2019 polls: Amidst view that BJP has 20% support, call to unite, take debates on "xenophobic" onslaught to roads

Mevani speaking at the seminar
By Our Representative
Worry appeared writ large of a large number of left-of-centre intellectuals, who had gathered for a three-day India Inclusive seminar, held at the Constitution Club, Delhi, last week, with most of them suggesting how the ruling BJP and the Sangh Parivar were successful in creating a xenophobic atmosphere, suggesting there was little possibility things might change ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Of tens of top scholars, journalists, human rights leaders, lawyers and other professionals gathered at the meet, which was held on May 25-27, the view seemed to ring high about the need for unity to defeat the saffron “onslaught”, Thus, young politician Kanhaiya Kumar, who made his mark as former Jawaharlal Nehru University president, exhorted the intellectuals to “take our debates, dissent and discussions to the roads.”
Wanting the views expressed at the seminar to be taken “to the communities that are present beyond our platforms”, Kumar insisted, this was needed in order to “spread” the concern to “the furthest corners of the country to really be inclusive”, adding, “If we want people to come together we have to sit with the people and speak in their language.”
Taking a similar view, Mevani, suggested that type of unity was still very much needed, and is possible, as on the ground, there is not much of support to the BJP. He noted, “Data shows that BJP has only 20% dedicated voters and with consistent work they can be defeated in 2019.”
In a similar vein, Iftikhar Ahmad Khan, retired associate professor from Vadodara, Gujarat, insisted on the need to “break complicit silence”, while documentary film-maker Saba Dewan urged for “unification of various struggles, resistances, movements and communities” to fight “honour killing, xenophobic clashes and religious intolerance.”
However, despondency appeared to rule most intellectuals. Top journalist Siddharth Varadarajan, who has founded the well-known news website, “The Wire, appeared to appeared to suggest that the state is successful in “engaging” intellectuals “in senseless debates”, which fuels “xenophobic tendencies and communal ideas”. 
Another top journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, who is consulting editor, India Today group, lamented how journalists have been failing in rising above what he called neutrality and diplomacy. “The way the society is being divided on the lines of anti-nationals and nationalist, our jobs as journalists is to show the state a mirror and make it answerable. It is time for our moral vocabularies to attack the system unconditionally”, he said.
Meanwhile, the view went strong that the rulers have been successful in emasculating established institutions, with those wanting to safeguard constitution unable to do much. Thus, sop advocate Colin Gonsalves, founder of Human Rights Law Network, spoke about how judiciary in India is being undermined by the ruling government. 
He said, “If the executive starts electing judges to the High Courts and Supreme Court, that is the day we will lose control of the judiciary and it will no longer protect those who need it the most.”
Human rights activist Teesta Setlavad talked of “the dangerous point in history when those seated in the structures of democracy – legislation, police, judiciary – are people who don’t believe in the values of our constitution”, while well-known Leftist and feminist pointed towards how it is “the same ideology of Hitler that the right wing uses while they talk about ‘protecting’ the women from Muslims.”
Zoya Hasan, professor emeritus, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, “said that today in India transition from inclusive nationalism to an exclusive nationalism is taking place”, adding, “We need to build an alternative definition of Nationalism”.

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
What does "20% dedicated voters mean"? BJP has a dedicated network of grassroots workers (read RSS), who fan out and try to reach people at all levels--something which INC, AAP,Communists, and others have forgotten how to do. To fight the saffron wave, we need to match them, trick for trick, otherwise....