'What if Modi becomes the fascist the leftists paints him as? What if he does suspend the Constitution and declares himself the ruler, with support from the army? What exactly will you do, Mr Leftie?' asks Rajeev Srinivasan.
There has been a paroxysm of shrill banshee-wailing by the soi-distant leftist intelligentsia over the last few weeks, reaching a crescendo as the Bihar elections near their end.
The reason is not hard to fathom: Bihar is in effect a referendum on the lefties' siren song. Bihar, long legendary for misery, is being presented a stark choice between the old way of patronage and entitlements and a new way emphasising development.
I have long felt that Bihar is a weather-wane: If it plumps for feudalism and Nehruvian Stalinism as it has all these years, that means that India's many possibilities may never be realised. India will then be condemned to mediocrity. As is said cruelly of Brazil, it is the country of the future – and always will be.
On the other hand, if Bihar, byword for under-development and decay, is able to pull itself up by the bootstraps, then there is hope for India in the Indo-Pacific Century.
I wrote about this a dozen years ago, before Bihar became the Kurukshetra it is now. This is where the leftist pabulum of the recent past meets the progressive, liberal perspective of the future. And I have been rooting for Bihar ever since.
In parallel, I have been observing local body elections in Kerala, which is another, if somewhat bizarre, predictor of the future. It is a state with most of the wealth and power concentrated in the hands of Christians and Muslims, but nevertheless a veritable cottage industry centered on giveaways to them, under the claim that they are 'minorities' who are cowering in fear.
In fact, with Communists another major force, Hindus are the true 'minority' in Kerala, divided into warring jatis and marginalised.
In both these instances, the high-pitched rhetoric has surpassed what is reasonable. One reason is that the self-proclaimed 'intelligentsia' is deeply into groupthink.
In their leftist echo-chambers such as JNU (a true citadel of free thought as detailed by a current student) (external link) and the mainstream media, they pat each others' backs, and convince themselves that the good old days when the Congress doled out patronage to them can easily come back in 2019, if only they were to render Prime Minister Modi ineffective.
The second reason is that they have successfully done this before, by arranging for a tremendous anti-India exercise against the Vajpayee government using the Godhra carnage and subsequent rioting. The intent was to prevent the dismantling of the welfare State which has transferred billions in public money to a small Lutyens elite, and they succeeded by toppling poor naive Vajpayee in 2004.
We saw that welfare State in action in UPA1 and UPA2 with the 2G scam, Commonwealth Games scam, and others too numerous to name.
The third reason is that they have #deepstate interests willing to support them with money and propaganda because the Deep State has every interest in keeping India, as it were, 'barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen' because that is the best way to evangelise it, and to keep it a colony from which to extract resources and where to dump sub-standard goods.
This can be seen in the continuous India-baiting indulged in by dubious NGOs and the western MSM, like the New York Times, both chummy with well-known channels of covert funding.
In the din of #AwardWapsi, I particularly enjoyed two worthies and their comments. Irfan Habib, one of the leftist cabal of 'eminent historians' (thus named with contempt by Arun Shourie in his assault on them in the book of the same name) said the RSS is the same as the ISIS. This is such an extraordinary statement that it embarrassed even people with the same leanings.
Anand Patwardhan, one of the #AwardWapsi filmmakers, said in 2014 something to the effect that the people were wrong to have chosen Modi. Here's the direct quote (hat-tip @rupasubrahmanya): 'I'm in a huge state of shock at what Indians have done in voting for this man.'
Furthermore, I believe he said the following: 'There is only the ogre which must never be allowed to win.' Allowed to win, a curious phrase, isn't it? But here is the complete quote, via Twitter:
'At the risk of repeating myself I am going to say this again. For all of us who believe in the secular democracy that India was meant to be, the options are increasingly clear. And there should be no confusion about it. In each constituency, whom we vote AGAINST should be one and the same -- the BJP and its various real and potential allies. Whom we vote FOR will vary according to who has the best chance of defeating the BJP alliance in that particular constituency.'
'It should be understood that we will not always have the option of voting for the 'best' candidate. In some constituencies we may have to vote for the lesser of evils as usual. But in other constituencies we may be lucky and the 'best' candidate may just be the one most likely to defeat the fascist wannabes.'
'To spell it out, my vote would go to AAP in areas where they have a good candidate with a realistic chance of winning. Otherwise it would go to Congress even though I do not like the Congress. If I were in UP, my vote would go to Mayawati under whose rule no communal riot took place, even though she does have the blemish of once having allied with the BJP. In other words there are no sacred cows. There is only the ogre who must never be allowed to win if we want to preserve our hard earned freedoms and retain the breathing space that allows us to try to deepen our democracy and make it more real.'
In other words, Patwardhan is from the school of thought that believes that 'democracy is too important to be left to the people.' As someone pointed out, these 'intellectuals' are so unhappy with the public that they should probably fire the people and get a new set of people to work with. Yes, the option of emigration is always open, as the late lamented U R Ananthamurthy once suggested and M F Husain put into action.
Yes, I do believe Patwardhan is entitled to his opinion, but when his opinion is so extreme that his claim to fame is a series of propaganda films (sort of Leni Riefenstahl without any artistic merit whatsoever) all of which demonise the RSS and BJP, it is hard to take him at face value, especially when he, an ardent leftist, talks about tolerance and democracy. Khmer Rouge, anybody?
While these shrill speeches are meant to impress their friends in the West, there's collateral damage to India's brand. One of the most successful brand-destroyers was M Teresa: Her projection of India as an uncaring, hopeless country full of diseased people was the equivalent of a billion dollars spent on negative advertising.
Over the last year, the image of India has improved quite a bit due to untiring efforts by the PM and his foreign affairs, trade and commerce teams (there is, much to China's chagrin, once again a hyphenation of the two); what the lefties are doing is brand destruction.
There is an even greater danger, though. If you demonise someone badly enough, then there is no reason for them to not live up to that picture. The maelstrom of abuse that has been hurled at the PM and the BJP/RSS in an effort to blacken their reputations has not actually had much of an effect, but imagine what would happen if they were to practice what the lefties allege they already do.
What if the PM were to actually impose restrictions on freedom of speech? What if, suddenly, a few critics found themselves in jail, or even worse, as 'disappeareds'? This did happen during the Emergency. You may have heard the sad story of Rajan, an engineering student from REC Calicut: Believed tortured to death, his body never recovered, and justice never served despite years of court-ordered enquiries.
If the State began to ride roughshod over people, as it did during the bleakly Stalinist Emergency, the 'intellectuals' would be the very first to crawl, along with the media. We know these people, they are fat and happy with their Lutyens sinecures, and they have no stomach for real revolution or resistance. It was in fact the RSS that stood up to Indira Nehru's dictatorship.
What if, pissed off by Congress recalcitrance, the PM re-imposed an Emergency? Yes, there are Constitutional provisions that make it difficult to do this, but what if he suspended the Constitution? We have had two possible Constitutional coups apart from the Emergency, by the way, in case you didn't notice.
One was the 'cash-for-votes' scam, where the Manmohan government likely bought votes illegally, and then suppressed the evidence. The second was the 2009 election, where there was likely widespread tampering of electronic voting machines. Who said Stalinists can't be fascists too? (Note: I know you're dying to ask me if EVMs weren't hacked in 2014. No, because the courts were keeping an eagle eye on them, but yes, EVMs are completely unreliable and should be discarded. And first-past-the-past is a bad idea as well, even though it has brought to power an administration I like.)
Yes, what if Modi becomes the fascist the leftists paints him as? What if he does suspend the Constitution and declares himself the ruler, with support from the army? What exactly will you do, Mr Leftie? Call the New York Times? Do you really think Uncle Sam will send the 7th Fleet steaming into the Bay of Bengal today to do gunboat diplomacy against Modi, when they need him for the South China Sea alliance? Or you think China is going to come to your rescue? Yeah, China, model democracy, and if they do invade, they'll likely line up the leftists and shoot them first as traitors.
What if, like the Communists, the RSS went on a spree of murders? What if, in fact, the RSS started beheading people like ISIS does? Would it be possible for the organisation to get away with these things? Why, of course, based on numbers, there are many parts of the country where they could, especially if there are Emergency administrators running a brutal regime.
There is the great Aesop fable about the 'Boy who cried wolf.' In that case, others simply ceased to believe the boy -- that is happening to the so-called intelligentsia, and a recent poll suggested the media is one of the least trusted entities in the country. They are screaming so often about fascism that if Modi actually became fascist no foreign investor would pay attention, because they have already factored it into their country risk valuation.
There is the infamous Moody's report (allegedly by a relative of an #AwardWapsi guy) that digressed into lecturing India; but then Moody's just raised its rating one notch to 'Stable.' And the Turkish lira has risen sharply following Erdogan's sweeping victory. Global capital has no problem with efficient dictators -- see China.
In fact, if the lefties do nudge India into a fascist dictatorship, it will be much more popular with the West. They know how to deal with tyrants and generals (see their allies in our vicinity); pesky democracies irritate them. So it becomes a win-lose, lefties.
Self-fulfilling prophecies are a bitch. Keep up the demonisation, and you guys will get precisely the government you deserve. Then I'll be crass enough to say, 'I told you so.'
IMAGE: Filmmakers, from left to right, Kirti Nakhwa, Harshavardhan Kulkarni, Nishta Jain, Dibakar Banerjee, Anand Patwardhan at a press conference returning their National Awards in protest against the government over the FTII students strike and the mood of intolerance they said prevailed in the country. Photograph: Mitesh Bhuvad /PTI