Fight against BJP cannot be conducted in alliance with the other major party of the ruling classes

In India today, Hindutva ideology and chauvinist nationalism are used to polarise the people on communal lines and to attack religious minorities.

Written by Prakash Karat | Updated: September 6, 2016 10:25 am
modi, narendra modi, bjp, rss, Hindutva, Hindutva ideology, Hindutva in india, hindu, hindu religion, nda governmnet, india politics A significant section of Left and liberal opinion has characterised the present situation in the country as the arrival of fascism (Illustration by C R Sasikumar)

The existence of a BJP government at the Centre, with a stable majority in the Lok Sabha, has led to a debate within Left circles and among some liberal intellectuals about the nature of the government in power. The advent of the Modi government saw a right-wing offensive unfold in the country. A combination of right-wing neo-liberal economic policies and the aggressive advance of the Hindutva agenda mark the offensive. How to counter this offensive is the primary concern of Left, democratic, and secular forces in India today.

A significant section of Left and liberal opinion has characterised the present situation in the country as the arrival of fascism. An influential stream of opinion within this thinking defines the present set-up as “communal fascism”, arguing that this is the Indian variant of fascism.

What sort of right-wing threat is India facing? A correct understanding of the ruling regime and the political movement that it represents is necessary because it has a direct bearing on the political strategy and electoral tactics to be followed in order to fight the BJP and the Modi government. There has to be clarity in defining the character of the BJP. The BJP is not an ordinary bourgeois party. Its uniqueness lies in its organic links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The BJP is a right-wing party with respect to its economic and social agenda, and can be characterised as a right-wing party of majoritarian communalism. Further, given its linkage to the RSS, which has a semi-fascist ideology, it is a party that has the potential to impose an authoritarian state on the people when it believes that circumstances warrant it.

Fascism as an ideology and as a form of political rule emerged in between the two World Wars in the 20th century. When the capitalist system was engulfed in deep crisis and faced with the threat from a revolutionary movement of the working class, the ruling classes in Germany opted for an extreme form of rule that abolished bourgeois democracy. Mussolini’s Italy and Japan were also fascist regimes.

The classic definition of fascism leaves no room for ambiguity: Fascism in power is “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” In India today, neither has fascism been established, nor are the conditions present — in political, economic and class terms — for a fascist regime to be established. There is no crisis that threatens a collapse of the capitalist system; the ruling classes of India face no threat to their class rule. No section of the ruling class is currently working for the overthrow of the bourgeois parliamentary system. What the ruling classes seek to do is to use forms of authoritarianism to serve their class interests.

In India today, Hindutva ideology and chauvinist nationalism are used to polarise the people on communal lines and to attack religious minorities. Brutal methods are used to suppress the religious minorities; dissent and secular intellectuals are sought to be put down by branding them “anti-national.” From above, at the level of the institutions of the state, and from below, through the outfits of the Hindutva brigade, a determined effort is being made to reorder society and polity on Hindutva lines. While these activities pose a grave and present danger to democracy and secularism, they do not, by themselves, constitute the establishment of a fascist order.

India today confronts the advance of an authoritarianism that is fuelled by a potent mix of neo-liberalism and communalism. Apart from Hindutva communalism, the other major source of authoritarianism is the right-wing neo-liberal drive. The neo-liberal regime acts to constrict democratic space, homogenise all bourgeois parties, hollow out parliamentary democracy, and render the people powerless as regards basic policy-making. The impact of neo-liberalism on the political system has led to the narrowing of democracy.

In the world today, imperialism and the ruling classes of various countries deploy different forms of authoritarianism rather than open fascist rule in order to perpetuate their class rule and pursue neo-liberal policy. Such authoritarianism can be imposed on a system where formal democracy and elected governments exist.

There are varieties of authoritarianism in the world today. In some, political mobilisation around religious-ethnic lines is used to impose an authoritarian order. Religion-based communalism or political mobilisation is accompanied by the imposition of extreme right-wing economic policies. India is one such country.

There are striking similarities between India and Turkey with regard to religion-based political mobilisation and authoritarianism. After the Modi government came to power in May 2014, the writer Amitav Ghosh was among the first to write about these common features. Both countries have ruling parties that use religion-based “nationalism” to mobilise support. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is an Islamist party while the BJP is based on Hindutva. Each has a strong leader with authoritarian tendencies — Recep Erdogan and Narendra Modi — in government. The AKP seeks to desecularise the Turkish state and targets the Kurdish minority and secular intellectuals. The BJP and the Modi government target the minorities and seek to suppress the dissenting voices of secular intellectuals. Both have embraced neo-liberalism. However, it would be erroneous to characterise government and state in Turkey or India as fascist: They are better described as being right-wing authoritarian.

The authoritarianism of the Modi government is buttressed by its growing military cooperation and strategic ties with the USA. The fight against the BJP-RSS combine is thus more complex and multi-dimensional than a black-and-white struggle between fascist and anti-fascist forces.

The BJP and its patron, the RSS, have to be fought in the political, ideological, social, and cultural spheres. The fight against the BJP and right-wing communal forces has to be conducted by combining the struggle against communalism with the struggle against neo-liberalism. Since the two major parties — the BJP and the Congress — are alternately managing the neo-liberal order for the ruling classes, the political struggle against the BJP cannot be conducted in alliance with the other major party of the ruling classes. Unlike in the fight against a fascist order, where elections in a democratic system become redundant, the electoral battle is also important in India.

The slogan that the fight is now against fascism obfuscates some of the vital issues around which the people can be mobilised to oppose the BJP and the Modi government. These include its rapacious economic policies and subservience to big business and finance capital, issues that affect the livelihoods and economic rights of the people.

The specific situation obtaining in the country today cries out for the broadest mobilisation of all democratic and secular forces against communalism, while also building a political alliance of Left and democratic forces based on an alternative programme. Only such a dual approach can check and roll back India’s right-wing forces.

(This article first appeared in the print edition under the headline ‘Know your enemy’)

The writer is former general secretary and a politburo member of the CPI(M).

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  1. H
    Hemant Kumar
    Sep 6, 2016 at 7:17 am
    He is living in his own word of communism of Soviet era divorced from the present day reality. The jargon used by him is no longer in use or practice.
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    1. P
      prakash gotimukul
      Sep 6, 2016 at 11:55 am
      The need of the hour is, how to curb and finsih these anti national commies who are polluting and spreading anti national feelings in the country by entering into JNU etc with no accountability, responsibility and nil contribution to society. Commies are a cancer and must be elliminated. Its a false notion that they are fighting for FOE. They are basically gone cases who failed and failed miserably..........its a ppriority now to kick them hard
      Reply
      1. R
        Rahul
        Sep 6, 2016 at 6:07 pm
        I think communism has failed miserably as a social experiment. Please wake up from your slumber.
        Reply
        1. R
          Rahul
          Sep 6, 2016 at 6:04 pm
          These guys want the w india to become dependant on government rationing.. Same as the situation in kerala and west bengal
          Reply
          1. G
            Goloo
            Sep 6, 2016 at 10:32 am
            Murdere party polit-bureau member Prakash Karat should and must answer killing of hindus in Kerala in last 6 months. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;If he doesn't that he is murder complicit and needs to be hackled on streets of Delhi right from Gopalan Bhavan to Nigam Bodh Ghat for direct daahsanskar in kerosene
            Reply
            1. C
              Comm.Y.K.
              Sep 7, 2016 at 1:41 am
              Prakash wake up this is 2016,neither 1880 not 1930, all communism, secularism and democracy were established by Hindus and particularly strenthend by super intelligent Brahmins like Namudripad,Nehru,Dange,Basu and such luminaries, you want to defeat current rulers seak advise from rationalists like me.
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              1. J
                Jay
                Sep 6, 2016 at 5:33 pm
                Christian fundamentalist Mussolini and Hitler had a deal with pope and talked about well being of Italy and Germany majority being Christians.
                Reply
                1. K
                  Kapil
                  Sep 6, 2016 at 5:57 pm
                  It is Emergency II under BJP with record breaking intolerance towards Dalits,Minorities and Honest Intellectuals of this country.
                  Reply
                  1. A
                    Amar Akbar
                    Sep 6, 2016 at 5:36 pm
                    Indian communist parties are unique. They are the only party that supported British Christians, then Jinnah then China when China attacked us. Commies supported stan when stan attacked us. Commies are anti Hindu and any Hindu cannot openly follow his religion as a Commie since Communist does not allow religion. OK so far so good but then how come you allow Muslims and Christians to follow their cult Mr Karat? Biggest anti national party of goons who are kiIIing Hindus everyday in Kerala.
                    Reply
                    1. P
                      Pmp
                      Sep 6, 2016 at 8:20 am
                      Leftists and their bed fellows are free to identify and try to overcome their enemies.but they themselves are the worst enemies of the world potion.this is convincingly demonstrated from erstwhile USSR to the backwaters of Kerala and Bengal.but as habits diehard they refuse to learn lessons and live in their fantasies of Prolatriate World order.Unfortunately many politicians in the garb of socialists,secularists and liberalists across the world pla with them and obliterated generations.Clic case is India where for decades they mauraded the public space and had the audacity to say that their's is the only sensible narrative fact the present economic problem in Europe is due to the socialist concept of enlement which breeds a lazy poce living on dole.Please keep your views for private circulation for your cadres.
                      Reply
                      1. R
                        Rahul
                        Sep 6, 2016 at 4:43 am
                        Rantings of a tired old leader of an epic world wide failed ideology. Doesn't matter howmuch ever you try, your cadre will not get motivated with your hallow arguments.
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                        1. S
                          Skanda
                          Sep 5, 2016 at 9:28 pm
                          Karat has been handsomely paid by his Chinese masters to now call India an authoritarian state. That way China can undermine India's democratic realities by echoing what India's own public sphere is speaking of. India's position on democracy and terrorism can be thus chipped away at and thereby bolster both the Chinese and stani discourse vis a vis India. These commie are India's most nefarious enemies within. They should be consigned to political pariahs if India is to overcome all the hurdles to reinstating its global economic and cultural leadership.
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                          1. I
                            Indian
                            Sep 5, 2016 at 8:26 pm
                            It is pathetic to read about threat to democracy from a communist leader. India is only a country which accepts communist ideology and its a contrast. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Democraticaly elected government with an authoritarian atude would rather be accepted then a government which is formed by a support of self serving parties. Don't forget you too are in politics for your self interest. Not for India!
                            Reply
                            1. Q
                              Quilt
                              Sep 6, 2016 at 3:26 am
                              Comparing erdogan with modi is not based on facts but on a simple whim. They are very different and one is an embodiment of fascism and dictatorship which the other has never indulged in. Support opinion with facts, not with zealotry.
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                              1. K
                                K SHESHU
                                Sep 6, 2016 at 2:20 pm
                                Democracy will be the ultimate winner
                                Reply
                                1. V
                                  Vikrant
                                  Sep 5, 2016 at 8:03 pm
                                  Know your enemy - commieslt;br/gt;Before independence - british agentlt;br/gt;Post independendence till emergency - Russian and chinese agentslt;br/gt;1975 to 2009 - Russian / Congress / chinese agentslt;br/gt;2009 onwards - pak and chinese agentslt;br/gt;Ideology - pro jihadi missionary anti indian anti hindu
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                                  1. V
                                    Vikrant
                                    Sep 6, 2016 at 6:17 am
                                    If communists believed in Indian state why have they been supporting Naxals and Maowadis across India? The breast beating that leftists carry out whenever there is any view contary to what they say is no example of freedom of speech. Commies support to jihadi terror and anti India forces can only be countered by Right wingers as in India congress has gone totally ideologically bankrupt and can only think of corruption and loot.
                                    Reply
                                    1. A
                                      Amar
                                      Sep 6, 2016 at 5:53 am
                                      I am so happy to read this article. It is so good to see your ideological opponents living in a fantasy world and making so many vacuous arguments.lt;br/gt;Keep it up!!!
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                                      1. A
                                        ak dev
                                        Sep 6, 2016 at 10:07 am
                                        Hindu's must unite be ready for a b loody fight with traitors, Left and liberals.
                                        Reply
                                        1. A
                                          Akhilesh
                                          Sep 5, 2016 at 9:10 pm
                                          Away with all that complicated jargon. Please remind me again, why do you want to fight the current regieme? Is that because it's doing atleast something for the country which is at odds with what China wants?
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                                          1. A
                                            Amit
                                            Sep 6, 2016 at 2:19 pm
                                            These fancy Left intellectual dictum of fascism, Cl system, Bourgeois democracy, Capitalism, Communalism ,Working cl etc etc has ruined West Bengal and Kerala with Hartaals ,Political murders, Violence on Public Servants,Corruption and zero empathy towards Industrialization and Wealth generation which is only way to progress and prosperity for Working Cles . Their Leftist communist brethren in other parts of world in Cuba,Venezuela has either destro their economes completely or like China deprived country of all sorts of freedom that is enjo by other Capitalist countries. Leftist ideology has been rejected all over the world and we are lucky that India is no different. We will prefer a Right Wing Nationalist party working for Progress and Growth of Country with sense of pride and Nationalism rather than Leftist Govt with zero sense of Nationalism, Economic progress and empathy towards employment generators called Capitalists. And, Finally ,India is land of 80% Hindus who are living peacefully with other religions from thousand of years when even Marx Lenin has not taken birth, so all this fear mongering of Hindutva and Majoritarianism by Left is bit rich and getting very boring now.
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