The editorial in the Organiser underlines the “necessity of a unified and integral nation as a pre-requisite for development”. Noting that “nationalism involves a feeling of extremely strong attachment towards one’s own country,” it analyses the “guiding principles” of the BJP government and says that it “intends to achieve inclusive growth”. The editorial notes that the government faces no “allegations of corruption which has reinstated the confidence of investors in the growth story of Bharat”. It points out that the the government’s “political resolution” underlines the “promised objectives of economic and social inclusion, social justice, infrastructure development and good governance”.
The editorial criticises the “perceptions of some sections supported by an opportunist alliance of Opposition parties” for generating false propaganda. “Some intellectuals and media personnel are also playing the supportive role as their survival depends on the political masters,” it says, adding that a “few intellectuals may be genuinely concerned about the idea of nationalism, which they perceive to be hyper”. It points out that in “the Western political contours”, “nation-states [are] based on ethnicity, language, race etc,” while in “Bharat, nationalism has roots in our cultural and spiritual ethos, as argued by Rabindranath Thakur”. It contends that when countries like the US and China “achieved certain landmarks on [the] development path, nationalism was the facilitator”.
A guest column in the Organiser by Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi comments on the nature of free speech and sedition. Singhvi notes, “I overcame my initial hesitation and early refusal of the magazine’s request on the ground that fundamental principles of free speech — the topic invited by the publishers — itself obliges me to write in a magazine with which I usually disagree.”
“But it is the victory of the Indian Constitution that I have been asked repeatedly, that I agreed,” the article says. It notes that “free speech is not absolute”, but “sedition is a draconian and extreme derogation from free speech”. The article argues, “There has hardly ever been a conviction on sedition and it is invariably used as an instrument of harassment,” adding that “language many many more times vituperative and violent than that used at JNU” was not found seditious by the courts. The article points out that “a strong, even violent, verbal assault must establish a clear likelihood of public disorder or incitement and must be accompanied by overt acts likely to lead to public disorder and violence before section 124 A can even be attracted”. It notes that certain remarks might be “truly reprehensible” but “that does not make them seditious” and the “Constitution does not deny them the right to air.”
Change in Assam
An article in Panchajanya talks about the electoral scene in Assam and says that the Congress is facing a tough test in the state. The condition of Assam has deteriorated in the last few years. The state that was the fifth most prosperous at the time of Independence is now the fourth poorest as “33 per cent people are BPL” and “over 96 per cent land does not have irrigation facilities.” The BJP, which hardly had a base in the state even a decade ago, has “surfaced as a credible alternative only due to these reasons”. In the last year, the BJP has brought prominent leaders of several groups on its platform. Locals, troubled by migrants from Bangladesh, “have seen a ray of hope in the BJP”. It calls the alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front and the Asom Gana Parishad a “major success of the BJP”.
The state has a considerable Muslim population. While the Muslim population has been divided among the Congress and the AIUDF, a “small portion of progressive Muslims has moved towards the BJP”. The problem of labourers in the tea gardens also haunts the Congress as it “has done nothing for their welfare”. The state seems to be moving towards change and it seems extremely difficult for the Congress to remain in power.