Vinod Mubayi

Despite predictions by many liberal journalists, Modi has won handily in Gujarat again, even if his margin is slightly smaller than in the post-pogrom elections of 2002. Gujarat has been described many times as a “laboratory” of Hindutva. But, as Ram Punyani points out perceptively in the article reprinted below, it would be incorrect to consider Gujarat anymore as a laboratory for experimenting with the notion of Hindu rashtra. It has now graduated instead to a full-fledged industry, a veritable mass-production factory, for promoting Hindutva.

And not just Hindutva, but a very specific brand of it, which has been labeled Moditva. It is a truism to assert that authoritarian cultural and religious ideologies based heavily on promoting violence against vulnerable minorities as a means of garnering majoritarian electoral and political support inevitably acquire fascist overtones. Modi’s speech on the Sohrabuddin killing, where he repeatedly exhorted the audience to shout “kill, kill, kill”, and for which he received a mild rap on the knuckles from the Election Commission, was eerily reminiscent of Hitler’s infamous Nuremburg speech where similar exhortations were made against German Jews.

Modi’s victory in three successive elections denotes the success of Gujarat’s communalization, obtaining majority approval for a fascist agenda directed at minorities. To convince people that 7 or 8 percent of the population who happen to be minorities pose an instant danger to the safety and security of the 90+ percent majority, requires a willing suspension of rational thought via a process of brainwashing, which is what all fascist propaganda does. This process is also similar to what was experienced in fascist Europe in the 1920s and 30s.

Modi’s acclamation as the avatar of economic growth and efficiency is modeled on Mussolini “who made the trains run on time.” Gujarat, the birthplace of the apostle of non-violence Mahatma Gandhi, has now produced a Modi who glorifies the slaughter of unborn fetuses as long as the wombs from which they are snatched belong to Muslim women. Similarly, in Germany, one of the most culturally advanced countries of Europe, the descendants of Heine, Schiller, and Goethe, became at a later time the perpetrators of the horrors of the Kristallnacht a century later. It was only in the aftermath of a cataclysmic war and a several decades long period of cleansing of Nazi propaganda that German minds could be cleansed of Nazi filth. How and whether this process could at all be replicated in Gujarat remains to be seen.

Jyoti Basu, who, despite his advanced age, is one of the sanest voices on the political scene in India, said recently in an interview in the Hindu newspaper that “If the communal forces get the upper hand, India will cease to exist as India.” Considering the long and chequered history of the subcontinent, this is a very relevant and appropriate assessment of the current situation. Jyotibabu further indicated that any effective program against communalism will have to be taken up by the Left forces “as the Congress is dependent on the Left parties and the Left parties dependent on the Congress” to keep at bay communal forces like the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“A complex political situation” was emerging in the country “and this is why we [the Left parties] are forced to adopt this line,” Mr. Basu said in reference to the BJP’s victory in Gujarat as reported by the Hindu.

However, the secular and, in particular, the left camp in India is divided internally on the issue of “neo-liberalism” following the episodes of Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal. This division has reached a point where the contradictions between the contending parties have become antagonistic. Some left intellectuals went to the extent of declaring the CPM’s actions as “genocide” or “worse than Gujarat”. Can such extreme responses be politically justified in the wake of a BJP resurgence? Are these divisions worth it considering the dangers posed by communalism and outright Fascism?

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