Tag Archives: Congress

Trajectory of India’s Democracy and Contemporary Challenges : Prof Suhas Palshikar

[Inaugural Lecture of ‘Democracy Dialogues’ Series ( Webinar)
Organised by New Socialist Initiative, 12 th July 2020]

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( Prof Suhas Palshikar, Chief Editor, Studies in Indian Politics and Co-director, Lokniti at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, delivered the inaugural lecture in the ‘Democracy Dialogues’ Series initiated by New Socialist Initiative.

In this lecture he attempted to trace the roots of the current moment of India’s democracy in the overall global journey of democracy, the extra-ordinarily ambitious and yet problematic foundational moment of Indian democracy and the many diversions India’s democracy has taken over time. He argued that unimaginative handling of the extra-ordinary ambition and Statist understanding of the ‘power-democracy’ dialectic formed the basis for easy distortions of democratic practice and that while populism and majoritarianism are the current challenges, they are by no means only special to the present and therefore, even as critique and course-correction of present political crisis is urgently required, a more long-term view of the trajectory of Indian democracy is necessary.

Here follows a detailed summary of his presentation prepared by Dr Sanjay Kumar)

Continue reading Trajectory of India’s Democracy and Contemporary Challenges : Prof Suhas Palshikar

Wishful visions, dishonest tales and bitter fruit

Review of ‘Malevolent Republic : A Short History of New India’ by K. S. Komireddi

Image result for malevolent republic

‘The idea of a peace-loving, nonviolent India exists, persists, as part of a selectively constructed and assiduously cultivated national self-image in the midst of a society pervaded by social and political violence…’ argued Prof Upinder Singh, in her well-researched voluminous book ‘ Political Violence in Ancient India’ which had appeared around two years back. She had also added that pioneers of independence struggle were instrumental in creating this ‘[m]yth of non-violence in ancient India which obscures a troubled, complex heritage.’

‘Malevolent Republic’ – A Short Hisotry of New India’ by K. S. Komireddi – a commentator, critic and journalist who has written for leading western publications, reminds one of this debate. The book tries to chronicle the trajectory of post-independence India from Nehru to Modi – and does not shy away from raising uncomfortable questions which demand broader contemplation as well as deep soul searching.

( Read the full story here : https://epaper.telegraphindia.com/calcutta/2019-09-06/71/Page-11.html)

Rainbow Social Coalition – To What End ?

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people sitting and outdoor

 

USS passe rani hai, iss passe Gandhi!
(“On that side is the Queen, on this is Gandhi)
(https://indianexpress.com/elections/patiala-dharamvira-gandhi-aap-elections-2019-bjp-congress-5726029/)

Nawan Punjab Party’s candidate ex MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi’s election campaign and the way he projected his appeal as ‘battle against the royals’ had rightly evoked interest in a section of the media as well as pro-people circles.(https://www.newsclick.in/electoral-mobilisation-vehicle-rainbow-social-coalition)

It is of interest to know that in this era of money and muscle power politics the campaign was largely run on support generated by people. What is also notable (-do-) that the campaign was successful in building a social coalition – cutting across various fissures in our society – and could challenge “populist fascism of the Bharatiya Janata Party, patronage-based populism of the Congress, and a fractious identity politics of SAD which cannot see beyond its narrow aims. “. Continue reading Rainbow Social Coalition – To What End ?

‘Mother to Indians’ Kasturba, Bose versus Hindu Sangathanists

Image result for kasturba gandhi

“Kasturba Gandhi is no more. She died at the age of 74 in British jail….I salute this great woman who was like a mother to Indians ….Kasturba was an inspiration for millions of Indian girls with whom she lived and met during the freedom struggle of our motherland. She was party to the many travails and tribulations of life with her great husband since the days of Satyagrah in South Africa.. She went to jail many times, which severely impacted her health but she did not fear going to jail even at the age of 74 years. When Mahatma Gandhi led the Civil Disobedience Movement, Kasturba was in the forefront of that struggle’

With these words Subhash Chandra Bose remembered Kasturba when she expired in detention at Agha Khan Palace – which had in fact been turned into a jail – on 22 nd February 1944. History bears witness to the fact that it was a death precipitated by the callous and ruthless colonial rulers who had refused to release her despite her worsening medical condition. She had been suffering from heart disease for more than four months. She also had a heart attack during this period. Continue reading ‘Mother to Indians’ Kasturba, Bose versus Hindu Sangathanists

The Misplaced Celebration around Priyanka Gandhi: Bobby Kunhu

Guest post by BOBBY KUNHU

At this important political juncture in Indian polity, anything that seems to give hope of seeing the last of the absurd and nightmarish theatre that has been happening in the name of governance for the last four odd years, would definitely be welcome to any rational person with elementary notions of value and justice – across ideological spectrum. This is the reason why I believe that Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into politics is well timed and strategic – ensuring that she is discussed in all possible terms across the board. Everyone who hates, loves or is even indifferent is in a tizzy at her entry – and till now Priyanka seems to be taking the publicity, including the hate publicity with grace and equanimity! This does not however mean or show how the polity is going to react to Priyanka’s entry into politics, because despite the timing, even many of the usual Modi fans in the media have announced the end of the Modi era, at least for the time being.

Continue reading The Misplaced Celebration around Priyanka Gandhi: Bobby Kunhu

Bharatiya Janata Party or Bharatiya Jumla Party !

Review of ‘Truth in Fetters : Broken Promises and Shattered Unity’

Image result for media house ram puniyani truth in fetters

“Change is in the air”!

A retired academic who had his last assignment as Vice Chancellor of a leading university said to me the other day, while we were discussing the contemporary political scenario. Frankly admitting that he had supported Modi’s candidature then and had even discreetly campaigned for him, during 2014 elections, he said that what a ‘disaster’ it has been these last four and half years to our polity with him at the helm of affairs.

What surprised me more was that he was from Eastern UP and belonged to one of the dominant upper castes in the region. Continue reading Bharatiya Janata Party or Bharatiya Jumla Party !

1984 and Punjab’s Transformation to a Hindutva Laboratory: Gurpreet Singh

Guest post by GURPREET SINGH

It was summer of 1985 when we were visiting New Delhi, the national capital of India to attend a wedding in the family. I had a long hair back then and was aged 15. Both me and my uncle who were wearing turbans like other Sikh men were waiting at a bus stand for the next bus to go to our relatives. As soon as the bus arrived and we were about to climb in after other waiting passengers, the door was slammed on us.  When my uncle protested, the conductor shouted that there is no seat inside. Even as we pointed out at some empty seats, the answer was – “we have told you there is no seat.” Before we could argue the bus sped away.

The incident left me shocked but I wasn’t surprised.  Continue reading 1984 and Punjab’s Transformation to a Hindutva Laboratory: Gurpreet Singh

The ‘Congress Question’ in the CPI(M) and the Problem of Historical Relevance

The CPI(M) is currently being rocked by an internal ‘debate’ over what has emerged, to put it in somewhat old-style communist speak, the ‘Congress Question’. I put the word ‘debate’ in quotation marks because, there is a touch of innocence to the way positions in support of a possible alliance with the Congress are being expounded by respected, senior intellectuals like Irfan and Sayera Habib in their letter to the party politbureau or Badri Raina in his article in a leading newspaper. These statements follow the dramatic exit of another widely respected Central Committee (CC) member, Jagmati Sangwan, from the party for precisely the opposite reason – of the CC going soft on the Bengal CPM for having gone against the commonly arrived at understanding in allying with the Congress. There is undoubtedly a potential debate here but since the common reference point in both – the Habibs’ letter as well as in Raina’s article – happens to be the recent election in West Bengal, one cannot help feeling that it is either a  ‘debate’ over a non-problem or is, at best, a question badly posed.

I say this for two reasons. First, the West Bengal CPI(M) [henceforth CPM-WB] is not really fighting any principled battle – all its exertions in West Bengal, contra Irfan and Sayera Habib, are directed, not against the proto-fascist Modi regime but against the Trinamool Congress whose local party apparatus is substantially what it has inherited from the CPM-WB itself. In the present context of West Bengal, what is urgently required is a different Left platform (with different faces that speak a different language) that can take the place vacated by the CPM-WB. In the absence of any such alternative, nothing can prevent the BJP from emerging as the main opposition party – and if that happens, that will be the end of any kind of Left politics for a very long time to come. A ramshackle CPM-Congress alliance as the opposition to the TMC is the surest way of making the Left (even in name) irrelevant in the state’s politics. The CPM-WB’s desire for an alliance with the Congress is motivated not by the need to defeat the Modi regime’s incursions but rather to return to power any which way. This seemed such a distant dream before the elections that the latter was prepared to go into an alliance with the Congress and entertain the possibility of a joint Congress-CPM-WB ministry, even as junior partner, were electoral fortunes to be reversed by the coming into being of the alliance. Thankfully, this possibility seems ever so remote now, following the election results, despite the alliance that we need not worry about it anymore. Continue reading The ‘Congress Question’ in the CPI(M) and the Problem of Historical Relevance

Islamic Banking in India – For Financial Inclusion of Muslims or to squeeze them further ?


(Photo Courtesy : http://www.malaysiagazette.com)

Faith based banking in a country which has secularism enshrined in its constitution ! Does not it sound anachronous ?

Well, as far as the present dispensation at the centre led by BJP is concerned – which has an altogether different take on secularism – it does not seem to think so. And that’s why it has gladly accepted the proposal by the Saudi Arabia based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) – an international investment organisation – to start its operations here. In fact this proposal is considered a positive outcome of PM Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia sometime back.( April 2016) Although a date has not been announced when the Bank would start its operations here, all the formalities regarding its launching have been completed and even the city for its first branch in India has been identified. Ahmedabad would see the first branch of this Bank. Continue reading Islamic Banking in India – For Financial Inclusion of Muslims or to squeeze them further ?

Congratulations on the Completion of Two Years of Government: Reaction of JNU student, Bihu Chamadia

Guest Post by BIHU CHAMADIA

Congratulations on the completion of two years of government. But I just want to ask a simple one line question. Completion of two years but at what cost? At the cost of increase in the number of farmer suicides, at the cost of creating war-like situations in educational institutions, at the cost of acting as a catalyst of widening the gap between hindu-muslim, at the cost of increasing imports and decreasing exports. Celebration on such a large scale because of course it is the first ever government in the history of the world to complete 2 years of governance ! With on-going crisis in the country BJP spends 1000 crores on a programme for this celebration. We would have no problem if this money was yours but sadly it’s not its ours. So now to all the tax payers who had problem with JNU raising its voice I ask you have you people become blind and deaf or are suffering from amnesia and forgot how to read and write.

Well, you speak well Mr Modi but the problem is that you only speak. You and your whole cabinet knows that each and every student of these educational institutes can give you people a befitting reply to all your one liners but we choose not to. People laugh at what your ministers says and say what a fool but I have a completely opposite view. You people are not fool you people are smart, very smart indeed.  Your every policy and every one liner can have a nice reply. Continue reading Congratulations on the Completion of Two Years of Government: Reaction of JNU student, Bihu Chamadia

Reading Phule – Now No More Silences!

“Lack of education lead to lack of wisdom,

Which leads to lack of morals,

Which leads to lack  of progress,

Which leads to lack of money,

Which leads to the oppression of the lower classes,

See what state of the society one lack of education can cause!”

  • Jyotiba Phule

..Most people do not realize that society can practise tyranny and oppression against an individual in a far greater degree than a Government can. The means and scope that are open to society for oppression are more extensive than those that are open to Government; also they are far more effective. What punishment in the penal code is comparable in its magnitude and its severity to excommunication? Who has greater courage—the Social Reformer who challenges society and invites upon himself excommunication or the political prisoner who challenges Government and incurs sentence of a few months or a few years imprisonment?..

(Ranade, Gandhi and Jinnah, Address delivered by Dr Ambedkar on the 101 st birthday celebration of M G Ranade, 18 th January, 1943)

 Introduction

Understanding or rereading a historical figure – whose life and times have impacted generations of scholars and activists – who has been subjected to praise as well scrutiny by best brains of our times becomes a challenging task.  One gets a feeling that whatever has to be said has already been said and perhaps there is not much novelty left. An added challenge becomes when you are face to face with scholars/activists who could be considered experts on the issue having done more detailed and through work on the subject. Continue reading Reading Phule – Now No More Silences!

The Sin and the Error : Ravi Sinha

Guest Post by RAVI SINHA

…it takes an error to father a sin. ─ J. Robert Oppenheimer[1]

Future historians of India may well describe the past year as a year of political sin. This was the year in which the man who had earlier presided over the Gujarat Carnage was awarded the ultimate prize. The year saw an election that touched a new low marked by shallowness, vulgarities and lies – in no small measure by the labors of the man himself. Equally appalling have been the exertions of a large class of literati and glitterati to portray philistinism and inanities spouted by the most powerful mouth as wisdom of a visionary leader.

An entire country seems to have gone blind – unable to see that the emperor has no clothes. In this age of incessant television it should be obvious to anyone that the supreme leader does not carry conviction even when enunciating relatively higher banalities. He is at his natural best only when he mocks someone as a shehzada or slanders and vilifies an entire community through phrases such as ame paanch, amara pachees. It is an irony of history that the republic which had Nehru as its first prime minister has one now for whom even common mythology is too cerebral. He must vulgarize Pushpak Viman and Ganesha and reduce them to quackeries of aviation and surgery.

Misfortune of the nation goes beyond the man. Forces of the diabolic housed in the hydra-headed Parivaar can now accomplish the impossible. They can now occupy the political center stage without leaving off the lunatic fringe. They can adopt Gandhi without renouncing Godse; erect world’s tallest statue of a leader who had punished their forefathers for assassinating Gandhi; even co-opt Bhagat Singh without batting an eyelid about what he stood for and what he had to say about ideologies like theirs. They can further refine the art of doublespeak. Their “statesmen” can pave the way for corporate plunder and call it sab ka vikas (development for all). Their “ideologues” can advocate sab ka saath (inclusion of all) by exhorting Hindu women to give birth to a minimum of four children each, lest Hindus are reduced to a minority “in their own country”. Continue reading The Sin and the Error : Ravi Sinha

While “Exposing 300 days of Modi’s Rule”, Let us not fall into the Trappings of Old Congress Style Politics: Nayan Jyoti

Guest Post by Nayan Jyoti

SOME QUESTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF MASS ORGANISATIONS OF CPI(ML)LIBERATION, CPI, CPI(M) & OTHERS INVITING CONGRESS, RJD, JD(U) TO DEFEND ‘SECULARISM, INDIAN CONSTITUTION, INDIAN NATIONALISM’

Janta Dal (United) leader Ali Anwar, in an ‘united’ program in Jantar Mantar on 19th March had a frank admission to make in the first 15 minutes of his speech: “Elections ki hi baat se shuru kare, to haan, hum sab milkar Modi ko harayenge” (“If we begin with the question of elections, yes, we will unite to defeat Modi together”). He was indicating a plain and simple ‘unity’ of convenience for elections, of a converging pole in Indian politics. He indicated: “Bihar assembly elections are waiting to happen.” He of course, remembered the theme of ‘secularism’ for the event and said, “now I will say a few ideological things” and did utter a few lines against the BJP-RSS.

Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on 19th March thus saw a (not very?) strange unity. Various “civil society and secular political parties, victims, artists, intellectuals” came together to organize an Exposing 300 days of Modi’s Rule program. Many of the organizers included mass organisations of the Left like AISA, AICCTU, AIPWA connected with CPI(ML)Liberation, and SFI, AIDWA, CITU, DYFI, AILU connected with CPI(M), and AITUC, NFIW, PWA related to CPI, among others. In these dark times of achhe din, where unity and collaboration of various left, democratic and progressive forces has come up with renewed necessity to fight the present regime, it becomes important for us to interrogate such attempts without any sectarianism. An important question that requires asking here is the basis of these ‘Unities’ and Forums being variously attempted. ‘Unity’ is definitely required in these times of combined attack of brutal neoliberal and communal attack, but standing on what ground, and in what direction? Continue reading While “Exposing 300 days of Modi’s Rule”, Let us not fall into the Trappings of Old Congress Style Politics: Nayan Jyoti

Footsoldiers in Search of an Icon

“The epitaph for the RSS volunteer will be that he was born, he joined the RSS and died without accomplishing anything.”-V. D. Savarkar

(D.V.Kelkar, “The R.S.S.” Economic Weekly ( 4 Feb 1950: 132) Page 36, The Brotherhood in Saffron,The RSS and The Hindu Revivalism, Andersen and Damle,Vistaar, 1986, Delhi)

 

Veer Savarkar was a Veer Purush who was not scared of death. He was a Shastra Upasak and Shaasrta Upasak: Shri Narendra Modi

May 29, 2013 Author: admin (http://www.narendramodi.in/)

I

Celebrations at the central hall of Parliament are a marker of the political ambience in the country.

The change of guard at the centre was very much visible at the place recently where the entire top brass of BJP including PM Narendra Modi were present to celebrate the birth anniversary of Savarkar. Modi described Savarkar as a prolific writer, poet and social reformer. “Tributes to Veer Savarkar on his birth anniversary. We remember and salute his tireless efforts towards the regeneration of our motherland.” Continue reading Footsoldiers in Search of an Icon

Statement on the Loksabha Elections, 2014: P.A.D.S.

Guest Post : P.A.D.S. (Peoples’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism) Statement on Elections

The Loksabha election results of 2014 surprised everyone. They are beyond the wildest dreams of even the most ardent BJP and Modi supporters, and worse than the worst scenarios imagined by  BJP’s political opponents. Even though these elections results are singularly stunning, phenomena like these have diverse reasons. A comprehensive understanding and meaningful response require that all these reasons be dispassionately explored and evaluated.

First, the votes behind these results. BJP polled 31% of votes. Never before has a party with so few votes won a mjority in national elections. Clearly, the first past the post system has benefited it disproportionately, more than any other ruling party in the past. This electoral system has amplified the BJP victory and made it look so impressive.  However, BJP’s electoral achievements in other domains must not be discounted. For the first time it managed to dislodge the Congress as the main party to represent Assam in the Lok Sabha. Fighting alone, it garnered 17% of votes in West Bengal and made determined bids in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In all states where it fought a straight battle with the Congress, its vote share was above or close to fity percent. It ran the most expensive and well organised campaign. Among all contestants, only it appeared determined to win and left no stone unturned to achieve its objective. It played the communal card astutely in UP and Bihar, with full paraphernalia of communal riots, started more than a year ago, and unabashed use of Hindu religious symbols. At other places it was the ‘development’.  The BJP victory is actually Mr Modi’s victory. For the first time since Mrs Indira Gandhi after  the 1971 and 1980 elections, a single person has come to acquire such a mandate at the national level.  These results show a significant shift of electoral politics to the right and marginalisation of non-communal forces. Continue reading Statement on the Loksabha Elections, 2014: P.A.D.S.

AK versus NaMo

Neelanjan Mukhopadhyay, author of a much discussed book on Modi, made few interesting observations about AAP’s (Aam Aadmi Party ) foray into the electoral politics of Gujarat. Underlining the fact that Kejriwal’s entry into the state – wherein he tried to put the government on the mat for its acts of omission and commission – did raise expectations, he maintains that the momentum did peter away slowly.

What is more important to note that when the electoral battle started the party did not field a single candidate from the minority community despite the fact that population of Muslims in Gujarat is more than nine percent. According to the state leadership of the party it did not ‘find any suitable candidate from the community’ to contest elections. Questioning this explanation Neelanjan says that it thus did not challenge the prevalent norm that ‘Muslims are not to be given tickets’ by the mainstream parties. (Modi ki Raah Chale Kejriwal, Deshbandhu, 30 April 2014).

Any neutral observer of the whole situation – who is familiar with the fact that there are places where AAP did field ‘outsiders’ to fight elections – would also be of the opinion that this explanation seems insufficient and perhaps there are deeper reasons involved in this decision. If at the political level it could bracket BJP as well as Congress at the same level by portraying their alleged proximity to the Adanis’ and Ambanis’ why did not it try to make another strong political point by giving ticket(s) to candidate(s) belonging to the minority community. (To put it on record, the BJP did not field a single Muslim candidate and Congress could muster courage to do it in only one constituency). Continue reading AK versus NaMo

Pogrom Politics from 1984 to 2002: Sanjay Kumar

Guest post by SANJAY KUMAR

Delhi 1984 and Gujarat 2002 are among the darkest spots in India’s post independence history. Like all other communal killings in the country, they too were similar in the mechanics of their violence. Connivance of the top state authorities, active role of elected politicians, police and bureaucratic indifference, a cornered and hapless minority, and participation of ordinary folks in violence and looting, all elements of the process of communal killings almost reached the  point of perfection in these two pogroms. So much so, that they indeed were not contained, but played themselves out fully, till the time killers and looters got tired, or when nobody was left to be killed, and nothing remained to be burnt and looted. All those who talk, think, write or make claims about civilisation in India, should take a few moments off to come to terms with these two events. Victims of these pogroms too, like of other communal killings in the country, continue to wait for justice. Collusion of investigative agencies, protective shadow of state power and judicial lethargy has meant that prime movers behind these killings have remained beyond the arm of justice. In fact, particularly in these two cases, the political fortunes of parties involved in killings witnessed an unprecedented boom. Congress party under Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 returned with the largest ever national mandate to Lok Sabha; and the BJP under Narendra Modi has successfully decimated all political opposition in Gujarat, and is now eyeing central power under his leadership. Continue reading Pogrom Politics from 1984 to 2002: Sanjay Kumar

लोकतंत्र का अंतिम क्षण

कैमरा बार बार जा कर उसी क्षण पर टिकता था.मेरी बेटी ने विचलित होकर कहा, “चैनल बदल दो, अच्छा नहीं लग रहा.” लेकिन चैनल उस थप्पड़ की आवाज़ न सुना पाने की लाचारी की भरपाई उस दृश्य को दुहरा-दुहरा कर कर रहे थे. उन्हें सोलह साल की मेरी नवयुवती बेटी की तड़प क्योंकर सुनाई दे? चैनल बदलते अधीर दर्शक इस दृश्य से वंचित न रह जायें, इस चिंता के मारे उसे हथौड़े की तरह बार-बार बजाया गया.

यह हमला था. लेकिन हिंदी में हमला कहने पर हिंसा का बोध अधिक होता है,सो अखबारों ने ‘केजरी को थप्पड़’,‘पहले माला फिर थप्पड़’, ‘केजरीवाल को फिर थप्पड़’ जैसे शीर्षक लगाए. भाषा का अध्ययन करने वाले जानते हैं कि शब्दों के चयन के पीछे की मंशा उनका अर्थ तय करती है. ‘थप्पड़’ कहने से हिंसा की गंभीरता कम होती है और हिंसा के शिकार की कमजोरी ज़्यादा उजागर होती है. थप्पड़ से किसी की जान नहीं जाती, उसकी निष्कवचता अधिक प्रकट होती है. उसमें किसी योजना की जगह एक प्रकार की स्वतःस्फूर्तता का तत्व होता है. कहा जा सकता है कि थप्पड़ मारने वाले की मंशा सिर्फ नाराजगी का इजहार था.अंग्रेज़ी में भी ‘स्लैप’ शब्द का ही इस्तेमाल किया गया, यह भी लिखा गया, “केजरीवाल स्लैप्ड अगेन”. इसमें हमला करने वाले से ज़्यादा हमले के शिकार की ही गलती नज़र आती है, मानो उसे मार खाने की आदत सी पड़ गई हो. आदतन मार खाने वाला सहानुभूति की जगह हास्य का पात्र बन जाता है. Continue reading लोकतंत्र का अंतिम क्षण

Muslims Will Consider Supporting AAP, if it Offers Concrete Programme for Them: Jamaat-e-Islami

An Interview with the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Amir (National President) MAULANA JALALUDDIN OMARI conducted by MISHAB  IRIKKUR, MOHAMMAD RAGHIB and ABHAY KUMAR

Amid the talk of communal forces emerging stronger, India is going to polls. The fear of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is perhaps more felt by the Muslim minority than anyone else. The “secular” Congress—charged with corruption and misrule—does not seem much energetic and confident at this moment. At this crucial juncture what strategy should the largest religious minority community of the country adopt in the upcoming General and assembly elections? What are the options available for them? To learn about this and more, Mishab Irikkur, Mohammad Raghib and Abhay Kumar interacted with Maulana Jalaluddin Omari, the Amir (national president) of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) last week at its New Delhi headquarter. The seventy-nine year old Amir–who is an Islamic scholar and author of dozens of books–spoke on a host of issues such as elections, politics, the social and economic problems of Muslims, reservation, framing of innocent Muslim youth on terror charges etc. The JIH—which came into existence soon after the Jamaat-e-Islami had split into two separate organisations at Partition–is one of the most influential Islamic organizations among Muslims that mainly does “intellectual” work and carries out welfare activities as well. The excerpts are as follows.

Amir_JIH_Omari
Amir_JIH_Omari

What are the major concerns of Muslims ahead of the upcoming elections?

Omari: Our Constitution does not discriminate any citizen on the basis of caste, colour, religion, region, sex etc. It has also given minorities some special rights related to their personal laws and culture. Muslims, therefore, should vote to power those forces, which are committed to upholding democracy, secularism and the principles of Indian Constitution. At the same time we should defeat the parties which are opposed to diversity. The very language of cultural assimilation is a threat to the spirit of our Constitution and interests of people. Continue reading Muslims Will Consider Supporting AAP, if it Offers Concrete Programme for Them: Jamaat-e-Islami

AAP and the Ideology Warriors

If ideology-warriors had their way, they would rather have Narendra Modi as the next prime minister than have their ideological purity compromised. Soon after AAP’s victory, many secularists rushed to declare, on Facebook and elsewhere, that they do not and will not partake of the AAP euphoria. ‘What is their stand on communalism?’, they asked indignantly. Some other friends insisted that Muslims need an assurance about AAP’s position on communalism and it should clarify its stand if it wanted the Muslim vote.

So what do the ideology warriors want? Just when the political agenda for the elections has decisively changed, throwing the BJP into a complete quandary, upsetting its strategic plans, they want the old familiar, secular/ communal divide back in place, opening up the political field once more to the same Hindu-Muslim polarization that we are so used to. The secular/ communal divide has been the millstone around our neck, preventing any other issue from being brought into public debate at election time and effectively preventing the emergence of any new force or formation. And let there be no mistake that in a communal polarization of Hindus and Muslims, secular forces will always, in the on-going drama of secular masochism, have to deposit themselves tied hand and foot, into the Congress party’s dungeon. The Amit Shahs will have a field day, creating one Muzaffarnagar after another, and erstwhile secular mascots like Mulayam Singh Yadav will vie with them in further entrenching the Hindu-Muslim divide. In all of this, the Congress will present itself as the saviour of Muslims.

The Congress, the BJP, the imaginary ‘third front’ – all have been able players and winners in this game. Continue reading AAP and the Ideology Warriors

The Year That Was and the Challenge of 2014

This is a slightly modified version of the article ‘Winds of Change’, published in Economic and Political Weekly (28 December, 2013). As the year ends and we brace up for the big battle that lies ahead in the coming year, here are some reflections on matters that may have a bearing on that battle. Politics is undergoing a transformation, in India as elsewhere. But perhaps, more importantly, it is also what we have so far understood as politics, that is on the point of transformation. For over a century, social science disciplines have maintained a neat distinction between the political and the economic, between state and capital and so on. Marxism ostensibly challenged this false division – but only to assert that the real thing was ‘economics’; that politics was mere epi-phenomenon. But the story of capital was never an economic story alone. In diverse ways, movements in different parts of the world are about this forced division, and the destruction of politics that followed in actual life as economics became a domain of so-called iron laws and economic models began to determine the ways we were taught to see and understand politics.  In the neoliberal 1990s and part of the 2000s, economic laws and the ‘needs’ of capital became sacrosanct – all politics was made to sing and dance to its tune. Only rank outsiders to this world could ask the emperor’s new clothes kind of questions. That is what seems to be happening. Till now, even those who saw that the emperor was naked, went on a maun vrata (vow of silence), fearing ridicule.

The dying old Kulin Brahmin in Goutam Ghose’s Bengali film Antarjali Jatra suddenly sprang to life on seeing his new attractive wife who had been married to him for the sole purpose of accompanying him in his life beyond as sati. Much like that character, the decrepit and ramshackle BJP seems to have suddenly sprung to life at the fantasy of power, having been out in the cold for almost a decade. And just as the young bride in the film was provided by another old impoverished Brahmin (his unmarried daughter), so an utterly impoverished Congress has provided the BJP with the most tantalizing possibility of what it might get in its life beyond.

How else do we explain the fact that the BJP after 2004, already in shambles with all its old leaders gone and its organization ridden with internal bickering and loss of direction, suddenly seems to have made such a comeback in the recent elections in five states? The ‘return of the BJP’ seems to be the overt message of the results of these elections. For there is certainly no doubt that in the past one year so, ever since the orchestrated rise of Narendra Modi in all-India level politics, the BJP’s fortunes too seem to have started turning. This development, however, was greatly facilitated by the Congress in more ways than one. The Congress seemed determined to hand over the game to Modi and the Hindu Right. Continue reading The Year That Was and the Challenge of 2014