses on Nyay or justice as a major factor in establishing unity and harmony was largely a Congress venture though some partners of INDIA and civil society groups with Yogendra Yadav as their most prominent face also shared the hardships and trials of the long trek.For young  Congress  volunteers it turned into an ordeal by fire as the BJP party and government had ingeniously devised all manner of traps,obstacles and diversions to  distract,confuse and put out of heart those that dared to cock a snook at their supremacy.

For example the march included a crossing of the Brahmaputra to visit one of the oldest Vaishnava monasteries with a large following in the river-island of Majuli.It turned out that there were no boats available to carry them across for miles around.Every boat including frail barks had been booked by some local agency of the BJP government or the ruling party.The winter had turned biting cold and the marchers were buffeted by chill winds on the river bank.But they did manage to cross over,with the perennial condition of the primitive transport to the place of pilgrimage etched on their shivering bones.En route, they faced other troubles like the unprovoked attacks by goons shouting ‘Jai Shriram’ at Dhakuakhana which left State Congress President Bhupen Bora bleeding and the prominent leader of AICC Jairam Ramesh distraught and dishevelled.But they braved it unperturbed and marched on.The result was when they arrived at Jorhut perhaps the biggest town in upper Asssm they found  a huge jostling crowd waiting to greet them.Alarmed by this turn of events and the unravelling of his careful plans  the excitable and voluble Chief  Minister went into overdrive and started a running commentary on Rahul Gandhi and his Yatra raining jibes and snide remarks on him.His incredible vitriolic verbiage included the priceless fib that a ‘duplicate Rahul’ was doing all the marching and talking while the real Rahul would rest smugly inside the van fitted with all mod cons.

But the peak of the offensive was at Khanapara on Western limits of the city,where 8000 policemen armed with standard police equipment stood behind barriers designed to stop the entry of the procession into the city.The Congress decided on the spur of the moment a tactic to show their determination and strength by breaking up  the barriers but not trying to force their way into the city.Nonviolent but determined resistance.The members of the Yatra were beaten up and the State Congress president was again mercilessly assaulted.Again considerable crowds had gathered at the spot to watch the scuffle and needless to say they took to heart the lessons of the incident.

The smooth and even surface of the BJP propaganda was left badly smudged and twisted.To what extent that will turn the tide is anybody’s guess.

Now we have come to the stage to reflect on the lessons of the Yatra and examine the character of the leadership.and its strategy.

First given the restrictions imposed on the march by the State administration,it was a rather short march and with a limited exposure to the masses who were actually expecting much greater things.Though they did accept the benefits showered on them by the government by the week with relief they were not too happy to bear the yoke of abject obedience among worsening conditions of life in general,and were secretly hoping for a gust of clean fresh air.But it was not possible with the route imposed on the march by the government.

Rahul was not as charismatic as he had become during the first Yatra where he appeared more involved,more concerned and anguished and really questing.He appeared contented and complacent, and more  narrowly political.As though he had already hit upon a successful formula for success.So I firmly and obstinately insist it was a mistake not to have resumed his journey soon after the end of the first round.In stead he rested on his laurels and gathered around himself  an halo of saintly charity. Which did last for a few months before slowly fading into quotidian banality.Precious time was wasted in foreign lectures and resting and those forgettable photo-ops,allowing the enemy to think up and plan ways to hamstring him and rob him of favourable opportunities to meet and interact with people.It was a classic case of populism.

His message to the people this time around should have been based on serious study of conditions of the states he was passing through.Here one sees also an unfortunate resistance among Congress leaders to face the stark truth that it was neoliberal economic policies that had ravaged the lives and livelihoods of the people.There should actually be steps thought out by a team of pro-people economists to moderate the economic and social impact of neoliberal policies to protect livelihoods and  create scope for small industry and agriculture as well as make them both productive and socially beneficial.

 In stead what I gather from videos of the climactic confrontation at the City limits at Khanapara(which constraints of age prevented me from watching first hand) was his calmly addressing the array of policemen that he had not come to fight them,and they were doing after all what they had been bidden to do.But they too should also pursue justice,and that included bringing to the book the Chief Minister and his family,the most corrupt in the country.And that after the brutal police charge had left the state Congress president’s nose flattened and his face bleeding.All that sounded slightly unreal.In my view he could have taken the chance to address the huge crowd that had gathered there in high expectation. There is no doubt that the Chief Minister had been rattled by Rahul Gandhi’s refrain on the corruption charge against him and his family,and he ranted on day after day on the alleged flop show Rahul Gandhi had led.

That was a fair  dividend of the effort,but hardly on expected scale.For after all the people are getting inured to charges of corruption flying thick and fast when politicians slam each other.

 Actually the only practical method for renewing democracy under the circumstances today is to organize the millions of small farmers,tradesmen,and laborers every passing year left out on a limb and desperately poor to blunt the edge of corporate attack on their livelihood and steer them away from the path of senseless violence against imagined enemies among their brethren and to organize them into an army of resistance clearly and firmly aware of the damage being wreaked on their livelihoods by neoliberal agents of rapacious corporate capital,and reclaiming unitedly and resolutely their right to live productively and with dignity.Exactly as Lula and Chavez have done in Latin America under much harsher conditions.And our farmers had done exactly that not so long ago.

There is no other way.All the rest about democracy follow after. Otherwise it is mere populism that will lose momentum after a short while and boomerang.And the hapless poor would be organized by the enemy as lumpen stormtroopers of the very same corporate capital that had  sucked their life-blood.Crony capital is a pitiful way of describing the evil at work.

Much depends on the feedback Congress and other opposition parties are getting.Unfortunately any type of high command style of doing politics is bound to fall short today.It shies away from people who are capable of supplying good  feedback and  strengthen the party.In stead such people are preferred who only supply things that sound sweet on the ear.As during the years of Indira Gandhi’s ascendancy.

 Thus in some states yea-sayers are set up to run politics there and they squabble among themselves as warring groups contending for favour of high command.And such lobbies help to strengthen the power of the high command over them.To be sure at the moment that seems to be the only glue that can hold together many parties.

 It is to Rahul’s credit that he was the first person in the Congress to insist on ideology as the basis of unity in the party.But he urgently needs to re-define socialism to fit the conditions he finds himself in.So that the masses understand and respond. On the ground some leeway must be given to state units to find goals and tactics to fit local conditions.The constant tutelage leaves state units dull and listless.

The trouble is that as soon as Congress smells power it loses all sense of proportions and start behaving as if it already has won power and robs partners of the alliance the wrong way.That is a habit that seems hard to learn.May God help them to learn the vital lesson.

I was surprised to learn that Congress had now found that micromanagement was vital to counter the work of microgroups of BJP.It is now only two months left till the election,and BJP has seasoned and trained groups in every village entrenched.How will the fledgling Congress groups beat them at their game?I remember I had written on micromanagement as one of the factors for BJP’s fantastic sweep in 2019 elections.And no notice was taken of such information from obscure people.The consequence is there for everyone to see.

There is always scope to learn new things and improve one’s prospects.Only a second time might never come.

Hiren Gohain is a political commentator

Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

The Mere Anarchy of Law

India that is more Bharat these days is a democracy,which proclaims to the whole world that unlike socialist dictatorships is ruled by law.It has become quite difficult to understand what…

The Lost Ethical Dimension

What immediately follows news breaks reporting yet another attack on a Muslim peddler or Muslim milkman on his way back from a fairground with a newly acquired cow,is usually analysis…

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News