People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
LS DEBATE ON GUJARAT
Advani Arrogantly Defends Genocide
Harkishan Singh Surjeet
THE July 23 debate in Lok Sabha on Gujarat has made it plainly clear that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is in no mood to repent what its state government did to earn the unenviable record of presiding over a ghastly communal carnage in the state.
This is natural. For, the BJP is controlled by communal-fascistic RSS from behind the scene, and all the important BJP leaders are the RSS men. The fact is that when deputy prime minister cum home minister Advani defended the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, saying "his decision to dissolve the assembly was correct," he was not defending an isolated individual but the very RSS whose pracharak Modi has been. Advani was in fact defending the RSS goal of ushering into a fascistic Hindu Rashtra in which the minorities will have, at the best, a subordinate position, devoid of all fundamental rights and civil liberties.
To what extent Advani could go to defend Modi is evident from his statement in Lok Sabha. He bluntly said there was "no breakdown of the constitutional machinery" in the state and therefore imposing presidentís rule in the state under article 356 is not warranted. Needless to say, this is not only against the findings of a whole gamut of citizensí forums and non-government organisations, etc, but even against the conclusions arrived at by such constitutional bodies as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and National Commission on Minorities (NCM). Both these bodies have clearly underlined the breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state. This implied, without saying it in so many words, that the imposition of presidentís rule in the state is a must in todayís situation. These bodies also warned against holding elections in the state till normalcy returns there.
But, evidently all this is meaningless for a fanatic RSS man like Advani who has now become virtually number one man in the union cabinet and all the more vocal, to the extent that Vajpayeeís voice is nowadays seldom heard. This too is an indication of how the RSS is trying its utmost to tighten its grip on the state machinery.
It was therefore no wonder that, filled up with a new sense of importance in the RSS scheme of things and with the resultant arrogance, Advani told the Lok Sabha: "You abuse a chief minister day in and day out and then expect him not to go to the people. What he has done is correct. The chief minister needs the certificate of the people of Gujarat and he will get that."
Advaniís arrogance was in continuation of Modiís own arrogance, who got the assembly dissolved "without even bothering to summon a session of the state assembly and gain its concurrence" (The Indian Express, July 24).
Advaniís arrogance was also clear from what he said on the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom in Delhi and some other places. He said: "I was a witness to what happened in Delhi in 1984. I will still not call it genocide. Use of such a word sends a wrong message to the world." While there is no doubt that the 1984 riot was a genocide, Advaniís display of magnanimity (!) of not calling it a genocide has only one purpose --- that others too must not call the Gujarat carnage a genocide!
Advani used one more trick to underplay the gravity of Gujarat carnage. Referring to the forensic report on the Godhra train carnage, he said: "You donít need a forensic report to tell you that it had been burnt from inside. It was very apparent to me when I went there and had a look at the coach." This way he sought to skirt the possibility that some of the karsevaks might have been responsible for the incident. Moreover, he has perhaps forgotten that he was the first person to raise the bogey of ISI hand soon after Godhra, though he contradicted himself very soon.
ARE FREE & FAIR
But it was the height of his adamancy when Advani refused to use article 356 in the state. This is despite the fact, and thousands of voices have unanimously put it, that free and fair elections are out of question till Modi or anybody like him presides over the state machinery. For example, Father Cedric Prakash, an Ahmedabad-based Christian priest whose community has suffered grievous and murderous attacks from the Sangh Parivar goons, is very clear that the situation in Gujarat is as bad as it was on February 27-28 and later. He clearly said while he was in Delhi to attend a SAHMAT function: "The Muslim community is devastated, even the rich are ruinedÖ.. I donít see any chance of change coming about because of the political games at work. Gujarati Hindus are also not speaking out, and it gives people like Narendra Modi a chance to keep harping that five crore Gujaratis are with him, which is an outright lie."
It is with this fact in view that The Indian Express editorially commented on July 24 that despite all the BJPís "protestations to the contrary, normalcy has not returned to Gujarat in sufficient measure as any number of news reports emanating out of the state testify to. Whatís more --- as this newspaper has argued time and again --- normalcy is unlikely to return under Modiís political dispensation. Given this fact of life, given also that the Gujarat assembly today stands dissolved, it would appear that there is no way out apart from imposing presidentís rule in Gujarat until such time as the state is ready for its tryst with the ballot box."
The editorial said so in reply to an "important question" it raised a little while ago: "Öshould the nation allow a man who stands discredited for his governmentís complicity in the worst riot in Indiaís history to get away with this audacious strategy?" Replying in negative, the editorial said: "Not only will this affect the credibility of the election process, it could ratchet up the levels of tension in the state." Other papers too have made similar comments on this score. (See their excerpts elsewhere in this issue.)
All these observations are disturbing, as they mean something ominous for our very democratic, civilised existence. At a time when lakhs of people have been uprooted from their hearth and home, and are not only living a miserable life but are even being threatened that they must not dare return to their original places, holding free and fair elections can only be a pipe dream. As Abdul Ghachi, an inmate of the Fatehpura relief camp said: "I own a house in the village (Maheta --- Surjeet), we have a ration card, my family is enrolled in the votersí list in the gram panchayat. But all this does not count. It is my birthplace and now I cannot go back there."
"I cannot go back there." This is what really underlines the tragedy of the situation. It is clear that if assembly elections take place before ensuring a conducive atmosphere for it ---
1) Lacks of genuine Muslim voters will not be able to exercise their franchise, which right our democratic constitution gives them;
2) The present dispensation, presided over by a hardcore RSS pracharak, is certain to aid and abet the RSS-VHP drive to enhance the communal polarisation in the state in a bid to garner as many Hindu votes as possible;
3) The marauding gangs of the saffron brigade will certainly not hesitate to use muscle power against the minority community members who will be trying to reach the polling booths.
It is with these apprehensions in mind that the secular forces and parties have been demanding that presidentís rule be imposed in the state and the Modi government dismissed.
Significantly, this has been the demand not only of non-NDA parties but even of some NDA partners. Not very long ago, Samata Party did raise the demand of Modiís dismissal, only to renege on it within 24 hours. Though TDP chief Naidu did not have the courage to demand Modiís dismissal at that time, he did warn the BJP against holding immediate elections in the state, saying that relief and rehabilitation of the victims should be the prime concern. Sadly and unfortunately, these were only faint voices, not backed by any commensurate action.
This lame-duck attitude of the allies was evident, once again, in the July 23 discussion. Yerran Naidu (TDP) said: Relief and rehabilitation is foremost at this critical juncture. There is no need to hurry with the polls.
Prabhunath Singh of the Samata Party queried: Are you going to have Hindu-Muslim riots everywhere and then hold polls?
Rashid Alvi of the BSP warned: You canít play politics over dead bodies.
Krishna Bose (Trinamul Congress) pontificated: Rehabilitation does not mean a bowl of gruel. Bring them back to the mainstream. Give them back their dignity.
No doubt these are, in themselves, correct observations. But what makes them farcical is the fact that there is no determined action to "bring them (the Muslims) back to the mainstream, to give them back their dignity." Or, maybe, this inaction is deliberate. This is quite well known to BJP leaders who know that, no matter how much noises its allies make, they are not going to make any effort to put a brake on the RSS-VHP-BJPís strident and venomous communal campaign. This explains how Advani was able to arrogantly defend Modi, "paying little heed to suggestions from allies not to rush with the polls and instead work on relief and rehabilitation."
In this way, the BJP has, like umpteen times earlier, again made it clear that it cares a hoot for its allies, that it has no love lost for their so-called National Agenda for Governance. Its point is plain: the NDA government is a de facto BJP government and the allies can remain in it only as long as they do not create headache for the big brother. The BJP has no problem in allowing the non-BJP ministers to enjoy their positions, to eat, drink and make merry. But it is certainly not going to tolerate any opposition to its cherished project of establishing a theocratic state in India.
It is not the first time that pro-RSS politicians are behaving in this fashion. It is they whose adamant attitude on the question of dual membership led to a split in the Janata Party in 1979. Then, when they saw in the January 1980 Lok Sabha and June 1980 assembly polls that the rump Janata Party was unable to catapult them into power, they did not take a moment to kick it away. This is how the Jan Sangh was resurrected as the BJP.
Again, it is the same set of people who aligned with the Congress and a section of Janata Dal to topple the V P Singh government in November 1990.
It is thus clear that, no matter how much Vajpayee may pontificate about coalition dharma, the pro-RSS lobby has no love for any coalition, any lofty principle, any national interest, except their loyalty to the RSS and its diabolic project. If the allies are still not aware of these things, it is better they prepare themselves to face the shock of a lifetime in the next Lok Sabha polls.
Now that the assembly stands dissolved, the ball is in the Election Commissionís court. Some time ago, when the BJP was still toying with the idea of early elections in Gujarat, the EC had made it clear that it could not be pressured into holding polls in a state if the atmosphere for it was not conducive. Now, though BJP president has already met the EC by the time these lines are being written, we do hope that EC will ponder whether the ground reality in Gujarat has really undergone any significant improvement.
Be that as it may, there is ground to believe that in case polls really take place in Gujarat, the BJP may suffer defeat, provided no rigging or bungling takes place. Not having anything positive in their record of governance, they are mortally afraid of facing the electorate. Polarisation of people along communal lines is their only hope. This is what they would do. But whether they will succeed, is still open to doubt. Nor should one expect the secular forces not to put up stiff resistance.