The Unbearable Opportunism of being Nitish

Nitish looked sideways when the coffin-gate scam was raised, even while the ‘saffronisation of education’ was in full swing

Amit Sengupta Delhi

The ‘Official Left’ in India have made many blunders, but one of the things they were right on the dot about was the opportunism of the ‘establishment socialists’ in India, most of whom claim to be the inheritors of Gandhi, JP and Lohia. Some of them proudly call themselves ‘Lohiake log’, whatever it means. Indeed, most of them are totally detached from the theory and praxis of either Gandhi or Lohia. All they do is to position themselves as fence-sitters, or reluctant inheritors, parasiting on the perks of power structures, compromising at the first instance in the name of Realpolitik.

At other times, they spew outdated theories and retrograde belief systems, and express both feudal and patriarchal tendencies. They do caste politics with finesse, were the first political beneficiaries of the Mandalisation of Indian politics, while some of them happily tagged onto the bandwagon of the fascists in the name of fighting the Congress.

In most of their contemporary political careers and dubious narratives, they were eternally swinging across poles, aligning with Rightwing and reactionary forces. Their obsessive anti-Congressism was best typified by the glorious degeneration of George Fernandes, once an anti-establishment rebel and a hero of the working class which he betrayed again and again. Their lack of principles and ethics made them compromise on all fronts, even ‘constructively’ aligning with the RSS, during and after Indira Gandhi’s dictatorial Emergency. “If the RSS is fascist, so are we,” they would proudly say at that time, toeing the JP line.

Not surprisingly, while thousands of Leftists, dissidents, liberals and ‘genuine socialists’ too were put behind bars, hounded and tortured during the Emergency, they still chose to bed with the RSS and Jana Sangh (the earlier baniaavatar of the BJP), despite the history of their communal role in post-Independence India. They chose to forget the backdrop of Gandhi’s assassination, or that the Hindutva forces, obsessed with the ‘greatness’ of Hitler, played no role in the freedom movement. The dual membership issue of the RSS during the short-lived JanataDal experiment blew the bubble yet again, but they refused to learn their lessons.

When ‘game-changer’ Nitish Kumar talks of ‘rajdharma’, or shifting the secular goalpost, it smacks of as much opportunism as when the prophetic words were uttered by AtalBihari Vajpayee (Nitish’s current hero!) at the Shah Alam Camp in Ahmedabad after the State-sponsored Gujarat genocide of 2002. Modi cared two hoots. And what did he say at that point? If I am not forgetting, he said, arrogantly: “Wahitohkarrahahoon.” (That is what I am doing.)

This was much after the bloody ethnic cleansing was over and done with. Nitish, then the railway minister, was surely watching the horror narratives at the Shah Alam Camp, where thousands of ravaged Indian citizens were trapped in sub-human conditions, insomniac with the nightmares of the murdered, raped and burnt alive, suddenly reduced into ghettoized citizens in their own land.

Did Nitish feel pain, compassion, guilt, at that time?

Indeed, what were his thoughts when S6 was burnt in Godhra earlier, the burnt bodies shocking the entire nation, many of their deaths unexplained till this day? Why did he choose to stay so obscenely stupefied?

So why this sudden resurrection of secular enlightenment before the 2014 polls? 

Nitish looked sideways when the coffin-gate scam was raised, even while the ‘saffronisation of education’ was in full swing

Nitish remained a tacit ally of the fascists even while, for months, war hysteria was whipped up, with thousands of Indian soldiers posted at the border. Earlier, he looked sideways when the (Kargil) coffin-gate scam was raised, even while the ‘saffronisation of education’ was in full swing. Did he agree with the re-writing of India’s secular history text books, written by the finest historians in
the world?

No one knows what he thought of the Ansal Plaza fake encounter, the false cases and prolonged detention of journalist IftikharGilani, the relentless hounding of the media and secular journalists, human rights violations, and the organized Hindutva penetration in institutions of governance with LK Advani as home minister.

Indeed, Nitish, SharadYadav and the ‘socialist rump’ obviously had no pangs of conscience in cohabiting with those who celebrated the BabriMasjid demolition or the communal violence which followed. Or, the Mumbai pogrom of Muslims in Mumbai in 1992-93 with the ShivSena as protagonist. With the ShivSena as NDA ally, despite the hounding of Biharis in Mumbai, they all seemed so eternally cosy in this diabolical umbrella.

So, why this sudden high moral ground?  

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: MAY 2013