Does the Right in India understand state power?
Author: Ashok Chowgule
[Note: This article was submitted for publication to IndiaFacts.in on February 2. After initially agreeing to run it, and nothing having happened, the article has been published by the Hindu Vivek Kendra.]
The Right in India, namely the Hindutvavadis, are used to being called all sorts of names by their opponents. (I am personally a very proud Hinduvavadi, and a senior office bearer in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.) The opponents intention of using names that they consider to be derogatory conforms to the tactics suggested by Lenin a long time ago. Arun Shourie pointed this out when he quoted Nikolay Valentinov recounting what the Marxist dictator, Lenin, told him, namely: “Plekhanov once said to me about a critic of Marxism (I’ve forgotten his name), ‘First let us stick the convict’s badge on him, and then after that we will examine his case.’ And I think that we must ‘stick the convict’s badge’ on anyone and everyone who tries to undermine Marxism, even if we do not go on to examine his case. That’s how every sound revolutionary should react.” (Eminent Historians, Delhi, 1998, p 209.)
A milder form of the disease seems to have now spread to those who would like to think that they are actually well-wishers of Hindutva. One such person is Kanchan Gupta, who tweeted on January 19, 2015: “A huge problem with the preachy Right in India is that they do not understand or are clueless about the importance of state power.”
Let me assure Kanchanji that the Hindutvavadis do know everything about state power. We know that it has been used for the following purposes:
* Ban Hindu organisations for no valid reason, or threaten them with a ban.
* Be extremely reluctant to ban non-Hindu organisations.
* Harass, or threaten to harass, Hindutvavadis who are open supporters of Hindutva, particularly those outside the electoral political arena.
* Involve Hindu organisations in various types of litigation for no reason at all.
* Patronise those who are ideologically opposed to Hindutva.
* Patronise those who are willing to offer their services to the cause of opposing Hindutva.
* Offer the people belonging to the above two categories monetary support through state institutions which are funded by the tax payers money.
* Give them all sorts of state awards for the service they render to those who control the government machinery.
* Declare an Emergency to negate court decision which would have meant that the then prime minister would have to resign.
* To create an extra constitutional power, superseding the elected representatives, and one without any accountability.
These are, of course, some of the examples, and I am sure my reader gets the trend. But the Hindutvavadis have had the physical and moral courage to stand up to this abuse of state power and hold on to their conviction with full force. And they have succeeded in defeating these abusers and their supporters in all aspects – intellectual, organisational and now political.
The Hindutvavadis have not voted for a political dispensation to misuse the state power to harass their opponents. They have voted for a new dispensation to see a system where there is no state power to be misused. The Hindutvavdis know that the state power is a very corrosive instrument, adversely affecting everyone who has an opportunity to use it, save the rare person who has a saintly character. Anyone lesser will get intellectually, and monetarily, corrupted and start behaving in the same manner as those who were earlier controlling the state power.
And sometimes the state power could be used against the Hindutvavadis, as had happened the last time there was a NDA government in place. The Hindutvavadis realised the new people in power were not conducting themselves in a manner that was expected of them – namely, in the interest of the nation, and not of oneself. They expressed their opinion in an open manner, sometimes having to undertake agitation to remind the people in the government why they were voted in power. Instead of introspecting, the new dispensation used state power to act exactly in the same way that the earlier dispensation did against the Hindutvavadis.
A clear message was sent to the Hindutvavadis that now that they have voted in a new group of people in power, they should go back to their homes and allow the new group to play the same type of politics that was being played earlier. The Hindutvavadis saw that while the old dispensation was bad they were at least an open opponent. As part of their regular programmes, when the Hindutvavadis interacted with the people, they found they had to try and defend the actions of those controlling the state power. And since they could not defend the indefensible, they said that perhaps it is better to have the opponents back in power than one who were pretending to be their supporters.
Something similar had happened in the 1980 elections. The people threw out the government of Indira Gandhi in 1977 because of the gross misuse of state power during the Emergency. But since many in the new set of people turned out to have little inclination to provide good governance, the people said that the Janata Party experiment did not live up to their expectations. They thought perhaps Indiraji had learnt an appropriate lesson while out of power, and will behave in a responsible manner in the future. And so the brought her back into power.
The institutions of Hindutvavadis have prospered without state support. It is the opponents that needed state support for their ideological and pecuniary purpose. The Hindutvavadis want the present dispensation to evolve a system that the state will not intrude in the lives of the people of India, and stick to basic governance. The Hindutvavadis want the present dispensation to put in place minimum government which will automatically give maximum governance.
And in the process the government should be able to reduce the taxes, a disproportionately large share of which comes from the Hindutvavadis. The additional disposable income with the Hindutvavadis will then be used by them to fund programmes that take their agenda forward, through society initiative and not state. At the same time the opponents will be starved of the funds that they have taken for granted as if it is their god given right.
As it is, there are many such activities that the Hindutvavadis are already doing. But because of the hostility from the state institutions which were under the control of their ideological opponents, this effort was somewhat negated. The Hindutvavadis had to fight their battle on two fronts – one to defend against the war that their political opponents were waging misusing against them (using the taxes that the Hindutvavadis paid), and the second to take their agenda forward.
Furthermore, if for any reason the present dispensation loses the political power, there will be no state power that the opponents can once again misuse for the purposes listed above. Perhaps the disbanding of the state power will seriously discourage our opponents to try and seek political power.
The Hindutvavadis are convinced that the present prime minister, Narendraji Modi, and some others who are steeped in an RSS upbringing, know that a reduction in state power is in the long term interest of the nation. It is for people like Kanchanji to support their effort and work to put the necessary system in place as quickly as possible. And not to try to be the King instead of the King.