POLITICS

Why Indian Liberals Are Falling Into The Hindutva Trap Again With 'Not In My Name' March

Thinking with the heart.

28/06/2017 8:44 AM IST | Updated 28/06/2017 8:44 AM IST
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Volunteers of Bajrang Dal participate in the air rifle training session at a youth camp on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in the early morning of May 17, 2012.

It's disturbing how Muslims are lynched with the "beef" bogey so regularly, it has ceased to shock us. That is why, people in 11 cities will march silently today, black bands on their arms, placards screaming NOT IN MY NAME.

There is little doubt the BJP's rise has emboldened just about anybody to commit violence against Muslims in the name of beef. Those who belong to or support the BJP remain silent over these incidents, or worse, justify them in the name of the holy cow. Their beef is not with meat but with Muslims. Hindutva's stated agenda of rendering Muslims as second-class citizens through fear is in action. An argument over who has reserved the seat in a train, who deserves to sit and who must vacate, must necessarily be lost by the Muslim in New India.

Those who belong to or support the BJP remain silent over these incidents, or worse, justify them in the name of the holy cow. Their beef is not with meat but with Muslims.

The question for those who want to fight this is, how? How do you defeat Hindutva? By protesting against it, they would say.

Liberals have protested Hindutva before. They've returned their awards and marched silently when Mohammed Akhlaq was lynched in Dadri. Since then Hindutva has only risen further, with Yogi Adityanath as chief minister in Akhlaq's state.

Liberals have spoken up and broken the silence before – on the 2002 Gujarat riots for instance. As it turned out, their activism failed so badly that Narendra Modi became India's prime minister.

Left-liberals have been bringing down fascism since the days of the Ram Janambhoomi movement. It is understandable they don't learn from their mistakes, nobody does. But they don't even learn from the examples of success when Hindutva was defeated. And Hindutva was defeated only when something else replaced it. In the post-Babri era it was Mandal, in the post-Vajpayee era it was the attention that rural distress received.

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Muslim villagers offer prayers wearing a black band on the occasion of Eid-Ul-Fitr as mark of a silent protest, after the death of 15-year-old Junaid, who was murdered after a scuffle which broke out in a train over a seat in Haryanas Palwal, at Ballabgarh, Faridabad, on June 26, 2017 in New Delhi, India.

They still romanticise their days at the JNU campus in the '80s – what an innocent time it was. The still think their marches and slogans will Bring Down Fascism. The people who will march today, feeling self-important about fighting the good fight, don't understand they are actually helping Hindutva. The more you make a campaign out of Hindutva obsessions – cows, meat, Muslims – these keywords become the central agenda of politics.

Liberals think they can take on Hindutva on its turf and defeat it. That this is not possible should be obvious after the experience since Babri. The only way Hindutva could be defeated is to change the keywords of political discourse from the ones Hindutva wants – cows, meat, Muslims – to the ones it is more apologetic about, such as violence against Dalits, farmers' agitations, the distress faced by small traders due to demonetisation and GST.

From Punjab to Tamil Nadu today, farmers are committing suicide and the Modi government couldn't care less. In Madhya Pradesh, around 30 farmers have committed suicide since the police murders of five protesting farmers in Mandsaur. In Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, there have been reports of farmers committing suicide even after loan waivers were announced.

If India had any such thing as a political opposition, there would have been a running protest on the issue of farmers' suicide in Delhi's Ramlila Maidan.

If India had any such thing as a political opposition, there would have been a running protest on the issue of farmers' suicide in Delhi's Ramlila Maidan.

If our liberals were able to think with their brains rather than their hearts, they would have been marching today for farmers, not Muslims. Or perhaps both, thus trying to build solidarities.

Liberals have the power to change the national conversation and set the agenda, even at a time when news TV has become Hindutva mouthpiece. It is unfortunate liberals are unable to think politically and always act in a Pavlovian manner that helps Hindutva.

Activist Shabnam Hashmi has returned a 2008 award she received from the National Minorities commission. Neither will this move the National Minorities Commission to crack the whip on lynchings, nor will it deter Hindutva lynch-mobs.

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