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‘Growing intolerance’: The fringe has taken over the core

The ruling dispensation is resorting to ways that are not in keeping with the promises it made when it came to power last year.

columns Updated: Nov 02, 2015 23:29 IST
Sitaram Yechury
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh,BJP,NDA government
Undeterred by growing protests, the RSS has now announced a campaign to ‘correct religious imbalance’. It has announced a nationwide campaign to spread disharmony.(REUTERS Photo)

Once BJP leader LK Advani described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an excellent ‘event manager’. Though Advani is now being ignored by the RSS/BJP leadership, the country is being reminded of this. When not travelling abroad, event-managing NRI gatherings, Modi is busy hosting foreign heads of state and planning travels. The promise of providing “minimum government, maximum governance” has been thrown to the wind. The patronage being provided to the politics of communal hate has virtually erased the distinction between the government and the ‘mob’. We keep hearing that the sharpening of communal polarisation is the handiwork of ‘fringe elements’. The distinction between the ‘fringe’ and the ‘core’ is a spurious one.

That the government patronises such divisive politics becomes evident when the government refused to act against the perpetrators. Since he became the prime minister, Modi has been faced with a demand in Parliament, reflecting people’s opinion, that action be taken against ministers of his Cabinet and elected BJP MPs who are indulging in activities tantamount to the violation of the ‘oath’ of our Constitution. Modi was asked to at least give an assurance on this score. To date, forget action, there is no such assurance. What else does this mean other than the erasing of the distinction between the government, which is entrusted to uphold and act according to the law of the land, and the ‘mob’.

Similarly, on allegations of corruption against his own ministers and BJP chief ministers, all that Parliament was asking the prime minister was that such charges be investigated by the appropriate agency and till the investigation was over the accused demit office. Again, there is a brazen refusal to give an assurance. Today, they accuse the Opposition of ‘disrupting Parliament’. On the contrary, the BJP’s obduracy continues to be the cause of the disruption of Parliament.

We are told that Modi is yet again preparing to tour some foreign countries — at least four more by November 25. This has put a big question mark on the convening of the winter session of Parliament. Usually, the winter session begins on the third Monday of November (16th of this month). This is unlikely to happen unless, of course, Modi chooses to remain abroad as Parliament convenes. Or, is this part of the implementation of the ‘Gujarat model’?

The Gujarat assembly, during Modi’s last five-year term as chief minister, met, on an average, 31 days each year. During the same period, the Lok Sabha sat for an average of 66 days each year. The Left parties continue to demand that the Constitution be amended to ensure the mandatory sitting of both Houses of Parliament for at least 100 days every year. Notwithstanding his rhetoric in the public meetings, the PM’s parliamentary interventions are the bare minimum. According to the Gujarat social media watch, which studied the functioning of the Gujarat assembly, Modi as chief minister spoke not more than thrice in an assembly session and ‘twice it was to read condolence motions’. Such is the ‘democratic practice’. Are we staring at the future of the Indian Parliament?

Senior ministers of Modi’s Cabinet are displaying utter contempt at the growing protests of a cross-section of enlightened Indian minds. The protests against this growing intolerance, which began with eminent Sahitya Akademi awardees returning their awards, have now snowballed to include littérateurs, poets, cinema personalities, historians, scientists and others. PM Bhargava, founder chief of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, has announced the return of the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award, as a mark of protest.

These eminent personalities have shown exemplary resolve by this extraordinary expression of protest in the defence of the unity of the Indian people and in celebrating the syncretic civilisational ethos of our country. Such actions strengthen the resolve of all Indians who cherish the secular democratic foundations of our Republic to defend our country and people’s unity.

Not surprisingly, Cabinet ministers have attacked the Left parties for engineering these ‘politically motivated’ protests. The Indian Left is honoured to have the likes of the RBI governor, corporate chiefs like NR Narayana Murthy and Kiran Majumdar Shaw, scientist Jayant Narlikar, intellectuals like Romila Thapar and Krishna Sobti, and other people of eminence. The Union finance minister, according to media reports, has said: “Those returning awards are playing politics by other means. They are rabid anti-BJP elements.” He further says that this is happening because “space of the Left has reduced”. How? This is a dangerous fascistic tendency — undermining democracy by rejecting dissenting opinion through political labelling and bracketing.

Or, is this the Union finance minister’s attempt to divert people’s attention from the mismanagement of our economy? The prices of pulses are skyrocketing. The staple food of a vast majority of Indians — dal roti — is increasingly becoming beyond their reach. Farmer suicides continue unabated. Even the illusions of an industrial turnaround are fast vanishing. Indeed, acche din…

Undeterred by growing protests, the RSS has now announced a campaign to ‘correct religious imbalance’. The latest census data, they claim, show that the population growth of the Muslims is marginally higher than the rate of growth of the Hindus. Even when the Hindu population remains stagnant, it will take more than a century for the Muslims to overtake. If the Hindu population continues to grow at the current rate, there is just no way that any religious minority can ever become a majority. Yet, the RSS has announced a nationwide campaign to spread disharmony. It could well turn out to be reminiscent of the notorious ‘nasbandi’ (forcible population control), launched during the Emergency, when democratic rights and civil liberties were abrogated.

We, thus, have a pseudo-nationalist, pseudo-Hindu government providing pseudo-governance.

Sitaram Yechury is general secretary of the CPI(M). The views expressed are personal.

First Published: Nov 02, 2015 23:29 IST