Left intellectuals in India, one would think, are less intellectuals and more pamphleteers.
Yesterday (14 May), even as the last exit poll (by NDTV-Hansa) was confirming the likelihood of a Narendra Modi-led NDA government after 16 May, these phonies were appealing to "secular" parties to prevent the formation of a “communal government.”
But just in case simple appeals to secularism don't work, these intellectuals resorted to dire scare-mongering that now appears to have become their stock-in-trade. “Secularism is not just a catchword in election manifestos. It is the backbone of our democracy, which cannot be sacrificed in horse-trading," they wrote.
High-sounding as this is, one may ask: is horse-trading fine to thwart communalism?
One would have thought that respecting the mandate of the people was fundamental to democracy – and not finding ways to thwart the will of the people from taking shape in the next government. Quite apart from the fact that we don’t quite know if the NDA has, in fact, won, these intellectuals seem to think that the presumed mandate must be denied by hook or by crook.
To achieve this, they are prepared to paint the BJP and Modi in the most lurid devilpaint. The BJP, these intellectuals claim, has been “especially virulent in ridiculing and insulting religious and sexual minorities, dalits and people with disabilities. Communal forces represented and endorsed by BJP and Modi also work against the interests and rights of cultural and linguistic minorities, adivasis and women across communities. BJP under Modi has also threatened constitutional bodies like the Election Commission".
While there is little doubt that the Sangh Parivar has its loonies making all kinds of scary statements (the latest one being from Giriraj Singh, who claimed that terrorists come from only one community), one wonders where these intellectuals got the idea that the BJP has been insulting religious and sexual minorities in general.
The BJP’s key ally is a Dalit party in Bihar, and barring one foolish remark by Baba Ramdev on Rahul Gandhi involving Dalits, the BJP itself has said absolutely nothing negative on Dalits to make them feel isolated. In fact, one trend being watched is the attraction of Modi to Dalits. These intellectuals also forget that many BJP states have large concentrations of tribals – from Gujarat to Chhattisgarh.
As for threatening constitutional bodies like Election Commission, isn't there a difference between criticism and threats? When court judgments can be panned, why not EC decisions? Wasn't that what Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, Azam Khan of Samajwadi Party in UP, and even the Congress's Salman Khurshid did? How are these transgressions more worthy of note only in a BJP?
These intellectuals clearly lack intellect. So nothing stops them from painting an even more dreary future if Modi comes to power. “All opponents to this brand of politics will be hounded and hunted, as they indeed have been in Gujarat. It is only reasonable to anticipate that the policies of discrimination and ghettoisation practised by Modi's government in Gujarat will become the national norm.”
The truth in this statement is that Muslims do indeed live in ghettoes – but isn’t that the case in almost all states? Haven’t we heard regular stories on how Muslims don’t get apartments for rent in mixed societies in Mumbai? Aren’t Muslims living in ghettoes even in cities like Mumbai? It is a pity, but the reality of ghettoisation is not restricted to Gujarat.
Just in case you are interested, these are the intellectuals in question: Amiya Bagchi, artist Vivan Sundaram, Catholic priest Fr Cedric Prakash, film-maker Anand Patwardhan, singer Shubha Mudgal, artist Vivan Sundaram, Professors CP Chandrasekhar, Jayati Ghosh, Prabhat Patnaik, Mridula Mukherjee, Harbans Mukhia, and Zoya Hasan, Bollywood’s Mahesh Bhatt and Kabir Khan, Tabish Khair, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi.