(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 27, 2013
A Broad Platform against Communalism
A CONVENTION is being held against communalism and for people’s unity in New Delhi on October 30. A number of leaders of the non-Congress secular parties and intellectuals and artists are going to attend the Convention. The holding of such a Convention has sparked off a lot of interest and speculation in the media. It is being seen as a move to constitute a third front in view of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Various permutations and combinations of non-Congress non-BJP parties are being put out. But what is the actual purpose behind the holding of such a Convention?
The country is witnessing a concerted bid by the communal forces particularly the RSS-led Hindutva outfits to assert themselves in the background of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. This is part of the overall effort to set the pace and the agenda for the BJP to make a come back. It is in this connection that we have seen a systematic campaign by the RSS-run organisations to raise communal issues and create communal tensions. This is resulting in outbreaks of communal violence and even major communal riots as in Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh in the first week of September. We have seen in the past one year a spate of communal incidents in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and now Bihar. The BJP-RSS combine has targeted Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as these are key states in which the BJP has to make substantial gains, if it has to come anywhere near bidding for power.
The issues used in the communal campaign are varied but some have assumed a sharp focus. In many places, the RSS network of organisations has been raising the issue of cow slaughter and targeting Muslims for this. There have been incidents in western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana where mobs have attacked vehicles carrying cattle even if they are doing so with due permits. The other issue being used is of young girls and women who are teased or harassed by boys. If the girl and boy concerned belong to different religious communities, this is given a communal colour. In Muzaffarnagar, it was one such incident which was used to rouse passions. Caste and patriarchal notions are also utilised for the communal purpose. A mahapanchayat of Jats was held in the name of protecting “their daughters and daughters-in-law”, after which widespread attacks took place against Muslims in the villages.
Given the history of communalism in India, we know that at various junctures, the forces of Hindu communalism and, at times minority communal organisations, seek to utilise social and political issues for communal mobilisation. This has led to violence, death, destruction and disruption of communal amity. When discontent among the people rises due to social and economic problems, often the result of government policies, the reactionary communal forces seek to utilise such a situation and divert people into communal divisions and discord.
After the long record of misrule and corruption of the UPA government for the past nine years, there is acute discontent among the people with rising prices, difficult living conditions and lack of employment opportunities. This has been compounded by the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections to be held in April-May, 2014. It is such a situation that has fuelled the gameplan of the Hindutva forces.
The projection of Narendra Modi, a hardcore Hindutva and RSS pracharak, as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate is part of this gameplan. Modi is being packaged as a man who can deliver on “development” and “good governance”. Behind this façade is the other face of Gujarat which was the laboratory for the Hindutva forces from the 1980s. The spread of the Hindutva ideology and consciousness among the middle classes was accompanied by the systematic efforts to suppress the minorities, both Muslim and Christian, which culminated in the horrific Gujarat pogroms of 2002.
The country also witnessed the violence and attacks on the minorities in the run-up to the “kar seva” at Ayodhya and the infamous “rath yatra” of L K Advani in 1990. The trail of destruction and violence against the minorities in various parts of western and northern India culminated in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. This paved the way for the eventual formation of the BJP-led government in 1998 and 1999.
The UPA government’s dismal record of allowing the loot of the country by big business, the massive corruption and the Congress party’s shortsighted and opportunist policies are now sought to be exploited by the rightwing communal forces represented by the BJP-RSS combine. The country should not be allowed to experience another bout of communal discord and violence nor should the unity of the people and communal peace be disrupted. For the Left, democratic and secular forces, therefore, the fight against communalism is not some election battle or the expediency of making political gains. What is at stake is something bigger which is the people’s unity and the country’s integrity.
That is why the broad platform of the Left, democratic and secular forces represented by the Convention on October 30 assumes importance. Leaders of the JD(U), SP, AIADMK, BJD, JD(S), JVM, RPI and the Left parties are expected to participate in the meeting. This is not the formation of any “third front”. But if this united platform against communalism brings together a wide array of non-Congress, non-BJP forces, then it can aid the process of bringing about a political realignment in the coming days.