By Varavara Rao
The killings of Mohammad Akhlaq, Prof. M M Kalburgi and Yakub Memon have come to symbolize in many ways the prevailing situation in the country under Modi-led BJP-rule. Akhlaq was bludgeoned to death at his Dadri home in September by a lynchmob that was instigated, mobilised and led by a bunch of Sanghi goons after maliciously spreading the rumour of beef-eating. Prof. Kulbargi was shot dead by unidentified Hindutva-fascist assassins because of his consistent and irrepressible opposition to their designs in Karnataka. Memon was hanged this July in Nagpur jail after his conviction in the 1993 Mumbai blasts in a travesty of justice.
For the self-appointed gendarmes of the ‘Hindu Rashtra’, to eat something of one’s choice is anti-national, to voice dissent is anti-national, to be even the brother of a Muslim who is accused of so-called anti-national activities is anti-national – ‘crimes’ that are punishable by death according to the Manuvadi Hindutva-fascists. Whether the execution is actually carried out judicially by the state or by any of the numerous murderous gangs raised by the hydra-headed RSS – it makes little different to the person at the receiving end.
These killings (and of Govind Phansade and Narendra Dabholkar earlier) are but a few of the more talked-about incidents in what has become an incessant barrage of attacks carried out in many forms by the Hindutva-fascists across the country. Particularly since the BJP government came to power, such attacks are taking place almost on a daily basis. Though termed by some as ‘intolerance’, this is part of an all-round attack by the Brahmanical Hindufascist forces against the people and affecting all spheres of their lives. These attacks are simultaneously ideological, political, social, religious, ethnic, economic, cultural, juridical and environmental – carried out with violent and non-violent, legal and illegal, constitutional and extra-constitutional means.
On their target are all kinds of dissent and nonsubmissiveness, particularly the fighting organizations and individuals – revolutionary, democratic, secular and patriotic – as well as Muslims and Christians, Dalits and Adivasis, women and people of other oppressed genders, oppressed nationalities and even sections of the parliamentary opposition. In fact, anyone who refuses to fall in line with their Hindutva agenda or opposes their fascist diktats is a potential target. Indeed, at a time like this when the assault of he Hindutva-fascists is becoming increasingly conspicuous in all spheres of the society and the state, one cannot be faulted for wondering if a vast section of our people are already made to live in the shadows of a veritable ‘Hindu Rashtra’.
Hindu-fascism, even with its specificities, shares many characteristics of the fascisms that emerged in the capitalist countries during the economic, social and political crises period of the the1930s, the Great Depression and the interval between the two interimperialist World Wars. Like Italian fascism and German Nazism, Hindutva too is a phenomenon of the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution, emerging along right-wing or fascist parties, institutions,
armed detachments and gangs in the capitalistimperialist countries with or without a parliamentary democratic cover. Fascism raised its head when at its highest stage, capitalism had entered a period of general crisis and socialism emerged as a real alternative before the world people with the victory of Bolshevik Revolution. The role of Italian, German, Japanese and other fascist movements of that time was to address this existential threat faced by the imperialist ruling classes of their respective countries.
It was the political offensive of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat to come out of its severe economic and political crises. They pursued a domestic policy of open terrorist rule and a foreign policy of aggression and wars. Domestically, the main enemy of the fascists was the organisations and movements of workers and toiling masses, revolutionary proletarian parties and organisations along with other democratic classes and national minorities, migrants, while internationally, its prime target was the socialist camp led by the Soviet Union along with the national liberation movements of the colonies and semi-colonies. They waged counter-revolutionary wars against communist and democratic forces all over the world until revolutionary and national liberation wars finally consigned them to their graves. But Hindutva – the ‘Make in India’ variety of fascism – not only escaped the fate of its European and Japanese contemporaries but has in fact thrived during the last hundred years of its existence. Hindutva fuses elements of India’s caste-feudalism (such as its reactionary Brahmanical ideology and deep-rooted notion of inborn superiority, etc.) with those modern bourgeois concepts (like the nation, Aryan Race theory of colonial-Orientalist scholars and their communal formulation of Indian history, and so on) that suit the interests of the Indian comprador ruling classes and the obsolete social institutions and forces.
It falsifies history to invent a glorious past of the ‘Hindu nation’, unmindful of the fact that neither a religious community called the ‘Hindu’ nor a nation called the ‘Indian’ existed prior to British conquest of the subcontinent. The brainchild of the early Hindutva proponents is the neo-Brahmanical reactionary utopia of the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ (nation), which the Hindutvafascists project back as the country’s ‘glorious’ past and hold up as the ideal for the country’s glorious
future. They seek to impose this fascist ideology on both Hindus and non-Hindus and all social
communities, sections and classes who do not agree with their communal conception of society and history.
While Muslims and Christians are seen as aliens to be either assimilated, kept in line or suppressed, the Sikhs, Buddhists, Dalits and Adivasis are considered to be already Hindus and are included in the ‘Hindu nation’ against their will. The hierarchical, hegemonic and chauvinist Hindutva ideology, culture and values are imposed on all of them by suppressing, controlling or co-opting their diverse cultures, languages, beliefs and customs.
This fascist ideology of Hindutva is also reflected in the organisational structure of Hindu-fascist
organisation. RSS, Hindu Mahasabha etc. that were established in the early 1920s are highly authoritarian and allows no disagreement with the leaders. The command of the Sarsanghchalak is the last word in RSS and is accepted without question. From its inception, Hindutva forces received support and patronage of the big landlords and the comprador big bourgeoisie as its reactionary ideology and authoritarian organisational structure was a useful tool for their economic and political interests. They were also subservient to the British colonial rulers, calling upon the people to struggle for ‘national regeneration’ at a time when all the anti-colonial, democratic and patriotic forces were engaged in the independence struggle (Savarkar glorified colonialism by writing that “the glory of the British empire is great” (V D Savarkar, Hindutva, p.85, 166); Golwalkar expressed his disdain for national independence by terming it as “that haphazard bundle of political rights” (M S Golwalkar, We or Our Nationhood Defined, p.7). True to their comprador character, Hindutvafascists continue to commemorate collaborators and
traitors as heroes like Savarkar while denouncing genuine nationalists and patriots like Tipu Sultan.
Hindutva-fascist forces stand for conciliation of antagonistic classes to prevent the development of class consciousness among the toilers and an intensification of the organised class struggle. For instance, RSS had written to PM Nehru way back in 1948, “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s is the only way to meet the challenge of communism and its is the only ideology which can harmonise and integrate the interests of different groups and classes and thus successfully avoid any class-war” (Letter by RSS office-bearers to PM Nehru, published in Organiser, 23 October 1948). They make use of the traditional adaptability of Hinduism to social change by preserving, protecting and strengthening all its reactionary aspects in the service of the ruling classes – be it the colonial rulers or the Indian ruling elite subservient to imperialism which took their place.
They bolster the joint dictatorship of the big landlordsbig comprador capitalists by suppressing the democratic classes, whipping up communal and national chauvinism, persecuting religious minorities and oppressing minority nationalities, Dalits, Adivasis and women. Ideologically, the metaphysical, idealist and subjective Hindutva world-outlook is a die-hard opponent of all forms of scientific, materialist, rational, objective and dialectical approach to understand and change the world – most of all the Marxist approach of scientific socialism and dialectical and historical materialism. Ideological-political indoctrination, social demagogy, national and religious chauvinism, Goebbelsian propaganda, cooption and buying-out – i.e., all means fair and foul are part of their arsenal to win over one section of the broad masses and to terrorise others. They fully utilise the gullibility, backwardness, ignorance and contradictions among the broad masses as well as the reactionary aspects in people’s culture and social values rooted in the country’s semi-colonial semi-feudal system. They constantly engage in lies, deception, hypocrisy and subterfuge to manipulate public opinion and to hoodwink, mislead and divide the masses – often
doing the opposite of what they say and saying in complete contrast to what they do. They use the products of modern science and technology to enslave the masses and achieve their reactionary social, economic, political and cultural goals.
Hindutva-fascism has adapted itself to the changing conditions and utilised all available forms to spread its most deceitful, deceptive and bloody tentacles. Contrary to its ideology and stated goals, it pledged itself to non-violent means, declared adherence to the Indian Constitution and presented itself as a mere cultural organisation (as did RSS after Gandhi’s assassination to get its ban revoked) – but it does not conform to them in practice. Like its Nazi counterpart, it has utilised India’s parliamentary system to come to power in pursuit of its objectives. From the formation of Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1951 to the formation of first BJP government at the centre in 1997, Hindutva-fascism had gained ground in large parts of the country by working under cover of parliamentary politics. But as Ram Janmabhoomi agitation, Rath Yatra, demolition of Babri Masjid, the subsequent bloodbath of Muslims in many parts of the country, Gujarat pogrom and innumerable other large and small heinous acts show, they have used extra-parliamentary and violent terrorist methods for parliamentary ends. They have achieved some significant success in their tactics largely because its parliamentary opposition – whether the Congress, revisionist CPI-CPI(M) or various regional parties – has proved ineffective in stopping the onward march of Hindutva-fascism. In fact, these ruling-class parties themselves have many overt or covert Hindutva adherents within them and helped in the growth of Hindutva-fascism with their class collaboration and opportunist politics. Since the parliamentary elections of 2014, BJP has emerged as the largest, most powerful and most preferred all-India party of the big comprador bureaucratic capitalists and landlords subservient to imperialists by displacing the Congress from this position.
Like all fascisms of the past, the present growth of Hindutva-fascism has taken place amidst an acute crisis of the world capitalist system beginning in 2008 which has not shown any serious sign of recovery. Fascist trends of various hues are on the rise once again all over the world. In India too, the old method of rule by the Congress-led UPA became inadequate for the Indian ruling classes in the present condition of crisis. Modi-led BJP was therefore catapulted to power in the last elections to carry out the agenda of neo-liberal ‘reforms’ more aggressively and ruthlessly – by fascist means if need be. The BJP with its neofascist Hindutva ideology and a wide network of fascist organisations working in almost all fields and regions and among all social sections, was best suited for the job. The ‘slow’ pace of the IMF-World Bankdictated neo-liberal reforms and or hold-ups in opening all sectors of the economy for foreign and Indian big capital has led the BJP and its NDA allies to steamroll a plethora of policy changes through parliamentary and extra-parliamentary means.
Displaying naked majoritarianism based on its absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, Modi-led BJP government is imposing these policies with the fascist argument that they have got the popular mandate to implement whatever programme and policy they like. It is worth noting that the Fascists in Italy and the Nazis in Germany too had won majority seats in the parliamentary elections and used this brute majority to impose their policies. As the country’s economy sinks deeper into the abyss of recession and crisis, Hindutva-fascists led by Modi are taking desperate measures to satisfy their masters – the imperialists. On the one hand, the big capitalists big and landlords are showered with enormous financial windfall through introduction of new pro-corporate laws and changes in the existing laws, tax cuts and tax holidays, loan waivers and debt restructuring, disinvestment, handing over government property at dirt-cheap rates and through numerous such legal and illegal means. A number of existing laws related to the well-being and welfare of the people such as labour laws, laws entitling peasants to subsidy and compensation, pension, retirement-benefit and insurance regulations for the salaried classes, laws related to social security, health and education, etc. are being changed by the government by terming them
as old and obsolete, while the age-old colonial laws used for suppressing the people are not only being retained but are bolstered with newer amendments.
Schemes like ‘skill development’ are introduced to prepare a few million unemployed as cheap semiskilled labour to meet the needs of the global capitalist economy and the Indian big capitalists. The drama of debate is acted-out in the pigsty of parliament by the ruling parties and the opposition alike, but all antipeople bills and policies are ultimately passed with mutual understanding. On the other hand, government expenditure on agriculture and manufacturing, social welfare and subsidies, education and health, water and housing, etc., are drastically curtailed in the name of fiscal discipline and austerity. Economic and political rights won by the people – be it workers, peasants, working women, employees, salaried people and others from the middle classes through long and bitter struggles – are taken away step by step to serve the interests of the imperialists and the Indian ruling classes. It is introducing a plethora of new policies that are having a bearing upon all spheres – economy, education, health, environment, social welfare and so on. Foreign investment which only tightens the noose of imperialism is presented by Modi government as the panacea for all the economic problems besetting the country. While mouthing pious discourses on ‘Environmental Justice’, the government is proceeding to remove even the remaining namesake restrictions on environmentally sensitive zones to invite foreign investment and maximise the exploitation of natural resources. By issuing indiscriminate clearance to mining, dams, highways, ports, housing, industries and such other projects and almost all kinds of services in such ecologically fragile regions, it is giving an open invitation for unprecedented ecological destruction and pollution, not to speak of large scale displacement of the people. Unable to address the basic problems of the masses or fulfil the grand pre-election promises, Modi and his ministers are resorting to gimmicks and ‘perception management’. Following the model of the Nazi ace-propagandist Joseph Goebbels, Modi government is making extensive use of print, electronic and digital media to slyly manipulate public opinion, to delude the masses with lies and deception and to hard-sell the pro-imperialist and pro-Hindutva agenda it is trying to implement. The media is being controlled in covert and overt ways to monopolise the means of disseminating information. Phrases like ‘development’, ‘empowerment’ of the poor and the Dalits, Adivasis, women or other ‘weaker sections’, ‘Sadbhavana- Shanti-Suraksha’, ‘nation building’, ‘national interest’ and such phrases are relentlessly bombarded in a Goebbelsian manner. Sangh Parivar organisations too are using mass media to hide the real face of Hindutva fascism, to shape public opinion in favour of its agenda and to turn illusions into reality. Hypocrisy in words and in practice is a hallmark of the Hindutva-fascists.
Parallel to this process is the gradual fascization of the state. Be it the bureaucracy, judiciary, armed forces, jails or any other wing of the state – the BJP government is staffing their top rungs with Hindutva adherents wherever possible. The military, paramilitary and police forces are being further fascized during their training and service by the Hindutva fascists by using state power. They are being indoctrinated with pseudo-patriotism and favourite Hindutva themes like unity and integrity of the country, national interest, War on Terror, etc. In this way they are being brought closer to the Hindutva camp and ideologically prepared to ruthlessly crush the people and all forms of democratic movements in the name of defending the country and the nation, religion and faith, civilization and culture, etc. Keeping the mask of Narendra Modi in the forefront, Sangh Parivar is trying to expand its social base by introducing a few populist social welfare programmes like ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’, ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’, ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyan’, etc. Like all fascist forces of the past, the NDA government and the Sangh are taking up some of these populist measures only to facilitate the heightened exploitation and repression of the toiling masses and the oppressed social groups without stirring up widespread resistance. A renewed attempt is being made at saffronisation of education through measures like rewriting of school textbooks, changes in the syllabus, imposition of Sanskrit, Yoga and Hindu rituals in schools, and similar other measures. Modi government has steped up its interference in the internal affairs of the universities and all other autonomous institutions with the aim of imposing the fundamentalist Hindutva agenda. This is in addition to the intensification of the previous government’s policy of promoting privatisation of education. It is aggressively eulogising RSS figures like Savarkar, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya etc. and systematically naming public landmarks like roads, public institutions, welfare schemes, etc. in conformity to their ideology. Such measures are making the prorich, pro-Hindu, pro-‘upper’ caste, male-bias of the state even more pronounced. Muslims and their organisations are being targeted by the state in the name of fighting ‘Islamic terror’, while discrimination against religious minorities is becoming more menacing. While a free hand is given by the state to the offenders of the saffron camp including murderers involved in massacre of Muslims, stringent punishment including life term and death sentence are being handed out to the accused Muslims. A large number of them are kept in long-term detention without trial. Hindutvafascists are holding up religious minorities as the enemies in front of the people to divert their growing
frustration and anger into harmless channels. Similarly, Dalits, Adivasis, women, oppressed nationalities, rationalists, atheists, democrats, communists or even the parliamentary opposition – anyone who are in opposition to them – are being targeted. Anyone standing for genuine democracy, independence, sovereignty and self-reliance or militantly raising the basic democratic demands of the people is subjected to brutal violence using the state or saffron terror.
Thousands of such attacks have been carried out in the last one and a half years of Modi rule, and the number is on the rise. The growing incidents of socalled intolerance all over the country too are an integral part of the Hindutva-fascist design. Internationally, BJP government and the Hindutvafascists are pursuing a ‘big power’/‘super-power’ status for India by more closely collaborating with US imperialism and clamouring for a greater role in international affairs. In their attempt to transform the country into a strong regional outpost of the US and other imperialist powers, NDA and RSS is a policy of drummed-up big-power chauvinism and expansionism in south-Asia. They are howling chauvinist barbs against Pakistan and China and are clamouring to expand the fight against ‘Islamic Terror’ by aligning more closely with US-Israeli foreign policy. Guided by the hegemonic idea of the Hindu Rashtra and Akhand Bharat, they are more aggressively following the expansionist policies of the previous governments, interfering in the internal affairs of the neighbouring countries like Nepal in scant respect for their sovereignty, thereby attracting the wrath of theirpeople. The all-out Hindutva-fascist attack therefore is becoming unbearable not only for the broad masses of India but also for the people of our neighbouring countries.
In spite of the similarities, however, Hindutvafascism is no Nazism of Hitler’s Germany or fascism of Mussolini’s Italy. The material basis of Hindutvafascism lay in the country’s social conditions and backward production relations. These production relations principally serve the interests of feudalism and comprador bureaucratic capitalism which are strongly integrated with and depended on the imperialist monopoly capital and are subservient to it. This results in the type of fascism peculiar to our country and any semi-colonial and semi-feudal countries – comprador-feudal fascism. As a result, Hindutva-fascism is necessarily weaker and more unstable than its counterparts in capitalist countries. As Dimitrov pointed out, here there can be no question of seeing “the kind of fascism that we are accustomed to see in Germany, Italy and other capitalist countries” (Dimitrov, Seventh Congress of the Comintern, 1935). Comprador-feudal fascism, by its very comprador nature, is unable to equal the fascism of imperialist countries. In addition, the oppressive, discriminatory, hierarchical, unscientific, anti-people and reactionary Brahmanical ideology and the rotten Jati-Varna system associated with it has never gone unchallenged in the country. It has faced unceasing ideological and political and other kinds of resistance including violent resistance from the oppressed and toiling masses from the time of its very inception. Whether Charvakas, Sankhyas and the Buddhists of the ancient times; Ravidas, Kabir and others of the middle ages or Jotiba Phule and Savitribai, Shahuji Maharaj, Dr. Ambedkar, Periyar and several others representing the Dalits, Adivasis, women and revolutionary-democratic forces of the modern period in their own ways took part in this unbroken history of resistance. The people of the country, supported by the revolutionary and democratic people of the world, are now once again standing on the way of the neo-Brahmanical
Hindutva-fascism. It is not plausible, therefore, to establish the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ of their dreams which would require the transformation of the present semifascist rule (with thinly-veiled fascist rule in some regions of the country such as parts of Dandakaranya, Bihar-Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir and the North East) to a complete and countrywide naked neofascist rule.
Indeed, the present unprecedented level of allround Hindutva-fascist attack is facing a broad resistance in the country. Protests against saffron terror and fascization of the state are going on, with more and more people coming out to join their voice. The widespread indignation against the killing of Prof Kulbargi, Akhlaq and to a lesser extent the judicial murder of Yakub Memon carried forward this antifascist movement. Recently, hundreds of writers, artistes, academics, actors, journalists, film-makers and others from the literary, cultural and academic fields have returned government awards in an unparalleled protest against the attacks and growing threat of Hindutva-fascism. Their opposition to the persecution of minorities, attack on the basic civil and democratic rights including freedom of expression and dissent and attempts to impose control and dictate have snowballed into a veritable avalanche of protest. A large number of demonstrations, dharnas, meetings etc. are daily being organised across the country. The people of foreign countries too are expressing their condemnation of growing Hindutva-fascism in sharp
contrast to the opportunistic whitewashing of the crimes of Modi and his cohorts by their governments.
The recent outburst of anger of the people fighting for Patidar reservation against hated state symbols like Police Stations has shown that even places like Gujarat which were once considered Hindutva strongholds are no longer safe due to the people’s growing frustration and anger. The people will surely make the Hindutva-fascists realise that they constitute only a small minority in the country representing the obsolete forces, the reactionary ruling classes and their henchmen.
The vast majority of the people of the country will neither subscribe to their reactionary ideology, nor will they take the forcible imposition of Hindu majoritarianism lying down. Sooner than later, BJP and the Sangh Parivar will realise that it is no fun to be the flunkeys of imperialism. MIB unequivocally extends its revolutionary solidarity to all who are part of this common fight – revolutionary, democratic, patriotic and secular forces, workers and peasants, national and religious minorities, Dalits and Adivasis, urban poor and the urban middle class, national bourgeoisie, students, teachers and intellectuals, academics, historians, writers, artistes, actors, advocates, journalists, doctors, scientists, researchers, women, LGBT, differently-able, the old and the young and people from all walks of life who are standing up against Hindutva-fascist enslavement. Taking inspiration from the experience of the international proletariat and the democratic forces in defeating fascism, we call upon all exploited and oppressed classes, communities, sections and groups to unite to become a mighty force against Brahmanical Hindu-fascism and to wage a protracted struggle to bury it once and for all. With the understanding that fascism can be completely uprooted only in a revolutionary way and not by revisionist, reformist and parliamentary ways or through electoral ‘victories’ over the BJP, MIB appeals to you all to strengthen the ongoing armed agrarian revolutionary war led by the CPI(Maoist) to establish a genuinely democratic, independent, sovereign and self-reliant people’s republic which will be the real and final graveyard of Hindutva-fascism.
(Varavara Roa is an activist, revolutionary poet and writer)