Fascism knocking at the door (June 09, 2011)

News Analysis

Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam on the dangerous implications of the street overpowering the state.

Like the thin line between religion and superstition, an extremely fine line divides constructive national movements from fascist brinkmanship and dangerous demagogy. Baba Ramdev’s dishonest posturing belongs to the latter category.

What the Baba has of late been doing comes straight out of the textbook on fascism. One classic fascist tactic observed in places they have forced themselves into power is the deft exploitation of public grievances against the existing order.

And they have enough fuel in India to burn down not just the state, but destroy much of India as it has been known and seen since long. The fuel they are trying to use is composed of bad governance, unbearable levels of corruption and inflation that has pushed prices of even essentials beyond the reach of common people.

Bad governance is an insult to the poor and the weak. Harping on the tune of “India Rising” nauseates and humiliates three-fourth of our population living on Rs. 20 a day. They are intelligent enough to know that the India of the 75 per cent is not shining. Those few who have money in foreign banks in India and in foreign banks in foreign lands have their India shining. They represent themselves only, not the preponderant majority of 20 rupeeswallah and 20 rupeeswali Indians. They are humiliating the vast majority by flaunting their ill-gotten wealth and appropriating the whole of India for themselves, as if others are not Indian and as if India does not belong to them.

This is the situation in which fascism sprouts and grows to be a massive tree. Adolf Hitler rose amid such German sense of national humiliation and frustration: Benito Mussolini rose on Italian dreams of national honour and pre-eminence. Baba Ramdev is going by that route. Nobody else but the state is responsible for such a state of affairs.

Another classical fascist tactic is to hijack other people’s programmes and the mass mobilisation around them. Baba Ramdev, who began by supporting Anna Hazare campaign against official corruption, ultimately hijacked the platform.

Sensing the promise of Hazare’s campaign, disparate groups with diverse motives and divergent track records jumped on to the bandwagon. The Sangh Parivar, never willing to be left behind, promptly jumped on to it in its usual opportunistic style.

Once Ramdev came to the front, RSS and its progeny like BJP thought the time for toppling a duly elected government through street hooliganism had come. Now the RSS, BJP and sundry groups have shown their cards publicly.

Let it be clear that they were part of the plan to capture power through fascist means from the very beginning, but were not showing their hand. Now everything is open.

At this movement we have to remember that the purpose of the jet-set Baba is not to end corruption but to capture power for RSS and BJP (Bhartiy Janata Petrol Pump Party). Had he anything to do with removing corruption he would have got BJP’s Yedurappa sacked for his monumental corruption before embarking on his charade.

Do we have to be told that laws are enacted in Parliament, not on Janpath, Ramlila Ground and the streets of Delhi? It is the state that makes law, not the crowd.

Already there are 28 laws to curb corruption. At least a dozen high officials are cooling their heels for corruption in Jails. Powerful politicians like D. Raja and Kanzimohini are in jail. It is not that law will work only after BJP comes to power.

Baba is nothing but a man with a 1200 crore empire built in 13 years on marketing powers. He is a man claiming to represent the 700 million poor, but jetting around the world and buying an island. He is the popular face of a fascist organisation which cannot wait till the elections to come in power. Such people have no place in a democracy and constitutional order.


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