Some two years ago, there was a storm in a teacup in the CPI(M) (Marxist, mind you, not the proscribed, underground Maoist outfit in the news for the last few days). This storm was whether party general secretary Sitaram Yechury was right in calling the Narendra Modi government “fascist” or was former general secretary Prakash Karat right in terming it “authoritarian”. The press played it up so as to present the possibility that the Stalinists were going to split into Yechury and Karat wings like the many Janata versions. The comrades can rest easy now, the Pune Police have put it on record that the Modi government is fascist.
To be more precise, government prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar made the statement to the local Pune court hearing the case. Elaborating on the conspiracy, Pawar let it loose that the CPI(Maoist) had constituted the “anti-Fascist front” of its eastern regional bureau. If it were not for the house arrest of activists and lawyers and writers who have spent decades in speaking up for people who are exploited to the bottom of their already-ground bones, forget skin, this would have been a classic rib-tickler in Reader’s Digest’s ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ column.
In a press conference of the aggrieved and enraged intelligentsia already troubled by the desensitisation of targeted lynchings against Muslims and Dalits, writer-activist Arundhati Roy spoke on the tragedy that is fast enveloping the last year of the Narendra Modi government as it heads into the election year. “This is an attempt to divert attention from the losing popularity that the BJP is facing right now and to fracture Opposition unity. This means we are living in a dangerous time and there will be a ruthless and continuous attempt to divert attention from the loss of popularity. Divide and rule is an old method but now it is divert and rule,” she said in The Hindu.
Moreover, a million such charges, like those framed by the Pune Police, don’t stand up to judicial scrutiny. No wonder, the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court and the Faridabad chief judicial magistrate were a bit sceptical of the police story. Mere charges don’t establish guilt, the courts have to agree before human rights advocates are painted with the broad brush of terrorism or even left-wing extremism.
Strangely, the government and its supporters are yet to come up with even a lazy, cursory denial on its alleged “fascist” nature as claimed by the Pune Police. The Modi government should deal with this labelling by its own police force head on since “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” sounds hollow ahead of 2019. Also, several BJP leaders were at the receiving end of the law during the Emergency, many under similar draconian laws.
Demonetisation, the falling rupee vs the dollar, lack of jobs, loopholes in the Rafale deal, the aforementioned lynchings, sometimes for cow smuggling, cow slaughter or child-lifting, inflation, increasing petrol and diesel prices, NPAs and many other Opposition charges abound. The Law Commission has just said no to the Uniform Civil Code and the continued application of sedition charges. Clarity is required on the part of the government, where is this going? Will such strong-arm tactics end up unifying the fractious Opposition? A hot cup of tea can hopefully help.