GROWTH OF HINDUTVA RADICALIZATION, AND THE DANGER IT POSES - KN RAMACHANDRAN
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08 March 2020

The sweeping victory of AAP in the closely contested, and the most communalized and divisive elections in the country so far, with RSS/BJP trying with their all might to establish the hegemony of its majoritatian Hindutva in Indian politics is significant. But, based on this victory if it is analyzed that, in spite of the thumping victory of BJP led forces in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the consecutive setbacks it has suffered in the elections to the state assemblies after that, for example in Haryana where it lost its majority, in Maharashtra where it failed to continue the coalition ministry under its leadership, in Jharkhand where it lost power and now in Delhi getting trounced where it had won all Lok Sabha seats with big majority in May last year, it will be wrong.

It is in this context one should see the statement of RSS chief Mohan Bhagvat in last September: “even if BJP is losing elections, the RSS will be growing”. Why he could make such a confident statement? Since, during the last 4-5 decades, especially after the mid 1970s, the socio-political and economic atmosphere in the country was becoming increasingly conducive for the very fast growth of the RSS and its parivar. A glance through developments during this period is sufficient to substantiate this.

 Though Congress under the leadership of Indira Gandhi had won a thumping victory in the 1971 LS elections, India also was impacted by the severe crisis confronting the imperialist powers during this period, which compelled them to adopt the neo-liberal policies. Coupled with the authoritarianism of Indira Gandhi and growing corruption, by the middle of 1970s Congress rule was in crisis following the Navnirman movement in Gujarat, followed by the Jay Prakash Narayan led massive revolt in Bihar against Congress governments there. Faced by them and the court verdict unseating her, Indira Gandhi declared internal emergency curtailing all democratic rights. The right of centre or rightist Congress was weakening. Who will benefit from this, who will occupy the space lost by it, the left or the ultra right became a crucial question.

As far as the left was concerned, internationally itself the socialist camp was disintegrating, with Soviet Union and the East European socialist countries degenerating to capitalist path, and by 1976 in China also the capitalist roaders usurping power. These developments were ideologically, politically and organizationally weakening the communist movement and splintering it. The CPI leadership which was openly following the Soviet revisionist line became camp follower of Congress and supported the emergency, in the name of Indira’s regime’s close relations with Soviet Union. The CPI(M) which was following a centrist line, in spite of the opposition of its then General Secretary Sunderayya, leading even to his resignation from the post, and even after the arrest of many of its activists, decided not to openly oppose the emergency.

As far as the Communist Revolutionary forces who were in CPI(ML) or in other local formations following the Naxalbari uprising, had splintered by that time. Though some of these groups, especially in Bihar tried to utilize the anti-Indira movement, since they had no vision of mobilizing the masses for resisting the emergency, or strength to do this, though all of these groups opposed the emergency, they came under severe suppression and could not do much. On the whole, the the broad spectrum of ‘left’ forces could not use the opportunity to strengthen themselves using the opportunity when Congress was weakening and people were seeking an alternative. As far as the socialist stream was concerned, they had already splintered, and because of their opposition to the communist movement had started compromising with the ultra right trend getting strengthened under the umbrella of JP.

By this time, the ultra right forces led by RSS and its then political front, Jan Sangh, had already emerged as a sizable parliamentary force in the 1967 general elections in the Hindi belt, had formed united front governments with some of the opposition parties including even CPI, and was trying to end its isolation from the masses following its assassination of Gandhi in 1948. It entered the Gujarat and Bihar movements against Congress rule, joined the JP movement with all its might. As a result, it could become one of the main ruling class forces opposing the emergency. Though the undivided CPI had dissolved all its secret fractions within the armed forces in 1952 at the beginning of its right deviation itself, from the very beginning RSS was effectively pursuing the policy of penetrating every sphere, including major political parties like the Congress, spreading its Brahmanical, Hindu Rashtra concept and creating organizational hold. It penetrated the JP movement effectively.

After withdrawal of emergency, when Janata party was formed, which defeated Congress in 1977 elections and came to power, Jan Sangh had become part of it and became a powerful component of it. When the Janata Party splitted in 1979, the BJP was formed in the place of Jan Sangh. Since it had got acceptability among the ruling class parties by this time, and the RSS parivar had strengthened and spread to more areas, participating in joint mass struggles, the fact that BJP is the political front of RSS which works for transforming India to Hindu Rashtra, diametrically opposed to the concepts of Indian Constitution was, in effect, neglected.

As the CPI which aligned with Jan Sangh in 1967 to form united front governments in some of the Hindi speaking states, and it along with CPI(M) had aligned with Muslim League like forces in Kerala and West Bengal to form United Front governments in the same year, they had no political position against giving recognition to BJP. In effect, nobody in the parliamentary political stream, had recognized the danger posed by the fascist RSS and its parivar, though occasionally RSS was criticized for its role in the assassination of Gabdhiji. By this time the whole spectrum of parliamentary was using communal and caste appeasement as part of vote bank politics. With this acceptability, BJP and behind it RSS started growing very fast in all the states, spreading  its Hindu Rashtra concept along with its sakhas.

Though RSS/BJP always try to distance themselves from the massacre of Sikhs in 1984 following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, RSS had an active role in this along with Congress. In the elections to LS same year, RSS openly supported Congress. While Congress won with record majority in the history of the LS, BJP’s strength sharply fell to just 2. By this time, Congress had already shifted from its affinity to SU, and was taking pro-US positions at international level. In some fields, Rajiv government started neo-liberal approach also, following a huge IMF loan.  Under RSS pressure, Jagmohan, an RSS cadre, was made governor of J&K. He created havoc paving the way for communal srife, leading to the exodus of Kashmiri Pundits and worsening the situation there.

Following the compromising line taken in the Shahbano case, under RSS pressure, Rajiv govt opened the Babri Masjid closed down in 1949, for Shilanyas, allowing the Hindutva forces to start worshipping at the place where the Ram idols were stealthily kept in 1949. By 1989 election time, RSS and BJP had grown manifold.  When VP Singh splitted from Congress and formed Janata Dal, he formed an alliance with BJP on the one hand and adjustment with CPI(M) led Left Front on the other to fight Congress. In the election BJP’s strength leaped from 2 to 84! While VP Singh led JD government was formed, spreading manipulated falsehoods about Babri Masjid, putting forward the demand for replacing it with Ram temple, RSS and its parivar with top leaders of BJP in the forefront, launched the rath yatra from Somnath temple in Gujarat with this demand, provoking communal along its path, till it was stopped in Bihar.

To combat this Kamandal march, VP Singh government published Mandal Commission Report and based on it, reservation to OBCs also was announced. BJP led the violent anti-reservation struggle and withdrew support to his govt. In 1991 elections BJP contested mainly putting forward Ram temple issue violating all secular principles and election rules based on it, increasing its strength to 90 plus. While, the minority Narasimha Rao led Congress government adopted neo-liberal policies of Liberalization-Globalization- Privatization under IMF-World Bank advice, it resorted to double talk, claiming to oppose it outside, but never voting against it inside parliament.

At the same time, RSS and its parivar intensified the temple movement with all their might, demolishing the Babri Masjid in December, 1992, with the help of Congress government at centre which did not to protect it, though assurances were given to protect it to the Supreme Court.  RSS parivar unleashed communal riots at many places. Both Congress and BJP were happy that the attention was diverted from the growing people’s movements against the neo-liberal policies to temple issue. While Congress led government followed by the two United Front governments got alienated due to the consequences of the neo-liberal policies they were pursuing, BJP along with RSS went on strengthening. RSS became increasingly strident starting to Hindutva Radicalization provocatively in its strongholds like Gujarat. After 1998 elections briefly, followed by 1999 elections, when BJP led NDA government came to power with Vajpayee as prime minister, on the one hand it speeded up implementation of the neo-liberal/corporate policies. At the same time, it intensified efforts to speed up the radicalization process as much as possible. Though BJP was slow in it at centre as it had not majority of its own in the Lok Sabha and as it was very much a minority in the Rajya Sabha. But, RSS experimented its Hindutva radicalization in Gujarat under Modi in 2002, resorting to the pogrom in which more than 2000 Muslims were killed, women were raped, houses were burnt, rendering tens of thousands of families homeless. It was the beginning of the fascist offensive by the RSS parivar.

It was during the Vajpayee government’s time, especially following the Gujarat pogrom, the fascist discourse started in the country. Still, when the Congress led UPA came to power defeating the BJP rule in 2004, it soon forgot the gravity of the situation. While the Manmohan Singh government merrily went ahead implementing the neo-liberal policies, it did not bother to take up the Gujarat pogrom cases with the importance they called for. Though the cases involving Muslim culprits were soon processed and culprits punished, Malegaon like cases in which Pragya Thakur (present MP) is the main accused went on indefinitely. UPA government did not make an evaluation of the Hindutva projects implemented by the Vajpayee government including the 2013 amendments to the 1955 Citizenship Act introducing the NPR and construction of Detention Camps, and reject what is harmful to the existing secular concepts.

On the contrary it went ahead with its soft Hindutva policies to strengthen the vote bank. As corruption became rampant, it used constitutional institutions and enforcement directorates to make the opposition leaders who had corruption charges against them, to fall in line. The Left Front government in W. Bengal in its bid to speed up neoliberal policies fell in 2011 and the whole LF got a setback. In this situation, RSS and its parivar could continue to strengthen its Hindutva offensive without any serious challenge from the UPA government, or from the CPI(M) like parties. So, by the time of 2014 elections, not only Congress and the UPA parties and except BJP led NDA, all other opposition parties were under allegations of corruption or nepotism, seriously alienated from the people. Allegations of corruption were coming forward against many ministers. It was in this atmosphere of all-round corruption charges, Anna Hazare, an old Gandhiyan, launched an anti-corruption movement, with massive mobilization at Ram Lila Grounds, Delhi, demanding the appointment of the Lokpal immediately. It was evident that BJP was very much behind it. In mobilizing support RSS played an important role. Many voluntary organizations as well as large number of bourgeois and petti-bourgeois individuals and groups also got involved in it actively. This included Aravind Kejriwal, present Delhi chief minister, and many of his AAP activists also. The UPA was pushed to more defensive positions.

Using this strong anti-incumbency, anti-UPA atmosphere, and by putting forward a very populist manifesto, the NDA could get comfortable majority with BJP’s position further strengthened. It was like the Congress and other opposition parties who refused to recognize the fascist danger posed by the RSS through BJP rule, and who had no alternative to provide, giving something like a easy walk over for BJP led NDA to come to power under Modi’s leadership.

Very soon RSS plans were clear. It started coming to the forefront more frequently to lead the Hindutva radicalization and under it, in order to intensify the fascistization plans were made for saffronizing the state machinery, as well as all constitutional institutions. What Ambedkar warned was happening. After coming to power through the constitutional process, Modi government started undermining the Constitution and whatever secular, democratic values existed. But, still many of the parties, not only Congress and other ruling class parties, but also CPI(M) led parties refused to recognize the fascistization taking place in front of them; Many of them theorized fascism cannot come to countries like India. Meanwhile, spreading islamophobia, calling everyone opposed to Modi rule anti-national, terrorist had started. So also, the mob lynching, attacks on dalits and women increased. Modi -1 was merrily advancing along the path of intensifying corporate fascist policies. As the opposition parties could not understand the real threat in front of them, they continued to remain arrogant and sectarian; they failed to give a united fight to Modi in the 2019 elections. By that time, the economy was in doldrums and the people were getting devastated through loss of job, unemployment and price rise.

But, by side lining all these issues, spreading muscular nationalism using Pulwama followed by Balakot, BJP got a thumping victory, getting of its own majority in the LS. The rest is very recent history. From Lok Sabha to panchayat, under RSS guidance, BJP is fighting the elections imposing majoritarian Hindutva campaign, terrorizing the opponents, dubbing them Pak agents and traitors. Hindutva radicalization is taken to its zenith, creating atmosphere of extreme hatred and divisiveness; an explosive situation when anything can happen any time. So, even if BJP loses, the RSS fascist steam roller shall push forward, smashing everything before it. This is Hindutva radicalization led by RSS pushing forward fascistization has taken the country to!

The students, youth and women who are spearheading the present upsurge have not made any theorization; they did not wait for classical fascism to come; but when the saffronized Delhi police savagely attacked the Jamia students on 15th December night, they could understand what we saw in Gujarat in 2002 in microform has broken out at all India level, using the banner of AA, NPR, NRC. They had only one option before them, either perish, or resist and advance. They have taken the second path; Shaheen Bagh, and the hundreds of Shaheen Baghs coming up literally all over the country practically everyday reflect this  situation. The saffronized Supreme Court is becoming impatient; the Brahminical lords sitting there have started asking: how long this will continue, you have to come under rules and regulations! But the people are retorting by saying, we shall continue till you take back your draconian acts, or till you are thrown out. This is the positive side of the present situation.

But the negative side is that Hindutva radicalization continuing for decades have made the fascist challenge really big. To challenge and demolish it, on the one hand, the ongoing movement has to be carried forward and continuously expanded; at the same time, the struggling people have to be politicized and mobilized for a protracted movement. Are we prepared to take up this challenge, putting forward a people’s alternative before the struggling masses and lead them forward?

The above over view shows how the political degeneration of the parliamentary parties from Congress to social democrats provided the opening for the fascists to reach this stage. Still how many of them are really concerned? How the revolutionary left forces, however small they may be, can we united, speeding forward the party building? Let us take up these cardinal issues on an emergency basis. It is the cardinal question before all those opposed to this fascist reality!

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.