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Steering Clear


Although the almost constant holding of elections in one part of India or the other has many drawbacks, there is no doubt that this gives public opinion the opportunity to maintain checks and balances on political parties, particularly those with a national footprint. One example of this is how the Aam Aadmi Party leader, Arvind Kejriwal, has steered clear of the CAA protests and left it to his lieutenants to dabble in the rabble rousing in just some particular constituencies of Delhi. Otherwise, what would have kept Kejriwal from diving headfirst into dharnas and protests targeting the BJP? This clearly indicates that there is a strong and palpable sentiment against the activities that have taken place in JNU, Jamia-Milia-Islamia and, now, Shaheen Bagh, over the past couple of months.

As usual, the Congress has woken up rather late and its stalwarts have been coming out against the anti-national and divisive slogans being sought to be mainstreamed at these protests by a number of extremist organisations. The most recent is Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who has ‘slammed’ such activity. Perhaps too little, too late, but better late than never! As experts who study the strategy and tactics of the ‘new’ Left point out, the ideology no longer functions according to classical Marxist constructs of class. The focus has been increasingly on appropriating the causes of identity groups no matter how specific or outlandish, as long as these can be successfully infiltrated and social fault lines exploited. So, they can be found gradually emerging in the forefront of feminist, student, LGBTQ, Dalit, Islamic, tribal, casteist and other protests. It is not surprising that these protests end up losing their focus and becoming marginalised, leaving the original complaints even more unattended and discredited. Consider the present state of those sections of India’s ‘working class’ and tribals, who have had the misfortune of being led by urban ‘hobbyists’ of the Left.

It is believed that Kejriwal’s AAP will do well enough to form the government in Delhi and it will have considerably to do with the ambiguity displayed on CAA and related issues. It is a fact, however, that concern among the public about the elements that have dared to display their anti- national agenda will favour the BJP. Hopefully, this sentiment is strong enough to serve as a warning to interest groups elsewhere in India not to allow their causes to be hijacked by such marauding opportunists.