Frustrated by their electoral reverses, the Left has turned to manufacturing unrest

Vinay Sahasrabuddhe
Citizenship Amendment Act, CAA, CAA protests, CAA support rally, Citizenship Act protests, CAA rally, Express Opinion, Indian Express
Citizenship Amendment Act, CAA, CAA protests, CAA support rally, Citizenship Act protests, CAA rally, Express Opinion, Indian Express

Uninformed opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act is a classic case of back-door support to the front-door entry of Bangladeshi infiltrators.

While those in office are striving to ward off the impact of the challenges from the global economy and give further impetus to India’s manufacturing sector, many in the opposition are working overtime to “manufacture” unrest.

For them, it is easier to do so as most “narrative shapers” come from the left-of-centre camp. Compared to the BJP, ideologies opposed to it have always had an upper hand in the mainstream media. Even in the NGO sector, many of whom now call themselves civil society, leftists have been in a dominant position. This used to be the case in academia as well. Even the Padma awards were almost an exclusive right of the left-of-centre artistes and authors.

Post 2014, this situation has been changing. The left-of-centre ideological block is facing stiff opposition in every walk of public life. Accustomed to calling the shots without any accountability, this group is now bewildered at an establishment that is demanding answers. Increasingly, they are now finding it tough to protect their privileges. Habituated to an unquestioned hegemony in their chosen sectors, leftists are perturbed to find that their opponents can outsmart them. During the last five years, all this contributed to the unease in the leftist block.

Frustration in this block reached its zenith after the resounding victory of the BJP-NDA in the 2019 general election. Finding themselves in a helpless situation, they are now spreading unfounded fears, sowing seeds of suspicion and rejecting the fears about the impact of unchecked infiltration of Bangladeshis, expressed even by the apex court. Uninformed opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act is a classic case of back-door support to the front-door entry of Bangladeshi infiltrators. And yet, people are being told that opposing the CAA is equal to progressivism. Now that there is a greater public awakening about the truth behind the CAA and with the initial opposition to the Act depleting, violence in JNU is being used by the leftist to play the martyr. It is, therefore, educative to understand the general game plan as well as the usual positions of the leftists.

Opinion: It is poetic irony that govt’s autocratic steps to quell dissent has produced the biggest awakening in recent history

To start with, nationalism was always a bad word for the Left. Many in the ultra-left have a firm conviction that India is a conglomeration of several nationalities. Although they talk of constitutionalism, they look grudgingly even at the constitutional boundaries of India. Disregarding the threat of secessionism, they have always been pro-Article 370, much against the desire of the framers of Constitution. Similarly, Supreme Court observations and reprimands notwithstanding, leftists always opposed the common civil code and by implication, freedom to Muslim women from the barbaric practice of triple talaq as well.

Post JNU, the entire leftist ecosystem is busy in condemning violence. Violence is always deplorable. But the leftists have double standards. They don’t mind burning public property in Delhi and unleashing murderous politics in Kerala. But when violence takes a toll on their functionaries, they suddenly become Gandhian and create a picture as if their political activism has always been within the “legal framework” and non-violent as well. From Trinamool Congress to the Shiv Sena — the Left’s new found friend — all were at the receiving end of the Left’s violent political activism at one point of time or the other.

Opinion: JNU has been used by the Left to further its political agenda

In so far as freedom of expression is concerned, again, leftists and their occasional partners must understand that people are now acutely conscious of their hypocrisy. Leftists don’t mind banning Taslima Nasrin’s or Salman Rushdie’s books. But when a Hindu organisation complains about pictures of Ganesha or Hanuman ( Elephant God and Monkey God according to the so called progressives) being used on toilet seats or footwear, they look the other way. Ask an opponent of leftist trade unions where he or she is singularly fighting against their thought terror and one would realise how authoritarianism is a part of their DNA. The latest testimony to this thought terror is the incident at Visva Bharati, where a speaker is not only disallowed from speaking but in fact held hostage by goons professing liberalism. But remember, you can’t show the leftists a mirror. They immediately tell you that “whataboutery” is a sin. You can’t dig into their past!

Frustrated by electoral reverses, the ideological untouchability practised by the leftists leading to intellectual arrogance is now acquiring new, dangerous dimensions. Their hegemony is now being challenged and that is the real reason for their stomach ache. This frustration takes a perverted turn when enmity to and a pathological hatred of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is added to it. Unless the saner elements in their ideological block ensure that leftists liberate themselves from this hypocrisy, their anarchist politics is going to wreak havoc, and sadly, all in the name of liberalism.

This article first appeared in the print edition on January 11, 2020 under the title 'Hypocrisy in the name of liberalism'. The writer is national vice president, BJP and a Rajya Sabha MP