Wednesday 1 February 2023
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ViewsArticleProtesting Regime Change?

Protesting Regime Change?

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he beef murder is occupying almost all the media space, bristling with as much outrage as it did in reporting the high society Indrani Mukherjea engineered snuffing. It replaced that obscenity, with a Modi goes to Silicon Valley interregnum.

There is bound to be bloodshed when a regime changes. Parliamentary democracy and its presidential variations, with its elaborate institutions, laws, and election process mechanisms, tends to keep the naked tooth and claw in check. One has only to reflect on the standard African strongman coup or the Latin American siesta-time dictatorial takeover, to understand the difference. Of course, if the drift is totalitarian, as in the October Revolution or the denouement of The Long March, then count your dead in millions please.

Elections, the free and fair variety, give vent to the wishes of the people, no matter how much the losing side may burn or attempt to subvert. And no matter how long stays in office tend to turn the incumbents a tad monarchical.  But for good measure, the Americans, no slouches at innovation, noticed this, and limited their presidents to two terms and no more. But, like the brutality of mergers and acquisitions, divestments and sell-offs in the corporate world, there is no gainsaying the of the beast. Regime change wants blood, as in one part oblation, and one part sacrifice-aka payment for the price of change.

It is this shedding of blood that brings closure to the old and definition to the new. When an established bough breaks, hope only for cuts and bruises at best, and be thankful if there are only a few broken backs and necks.

Headlines today on The Indian Express, Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Hindu and reseult of "beef murder" on Google search
Headlines today on The Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Hindu and result of “beef murder” on Google search

The alleged murder for possession of beef in a village in Dadri on the outskirts of Delhi-NCR is an instance of instigated mob violence, a prejudiced lynching, that nevertheless exposes less than it reveals.  Let us not ignore or forget that other Muslims in the same village were given refuge by their Hindu neighbours when the mob came. Just as Hindus protected the Sikhs in Delhi when the Congress-instigated mobs came. But that time, in the poorer neighbourhoods, thousands were slaughtered before the bloodlust eased.

Politicians, unlike the near extinct Indian vulture, came swarming to Dadri, once, not too long ago, the site of an airline crash that rained bodies from the sky above. They came, talons out,looking for hand and toeholds in the atrocity, like flies drawn to an open, festering wound. But, it is still difficult to milk a tragedy into a conflagration in independent India. The matches are damp and won’t catch.

Otherwise, the Pakistani ISI would have set this country alight a very long time ago. And Mumbai will tell you if you ask that it wasn’t for want of trying.The Indian social construct and fabric is much more intact than the meddling politicians, their media backers, and sundry hatemongers would like us to believe. This despite caste and religion politics played relentlessly over nearly seven decades.And Pakistan’s malevolence.

And  that is why the Muslim women of Dadri stoned the media OB vans, held up Kejriwal, coming in third or fourth after Owaisi, Rahul Gandhi and another, and asked to be left in peace.

But, in the end, this was the death of one man, and the battering of another, his son, at the receiving end of an allegedly 200 strong mob, albeit just 50 km away from Delhi.

It is not, and cannot be portrayed as a microcosm of ancient hatreds being revived. Any more than a KKK lynching of a black man today, or even the over enthusiastic shooting of one by white policemen, would be a return to the bad old days of segregation in the US race relations saga. It was not a Hindu-Muslim riot a la Noakhali that had Gandhi needing to fast unto death to quell. There was no call for a Suhrawardi, Owaisi’s arrival notwithstanding. It wasn’t a cold-blooded pogrom of indiscriminate murder, rape, arson and intimidation of innocents. Trying to link single bits of violence against Dalits elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh to the beef murder as illustration of fascist intimidation was ham-fisted. But it was pressed into service and forced to ride.

So why is the Congress cultured media, which makes up over 90% of all of it, trying to whip up such a soufflé?

It used to be BBC or VoA in the radio days, and other Western ‘foreign hand’ avatars when we were regarded as a morally pontificating Soviet satellite, that used to slant their coverage towards exotica or povertyporn when it came to India. They had no interest in the rest of our news and none in our views.

Likewise, in ironic imitation, today’s Indian media in the main wants to assert that Modi and his government, aided and abetted by the RSS and the rest of the Sangh Parivar, is trying to return India to the Laws of Manu, garnished with extreme hatred for the Muslim minority in particular. That it is regressive and will destroy India as we know it.

This is, of course, a dangerous lie, and pernicious propaganda to boot. As much as the narrative that said a gauche, communal, provincial CM like Modi, a mere ‘chai wallah’, could never be elected to the Centre, let alone become PM. And moreover, everything he has done in a year and a half in office, including lifting the GDP up to 7.5%, cutting back on deficits and inflation, is hot air.

But even as the lies and slurs become ever more frantic, the purveyors are fighting a rear-guard action. They are in a definite retreat today, and perhaps gritting their teeth in preparation for the rout to come. But since it is a battle for their very survival, it does not seem to bother these articulate agent provocateurs about the damage their fear-mongering may be doing. At any rate, it is dividing the intelligentsia, sapping the national will to power and progress, and divorcing them from the canny understanding of the masses, fed up with the lies. There, and to them, Modi is a figure of hope and redemption, not an evil wind.

After all the vicious but mealy-mouthed incitement they are spewing constantly, an all-out riot would suit their purpose, these people who say they are liberal, secular and concerned about the poor; and major bloodshed would suit their purpose even better. They have their templates ready in advance to blame Modi’s hate politics rather than themselves. Not that they admit it, even remotely, to themselves.

According to their narrative, they are trying to preserve and protect the Nehruvian-Gandhian multi-cultural and pluralistic ‘Idea of India’. It is allegedly under threat from the forces of ‘saffronisation’, determined to turn India into a fascist Hindu state.

What they are trying to actually protect is their own relevance, their jobs, privileges and fiefdoms, built up over decades under the ancien regime. If Modi keeps winning elections they are done for, and they know it. Whatever they can do to prevent this is what they want. Still, perhaps they realise, with the early prescience of the cunning, that they are doomed to oblivion; and like cornered rats, are putting all they have into their last stands.

What infuriates them the most, given the hysteria they have manifested, is the sphinx-like silence of the prime minister and his government in the face of this provocation. Barking dogs they may be, but are not too sure if they can hold out for the results they fervently hope for by way of opinion formation in their favour. And how can Modi afford to ignore them so serenely?

They do see, and in some despair, that they are merely preaching to the converted; the ‘bhakts’ seem untouched by their shenanigans, and the electorate at large is quite willing to let them drown in their own bile.

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Gautam Mukherjee
Gautam Mukherjee
Commentator on political and economic affairs


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