Fight for India’s Soul by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (NOVEMBER 19, 2008)

The ensuing elections to six state assemblies, followed by general elections, will decide whether India remains the secular, democratic state of the vision of the founding fathers of the Constitution or slips into a long nightmare of fascist rule, writes Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam.

The ensuing elections are coming at the most crucial point of India’s history. There is a deadly fight going on over the soul of India. The poll results will show whether the country is able to retain its secular, democratic credentials or is going to yield to dark forces of hatred, violence and anarchy led by the transparently anti-minority Sangh and its political wing BJP.

We already know what BJP has in its store for the minorities from the spate of riots in half a dozen states from one end of India to the other. Besides these well-planned riots the Sangh has another, more sinister, plan: to systematically bomb Muslim gatherings and congregational prayers in mosques and I’dgahs all over India. The scope, reach, and depth of the Sangh terror network can be gauged from the recent disclosures made by Maharashtra ATS.

The terror network’s spread over the whole of India is not the entire story. Its penetration into armed forces and central intelligence (besides military intelligence) agencies is even more alarming. Today the minorities are being targeted like never before. BJP victory in the polls will mean reinforcement and expansion of the anti-minority terror network under an NDA government patronage. Already the BJP is defending the people alleged to be bombers of mosques and other Muslim targets.

The groups thus targeted have to look at it as a threat to their very survival in India. The first targets are Muslims, followed by Christians, Dalits and other weaker groups. They owe it to themselves and to the security and integrity of the country not to allow a BJP-NDA win in any case. At this moment nothing can be more urgent than thwarting a BJP advance, or a NDA component’s win. The targeted groups can never afford to allow a BJP-NDA victory even by default, or through bad judgment. This is the bottomline.

The bottomline is non-negotiable. As I said earlier, the Sangh game this time round is more divisive than ever before and has the potential to harm the integrity of the country itself through a well-planned civil war. The minorities must never allow it. The first move will be to forestall them at the polls.

It is here that the dangerous, self-defeating talk of launching a “Third Front”, that is equidistant for both UPA and NDA, and is impeccably secular, comes in. Let us be very clear that every time such a move has been made by secular groups the winner (by default, of course) has been BJP. Whether it was VP Singh regime at Centre (toppled by coalition partner BJP), the Janata Party experiment, or BKD experiment, it invariably provided a toehold for BJP or its predecessor, Jan Sangh, to surreptitiously enter the corridors of power. No, Sir. Sorry, the Muslims, Christians and other weaker groups cannot afford the luxury. Thank you.

It is quite clear that the secular Left is mired in its own problems in West Bengal and Kerala. In both places, unfortunately, the minorities have not fared well. Also, the Left on its own does not have the wide electoral support enjoyed by the UPA. A weaker, limited support base would not be enough to take the NDA bull by the horn. Only the UPA, howsoever imperfect it might be, can trounce the NDA.

Granted that the UPA has not done too well, nor has it delivered on several of its electoral promises. But compared to NDA it still remains the choice. Howsoever belatedly, it has initiated changes in the system that are going to see a more fair, equitable socio-economic order in the years ahead. Already several elements of the Sachar Committee Report are in implementation stages. To be fully fruitful such measures take time. See, how measures taken to empower Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes six decades ago have begun to yield results now. An NDA victory is sure to roll back the progress made on this front. Even the ATS investigation will be dropped by them.

The minorities must develop a consistent plan to vote only for secular parties, coalitions and individuals. We must talk to the secular parties to impress upon them the need to stop the fascist juggernaut first and worry about other considerations later. The Muslim (and other weaker groups’) leaders must talk to the non-NDA secular parties about their concerns and see to it that some understanding is developed.

Finally, remember that we are not alone in this fight. A sizeable section of Indian society is wary of the Sangh’s fascist, divisive, violent agenda and wants to stop it from marching into power wading through the blood of Indians. It is the duty of the vulnerable classes (especially, the minorities) not to vote in anger and resentment but with cool calculation. At this moment ideas like a “Third Front” are merely nice, beautiful aspirations. We will have to act more realistically, more effectively, to stop the disaster waiting to happen.


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