The Modi-government’s activities in India have already been identified by the political sphere as the rise of fascism. Naturally, the question of forming an anti-fascist alliance has come up with great importance in the political arena. In the meantime, although the BJP-JDU alliance has won the recent Bihar elections again, it is apparent that the stern fight of the ‘Mahagatbandhan’ has almost put a seal on this much-discussed anti-fascist alliance. While the CPI (M) has already firmly joined hands with Congress for the forthcoming Assembly elections in West Bengal, a large section of the Naxalites are arguing in favour of the Left to join hands with Trinamool Congress. However, to shed light on, whether such alliance regardless of left-right or communist-bourgeois ideologies can stop the current rise of fascism in the whole country (and in our state as well), and more precisely, whether they are anti-fascist alliances at all, is the reason behind incarnation of this article. We want to make it clear at the outset that we will analyze the issue here from the perspective of the communist movement. There certainly exists a perspective even among a section of the bourgeois right-wing to oppose fascism, and hence the tactics of their alliance with the communists and the Left must be based on the same. For instance, the question of why it was necessary to form an alliance against the Axis powers under Hitler during World War II was, of course, quite different for what the Soviet Union intended, and on the other hand, what the intentions of the United States and England were. During the announcement of the end of war, dropping the atom bomb made it crystal clear. Therefore, we will conduct the whole discussion from the communist perspective, without pretending to be unbiased.
Then naturally we have to start from the question of what ‘fascism’ is from the communist perspective. Today there is a tendency to call any kind of so-called undemocratic, authoritarian or dictatorial behaviour to be fascistic. But such over-simplification misleads the communists and radical leftists, and like the ‘crying wolf’, indeed, increases its danger during the real rise of fascism. Dismissing all such misconceptions about fascism, Dimitrov (in Comintern) shows, based on Lenin’s analysis of imperialism: “Fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist elements of finance capital”; and fascism emerges from “the very deep crisis of the economy, with the general crisis of capitalism”. It can be considered as a complete definition of fascism. The question is that, is it possible to fight against fascism without opposing such extreme reactionary, chauvinist and imperialist measures of the force who has been identified (if so identified at all) as the fascist power? Therefore, it is necessary to look upon at first, what the role of the parties who are talking about forming an anti-fascist grand alliance today, namely the Congress and various state (provincial) governments/opposition parties and the mainstream Communists and Lefts, has been, in the context of the recent extremely reactionary, chauvinist and imperialist moves by the current BJP government.
Extreme Reactionary Moves
Among the extreme reactionary activities of Narendra Modi’s BJP government, the principal steps are demonetization, GST, abrogation of article 370, UAPA, Labour Code and Farm Bill etc.
1) The fact that the demonetization was not carried out to recover any black money or counterfeit notes, but to temporarily address the financial crisis emerged from the stock markets of the US and China by imposing the entire burden onto the shoulders of working people was suppressed by all of these parties. Rather they all welcomed demonetization; and by questioning only the technicalities of the process, they turned the attention of people away from its real purpose. They did not even expose the fake and manipulated information presented by the Modi government in their press release. However, the RBI data clearly shows that the government had accumulated this huge amount of confiscated money in the ‘Market Stabilization Scheme’. Only BJP leader Yashwant Sinha later exposed that Modi had to make the decision overnight under the intense pressure of the US. Thus, even during such a huge attack of US imperialism on the people of our country, they remained virtually silent. It is pertinent to note that this ‘Market Stabilization Scheme’ was developed during the first UPA regime.
2) They had the same role in the question of GST; rather a bit more. After the Vajpayee government started the process of modelling the GST, the succeeding Congress government gave it the highest momentum. The then Finance Minister Chidambaram proposed to introduce GST by 2010. Asim Dasgupta of the CPI(M) had been the head of the GST-committee since Vajpayee’s time. After 2011, Amit Mitra of the Trinamool Congress has been the chairman of the committee of finance ministers of all the provinces concerning GST. Naturally, could the anti-GST protests by all these parties be anything other than a drama?
3) On the issue of abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir in the Rajya Sabha, except JD(U) all those in the NDA (including Shiv Sena and Akali Dal) supported it, moreover, AAP, TDP and BSP voted in favour of it. The Trinamool Congress, by walking out in the name of protest, helped the BJP in election; Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, their Chief Whip of the Rajya Sabha, made a statement openly supporting such abrogation of Article 370. The Congress was practically divided on this issue; Bhubaneswar Kalita, the Chief Whip of the Rajya Sabha of the Congress, resigned with his stand in favour of the repeal of Article 370. Two Samajwadi Party MPs also resigned.
4) In the Rajya Sabha, the Congress party fully supported the Modi government in passing the UAPA Bill, which allows anyone to be arrested in the name of terrorist suspicion, and therefore be the sharpest weapon of fascist aggression at this time. It was this Congress that walked out on this question in the Lok Sabha. It is interesting to note that the Trinamool Congress opposed this bill, whereas their government in West Bengal has acquired a professionalism to impose UAPA on any mass-movement activist.
5) All these parties have been seen staging a fancy drama in the name of fighting against the new Farm Bill, which, indeed, has been introduced to sacrifice the lives of farmers in the hands of big corporate owners and the open market. Despite having a majority of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, the bill was passed by voice vote! And none of them has been seen to sue regarding this matter! After their roar of mass movement to be organized all over the country, as usual it didn’t rain as much as it thundered.
6) The drama came to an end, when all of these opposition parties sat outside the Rajya Sabha unitedly in the name of protest against the Farm Bill, and the Modi government passed the extreme anti-worker ‘Labor Code’ without any hindrance.
Extreme Chauvinist Moves
The ‘Chauvinism’ of BJP (in fact that originated from the RSS) can be precisely defined as the Upper Caste Hindu Patriarchal National Chauvinism. However, in recent time they have adopted a different tactics. The Islamic terrorism that has been originated from the reaction of neoliberal political economy in the last thirty years, which is not at all the enemy of imperialism, rather supported by it and indeed is its twin brother, has been utilized to spread a worldwide hatred toward the Muslims by fascist political propaganda of the finance capital. In tandem with this, the BJP-RSS by keeping the upper caste-Hindus at the centre is assembling the so-called lower castes and Muslim women around it with some child-fooling baits and spreading extensive Muslim hatred, which is gaining even more importance in their campaign than Hinduism. As a result, they are subtly championing their upper caste-Hindu patriarchal chauvinism against the so-called lower caste people and women.
Some of the most important among their recent activities in this regard are the CAA, the upper caste Hindu reservation, the Triple-Talaaq bill, and even the construction of the Ram Mandir and acquitting the accused of Babri-case by turning the Supreme Court and the CBI into their ferocious pets.
1) When the Citizenship Act was amended in 2003, Dr. Manmohan Singh on behalf of the Congress party proposed for providing citizenship to the religious minority of Bangladesh (naturally non-Muslims), which was supported by all the parliamentary political parties at the time (those who are opposing it today, better to say pretending to oppose it). In 2012, when Dr. Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister of the second UPA government, the CPI (M) leader Prakash Karat reminded him of this in a letter referring to the religious minority of Bangladesh (naturally non-Muslims) and even pointing to some of the special Hindu castes (such as Namasudra, Pandra-Kshatriya etc.). Now the letter has disappeared from the archives of their political organ, People’s Democracy, “perhaps due to some technical glitches” (although many like me still have copies of it). On the other hand, Mamata Banerjee, who in 2005 called the Bangladeshi infiltration a ‘disaster’ and threw paper onto the face of Deputy Speaker demanding for NRC, her Trinamool Congress has suddenly raised a roar (in fact the drama of roar) against the Citizenship Bill. Meanwhile, in the absence of several of their MPs, the Citizenship Bill has been passed peacefully in the Rajya Sabha.
2) In the name of reservation for the economically weaker section, the Modi government has introduced the reservation for upper caste Hindus. Such reservation, although addresses the “economically weaker section”, will benefit the people with an annual income of up to Rs 8 lakh (more than Rs 65,000 per month); on the other hand, the SC, ST and OBC people will not be included in it; in other words, it is nothing but the shameless reservation of the upper caste-Hindus. Another important point is that although there is no SC, ST, OBC reservation in private educational institutions, this very reservation for the upper caste-Hindus will be mandatory there. Such an extreme ‘chauvinist’ bill to establish dominance of the bloodthirsty upper caste-Hindus has been passed by 323: 3 votes in the Lok Sabha and 165:7 votes in the Rajya Sabha. Needless to say, almost all parties of the “anti-fascist grand alliance” (obviously including the Congress and Trinamool Congress) voted in favour of the bill. Only AIADMK walked out on it. Although DMK with the support from AAP and the Lefts introduced amendments, it was rejected by a large majority; AAP and CPI walked out in this regard; but astonishingly the CPI (M) voted in favour of the bill (even in the Lok Sabha). It is imperative to note that, although this reservation bill is only for the central-government sectors, but right after this, the upper caste-Hindu reservation has been introduced also for the state-government sectors by several state governments including Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.
3) Even after the NDA-allies JDU and AIADMK walked out, the Triple-Talaaq bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha due to the absence of several MPs from the grand alliance parties. Needless to say, instead of taking an ideological position in favour of Muslim women on this issue, these parties have joined hands with the Muslim fundamentalism to get the benefit of Muslim vote-bank. Such right-wing parties have not even exposed the hypocrisy of BJP for their own opportunistic position. Although the Modi government has spoken of equal rights of Muslim women through this bill, they have indeed kept the patriarchy of the Muslim community intact. Although the law declares Triple-Talaaq as a “criminal offense”, it does not address the question of right to property and alimony of the divorced Muslim women, which indeed is the most important issue. This is exactly what the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government did after the Supreme Court verdict in the Shah Bano case, and its politics is still rife with this disgusting opportunist and patriarchal ideology. Naturally, therefore, the grand alliance parties like the Congress-Trinamool Congress did not open their mouths on this question and the opportunist leftists did not question their silence.
4) Almost all the pro-grand alliance parties, including the CPI (M)-Trinamool Congress, have kept their mouths shut even after the extremely shameless Hindutvabadi and utterly illegal decision provoking religious communalism regarding the Ram Mandir; rather, they all welcomed such hackneyed and scandalous verdict. Everyone of them has Even kept silence about the unconstitutional presence (in fact inauguration) of the Prime Minister at the land-worship of the Ram Mandir within lock-down period. In the last election, the Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, directly demanded for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, and Priyanka Gandhi has did the same at the land-worship. Just after this, the special court of CBI acquitted the conspirator criminals of the Babri Masjid demolition case, saying it was unplanned, while several accused RSS-VHP leaders made public statements to the media several times before and even on the day of the verdict that they did it with proper planning deliberately and organized that heinous action with pride.
Extreme Imperialist Moves
The position of right-wing parties on the question of imperialism is not anything unknown or new. That is why the main axis of opposition to imperialism on the question of fighting fascism is predominantly the stand against war and the creation of war furore and the united struggle for peace. In that case, the Congress and the governments/opposition parties of the other states, even the CPI, are as clear on the question of war against Pakistan as they always have been, but what is their position on the recent war situation being created by the Modi government on the Sino-border at the dictate of the United States? Why the BJP government has not yet launched a war is a major grievance of the Congress as well as the other right-wing parties. Hence they did not stop roaring on this. And these are the ones who will form an anti-fascist grand alliance! And the leftists are holding their breath with that hope! It is to be noted that the principal debate behind the formation of CPI(M) through the break-off from CPI was the stand for/against the war at Sino-Indian border and the formation of a joint front with the Congress; those who took a stand against it were the ones who formed the CPI(M). The CPI was identified as the right-wing revisionist on this question. And today? The CPI(M) has shamelessly taken a ‘pro’ position on both these questions. What opinion do these parties hold on the recent US-Japan-Australia-India joint military-alliance named QUAD? When they are running the verbiage of the anti-fascist grand alliance, right at that moment, the last week, foreign ministers of these four countries met and announced the decision to open up the Indo-Pacific region for the imperialist warmonger activities of NATO through this QUAD.
A significant trend needs to be noticed in the events of this whole period. In reaction to the rise of the BJP-RSS in India, the rise of the Islamic fundamentalist force ‘AIMIM’. Most importantly, ‘AIMIM’ has adopted the same tactics that the RSS has adopted. Although their central agenda is Islamic fundamentalism, they are not only relying on the Muslim population but are also allying with the lower caste Hindus and trying to gain their power by gathering people who are deprived in the name of religion and caste in this country. Notably, AIMIM has now formed an alliance with the BSP, which has backed all the recent extreme reactionary bills introduced by the BJP government to pass in the Rajya Sabha. Alongside the BJP-RSS, also this very reactionary alliance has gained immense strength in the context of the recent Bihar elections.
On the other hand, it is a far cry from taking a stand against the most reactionary, chauvinist and imperialist measures recently taken by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government, instead, almost all the right-wing parties including the Congress-Trinamool Congress, and even the Left and the Communist parties in many cases, have played significant role in introducing them into the parliamentary system. It can be said that despite having an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, the BJP could not have passed almost any of such extreme reactionary, chauvinist and imperialism led bills in the Rajya Sabha without the concerted support of all these pro-grand alliance parties. Hence the fascist aggression which itself is the political form of “the most reactionary, the most chauvinist and the most imperialist elements of finance capital”, all such activities of the fascist power through which it has established its dominance over the whole country, those who stood up for these and inexhaustibly helped them champion these, can they build up an anti-fascist front at all? Better to say, can any of their fronts or alliances be a force in the anti-fascist struggle? It must be said in this context that after the ‘success’ (?) of this grand alliance in the recent Bihar elections, the CPI(M) leader Com. Arun Mishra has written an article in the Ganashakti Patrika where he never once called the alliance ‘anti-fascist’ and identified the BJP and its central government as a “communal authoritarian force”, not as a “fascist” (the word “fascist” or “fascism” never appeared in his article). In that case, what else is the purpose of this electoral “Mahagatbandhan” other than the sharing of leftovers of parliamentary power?
Dimitrov’s thesis on the tactics of anti-fascist front and today’s grand alliance
Of course, we cannot end the question of anti-fascist struggle here. The reason is that it is predominantly through such extreme reactionary, chauvinist and imperialist measures that the BJP government led by Narendra Modi has been bringing the ruling power of the whole country under its control as a fascist force. Therefore, we will briefly highlight the principal content of Dimitrov’s thesis adopted in the Comintern about the tactics of forming an anti-fascist front from the perspective of communist movement.
In his thesis, Dimitrov pointed out the three key perspectives of the rise of fascism as:
1) The imperialist circle tries to put the whole burden of the economic crisis upon the shoulders of working people;
2) The bourgeoisie are no longer able to run their ‘dictatorship’ in the old modus operandi (i.e., what they call ‘democracy’); and
3) The ‘Social Democrats’ (i.e., the opportunists, conciliationists and national chauvinists in the working class movement and communist movement, who are representatives of the highly-paid working class) have already paralyzed the revolutionary struggle of the working class.
Such conditions prepare the base for rise of fascist power. That is why Dimitrov proposed, which was universally acknowledged in the 1935 Comintern, that the tactics which needs to be adopted to develop a “united front” for the struggle against fascism must have three principal contents:
1) Joint struggle to shift the burden of economic crisis onto the shoulders of ruling classes, i.e. the rich;
2) Joint struggle against all forms of fascist aggression, in defence of the gains and rights of the working people, and against the abolition of bourgeois-democratic liberties; and
3) Joint struggle to avert the danger of impending imperialist war, a struggle that makes the preparations of such war difficult.
Evidently, not even any Left or Communist advocate of the ‘grand alliance’ has yet tried to follow any of such contents. They did not also try to impose any such conditions on the bourgeois right-wing parties regarding the formation of an alliance. On the contrary, the steps taken by the BJP government to take away the gains and rights of the working people and to abolish even the minimum bourgeois-democratic liberties on the way to their emergence as a fascist power have been made possible by their support only. And at the same time, all these parties have roared in the favour of war and the creation of war furore. Not only that these Left and Communist parties did not force them to take an anti-war position, on the contrary, they themselves have taken a national chauvinist stand in favour of war. As a result, the ‘Mahagatbandhan’ has become an utterly opportunistic alliance rather than an anti-fascist alliance, enabling the BJP-RSS-led fascism to increase its power day by day, not only that, it is becoming smooth for them through, which can be called, the “cooperation of opposition”.