The Sell-Out

Even as waves of protests stalk the unhappy Indian landscape, the market fundamentalists of UPA II care two hoots

Amit  Sengupta Delhi 

Perhaps the insulated and obsessive market fundamentalists who run UPA II, the wise Congress Working Committee and its ‘secular’ chairperson, as well as the ‘well-meaning’ reluctant inheritor, have compulsively refused to notice it, but there are waves of unrest, anger and angst floating in the simmering quagmire of stoic resilience and suffering that is fragmented India. And, they can check this out with a commissioned ‘market survey’, this India has little to do with the juvenile debating shows on prime time ‘your channels’ or what semi-tycoon editors are so desperately pushing in media in the name of national interest.

As in the stupid ‘India Shining’ syndrome of the BJP-led NDA regime, glossily showcased all over pre-2004 media, or its eternally cocky, muscle-flexing, chest-thumping Hindutva leaders, the graffiti on the mud wall is often invisible and unreadable between the lines. However, as during the BJP regime, riding on Narendra Modi’s fake machismo and the bloody trial of the Gujarat genocide, while pumping up its own contradictory mix of liberalisation and ‘Brand RSS Swadeshi’, the disconnect was as transparent as the ‘legitimacy crisis’ stalking that xenophobic dispensation, backed by miscellaneous opportunists, including rump socialists and Lohiaites. 

The Congress, and its equally opportunistic allies, seem to have completely forgotten how relentless was the BJP hate machine then operating in almost all realms of Indian society, top down to the grass roots, with the RSS and VHP flying on Dracula’s wings of desire. They had penetrated State institutions and media, subverted secular platforms, dehumanised community relations, perverted the education system and its school curriculum, unleashed infinite war hysteria and ‘Paki-bashing’, and generally ravaged all that stood of the original secular, pluralist spirit of the Nehruvian-Ambedkarite Indian Constitution. A top CPI(M) leader then told this reporter that it would take a decade to unwind this bad record on repetitive fast forward rewind. 

Indeed, if the jarring UPA II track record stands as testimony, the bad record has yet again been cut loose, and they seem to have already lost both sound and music. They seem to have totally eliminated the realism of resistance across the Indian landscape that led to the unexpected, and yet stupendous Congress and Left victory in 2004; that the poorest as well as the urban educated across the spectrum in cities and villages voted for a secular alternative at the Centre. The people of India rejected the vicious language of hate politics and character assassination (which the BJP routinely ‘indulged’ in against the Gandhi family), and, instead, voted for a pluralist alternative that stands for social decency, social justice and human dignity. Indeed, India Shining was proved nothing but a farce and a slap on the poverty-stricken people of majority India. 

The prime minister and his corporate conscience-keepers seemed to have completely forgotten this ground zero political pulse during UPA II, compromising with corrupt, inefficient and megalomaniac allies, while happily ditching the ‘Official Left’ which played a reasonably principled and constructive role during UPA I. There can be many rotten bones to pick with in a rudderless Left (including Nandigram, Lalgarh and Singur), but the Left did not sell the country and its natural resources to crony capitalists and fat cats. The Left did not celebrate the predatory political economy of the Planning Commission chairman, the PM’s best friend. The Left refused to be sucked into the dirty, bottomless quagmire of corruption and criminality, like many of the contemporary allies of the Congress.

 Sonia Gandhi quoted Mahatma Gandhi while celebrating the ‘contribution’ of Motilal Nehru: does she really agree with all that is being done in the name of Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru to this nation? 

Witness the latest resignation drama in Maharashtra: a Rs 20,000 crore water and irrigation scam in Vidarbha, the epicentre of mass tragedy, in which tens of thousands of farmers have committed suicide in recent times. What can be more cold-blooded and shameful than this scam? So intense is this unslatable thirst of insatiable greed and so steeped in insensitivity is this absence of humanity, that these vested interests and others have decisively blocked the Food Security Bill, proposed by the National Advisory Council. Ask the Union agriculture minister, uncle and patron of the Ajit Pawar! Does it smell of a big stink? 

Does this dirty picture, indeed, trouble the ‘clear conscience’ of the ‘high moral ground’ chairperson of the NAC?

 

If Jantar Mantar can be one paradigm of judging the mass unrest stalking the Indian landscape, and if politicians ever want to measure this ‘national interest’ on the ground, then thousands of organisations and individuals, from the deepest corners of this country, have time and again mobilised and asked for their voice to be heard in this open-to-sky courtyard of a failed democracy. They would make long journeys and arrive in Delhi, in the most difficult conditions in long-distance trains, and they would return, their eyes bereft of hope, their citizenship shattered, the idea of a nation-state ravaged yet again. 

Are they blind? Can’t they see the loot? And the injustice of it all? 

There have been waves of expressed and simmering protest, blacked-out, rejected and censored by the media, unlike the cacophonic 24x7 saturated coverage of the factional farce that was the TRP-driven flop show of Team Anna backed by the RSS. Tribals, Dalits, workers, peasants, civil society outfits, human rights groups, teachers, students, professionals, trade unions, traders, minorities, fishermen, women, victims of atrocities: the earnest longing for social and political rights have been too heart-rending to remain unheard. Can’t the political and corporate elite see it, hear it? 

From Kudankulam and Jaitapur to Niyamgiri and the anti-Posco struggle, to multiple land and adivasi struggles in the invisible terrains of invisible India, most of them non-violent, to localised upsurges and demands for fundamental rights, the secular character of these eclectic, stoic and resilient movements has been missed by the corporate-driven fanatics of UPA II. As always in history, a stark sense of myopia and arrogance stalks this discredited and corrupt regime. It refuses to hear the heartbeats of new aspirations, forever in denial. This just cannot go on anymore. 

If nothing less, it will only, yet again, mark the return of the chest-thumping fascists. Riding the Anna wave, you can see them, rubbing their hands in glee. Surely, India deserves better 

Between brazenly subsidising the corporates and super rich, and mass loot at the top across the multiple layers of governance, who will sign this Memorandum of Misunderstanding? Is there, indeed, a nation-state beyond the limited paradigm of political power and the affluent society? 

If young and old innocent Muslims have been hounded and tortured, often jailed for years for no crime and no charge proved, and then released as arbitrarily under this ‘secular’ government, and if those who profess armed struggles are killed in cold blood and left to rot in invisible prisons for “waging war against the State”, what should be the fate of those who are openly violating the spirit and flesh of the Indian Constitution, and the directive principles, and selling the country to sundry totalitarian capitalists? 

Sonia Gandhi quoted Mahatma Gandhi recently while celebrating the ‘contribution’ of Motilal Nehru: does she really agree with all that is being done in the name of Gandhi and Nehru to this nation? If she does not, it just does not show. 

If nothing less, it will only, yet again, mark the return of the chest-thumping fascists. Riding the Anna wave, you can see them all over the place, prophets of 2014, rubbing their hands in glee. Surely, India deserves better. 

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: OCTOBER 2012