Saturday, 24 November 2007

Two-faced Fascists

I am posting below a column written by my ex-boss, R Jagannathan, in DNA, which is so absolutely bang on.

It’ll also be interesting to see how the Taslima Nasreen case will pan out. Though several newspapers have pointed out the hypocrisy of the so-called secular brigade in taking up cudgels for victims of Hindu fundamentalism while remaining silent on Muslim fundamentalism, that group has chosen to keep a low profile. There’s no hysterical outpouring of condemnation of Nasreen’s victimisation by the more prominent members of that brigade. I can understand Brinda Karat keeping quiet (her party is involved) but what about the other prominent jholawalas? What about those who organised a protest rally in Delhi against the persecution of the artists in Baroda by Hindu extremists? Weeks after their march, Nasreen was attacked in Hyderabad. It was met with silence. As her current situation is.

The Left as a fascist force

R Jagannathan

DNA, Thursday, 22 November 2007

It's interesting to see how Nandigram has changed perceptions about the Left, and especially the CPI(M). In recent weeks, one has seen not only traditional Left intellectuals rallying against the party's violent "recapture" of Nandigram, but even stalwarts like Ashok Mitra, who was finance minister in Jyoti Basu's government, now think the party has become arrogant and inept.

This is the same Mitra who once arrogantly proclaimed, "I'm not a gentleman (bhadralok), I am a Communist." The Mitras of the world are now coming to realise that being Communist in the old mould could mean fascist as well. So much so, that even ordinary people have now started talking about Nandigram and Godhra in the same breath, never mind the dissimilarities.

Between the murder of over a thousand in Gujarat and a few score in Nandigram there is definitely some difference, never mind what the BJP and the Sangh Parivar may like to think. But the mindset is the same. If a Narendra Modi could talk of an action-reaction scenario after Godhra, it did not take long for the West Bengal chief minister to justify the party's decision to take the law into its own hands in Nandigram the same way. He said: "(In the) last 11 months, the Bhoomi Uchched Pratirodh Committee, the Trinamool Congress and the Maoists were creating violence with arms. And (in the) last two-three days, CPI(M) workers had paid them back in their own coin." If this is not state sanction for revenge, what is?

The RSS and CPI(M) are two sides of the same coin. One espouses fascism in the name of the party and the other in the name of Hindutva. Neither is democratic. One hears little about what goes on in RSS conclaves or at the CPI(M)'s politburo meetings. And the reason is the same: if one knows who said what at a meeting, then individuals will begin to matter and the party/sangh can never reign supreme.

Let's look at other similarities. The Left accuses the Guru Golwalkar of the RSS of being a Hitler fan, but sees no ignominy in lionising Stalin and Mao, the biggest mass murderers after Hitler. One mindless reference to Hitler in Golwalkar's book (later expunged) is enough to condemn him as fascist, but decades of idolisation of Stalin does not taint the Left with fascistic attributes.

Why hasn't the general public seen through the Left's mask of democratic behaviour? Two reasons. One, we all naively believe that the Left champions the cause of the poor. This automatically blinds us to the possibility that they may be after power for its own sake; and to gain power and retain it, they may be as willing as Modi to use violence. For most of the late 1970s and early 1980s, when it was by no means certain that the Left would win again and again in West Bengal, they were busy using strong-arm tactics to win elections. The latent arrogance and fascism is surfacing overtly only now because they have come to believe that their hold on power is absolute.

The second reason is their antagonism to the Sangh Parivar. Since few people have any doubts about the character of the Sangh, we assume that anyone fighting the RSS must be a democrat or secular or both. Clearly a fallacy. In fact, the only two groups that have fought pitched battles for non-sectarian reasons are the RSS and the CPI(M) - in Kerala. The reason is simple: they look at each other and see themselves. This is what they are trying to exorcise by calling each other fascists.

It has taken the murder of Rizwanur and the mayhem in Nandigram to open the eyes of intellectuals all over the country. We now know, fascism is not defined by the colour of your warpaint. Saffron or red, it's your mindset that defines it.

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