Emergence of Communal and Fascist Forces In Independent India

 (13th A.K.G Memorial Lecture, New Delhi, April 13, 1998)

  Sitaram Yechury

I consider it an honour to be asked to deliver this 13th AK Gopalan memorial lecture. Comrade AKG as all of us affectionately used to refer to him, was one of the tallest mass leaders of the Indian communist movement. He was correctly described once as the `suthradar' of the Indian revolution.

It is indeed significant that this is being held in the 50th anniversary of India's independence. AKG played an important role in the freedom struggle. Few recollect the fact that the day India attained independence AKG spent it in jail. To recall in his own words from his memoirs "On August 14, 1947 I was in solitary confinement in the big Cannanore jail. There were no other detenue prisoners.......The whole country was waiting for the celebration due after sunrise. How many among them had waited for years for this and fought for it and sacrificed their all in the struggle. I nurtured feelings of joy and sorrow. I was glad that the goal for which I had sacrificed all my youth and for which I was still undergoing imprisonment had been realised. But I was even now a prisoner, I had been imprisoned by Indians -- by the Congress government, not by the British. Memories of the Congress from 1927 passed through my mind. I felt proud of the role I had played in the Congress movement in Kerala A man who was secretary of the Kerala Congress and its president for some time and member of the AICC for a long time was celebrating August 15 in jail"

And yet celebrate he did. The next morning, he walked the length of the jail compound carrying a national flag that he had kept with him. The flag was hoisted from the roof where all the prisoners had gathered. AKG spoke to them of the meaning of freedom. And for the rest of his life, A K Gopalan remained true to the spirit of his youth, fighting always and everywhere in the cause of the people.

It was this spirit that made AKG travel from the Congress through Congress Socialist Party to become one of the founders of the Communist Party of India and later the CPI(M). An integral part of this struggle was also a vision of modern independent India that he embodied. A vision whose foundations were that of democracy, secularism, federalism and social justice. A vision that envisaged the true emancipation of the Indian people.

Today, this very vision, which through the freedom struggle and later came to be accepted by a majority of the Indian people, is facing unprecedented challenges. The assumption of the reins of state power by the BJP and through it the control of the RSS, indeed puts the future of such a vision in jeopardy. In this context it is indeed appropriate that the theme of our lecture today is the rise of communalism and fascism in independent India.

The clash between the visions of India's future as an independent country begins not with the dawn of independence. It in fact dates back to the twenties when the formation of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh brought into existence a force that sought to convert India into a theocratic Hindu rashtra. Since then, all through these decades the struggle has been an ongoing one.

The RSS vision of a Hindu rashtra was articulated in a chilling treatise by its Sarsanghchalak or supreme leader Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar titled "We or Our Nationhood Defined" written in 1938, first published in 1939 and later in 1947 after independence. There he states in unambiguous terms

"...The conclusion is unquestionably forced upon us that... in Hindusthan exists and must needs exist the ancient Hindu nation and nought else but the Hindu Nation.  All those not belonging to the national i.e. Hindu Race, Religion, Culture and Language naturally fall out of the pale of real `National' life."

"We repeat; in Hindusthan, the land of the Hindus, lives and should live the Hindu Nation - satisfying all the five essential requirements of the scientific nation concept of the modern world.  Consequently only those movements are truly `National' as aim at re-building, re-vitalizing and emancipating from its present stupor, the Hindu Nation.  Those only are nationalist patriots, who, with the aspiration to glorify the Hindu race and nation next to their heart, are prompted into activity and strive to achieve that goal.  All others are either traitors and enemies to the National cause, or, to take a charitable view, idiots" (page 43 & 44).  And then continues "...we must bear in mind that so far as `nation' is concerned, all those, who fall outside the five-fold limits of that idea, can have no place in the national life, unless they abandon their differences, adopt the religion, culture and language of the nation and completely merge themselves in the National Race.  So long, however, as they maintain their racial, religious and cultural differences, they cannot but be only foreigners" (page 45).

And further:  "There are only two courses open to the foreign elements, either to merge themselves in the national race and adopt its culture, or to live at its mercy so long as the national race may allow them to do so and to quit the country at the sweet will of the national race. ..... From this standpoint, sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations, the foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the  Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment - not even citizen's rights.  There is at least should be, no other course for them to adopt.  We are an old nation; let us deal, as old nations ought to and do deal, with the foreign races, who have chosen to live in our country" (Golwalkar, 1939, pp 47-48).

Notwithstanding all the subterfuge that the leaders of the Saffron Brigade indulge in today to state that this book had been subsequently withdrawn there is no official testimony to it. In fact in a sympathetic account of the RSS, (JA. Curran Militant Hinduism in Indian Politics -- a study of the RSS) states "The genuine ideology of the Sangh is based upon principles formulated by its founder Dr. Hegdewar. These principles have been consolidated and amplified by the present leader in a small book called "We Or Our Nationhood Defined" written in 1938. `We' can be described as the RSS `bible'. It is the basic primer in the indoctrination of Sangh volunteers." (This was written in 1979)

Golwalkar's abiding influence has been in providing the saffron brigade with an ideological formation not merely in terms of ideas and principles but also in terms of establishing an organisational structure to achieve the aim of a Hindu Rashtra.

Golwalkar was primarily instrumental in establishing the organisational structure of what is now known as the Sangh Parivar.  The strategy was clear.  The RSS would in the public eye confine itself to "cultural activity" while its affiliates would branch out into the various sections spreading the message of "Hindu Rashtra".  These seemingly independent tentacles were welded together by the RSS.  This organisational network is today there for all to see.

Golwalkar's important initiative, however, comes in the attempt to organise the Hindu religious leaders in mid-1964 "to discuss ways in which various Hindu sects and tendencies could sink their many differences, work together and establish contacts with Hindus residing abroad.  Thus was laid the foundations of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and an RSS pracharak, Shivram Shankar Apte, became its first general secretary.  The subsequent career of the VHP, today the most  formidable of the RSS affiliates, demands a separate study" (Basu, Datta, Sarkar, Sarkar, Sen, "Khaki Shorts: Saffron Flags", p.50).

Another organisational measure taken by him was to utilise this organisational structure of the "family" to create a political front which would be always under the leadership and control of the RSS. In 1951, he sent cadres to help Shyama Prasad Mukherjee to start the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, whose later incarnate is today's BJP.  Among those who were sent were Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Atal Behari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani and S.S. Bhandari.  (This fact is mentioned in Basu, Datta, Sarkar, Sarkar and Sen, "Khaki Shirts, Saffron Flags", 1993, p.48).

All through the freedom struggle and later this sectarian and communal strand of thinking always contended with the major stream which envisaged a multi-religious, multi-linguistic, multi-cultural, pluralistic independent India. All through the freedom struggle the enemy for the RSS was not the British against whom the Indian people were then in struggle. The hate against the Muslim community was sought to be spread much deeper than against the British precisely because the Indian people could not be rallied for their "Hindu Rashtra" opposing the British. This was so because the anti-British feelings found expression in the growing strength of the united freedom movement that embraced Hindus, Muslims and others.

It is for this precise reason that the RSS never nailed down the British as its enemy during the freedom struggle.

Even  sympathetic accounts of the RSS (The Brotherhood of Saffron by Anderson and Damle amongst others) detail the virtual absence of the RSS in the freedom movement and the consequent concessions it gained from the British.  Even Nanaji Deshmukh says, "RSS as an organisation did not take part in the National Liberation Movement...."(RSS, A Victim of Slander, page 29).  In fact, the Bombay Home Department, during the 1942 Quit India Movement, observed: "the Sangh has scrupulously kept itself within the law, and in particular, has refrained from taking part in the disturbances that broke out in August 1942…" (quoted in Anderson and Damle, 1987, pp.44). This urge to establish a `Hindu Rashtra', drove the RSS to be a virtual ally of the British. The freedom struggle and the Congress were regarded as a diversion from their objective. The animosity grew particularly after the AICC announced that free India would be a secular, democratic republic (at the Karachi Congress, 1931). This was seen, and correctly from their point of view, as the very anti-thesis of the RSS conception of a Hindu Rashtra.

Mahatma Gandhi, the tallest of devout and practicing Hindus, was assassinated because he along with the majority of Indian people embraced Secular democracy rejecting the RSS ideology.

Parallel to the emergence and growth of such a retrograde vision were certain developments that provided sustenance to the communal forces.  Learning its lessons well from the  experiences of the 1857 first war of independence, the British in a bid to consolidate its rule, implemented the infamous `divide and rule' policy with a vengeance.  The  British realised that they cannot continue to rule India if they allow Hindus and Muslims to join  in a common cause. They could not afford the repetition of a situation where the devout Hindu, Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi hailed the moghul emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar as her monarch!  A contemporary British chronicler, Thomas Lowe, documenting the events of 1857, noted, "the infanticide Rajput, the bigohed  brahmin,  the fanatic mussalman joined together in the cause, cow killer and the cow worshipper, the pig  hater and the pig eater revolted together!"

To prevent the recurrence of any such possibility, the British fomented venemous hatred between the Hindus and the Muslims.  Administrative measures such as separate electorates etc etc gave a permanent structure to such a divide.  In this process, the British were admirably aided by communal forces on both sides.  This policy made  such inroads into the fabric of Indian society, so inflamed the unity and amity among its people that till date we continue to pay the price.  The  wounds of partition fester even today, fifty years after independence, on both sides of the divide.

Further, while the majority of the freedom struggle opposed the retrograde vision of an independent India it needs to be noted that there was a trend within the freedom movement itself which permitted such communal feelings to survive. This was so because a revivalist ideology gripped a number of leaders of the freedom movement. Coming from upper caste Hindu background some of these leaders in the struggle against the British drew sustenance from India's past. For a long time leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha were concurrently leaders of the Congress Party. Patel was a classic example of such reliance on revivalism. Rajni Palme Dutt in "India Today" summed up this tendency most appropriately "So from the existing foul welter and decaying and corrupt metaphysics, from the broken relics of the shattered village system, from the dead remains of court splendours of a vanished civilisation, they sought to fabricate and build up and reconstitute a golden dream of Hindu culture -- a `purified' Hindu culture -- which they could hold up as an ideal and a guiding light, against the overwhelming flood of British bourgeois culture and ideology, which they saw completely conquering the Indian bourgeoisie and intelligentsia. They sought to hold forward a feeble shield of a reconstructed Hindu ideology which had no longer any natural basis for its existence in actual life conditions. All social and scientific development was condemned by the more extreme devotees of this gospel as the conquerors' culture: every form of antiquated tradition, even abuse, privilege and obscurantism, was treated with respect and veneration." (page 327)

Thus, the communal and revivalist ideology that struck roots during the freedom struggle continued to remain alive in the absence of a sustained ideological struggle against it. It was only the Communist Party of India that saw in this ideological trend the seeds of potential reactionary and retrograde movement that may well hijack and disrupt the gains that the Indian people had made during the freedom struggle and after.

However, two important questions need to be addressed today. Does the assumption of state power by these sections, albeit through the support of a large number of allies who claim not to subscribe to its communal ideology, constitute the emergence of fascism in India? Further, why is it that after having been decisively rejected during the course of the freedom struggle and later that the communal ideology has managed to rear its head again in a forceful way?

Let us examine the first question.  The most authoritative and to date scientific analysis of the nature and emergence of fascism was made by Georgi Dimitrov in his penetrating address to the 7th Communist international in 1935. He defined fascism as the "open  terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialistic elements of finance capital". The capturing of state power by fascism is not an ordinary succession of one bourgeois government by another but the substitution of one form of the ruling class state by another -- bourgeois parliamentary democracy by an open terroristic dictatorship.

This comes as a response of the ruling classes to the actual crisis that threatens its class domination. This was the case with the German monopoly capital in the period preceding Hitlerite fascism. This threat emerges as a consequence of the crisis generated by the ruling classes own  rule both from within its own camp as well as and often simultaneously with the challenge to its class rule by the toiling sections of the working people -- the proletariat.

The situation obtaining in our country today is not similar to the period leading to the emergence of fascism in Germany. The threat of the immediate seizure of power by the proletariat is not on the agenda. Further,  the crisis of the bourgeois landlord class rule has not reached a stage where the jettisoning of parliamentary democracy by the ruling classes is on the immediate agenda.

Hence, the assumption of power by the RSS led BJP does not mean the establishment of fascism in its classical sense. It reflects the fact that the crisis of the bourgeois landlord class rule has reached the stage where one section of the ruling classes, the most reactionary section, represented by the BJP and the Saffron Brigade has succeeded in capturing state power.

But this in no way should lead one to underestimate the potential danger of the assumption of power by the communal elements. They represent the forces of religious fundamentalism which is a dangerous negation of all fundamental tenets of our secular, democratic, Republican Constitution. Swami Vivekananda in his famous Chicago address to the world parliament of religions (11th September, 1893) warned " Sectarianism and bigotry and its horrible descendant fanaticism have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often with human blood, destroyed civilisation and sent whole nations to despair.........Liberty of thought and action is the only condition of life for growth and well being. Where it does not exist, the man, the race, the nation, must go down."

The rabid intolerance which constitutes the backbone of the Saffron Brigade's ideology thus represents the advance guard of fascism. Though not fascism in the classical sense, the methods adopted by the Saffron Brigade to achieve its objective of a Hindu Rashtra are fascistic. It thus has the potential of heralding a future fascistic tyranny in India.

Adoption of fascistic methods to consolidate its rule is no novel recourse of the ruling class parties. The Congress did so in West Bengal in the seventies prior to generalising it for the country as a whole during Emergency. While not ushering in fascism, fascistic methods are often used to browbeat opposition particularly the Communists. Over 3000 communists were martyred and lakhs displaced during the semi-fascist terror unleashed by the Congress between 1971-77 in West Bengal.

The Saffron Brigade adopts the fascistic methods of appropriation of popular symbols, create a false consciousness of deprivation amongst the majority community and appeal to extreme jingoism as their methods to advance. Dimitrov had said "Fascism acts in the interests of extreme imperialists but presents itself to the masses in the guise of a wronged nation and appeals to outraged `national' sentiments. In order to present the RSS as such a champion Golwalkar's book creates a false consciousness that the Hindus had been and are deprived while at the same time generates hate against the Muslims (taking cue from Hitler's rabid anti-Semitism) to the effect that they are responsible for such a `deprivation' of the Hindus. This was the purpose of the book.

The present day activities and propaganda of the Saffron Brigade are based precisely on these two points that Golwalkar provided as the ideological input. To achieve its goal of a "Hindu Rashtra" it has perfected the Gobblesian technique (Gobbles was Hitler's propaganda minister) of telling big enough lies frequently enough to make them appear as the truth.

They proceeded to destory the Babri Masjid propagating an untruth, not proven by any historical record or enquiry, that a temple stood at that very site where the Babri Masjid was erected.

Many other untruths spread by them have been dealt with and exposed elsewhere (Saffron Brigade's Myths and Reality, December 1992 and The BJP Campaign: Myths & Reality -- Thirteen myths of a thirteen day wonder, 1998; CPI(M) publications).

Such disinformation is systematically spread with an  objective: to unite a heterogeneous Hindu community not on the basis of religious commonality but on the basis of hatred against the Muslim community in particular and religious minorities in general.

It must be noted that communalism has nothing to do with religion or religiosity. It is, in fact, a criminal misuse of religion, unscrupulous exploitation of religious sentiments for political purposes.

Its emulation of fascism's methodology does not stop here. Dimitrov had stated: "Fascism acts in the interests of extreme imperialists but it presents itself to the masses in the guise of the champion of an ill-treated nation and appeals to outraged national sentiments"

It is precisely this that the Saffron Brigade has been doing over all these years. In its entire range of policy framework, its interests coincide with that of imperialism whether it be in economic policy or military cooperation. The extreme jingoistic position that it is adopting today in the name of making the nuclear bomb is only aimed at increasing tensions in the subcontinent and South-Asia which can only prove beneficial to imperialist intervention and maneuvering. This jingoism is however sold in the name of protecting `national security'. The consequent nuclear arms race that this dangerous policy may unleash could well lead to a situation of `Hindu Bomb v/s the Islamic Bomb'. Such jingoism is eagerly lapped up by islamic fundamentalists across the border.  Their aggressive reaction, in turn, will further strengthen the forces of jingoism at home.  Hindu communalism and islamic fundamentalism  feed and thrive on each other (more on this later).  In the process imperialism and its military-industrial complex -- the merchants of death -- will prosper while the Indian people will suffer as developmental funds would be siphoned off. All this in the name of national `sentiment' and `security'.

Dimitrov makes two other incisive points. First, while acting in the interests of the most reactionary circles of imperialism, fascist forces "intercept the disappointed masses who deserted the old bourgeois parties…. by the vehemence of its attacks on the bourgeois government and its irreconcilable attitude to the old bourgeois parties." The entire popular anger against  the Congress party is sought to be appropriated by the communal forces. While not taking any measures in the socio-economic sphere that are any different, the Saffron Brigade potrays itself as a party that will deliver to the masses benefits. This diversion of the popular discontent to further its project of establishment of a `Hindu rashtra' is the methodology that they adopt.  Secondly, Dimitrov states : "fascism puts the people at the mercy of the most corrupt and venal elements but comes before them with the demand of an honest and incorruptible government.  Speculating on the profound disillusionment of the masses…….fascism adapts its demagogy to the peculiarities of each country, and the mass of petty bourgeois and even a section of the workers reduced to despair by want, unemployment and insecurity of their existence fall victim to the social and chauvinist demagogy of fascism. "

Dimitrov could well be talking about the BJP's current campaign. While seeking to portray itself as a party with a difference, claiming that its chehara, chaal, charitra and chintan are distinct from that of other bourgeois parties the BJP has indulged in the crassest form of money laundering and immorality to garner majority whether it be in UP or at the Centre. The most corrupt and venal elements are today collected behind the BJP not to speak of those with criminal records.

The Saffron Brigade today has clearly revealed that the actual conditions of the people and the alleviation of their miseries is not its concern.

The agenda that the Saffron Brigade is posing before the country and the methods that it uses to achieve its objective are nothing but an expression of an Indian variant of a communal party utilising fascistic methodology. Its assumption of power at the Centre today does not constitute the emergence of fascism in the scientific sense but the vigour with which it utilises the fascistic methods reveal its potential of moving towards a fascist takeover with all the grave consequences to the Indian people and its future.

Such adulation of fascism and the naked appreciation of its methods was noted by Golwalkar in his book when he states "to keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic race -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by." (Emphasis added)

Hitler's fascistic Germany is the ideal; instead of race it is religion and instead of the Semitic races it is the Muslims.

Hitler's methods continue to be a source of inspiration for the Saffron Brigade today.  Hitler had set up his notorious private army (the Brown Shirts) to borwbeat the opposition and terrorise the society to adopt a course of servile confirmism. On similar lines, the Bajrang Dal, soon after the assumption of power by this BJP led government announced its decision to set up Bal upaasanas (paying obeisance to strength) kendras in all the 7531 blocks covering all districts in the country (The Times of India, April 8, 1998).  These centres, we are told, are to train Hindu youth in martial arts in order to give a `fitting reply' to the `objectionable' activities of the Christian Missionaries and cultural invaders (read Muslims).

Instead of the Hitler's `Brown Shirts', we shall have `Saffron Shirts' as the Saffron Brigade's private army.

Let us now turn to the second question as to how such a vision of Hindu Rashtra so decisively rejected during the freedom struggle was able not only to resurface but mount an offensive against the very foundations of our republican Constitution?

This is so not because of a sudden surge of religiosity among the Indian people. The answer to this question lies in the path of development adopted by the ruling classes since independence and its consequent crisis.

Fully conscious of the risk of summarising and generalising this experience of the last half a century, let us do so due to constraints of both space and time.

In order to capture State power at the time of independence the Indian capitalist class led by the big bourgeoisie compromised with imperialism on the one hand, and feudal landlordism on the other. The consequent bourgeois-landlord ruling class alliance prevented a thorough going agrarian reform, liberating millions of our countrymen languishing in the backwardness of feudal and semi-feudal exploitation, from taking place. For, such a transformation would have meant attacking the socio-economic base of landlordism, a partner of the ruling class alliance. It is for this simple reason that the land reform legislations adorn the statute books without being implemented except for the CPI(M) led Front ruled states of West Bengal and  Kerala.

This limitation has had an all round impact on post-independent India especially in the economic sphere leading to the New Economic Policy of liberalisation. This is dealt elsewhere (Why This new Economic Policy, The Marxist, January-June, 1992).  For the purposes of our discussion here it would suffice to note that the absence of a thorough going agrarian reform meant that the vast mass of Indian people were left victims of not only economic backwardness but also of the social consciousness associated with it. A social consciousness dominated by caste and communal sentiments.

Therefore, in a situation where the path of development chosen by the ruling classes created illusions amongst the people without delivering the goods, the popular discontent kept mounting. While the Left and democratic movement sought to channelise this discontent into struggles aimed at achieving a thorough going agrarian revolution, the right reactionary forces sought to channelise this discontent, diverting it away from the true liberation of the people, into channels that advanced its communal project of the establishment of a `Hindu Rashtra'. In this they were ably assisted by a social consciousness that was susceptible to exploitation of religious sentiments due to its backwardness. Thus the reason for the growth of support to communal forces lies in the concrete conditions of post independent reality rather than in the realm of metaphysical appeal.

Given this, a proper understanding of how to conduct the struggle to safeguard the advances made by the Indian people and lead these towards the goal of their true emancipation becomes important. In this context it must be realised that the main battle lies as to who will channelise the popular discontent growing as a result of the policies of the ruling classes. As we have seen, this communal upsurge is not the establishment of fascism. It surely is an early warning of its arrival. However, as Dimitrov himself taught us, fascism is able to intercept the mass discontent and channelise it in its favour in the absence of a left communist intervention. The plain truth is that unless the Left intervenes to channelise the discontent into struggles leading to complete the incomplete agrarian revolution, the objective of safeguarding the gains made so far by the Indian people and advancing them cannot be achieved. An uncompromising struggle against the policies of the ruling classes hence is the order of the day. Hence the question of joining hands with the Congress, strategically, to defeat the BJP means to cut the very branch we are sitting on. For, the growth of popular discontent has been mainly due to the Congress policies.

Tactically however, the Indian people, would have to ensure that the communal forces do not consolidate their rule.  For this, it is necessary to aggressively expose the inherent contradictions of the present BJP led coalition and seek its removal from holding the reins of state power.

In this task of preventing the consolidation of their rule, the unity of all Left, secular, democratic forces needs to be strengthened urgently.  The circumstances for such a possibility will fast arise as the BJP led government continues to pursue the same ruling class policies, especially economic policies.  The consequent rising mass discontent cannot be allowed to be diverted by them into communal and jingoist channels.  The first few weeks of the present government, which is following the same economic policies imposing newer burdens on the people, has  clearly shown that the actual conditions of the people and the alleviation of their miseries are not its concern.  That more Indians than the entire population of the USA live below an abysmally  low poverty line  is no concern to them.  That  more children in our country, than the whole populations of many countries are forced to earn a livelihood is of no concern; that more Indian than the entire population of Australia die every year due to malnutrition is of no concern to them.  The Saffron Brigade today is only strengthening the very edifice of exploitation that is heaping miseries on our people.

As a result of such policies, the conditions of the vast majority of  working Indians -- a majority  of whom are Hindus -- are bound to deteriorate. It is the channelisation of this growing popular discontent strengthening the Left  democratic and secular forces which will serve as the bulwark against the efforts to impose fascist slavery on all of us.  A diversion of this discontent into jingoist and communal channels by the Saffron Brigade  to achieve its political ambitions of a `Hindu Rashtra' cannot be allowed.

While mobilising the Indian people in this battle, it must be noted that a large number of our bretheren belonging to the minorities, especially the Muslim minority, unsettled by growing insecurity in the present conditions may well fall prey to minority fundamentalism.  The answer to Hindu communalism can never be given through Muslim fundamentalism. In fact, both are the two sides of the same coin.

It needs to be recalled that two years after Golwalkar's book was published, the Jamaat-e-islami was  founded.  On August 26, 1941, under the leadership of Maulana Abul Ala Maududi,  the founding conference was held in Pathankot. Maududi is to the Jamaat what Golwalkar is to the RSS.  The similarity of their political project and roles is indeed remarkable.  Just as Golwalkar rejected everything modern in human civilisation -- liberty, equality, fraternity, secularism, democracy and parliamentary institutions -- as `alien concepts', so did Maududi and the philosophy of Muslim fundamentalism.

Maududi, in a speech at Pathankot in May 1947, when partition was imminent, urgent Indians to organise their  state and society on the basis of Hindu scriptures  and laws, as they would organise Pakistan based on the laws laid down by `Allah'. Replying to certain queries by Justice Mohammed Munir, who was appointed  as the single-member Commission to inquire into riots against the Quadianis  in Pakistan, Maududi said: "If a Hindu government based on  Hindu law came to India and the law of Manu became  the law of land as a result of which Muslims were treated (as) untouchables and were  not given any share in the government -- not only that, they did not even get the citizenship rights -- I would have no objection"  (quoted in Z.A. Nizami, 1975, p.11).

Hindu communalism and Muslim fundamentalism feed on each other.  In the process, both spread communal poison deeper, threatening the very fabric of our country's unity and integrity. Both act against the interests of the majority of the people they claim to represent. 

That they feed on each other was most terrifyingly revealed in the Coimbatore riots during the 1998 elections.  The Muslim fundamentalist challenge  to Hindu communalism not only led to barbaric loss of life and property but also directly contributed to the electoral victory of Hindu communalism and its consolidation.

The struggle against  fascistic communalism can only be met by the united struggle of all Indians irrespective of their religious affiliations. India today is a secular democratic republic because a majority  of Indians -- Hindus, Muslims and others -- rejected the communal vision and politics. It is only under such conditions can the security  and interests of the minorities be protected.

It is again only under such conditions that the Indian people can mount the offensive against the ruling  class policies.  The unity in struggle of the working people -- the working class, the poor peasantry, agricultural labour -- is precisely what communalism seeks to disrupt by sowing seeds of discord. Thus, it acts directly to preserve and intensify the existing exploitative order.

While seeking the maximum possible cooperation from political parties to prevent the consolidation of its rule, it must  be realised the fascistic communalism can never be defeated only through maneuvering or political bargaining. Its defeat can be sustained only by isolating it through wide spread mass struggles that mobilises the popular discontent for a fundamental change. A change aimed at replacing the rule of the ruling classes. Fully conscious of the fact that the Saffron Brigade represents the most reactionary expression of the ruling classes, the Left must seek to utilise all contradictions amongst the ruling class parties to isolate the communal forces, without losing sight of the elementary truth that the success of the struggle depends on the depth and intensity of class struggle. There can be no short cuts. It is this that, all of us, interested in safeguarding the gains made by the Indian people so far and seeking to advance it, for the complete liberation of the Indian millions must endeavour to do.

True homage to AKG lies in pursuing this objective. In his own life, he moved from the Congress to be a Communist. Why? Because in the latter he saw the blueprint for  the emancipation of his people. This can only be achieved through relentless struggle in all spheres, ranging from ideological, philosophical down to day to day struggles for better livelihood.