Two Phenomena of ‘Modi Era’ : Virtual World and Unabated Communal-Caste Conflicts
First phenomenon : Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s team has succeeded in projecting the political debate from the ground on to the virtual world. The political and intellectual class has played a pivotal role in the last three decades in the crystallisation of this successful endeavour of Modi. As political and intellectual discussions began taking shape in a manner which led to the decimation of any opposition to the New Economic Policies introduced in 1991, the virtual world gradually erected its tall stature vis-a-vis the real world. Through this world of bizarre social-religious serials, sermons of god men, endless albums/videos of dance and songs, endless commercial advertisements of consumer products, slap stick comedies, masala films etc. the virtual world found its way into the arena of news channels. By now the phenomena is so mature that news can be created even without any real content! In this world, the only currency which is in circulation is that of lies, ignorance, shamelessness, immorality, aggression, violence, crime etc. Here the issues like manipulation of governmental figures/data, breakdown of constitutional institutions, scams; narratives such as patriotism and treason; and incidents, starting from mob lynching, murders, rapes, encounters to surgical strikes, are sacrificed at the altar of virtual world.
Politics based on real issues and debates confronts against neo-imperialist designs. That is why the country is being changed into the virtual world by the supporters of neo-imperialism. Whatever the advantages of social media may be when compared to the mainstream media, ultimately the former is also found engaged in the facilitation of the virtual world. There are sporadic instances of discussions over real issues by the intellectuals and non-BJP leaders. But since they align with the BJP and the Congress on neo-liberal policies, hence this virtual world exists unaffected.
The magical spell of this virtual world is too strong to be dismantled easily. Therefore, whatever government will be formed in the future, it will be a government situated in this virtual world. The mob will prevail, instigating killings, taking the law in its own hands and the society will remain drunk with the intoxication of the virtual world. And the list of casualties will no longer be restricted to the Muslims and other minorities but anyone, including the police personnel, would be the victim of this raging mobocracy.
The episode of the anti-corruption movement and Aam Aadmi Party which made inroads to the corridors of power on anti-ideology plank presented a trailer of this phenomenon. The team Narendra Modi extended/converted it into a full-fledged film. The frenzy of the Hindu nationalism rides on the frenzy of the anti-corruption movement. And there is no need to repeat the fact that almost entire secular-progressive intelligentsia supported that ‘trailer’ held under the auspices of the RSS. Just as the actors of anti-corruption movement were not virtuous, in the same way, the soldiers of Hindu nationalism, as per even the most distorted interpretations of Hindu religion, are not religious. Both are pawns in the politics of neo-imperialism. They, in fact, have made neo-imperialism the destiny of the country in blatant disregard to the spirit of the Constitution.
Second phenomenon : In the Vajpayee era, the government was wary of the fact that communal frenzy might hamper foreign investment because one of the preconditions of any private investment, be it indigenous or foreign, is stable and safe environment. Vajpayee often used to admonish the RSS to keep its frenzy spreading agenda within bounds. In fact, Vajpayee even commanded that the RSS keep its facade of opposing the private investment in check. ‘Modi Era’ has brought a complete reversal of the situation. Now the investors of domestic as well as foreign private capital themselves believe that higher the incidence of communal and social conflicts, higher will be the safety of their business interests. Such an alignment of mutual interests was sealed on the day when diplomatic and business representatives from the countries of Europe and America met the RSS/BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in Delhi. Moreover the visa-ban which was imposed on Narendra Modi owing to his role in the Gujarat riots, was nullified by them only.
Modi did not disappoint domestic and foreign investors. He has shown that an atmosphere of communal and societal frenzy is conducive to domestic and foreign business interests. Under the ‘able’ leadership of Modi, the Hindu society is dutifully engaged in Muslim bashing and, at the same time, bashing of ‘manuvadis’. Modi’s feat is owed to the fact that secular and progressive intellectuals have been busy in securing benefits and positions for themselves in the ten year rule of the Congress. The ground for the same, however, was laid in the Vajpayee era only. Khushwant Singh foresaw the arrival of fascism at that time only when he wrote a comment titled ‘Fascism Has Come’ in his weekly column ‘With Malice Towards One and All’, used to be published in Hindi newspapers under the title ‘Bura mano ya bhala”. In this, he wrote, ‘Fascism of the Hindustani brand is standing at our door, and the most prominent advocate of Hindustani fascism is our Deputy Prime Minister, LK Advani. During his imprisonment at the time of Emergency he read Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’. The supreme leader of Shiv Sena never shied away from calling Hitler as Superman. Narendra Modi has been instrumental in implementing fascism in Gujarat. Apart from these, Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Togadia etc. have been the flag bearers of fascism.’
Upon the completion of four years of the Vajpayee government I wrote an article in ‘Jansatta’ with the title of ‘Fasiwadi Muhim Ke Nayak’ (Leader of the Fascist Campaign). I had even raised questions on Khushwant Singh’s commentary as he kept Vajpayee out of the entire cauldron. I inquired as to who is spearheading the fascist campaign? Securing shelter for themselves is the specialty of intellectuals and likewise Khushwant Singh found his refuge in Vajpayee.
Most secular-progressive intellectuals who raise hue and cry about fascism are concerned more about their entitlements rather than about the public which actually bears the brunt of this menace. So despite change in the government in the upcoming elections, they will be busy holding and securing their positions. Therefore, these two phenomena, which speared their heads in the ‘Modi Era’, show no signs of relenting. The minorities of the country need to understand this unfortunate reality of present times and so should those who are engaged in the struggle of identity politics as a guarantee of their education and employment.
Writer, a former Fellow of Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimal, teaches Hindi at Delhi University and is president of Socialist Party (India)