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Published in the 16-30 Apr 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

A Mussolini, a Hitler, and a Niemoeller

By I.K. Shukla

The Milli Gazette Online 

Let me enter two caveats. One, I would not quote the well and widely known lament of the Protestant parson of Berlin-Dahlem, Martin Niemoeller, interned in a concentration camp by Hitler from 1937 to 1945. And, I wish I had not written this piece.

As extenuation, I must admit, I had never imagined Benito and Adolf would meet in India to trump a Martin. Their incarnations in Bharat assumed names like Modi, Advani, and Narayanan.

What comes out of ex-President K.R.Narayanan’s recent exposure of Atal-Advani-Modi conspiracy in Gujarat ethnocide of 2002 is far beyond and much more than his tactical silence then and the resultant brutalities visited upon the hapless Muslim minority in Gujarat during his watch. Some salient issues pertaining to the state-sponsored holocaust have gone unnoticed as if by default.

Narayanan, by failing to exercise his prerogative of sacking Atal and Modi governments, aided the desecration and violation of the Constitution. By this one act of remissness and dereliction of his presidential duty in discharging his statutory responsibility, he grievously impaired and tragically eviscerated the Constitutional provisions guaranteeing protection to Indian citizens of all faiths without any discrimination. It was his unfortunate, and not so fortuitous, contribution to making Indian democracy a shell in so far as the protection of minorities is concerned. By this one cynical act he damned himself as a crass self-seeker (second term), unworthy of the Nehruvian legacy which he would have done himself and the nation proud by defending and vigorously upholding. History would not absolve him.

He expediently ignored Nehru’s ringing words: "I will fight till the last breath of my life all those forces who will raise their hands against anybody in the name of religion."

It was not just the minorities that Narayanan thus threw to the wolves in saffron, he also whittled and ignominiously wrecked the Constitution for the benefit of a fascist party which had, through its wanton and unbridled terrorism, long disavowed any pretence to honor it. Perhaps unwittingly, Narayanan provided the BJP with statutory cover for its abetment and approval of the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat. Thus he made the Indian state – the federal government – an active agent in the Gujarat pogrom against Muslims launched by Hindu fascists of the RSS gang.

If these appear harsh words, they may be. And, they should be. The nation ill affords forgetting another such muddled accommodation of fascism in the Indian polity. It was JP Narayan who had legitimacy and respectability conferred on a rabidly communal and irretrievably fascist combine like RSS by having its volunteers like Atal and Lal Kishenchand inducted in the central government as ministers! Glory days of Morarji Desai saw Indian democracy battered into a permanent cripple, thanks to JP. BJP honors him by including his initials in its name. It is disdainful of the real concerns of any janata, Bharatiya or whoever. It is a sectarian, status quoist party guarding the interests of the traditionally privileged.

We should recall that there existed a tension between President Zail Singh and PM Rajiv Gandhi, the latter fearing that the former might resort to his constitutional powers in scuttling or sacking him. This very power Narayanan chose to abnegate. At the end of the day he neither gained the favor he expected from BJP-NDA, nor served the cause of minorities, nor upheld the majesty of the Constitution on behalf of the Indian citizenry.

It is for this reason that it behooves the nation never again to let the state fall to BJP. It has demonstrated in Gujarat and Rajasthan what it will do all over if ever returned to power. Gutting the Constitution as a matter of principle is its ideological imperative. It sought to do so under the insidious cover of constitutional revision. Next time around it will overturn it with alacrity, never losing a day.

What this belated whistle-blowing on the criminal conspiracy of Modi-Atal-AdVani in the cause of Hindu Rashtra through massive terror of blood and fire, through the handmaiden law and order machinery, through state autonomy subverting the Constitution, through a thoroughly terrorized electorate voting criminals into power, shows is the extreme vulnerability and utter bankruptcy of the system of governance and mode of polity we self-delusively call Indian democracy. Hindu fascists proved how well they can sabotage and squelch it.

The point to ponder is: a president, statutorily installed and sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution, can choose through connivance, acquiescence, or feigned ignorance, to facilitate and join forces with an unscrupulous PM and his ideological cronies in dishonoring and overturning it.

Given another chance, the Hindu fascists, with the advantage of experience, will certainly and speedily stage a coup, and destroy not just the Constitution and rewrite it as the manifesto of Hindu Rashtra committed to ethnic cleansing, but also legally, and with the power of the state, mandate massacre, gang-rape, arson, demolition of homes, shrines and properties, and declare any clamor for justice and inquiry into the mayhem and pillage as treason punishable with death.

That this is not a wild fantasy became clear once more when our Hitler gave another commendation to our Mussolini. Now the BJP MLAS of Gujarat, roundly rebuked, will not squeak or bleak too loudly too soon. Those who are aliens and inimical to democracy in their own party cannot be expected to respect it in the case of the nation. Fascists are not groomed for democracy, nor do they give it a tinker’s damn.

It is this threat, besides the tragedy of Gujarat Carnage of 2002, that looms large on the Indian horizon. Unless the democrats and secularists realize the enormity of the danger – Hindu fascism spreading its talons on India and relentlessly destroying it as a nation and a culture, India would be difficult to snatch back from the brink of an abyss. 

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