People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 38

September 18, 2011



Fighting Corruption or Seeking

Communal Polarisation?



MR L K Advani has, once again, declared his intention of going on a rath yatra. This will be his sixth since the infamous 1992 yatra that left behind a mayhem of communal bloodshed.  Notwithstanding the law of diminishing returns – that has been operating exponentially with him – he has undauntedly announced yet another yatra. 


The yatra that he began in September 1990 under the battle cry of “mandir wahin banayenge” led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid – universally considered as the darkest blot in the history of modern secular democratic Indian Republic.  This rath yatra left behind a bloody trail.  Within two months, by December, the media was reporting the death of nearly a thousand people in communal clashes. Thousands of others were seriously injured and many uprooted from their habitat.  The well-known Indian litterateur, Bisham Sahni, whose work Tamas captured the travails of the partition, that he personally lived through, said that he was afraid during Advani’s rath yatra unlike what he was during the bloody partition. 


Those who today argue that `India 2011’ is very different from `India 1992’ will do well to note that as we go to press, communal riots have already claimed the lives of nine people in Bharatpur. In a note submitted by the CPI(M) to the recently held meeting of the National Integration Council, it debunked an orchestrated propaganda that the communal situation in the country has significantly improved. Quoting the figures provided by the home ministry, it noted that, “In 2009, there were 791 communal incidents reported, resulting in 119 deaths and injuries to 2342 persons. In 2010, there were 658 incidents resulting in 111 deaths and injuries to 1971. These are figures provided by the home ministry. Between 2005 and 2009 on an average, 130 people have died and 2200 injured in communal violence each year.” 


Mr Advani and the RSS/BJP are hoping that by sharpening communal polarisation, the BJP can reap political dividends like after the 1992 yatra. This infamous yatra not only led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid but it deeply poisoned our secular polity. It, however, catapulted the BJP to form a thirteen-day government in 1996 and a thirteen-month government in 1998.   Only its government formed in 1999 could complete its full term.  However, on all these three occasions, Mr Advani, in spite of his stellar contributions, was pipped to the post of prime minister.  The BJP allies preferred Mr Vajpayee as opposed to the communal stridency of Mr Advani. 


Alas, a similar fate appears to befall Mr Advani once again.  This announcement of the rath yatra came soon after the BJP president announced that it would contest the 2014 elections on the basis of a `collective leadership’.  By announcing this yatra, Mr Advani seems to be rubbishing this presidential directive.  The BJP president himself, according to media reports, underwent a bariatric surgery – recommended only for severely obese people – to loose weight. While his medical condition needs to be sympathised, this move is cynically being interpreted by some as an effort to be physically fit for any eventuality post 2014 General Elections.  It is a well-known fact that the BJP leaders of the opposition in both the Houses of the Parliament are also serious contenders for such an eventuality.


In the meanwhile, the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, deliberately misreading the latest Supreme Court decision has interpreted this to be a `clean chit’ absolving him of his complicity in the 2002 communal carnage in Gujarat.  The Supreme Court, on the contrary, has directed the trial court to expeditiously proceed with the trial of the Gulbarga society case by handing over all material to it including the reports of the Amicus Curae and that of the special investigation team, to be considered as evidence.  The matter has, thus, gone beyond the filing of an FIR against Mr Modi.  The issue is now of a trial on these charges.  Mr Modi, however, on the basis of his own interpretation has announced a hunger strike hoping to attract national attention a la Anna Hazare.  This is his announcement seeking entry into national politics. 


The RSS/BJP’s internal bickering is its internal affair. It is upto it to decide who its prime ministerial aspirant will be. However, this reminds us of a saying in Telugu.  A person who is neither married nor has a house declares his son’s name!  There is no election in the offing nor are there indications of any groundswell of support for the BJP. Yet, this crazy race. 


Returning to Mr Advani’s yatra, he has declared that this would be against corruption.  Riding on the widespread popular sentiment against corruption galvanised by Anna Hazare’s fast, Mr Advani seems to believe that this anti-corruption campaign is transferable! Mr Advani and the BJP will do well to look inwards. While Mr Advani was announcing his yatra, the Lokayukta of Chattisgarh has severely indicted the Raman Singh-led BJP government in the state for rampant corruption in every department, equating corrupt officers with “fish in the pond dying to consume more and more water”.  This comes days after the Karnataka Lokayukta holding the BJP government guilty of severe corruption.  After much resistance and reluctance, the BJP was forced to ask CM Yedyurappa to step down. Soon followed the arrest of the Reddy brothers, former ministers in the state cabinet, on the issue of large-scale illegal mining.  In haste, the BJP has changed its chief minister in Uttarakhand before charges of corruption could consume its state government. This is its track record on corruption.


Mr Advani’s yatra is bound to make the country recollect the series of scams that rocked the Vajpayee government.  The telecom scandal, the sugar scam, the UTI fiasco, the Khetan Parekh stock market scam, scams in the defence deals exposed by Tehelka, the coffin scam, the mega petro scam, land scam etc etc.  Apart from these scams, this BJP government opened the Mauritius route for financial transactions that has led to large-scale money laundering and transfer of black money abroad. 


The country and the people will, surely, see through the farce of Mr Advani’s rath yatra on corruption.  The first time Mr Advani went on a yatra it was a tragedy. The second was a farce.  This would be a farce of the sixth order.


The country can ill-afford the sharpening of communal polarisation under the ostensible veil of fighting corruption.  The country and the people must be prepared not to allow our secular democratic fabric to be damaged and disrupted once again.

(September 14, 2011)