The following, necessarily brief, reflections have been sparked off by two recent posts on Kafila – one by Biju Mathew published on 16 April, and the other by CP Geevan, published today. These reflections should not be seen as a response to the positions taken by Biju and/ or Geevan; they are, in fact, more in the way of addressing the central question raised by Biju Mathew’s piece – that of despondency and pessimism that has followed the UP elections and more importantly, the stealthy manner in which Adityanath was installed as the chief minister in the state. Stealthy, because after all, it was amply clear even to the decision makers in BJP, from the very beginning that if they had entered the election campaign with Adityanath as the chief ministerial face, it might have yielded very different results. It was too big a risk to be undertaken.The real stroke of Modi-fascist genius lay precisely in keeping not just the electorate but also the organizational machinery in the dark and turning it into an advantage.
As it happens, despite the sharpness of Geevan’s comments, my sense, on reading the two pieces, is that there isn’t really as great a divergence on most issues as might appear at first sight.
The following is a response to the piece by Biju Mathew on Kafila, underlining the need for single-minded focus and keep the feet firmly on political realities
Given the exuberant optimism that Biju Mathew evokes in these dark days, many of us afflicted by malignant pessimism should not have many reasons to complain or pick holes in this view of looking back and foreseeing the way forward. On the face of it, this article does gladden one’s heart and spirit! However, imagining larger than life attributes to struggles and spells of resistance can be very misleading. In a way, with a rather benevolent interpretation, one cannot quarrel with Biju’s contention that nobody needs to wait for some political party to lead the resistances against the far-right takeover or start the process of breaking the ‘wave’. There is no hesitation in agreeing with the proposition that instead of waiting, which carries the risk of waiting indefinitely, it is imperative that each individual who is appalled at the turn of events must contribute urgently to building ‘innovative and locally responsive actions’. Well, inaction is certainly not an option. Act we must – in the face of the frightening likelihood of the saffron brigade unleashing a horrific civil war and engineering mass killings. There are no quarrels as to the primary intent of the article – that it is a call to shed excessive pessimism, end despondency, and take steps towards politically meaningful actions. Nevertheless, it will be a big mistake to imply that the process of banishing the gloom need not extend to the political rivals of the Hindutva nationalist parties. Continue reading Thinking Past the BJP Victory in UP – Response to Biju Mathew: C.P. Geevan→
There are many ways in which ‘saffronization’ is being carried out at various levels. It takes the form of virulent battles at one extreme and persistent soft-campaigns at the other. It really does not require deep skills in socio-political analysis to see this entire spectrum of insidious divisive politics – all of that are in the clearly visible band. Surprisingly, the CPI(M) seems to have taken the attitude of a friendly match when it comes to certain variants of soft-saffronization, pretending not to see what is going on behind often innocuous-sounding things like Yoga – the latest weapon being deployed in the saffronization campaign. Instead of questioning the premises of this misplaced ‘national celebration’ and its belligerent imposition that defines the Modi government move, the party has chosen to play a friendly match by wholeheartedly joining the soft-saffronization race.
The CPI(M, Kerala syndicate) has, in many ways, outperformed the RSS in Kerala so much so that the hyper-active media in Kerala had very little to report on how BJP and RSS celebrated yoga day in God’s Own Country. It seemed the Sanghis were pleasantly surprised at the saffronization of the CPI(M) itself! May be, the CPI(M) is gloating over how it out-smarted the Sanghis at their own game but that is not how it works in the world of everyday politics. For their part, the Sanghis could find nothing to object to in the way the new government in Kerala celebrated yoga. It seemed the Gods came to the CPI(M) party headquarters to pay obeisance to the newly enthroned in their glorious new clothes, new language, new style, new gait, new approach, and, of course, some inklings of a new, disquieting politics.