Hindutva communalism cannot be countered by soft-Hindutva, says Sitaram Yechury
Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Fearing the greater attacks on the religious minorities in India after the BJP’s victory in the just concluded elections, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Monday said that it will launch a broad-based programme to safeguard and strengthen secularism across the country.
In an oblique reference to Congress’ campaign during the elections, the Communist party said “Hindutva communalism cannot be countered by soft-Hindutva”. CPI(M) also attributed saffron party’s victory to the ugly and unprecedented use of money power and full support of international and national corporate sector and a section of media.
Briefing about the party’s Central Committee’s preliminary review of the general elections and decisions, party’s general-secretary Sitaram Yechury said the BJP won the elections on the basis of unprecedented money power and full support of international and domestic corporate sector and huge amounts were raised through electoral bonds. He also slammed the elections commission stating that it has failed to conduct “free and fair polls”.
Expressing concern on safety and security of minorities and Dalits, he said the Central Committee noted that “the focus of the BJP’s victory was based on the need to establish a ‘secure’ state, the infringement upon the rights of individuals specifically the right to dissent will sharpen as already ominous indications are evident.”
“The assaults by private armies, under one pretext or the other against Dalits and religious minorities, will intensify. The rights of working people and religious, linguistic minorities will come under attack leading to witch-hunting,” he said.
He said the CPI(M) will take the lead in mobilising the broadest segment of our people who cherish the democratic rights and civil liberties to meet these challenges squarely.
On Opposition parties’ poor show in the elections, Communist leader blamed the Congress in particular for failing to unite secular parties that were being projected in the run-up to the elections. He also underlined that a campaign to safeguard secularism as against the communal offensive was not conducted. In an oblique reference to Congress party’s peddling into soft Hindutva, he insisted that it was not the answer for hardcore Hindutva and added that the ideological battle between Hindutva and secularism was not forcefully conducted during the elections.
“When the Right goes strong, the Left has to go strong and that will be the new polarisation in the country. Soft Hindutva is not the answer to hardcore Hindutva and that is why Left is the only option.”
Yechury also warned that the penetration of RSS in all Constitutional institutions, which happened during the last five years, is bound to further intensify.
“This will lead to undermining such Constitutional authorities in order to facilitate the transformation of the Constitutional Republic into the ideological project of the RSS –Hindutva Rashtra,” he added.
He said the Central Committee also underlined the need for far-reaching electoral reforms, adding the Election Commission could not implement its assurance rather duties to conduct “free and fair polls”.
On Chief Election Commissioner’s “partisan role,” Yechury said the party will mobilise the Opposition to ensure that election commissioners are appointed by a collegium led by the President of India rather than by the government.
We will mobilise the opposition parties and seek to urgently reform the Election Commission so that it can play an impartial role,” he said.
Reiterating proportional system’s demand, he said the BJP and NDA did not get more than 43 per cent vote and except the Janata party government, no governments came to power securing more than 50 per cent votes as democracy means the rule of the majority.
The CPI(M) and the Left have suffered a severe setback, particularly in their strongholds of Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura in the elections. On West Bengal, where CPI(M) even failed to win a single seat while BJP captured 18 seats, the Central Committee noted: “In West Bengal, elections were held in a highly polarized atmosphere. The media played a big role in building a binary narrative that aided such polarization between the TMC and the BJP. The communally charged campaign further polarized the voters. There was a high anti-incumbency against the TMC. The CPI(M) and the Left Front were not seen as the alternative and this led to a shift in a section of our traditional votes. The Congress’s refusal to accept the Left’s proposal for maximizing the pooling of anti-BJP, anti-TMC votes bolstered this binary narrative.”
On BJP’s massive victory Yechury said, “The rightwing offensive unleashed by the BJP during the last five years has consolidated with this mandate. The BJP could successfully shift post-Pulwama and Balakot, the popular narrative away from the multitude of livelihood issues that the last five years of the NDA government had imposed. The new narrative of communal nationalist jingoism was aided by the build-up of the Modi persona through a combination of factors. Sections of the media partnered such a projection. The elections also saw the unprecedented use of money power. The role of the Election Commission was also a contributory factor.”
In response to this correspondent’s question on curbing the menace of money power, Yechury said there should be immediate scrapping of electoral bonds, state funding of elections like in the west and the money spend by political parties in the election should be accounted.
He said the party has identified four post-election challenges and it will take the lead in mobilizing the people to meet these challenges squarely.
The CPI(M) also condemned the threatening calls received by secular intellectual Dr. Ram Puniyani from Hindutva goons and expressed grief over the suicide of a young ST post-graduate medical student, Dr. Payal Tadvi. Yechury urged the Maharashtra government to take firm action against the culprits and those generating such hate campaigns.