One ‘Mukhaota’, One Mask
Editorial: May 2013
Hardnews Bureau Delhi
The high decibel noises emanating from the BJP-led opposition have lent a deterministic inevitability to the exit of the UPA government when the parliamentary elections take place in 2014. So sure is the BJP of its return to power after languishing in the opposition for 10 years that it gives an impression that it has to merely announce its PM candidate in NarendaModi and it will automatically seize power. It is a clever trick at spin doctoring.
The BJP has used the power of persuasion in the past to bend opportunist fence-sitters. It knows that it is dealing with a highly fragmented and noisy polity. A cagey Congress, after being hammered by a barrage of scams, is too demoralized to challenge this unilateral narrative. Ironically, the opposition to this inexorable and exaggerated glorification has come from Nitish Kumar, who has questioned the divisive, authoritarian and exclusionist persona of NarendraModi. Without mentioning Modi’s name, he rubbished the idea that there could be one, singular, glorified model of development that could work for the whole country, as a pompous Modi has so grandiosely suggested during ‘live’ shows patronized by sections of a brazenly partisan corporate-backed media.
Nitish’s carefully crafted opposition to Modi is proving to be music for all those who abhor Modi’s crude, xenophobic, muscular politics. They are cynically pleased that the rupture has appeared within the NDA space. However, how real is this posturing against the BJP and its plans to load the alliance with a hard Hindutva leadership? Or is it, simply, fake, and yet another opportunistic shifting of goalpost, as has been the ritual with the ‘socialist rump’ who have stood steadfast with communal forces for almost two decades?
Nitish has taken the first step to prove such assertions wrong, or that he is merely a mukhaota: a mask. That might not wipe out the long standing damage he and his opportunist ‘socialist rump’ have done by helping the communal forces grow
While Nitish comes across as a well-meaning leader who has put Bihar on the track, his track record in tackling the forces of Hindutva has been dodgy and diabolical. BJP leaders are now turning around and asking: “Why is he getting upset with Gujarat riots now? After all, he was the railway minister when the Godhra incident happened. Why did he not resign then?”
There are deeper, darker, more sinister mysteries behind these questions. Worse, as Hardnews investigations of 2004 had shown, the railway ministry under his charge was complicit in covering up crucial details about the Godhra killings. Reality was airbrushed to fit in with the BJP regime’s narrative in Gujarat and in Delhi. For some uncanny reason, Nitish chose to remain mum about the circumstances of the mysterious fire that became the reason for one of the worst massacres in post-independence India. Besides, this helped Modi in his perverse “action/reaction” theory which propelled and legitimized the State-sponsored carnage of innocent Indians in 2002.
True, Nitish has ensured communal peace and provided better governance than his voluble predecessor, LaluYadav. However, he has been accused of providing a protective umbrella to the RSS and its front organizations to enlarge their influence. Many believe that the JD(U) is a shell that is animated by the BJP and RSS workers. Understandably, BJP leaders assert that Nitish is zero without them and the sooner he realizes that the better for him. Thus, his suddenly discovered secular self-image might appear deceptive and fraudulent. Nitish has taken the first step to prove such assertions wrong, or that he is merely a mukhaota: a mask. That might not wipe out the long standing damage he and his opportunist ‘socialist rump’ have done by helping the communal forces grow.
If, indeed, he has serious ideological differences with the BJP’s fundamentalist agenda, will he at last walk the talk? Will he show the courage to take on the new muscular symbol of neo-fascism in India?