Skip to main content

Guided, shaped from above? India's complex, lethal 'counter-revolutionary' process

By Anand K Sahay*
The architect of the Russian Revolution, its master strategist and grand thinker, Vladimir Lenin, whose genius brought about a cataclysmic shift for the better part of a century in the affairs of most parts of the world, once observed that life was more “cunning” than any theory or plan we may devise.
There can then be little surprise that the counter-revolutionaries of our times, who imagined that the world lay at their feet, have lately had a taste of this special feature of life. They have in their grip all the levers of power, all the resource and all the force of the coercive apparatus of the state is theirs to command, and yet they have just had a rude shock and the electricity in the air hasn’t stopped crackling yet.
People had turned fearful of the state led by a hectoring, bullying, executive whose every malign act, and every word it uttered, was cheered on by the image-makers. A propaganda machine in the shape of powerful sections of the so-called independent media was summoned to serve and it chose to grovel out of anxiety. Big politicians lay prostrate, fearing the CBI, the enforcement machinery, and the income tax agents. An Aunt Tom from a key state is typical of this.
Top industry and business rallied in support out of fear of the unknown although they have suffered grievous blows due to foolish policies, cockily delivered. The big boys and girls of the much-vaunted film fraternity smiled for the cameras as they green-lighted the regime, or sat quiet, pretending they had seen nothing.
Even the judges seem poised to run errands. They appear to have transfers and posting and promotions on their minds, and occasionally the fear of being found out. In the event, the questions became all too real: Who will protect our individual and civil liberties? Who will stand up for the values of the Constitution -- our enabler of democracy -- which comes to us from the freedom movement?
The answer -- heroic in every dimension -- came from the countless young women and men, barely out of their teens, across the major universities and cities of India, and the thousands of poor women of all ages (one of them 90, reciting the names of seven generations of her Muslim family in trilling fashion) of the shanty-town of Shaheen Bagh by the side of the Yamuna bed in south-east Delhi, who have sat in peaceful protest day and night for three straight weeks in the harshest winter the national capital has known in 117 years.
Leaving out the legal, constitutional and ideological parsing, of which enough has been done, the three companion measures of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Population Register, and the National Register of Citizens is a way of declaring India a Hindu country where Muslims and Christians will be tolerated provided they kowtow.
If the RSS-BJP were to retain power in the foreseeable future, this putative Hindu country (replacing the Republic of India) will serve as the scaffolding to mount a Hindu Rashtra of the RSS conception, which can only come about under another Constitution in which the rules of democracy as we know it cannot apply. The full-spectrum exercise is apparently a two-stage process.
This diabolical move is sought to be obscured (by the government and the RSS-BJP) by drawing a red herring across the trail through the deceptive argument that no Muslim citizen will be asked to leave India.
Can street challenge compel political parties, formations ranged against RSS-BJP to coordinate effectively for elections when time comes?
It is plain to see that nobody will need to leave if the rules of the game are altered. They must just agree to change their ways, and no longer have the same expectations as before (guaranteed under the old Constitution and the earlier belief system). The new order is going to rest on a wholly different political theology in which there can be no place for “pseudo-secularism”, and wholly different assumptions.
If the independence movement, and the making of the Constitution which was its culmination, marked a revolutionary departure from not just the colonial period but also the feudal era that accompanied and preceded it, then the counter-process set in motion by the Modi regime under the aegis of Hindutva thought is an attempt at producing a counter-revolution.
The first serious street challenge to the making or the firming up of this counter-revolution has come in the form of the anti-CAA (and anti-NRC) protests that are ongoing, six long years after the process was inaugurated. This is the fundamental significance of the protests.
It is noteworthy that the protests, which have turned out to be passionate and also sometimes fierce, were preceded by the BJP being electorally and politically humiliated in Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand -- states in which it held sway -- within six months of Narendra Modi returning to power at the Centre with a bigger mandate. This suggests that voters at the state level were turning away from the BJP although Modi, home minister Amit Shah, and UP Chief Minister -- three Hindutva icons -- campaigned with ferocity in these state polls.
But something similar had happened in three Hindi-heartland states (in which BJP lost to the Congress) and in Modi’s (and Shah’s) Gujarat, where the BJP just managed to scrape through. This hadn’t stopped a bigger victory for the BJP than before in the Lok Sabha elections. So, what’s different now?
The answer can only be a textured one. This time around things can be different because people are on the streets up and down the country. The outcome of the next Lok Sabha poll may also depend on the momentum and the longevity of the protests, especially when an open struggle is on between proponents of the old revolutionary idea and the counter-revolutionaries, their arch-opponents.
Since the people are out on the streets spontaneously and in very large numbers, the Constitutional side appears amorphous and leaderless. The question is, can it compel the political parties and formations ranged against RSS-BJP to coordinate effectively for elections when the time comes? This will help decide if the BJP can win the next Lok Sabha election after doing poorly in the states.
It is unusual that the counter-revolutionary process should be guided and shaped from above -- by the government (in the backdrop of RSS thought), and not by sections of the populace. Typically, revolutionary as well as counter-revolutionary surges originate within society.
Operating under the aegis of the government, those seeking to quell the protests -- including the PM -- have lionized the police in spite of its extreme brutality recorded in Delhi and UP. Law enforcement has been openly harnessed in a political cause, alongside swathes of the media and the investigating agencies, lending counter-revolutionary activity greater complexity and greater lethality. The methods of the Constitutional side bear watching.
---
*Senior Delhi-based journalist and columnist

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .