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India at the Crossroads: Democracy, Hindutva, Fascism

India at the Crossroads: Democracy, Hindutva, Fascism

India is approaching another general election to lower house of its Parliament, consisting of 543 constituencies across 28 states. 968 million registered voters this time is an increase of 60 million over the last election. With every election, greater doubts and concerns about India’s bragged democratic system. Currently, its political and bureaucratic mechanisms have become polarised and biased. Process of free and fair elections necessitates a foolproof electoral system, administered impartially. On the contrary, many criticisms and concerns have been raised regarding the electronic voting machines (EVMs) used in India, over the past couple of years. Various demands of reinstating ballot paper, instead of EVMs, was summarily brushed off by the establishment. Concerns about free and fair nature of these elections have, thus, been augmented.

Democracy in India is facing severe challenges and crisis. Imperialist powers & capitalist forces have been excessive in their manipulation of the system over the past few decades. Nicknamed ‘Operation Lotus’, the ruling dispensation has been massively conducting bribed and blackmailed defections of legislators from opposing parties. This is a farcry from the past when it was considered an abhorrent practice.

Democratic practice over these decades was supposed to have empowered weaker and marginalised sections of the society. Rather, political developments in India has been in the reverse, to further exclusion of certain communities, especially Muslims, from power and even from citizenship. Muslim representation in the Indian Parliament is nominal, with the ruling party bereft of any Muslim name amongst its parliamentarians.

In India, media is formally shown its space to be only the hounds of the state and nothing more. Organised crime and mob lynching are common. The government sides with the aggressors in the legal process ; culprits are not brought to book. Courts verdicts are based on the caste and religious affiliations of the parties involved.

For the past decade, India has been governed by the fascist Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party ; BJP). BJP government has been steadily working to subvert cultural diversity and religious pluralism of India, under directions of its paramilitary parent, viz. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps ; RSS). As such, constitutional bodies, democratic mechanisms, judicial systems have all been besieged by Hindutva fascism. Xenophobic and discriminatory policies invested in by RSS since its formation in 1925, have been implemented ever more forcefully in the past one decade.

All this while, commoners have been pushed to the wall by the officially orchestrated excessive inflation and taxation, ever rising unemployment and ever lopsiding prices of agricultural products. Peasants have been on strike since many months now. BJP state and central governments have countered these movements with brute force.

Islamophobia and bigotry are the only indicators that have registered positive growth. Hindutva parties had charted their way to power through the bloody Babri Masjid demolition movement and carnage of Muslims in different parts of India – traditionally termed as “communal riots”. With communal riots and Muslim genocides being showcased as stepping stones to power, every riot has shown to be infusing further energy to Hindutva parties to win elections.

Democracy in India has been deemed a mockery of Abraham Lincoln’s defenition – it is now a system “of, by, and for crony capitalists”. Government of India has explicitly and implicitly sided with such forces.

Pillars of democracy have been demolished one by one. Greatest casualty in this respect has been media neutrality and freedom of expression. Media institutions have been implicitly forced by the government to give away their ownership to the few capitalist brokers of their power. Any media exercise that seeks to be unfavourable to the ruling junta, is subjected to witch-hunt by government agencies, by using fabricated allegations. False cases are charged against journalists by abusing various investigative agencies. Unprecedented number of media activists have been killed in these years. Critics of the regime are charged with sedition and imprisoned. Mob attacks and murders are orchestrated against Muslims, scheduled castes and tribes.

Even the much touted Ram Temple has been contracted to the junta’s favourite Adani group. Various settlements, housing colonies and agricultural lands in Ayodhya have been displaced by the government for commercial interests of Adani. RSS has turned “Hinduism” to a mob bearing mindsets of eccentric Islamophobes. Hundreds of innocent Muslims were brutally lynched to death by fanatic Hindutva groups during this era. This was commenced with infamous incident of Mohammad Akhlaq’s mob lynching by hindutvaites over accusations of possessing beef in his home. Dozens of similar mob lynching incidents has been conducted with full legal impunity. Collective conscience of Indian society has simply bothered not to be concerned if the victims were Muslims or Dalits.

2024 elections is not a mere process of electing a government, but a battle to reclaim a decent existence for various sections of the society. 2024 election has a signjficance of being a struggle between the hate politics of Hindutva fascists, termed as “merchants of death”, and the rest of populace. Genuine worries loom if these general elections would be the last one, India would have.

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P Abdul Rasheed

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