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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 8 New Delhi February 8, 2020

Pushing the Country Towards a Civil War

Sunday 9 February 2020

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

Sometimes it becomes necessary to call a spade a spade, shorn of euphemism. The BJP is pushing the country to a civil war. For the first time since independence the country has seen such provocative and vituperative communal propaganda in the name of election campaigning. It was a no-holds-barred vile, vicious and vitriolic attack, inciting people to shoot the BJP’s political opponents who do not accept the party’s definition of patriotism and nationalism. And this on the eve of the Delhi Assembly elections. Anyone opposing the BJP is a gaddar, a traitor, who deserved to be shot. For the first time since independence, one heard people being told “Ye sareh gaddar hain, goli maro salonko.” To match deeds with words, there appeared on the scene armed youths, firing shots. At least one student of Jamia Millia University, Shadab Farooq, was injured, fortunately not fatally.

The aim of the communal forces, collectively called the Sangh Parivar, is clear: To turn India into a Hindu Rashtra. If it is possible to transform secular India into a Hindu India democratically, through the ballot box, well and good. If not, then “goli maro” those who stand for secularism, democracy and an open, rational society where debate is possible and encouraged, but there is no place for imposing the beliefs of a minuscule minority over the entire people at gun-point. If this is the obverse of the coin, then there is a reverse side also. Never before since it was set up as a constitutional body, has any Election Commission been so docile, so spineless and so servile and subservient to the ruling party and so utterly ineffective in preventing incitements to murder and mayhem, even when such incitements came from a man like Anurag Thakur, a member of the Union Cabinet, or Kapil Mishra, a BJP MLA from Delhi or Parvesh Verma, an MP from Delhi.

Today, the Indian people face a challenge the like of which they never faced after the British power was overthrown. The British were foreigners who came to exploit our country. But these are our own people who want to reduce 1300 million Indians into slaves. The Opposition parties never faced such a situation and do not know how to resist this armed offensive to destroy our secular and democratic society and all the values that this society stands for. One thing is clear. The resistance has to be absolutely non-violent and peaceful and the resisters must be prepared to suffer unimaginable physical pain and death. The State will set its agent provocateurs to cause violence in the movement because violence will play into the hands of the state to destroy the movement.

There is no Mahatma Gandhi today to lead such a nationwide movement against fascism and for democracy. But history has shown us again and again that when a crisis of such a magnitude comes, it is the common men who become heroes, displaying indomitable courage, valour and fortitude that they themselves never thought they possessed. From Bhagat Singh to Khudiram Bose, from Ashfaqulla Khan to Matangini Hazra, from Jatin Das to Hemu Kalani—the list is unending.. It is ordinary men, men of clay, who turned into men and women of steel, unshakable in their resolve, unafraid of courting death. In the end, justice won over injustice. Those who wanted to retain power and dominate the Indians were driven away, by and large peacefully.

The time has come for the Indian people to stand up again for defending the secular and democratic polity of the country, together with its age-old values of tolerance, brotherhood, living together and always open to absorbing new knowledge, new culture and new modes of living. India through the millennia has been known for its unity in diversity. It will remain so. Any attempt to give up unity and replace it with uniformity will fail. India will ever remain India, not Hindu India.

February 6 B.D.G.

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