Guilty Men of Alternate Politics
In this era of globalisation-liberalization-
privatization, the work of the creation of a comprehensive political philosophy– the political thought which in the context of this phenomena, springs from the ground of the have-nots to create a self-reliant, equitable economy – is stalled. Neo-liberalism has been successful to a large extent in not letting this kind of political thought come to fruition with its complete strength. Whatever little efforts have been made towards a political thought juxtaposed with neo-liberalism by certain active political and intellectual activists are not able to make their presence felt in the political discourse. The natural outcome of this is that in every aspect of Indian life, the neo-liberal grip is increasingly becoming tighter. In these times of TINA - there is no alternative - Kishan Patnayak, the important political thinker and socialist leader of our times, put forth the claim that the world is not without alternative – Vikalpheen Nahi Hai Duniya. It was obvious for the neo-liberal ruling establishment to oppose this significant and relevant endeavour. But his idea of an alternative politics was blocked even by certain socialists, Gandhians and peoples’ movement activists having vested interests.
In this challenging situation, the legacy of the freedom movement and the anti-capitalist imperialist struggle after that can be and should be made use of. But the neo-liberal ruling class, which includes a horde of veiled neo-liberals, do not leave any stone unturned in distorting that legacy. This horde mostly includes civil society activists and intellectuals. Whatever remains has been usurped by the battle which has been created about the icons of this legacy.
The unique feature of the modern Indian political philosophy is that it was created mostly by active political personalities. The political thought of modern India has its genesis in the juxtaposition of the conscious concerns and worries of the Indian intellect/psyche against the colonialism. Literature, arts and scholarship have been inspired by and have many a times complemented this political philosophy. It is true that even in the neo-liberal era, good literature has been crafted in the Indian languages. Serious scholarly writing has been done especially in the subjects of humanities and social sciences in English. But in the absence of a comprehensive political philosophy as juxtaposed against neo-liberalism, most litterateurs and scholars offer themselves up to be co-opted in the neo-liberal machinery or get cop-opted by the system. It can be said that if there is no political vision, then even literature and scholarship remain bereft of a vision. It is not without reason that one finds that the so-called movement which has been built in the name of anti-corruption, and the so-called political party which has been created ‘out of its ashes’, are found to be championed by many big writers and scholars. A group, thriving on foreign funding, schemes to grab the political power by strengthening the neo-liberal and communal nexus, the Indian intellectual class becomes available to fight in its support. They are not able to see what garb is worn by those who call the emperor without clothes.
Under the leadership of Manmohan Singh, there was a ‘reticent era’ (chuppa yug) in favour of neo-liberalism. Manmohan Singh himself worked silently; the intellectuals who supported globalisation also did not make any grandiose claims. Their real work was to silence the agony of the large population reeling under the devastating repercussions of neo-liberalism by telling them that there was a consensus in the country in favour of neo-liberalism; and it is very good because there is no alternative. The scholars who were a part of Manmohan Singh’s ‘National Knowledge Commission’ (NKC) and the civil society activists who were a part of Sonia Gandhi’s ‘National Advisory Committee’ (NAC) worked to make neo-liberalism acceptable even to its victims.
Suddenly, India Against Corruption (AIC), Anti-Corruption Movement, Aam Aadmi Party, along with a large number of civil society activists, intellectuals, NGO dons, spiritual/religious personalities gathered forces to take the Indian political thought in one jerk from the ‘reticent era’ to the ‘babbler era’ (labaar yug). Corporate houses and NRIs lend their full support to that ‘great movement’ carried out in the name of eliminating corruption. A lot of speeches were heaved. The devaluation of language and speech reached its nether. The condition ultimately reached a point where the civil society became impatient to lash out here, there and everywhere. Delhi’s Jantar-Mantar and Ramleela Maidan became the epicentres for this carnival. Along with mainstream media, social media and small magazines, including literary magazines, did not lag behind. All of this was held under the auspices the RSS. Obviously, intrinsically, all of them were hoping to profit from and hence were supportive of neo-liberalism. Otherwise, the anti-neo-liberal strength which was formed in the last two decades could not have been broken by NGO dons along with the communal forces.
Before we knew it, Indian political discourse had become such an open market that a loquacious religious wheeler-dealer Baba Ramdev dared to take his ‘high thinking’ to comrade A. B. Bardhan; so many socialist leaders and thinkers, including Bardhan, registered their presence at Jantar Mantar and Ram Leela Maidan. Having emerged from the womb of market capitalism, ‘Aam Aadmi’ has charmed the Gandhians and the socialists alike. In this way, it can be said, that the worrisome lack of political thought is being compensated by speechifying. This indulgence in prevarication blown imagination to its pinnacle when the images of Gandhi, Lenin and JP were seen at the same time in the players of market capitalism!
Ideas and concepts like Satyagraha, Swaraj and alternative politics were brazenly being depreciated and distorted amidst this din. The term Revolution became akin to the curd-butter of the Braj milk maids, which Krishna used to steal and relish along with his cowherd friends. It is almost as if fact and rationale have been banished from the world of political discourse. It is not surprising that in this celebration of blabbering, thinkers like Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, J.P, Lohia, Ambedkar etc. have been so devalued that it hardly seems possible to establish their genuine worth even in the future. This trend of reducing the thinkers and politicians with a socialist vision for the future to thinkers and politicians who see India’s future only in corporate capitalism is continuing unabated.
Team Modi rode the wave created by this irreverent use of language and speech through the mainstream/social media and came out victorious in the general election. The ruling class of India came together to do this so that neo-liberalism, which was facing crisis, would not only escape clear but also become strengthened and deep rooted.
Satyagraha and Swaraj are the old and established concepts of the modern Indian political thought. It can be hoped that these will be established again sooner or later. But the concept of alternative politics is comparatively new and still taking shape. It is also the most needed and significant as it has been conceptualized in juxtaposition to neo-liberalism. Alternative politics is a serious attempt to present a holistic ideological alternative to neo-liberalism. An ides of an alternative to politics rather than alternative politics has also been under discussion. This view point believes that the power should rather remain with the society than with the politics. A sub-stream of this perspective is a complete banishment of politics. Another sub-stream acknowledges the role of politics. While the first sub-stream considers politics to be an evil; the second sub-stream is not averse to politics, but it advocates disciplining politics/political parties through civil society resistance. Here, however, we are not entering into the important debate of alternative politics or an alternative to politics.
Contemplation on 21st century socialism is central to the visualisation of the ideology of alternate politics. Threads of the ideology of the alternative politics are tied up in the burning questions of technology, natural resources, development, environment, inequality, poverty, hunger, displacement, suicides, massacres, weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear and chemical weapons, civil/human rights and gender and identity questions. The ideology of alternative politics places firm emphasis on the decentralised egalitarian model of prosperity while rejecting the centralized wealth creation model. In this is found a decisive rejection of the modern industrial capitalist model of development.This is why alternative politics naturally leans towards Gandhism. From Dr. Lohia to Kishan Patnayak, the indispensability of Gandhism has been stressed. Dr. Lohia, who is considered to be a revolutionary commentator of Gandhi, has delineated a well-thought out discourse of putting Gandhian filter to the socialism which is separated from capitalism and communism.
The incident of the destruction of Babri Masjid in 1992, is just as important an inspiration behind the creation of alternate politics as the imposition of neo-liberal policies in 1991. The Masjid was destroyed by initiating a ‘movement’ by a political party and its top leaders. Constitutional institutions, secular politics, the common legacy of the freedom struggle, the feelings of co-existence and tolerance or the liberal stream of religion could not stop that destruction. Hence, the strengthening of secular democracy is an important dimension of alternate politics.
It is not possible to create the alternative to neo-liberal ideology and the politics based on it in hurry. Even one step, as suggested by Gandhi, is enough, but that is on the condition that the step be genuinely taken in this direction. If there is unity and agreement in the antagonists of neo-liberalism, then a national movement can be created. In such a case, it would not be possible for mainstream politics to not be affected by it. Then, it would be possible to throw off the yoke of neo-liberal slavery in near future.
Keeping in mind this brief description of alternate politics, it can be seen how hollow are the claims of those who call Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), an instrument of alternate politics. That is also hilarious, because AAP is a party born straight out of the womb of neo-liberalism. In this party, some leaders are chanting fresh about alternate politics due to the cheap power-struggle within it. This is an extension of the blabbering which has already been going on for a long time now. These ‘Pandavas’, who have suddenly started calling Kejriwal a ‘Kaurava’, have already put at stake the inheritance of alternate politics in the game of power. This has been a long drawn process. Some people, who work in peoples’ movements and academics with foreign funding, had long since agreed to carry out a hit on alternative politics. The trio of Anna, Ramdev and Kejriwal had only to give them a chance and they finished it off.
It was people like them only who took Kishanji to the Mumbai show of World Social Forum (WSF). Kishanji constantly tried to politicize the anti-globalization NGO activists. Hence he agreed to go there with the aim of finding the possibilities in a large gathering. He used to go to the various programmes organized by NGO activists with the same aim. But instead of understanding and accepting Kishanji’s perspective, the NGO activists used his presence to validate their position. This is because these clever ones understand very well that as soon as they accept Kishanji’s perspective they would have to face the prospect of actual struggle. The funding would stop. Kishanji fell ill and expired during a similar programme. A number of genuine socialist workers iterated then and still maintain that while the NGO activists ceaselessly tried to murder Kishanji’s endeavour of alternate politics but they had a hand in his corporal death too. Sunil Bhai, perhaps the best manifestation in the continuing tradition of Kishanji’s alternate political ideology and political culture, was also sacrificed in a similar manner.
The examples of Kishanji and Sunil have been given here because alternate politics and the NGOs, flourishing on foreign funding, can never get together to create a common platform. It is possible, even though it happens rarely, that a person may leave NGO work to join alternate politics, or, what happens more often is that a person may leave alternate politics and join NGO work. Their co-operation cannot sustain. In fact, in trying to balance both, NGO case usually becomes dominant.
It is well known a fact that if those who raise the flag of revolt in AAP had won the Lok Sabha election or if they would have been sent to the Rajya Sabha from Delhi or if they would have been given prominent positions in the party then for them AAP would have remained a true party of alternate politics and Kejriwal, who could salvage the Ganges with just a dip, would have remained a messiah of alternate politics.
These were the people who were saying that AAP would be made a socialist party. Keriwal would also be converted into one; and if he refused then because of the control of the socialists on the party, he would be asked to leave. The reverse has happened. If their conscience was clear, then they would have admitted, to the members they had roped into the party with promises of making AAP a socialist party, that their understanding and approximation was wrong. We leave this party and work towards strengthening the socialist movement. It is evident that socialism was a mere excuse for them and the real motive was to lure more and more socialists into the party to strengthen their position. Just to amplify their strength in the court of Kejriwal, they even did not hesitate in black marketing Lohiagiri by using living icons of socialism like Captain Abbas Ali and in black marketing Gandhigiri by using living icons of Gandhism like Narayan Desai. It is mischievous to give the example of SP-PSP-SSP or Kishan Patnayak by these people in this whole mess.
They use the excuse of Swaraj, already used and thrown by Kejriwal, and alternate politics, which has been utterly destroyed by them only, so that some or the other process keep going on. Revolution tests its children hard. Sometimes it claims their lives too. It has also been seen that sometimes it devours its own children. But counter-revolution loves its children immensely. It will care for these people along with Kejriwal.