Agenda 2016: Defend Democracy, Resist the Fascist Offensive

If there is one message that resonated across India all through 2015, a resonance that can only grow in the coming days as the Indian people battle their way against the continuing assault of the Modi government, it is the resolve to save democracy and save India. Only nineteen months ago Modi had flown from Ahmedabad to Delhi in that private aircraft of Adani after winning an unprecedented majority for his party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. According to the mythology propagated by Modi and his bhakts, these nineteen months were supposed to have heralded the much promised 'achchhe din', but instead of the much awaited 'good times' what India got has rekindled the memories of the nineteen months of the infamous Indira era Emergency.

As during the Emergency, personality cult and sycophancy once again reign supreme. 'Modi-fication' is the keyword in every sphere of governance. Newspapers and television channels are full of propaganda about the leader who very much believes that the post-Independence history of this vast and diverse country was actually barren till he leapt out of the pages of mythology with his grand 'rescue mission' and 'digital vision'! And while there is no explicit media censorship today, there is veritable voluntary censorship, with large sections of the mainstream corporate media systematically reducing news to advertisement and eulogy of the ruling establishment, giving a complete go-by to the critical role of investigative and interrogative journalism in speaking truth to power and subjecting the state and the ruling dispensation to a degree of public accountability.

There are of course a couple of crucial added dimensions to the ongoing 'elected' tyranny of the Modi rule compared to the 'constitutional' Emergency of the mid-1970s. Under Modi, India has now become a key ally of the US-led world order on both domestic and foreign policy fronts, subjecting India to an unprecedented level of predatory corporate plunder and strategic imperialist intervention and yoking India firmly to the vagaries and horrors of the Western war of neo-colonial occupation and domination camouflaged as a 'war on terror'. And then there is the vicious RSS agenda of subverting the ideas and institutions of modern India to subject the country to its vision of Hindutva majoritarianism, which the RSS and its innumerable affiliates and allies are now brazenly enforcing with total impunity and complete complicity of the Modi government.

2015 has however made it abundantly clear that the people of India are not amused and are determined to resist the calamitous Modi misrule with all their might. No government in recent memory became so hugely unpopular in such a short period of time. Peasants have already forced the government to withdraw the land acquisition ordinance, workers have gone on a massive countrywide strike against the proposed anti-worker labour law amendments, students are uniting against cutbacks in scholarships and the WTO-dictated commercialisation of higher education, and in an unprecedented show of collective assertion, prominent writers, scientists, film-makers, historians and other intellectuals, have indicted the government for promoting a climate of intolerance, bigotry and fear in the country. And the protests and resistance of the people have begun to find emphatic expressions in the electoral arena as well, delivering blow after blow to the BJP's ambitious expansion plans. From Delhi to Bihar and UP to Gujarat, this has been the real big story of 2015.

We thus have a challenging stage set for 2016 to confront the Modi government with more determined opposition on every front and defeat the Sangh's design of orchestrating communal hate and turning India into a laboratory of aggressive majoritarianism. The BJP has ambitious expansion plans for the states that go to the polls in the first half of 2016 – Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu – and it will be important to check the party in each of these elections. The BJP story of the last thirty years tells us two things – that wherever the party gets hold of political power, it uses it to the hilt to advance the RSS agenda, and also that the party keeps coming back to power by exploiting every hint of political vacuum. The challenge therefore is to build on the growing anger and disillusionment of the people and the multitude of ongoing struggles against the Modi order, and shape a powerful Left resurgence.

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