Updated March 07, 2020 Lucknow | 01:43 IST | Frank Huzur
Ooh that word. Socialism is actually nothing to be afraid of. The word scares right-wing followers of the BJP. But they forget that there is a long history of reform in the country that is socialist and even popular and iconoclast reformer like Buddha and deity like Lord Krishna could be looked up to as an ideal socialist. The fear of the BJP over rising approval rating of Akhilesh was manifest in a frightening incident during the public meeting in Kannauj, perfumery of socialism and constituency of socialist heartland’s first family as it has been represented in Parliament by Akhilesh himself three times and his constant companion Dimple twice.
It was 16 February. There was a great footlights on the Sunday afternoon in Kannauj. While Akhilesh was speaking to a decent gathering of local socialist workers and followers, a young man suddenly emerged very close to the dais and burst into menacing slogan shouting of ‘Jai Shri Ram.’ His continuous chanting pierced the pin-drop silence of a disciplined listeners and rattled a large number of Samajwadi workers.
Akhilesh himself was amused with the abrupt intervention and histrionic art of a shabby-looking jobless youth. The speech was interrupted by the sloganeering and it was an open secret that the menacing gesture of the youth was not his own act, rather a well choreographed stagecraft of the principal rival party, BJP. Kannauj in the last year Parliamentary elections had fallen from the decades-long grip of the Samajwadi Party. The BJP’s Subrata Pathak, local rabble rouser with casteist and communal mindset, had turned the tables on popular Member of Parliament and the first lady, Dimple Yadav.
Just as Akhilesh’s eyes fell on the brainwashed youth, he urged him to come forward and share his grievances. Instead, the young man continued to belt out the cries of ‘JSR.’ Soon, he would be overpowered by a battery of security personnel and socialist workers and whisked away from the arena. One could imagine what would befell somebody if he would dare to enact similar histrionic art in the vicinity of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah or Adityanath’s dais? A disgruntled youth of Benares tried to interrupt the speech of Prime Minister Modi at a meeting in his Parliamentary constituency of Benares with the slogan of ‘Jai Shri Krishna.’ Not only the youth was thrashed by security and BJP workers present on the spot but he was also booked under several sections for an innocuous act of attention-seeking by praising popular deity, Lord Krishna. One wonder why Jai Shri Ram has become a murder cry in the time of BJP’s fascist rule and why a chant of Jai Shri Krishna still evokes harmony, humility and humanity?
Akhilesh respects all the Lords – Ram, Krishna and Vishnu. But the BJP continues to express its frustration by targeting the socialist leader through religion-centric public outbursts only to paint his progressive liberal values as anti-Hindu so that the rabidly communal constituency of the ruling party can score some silly points in public over the politics of polarization. Why should a religious slogan be part of a political meeting?
The intrusion of the BJP sympathizer youth was a serious ‘breach of security.’ The local intelligence, by and large, had been compromised. Present on the spot, a senior police officer, Raja Dinesh Singh, was unperturbed even after former CM berated him for the gross negligence.
Only the other day, on his public Whatsapp number. Akhilesh had been receiving death threats from a BJP leader. Shortly after the interruption was over, he made the startling disclosure and revealed about the threat that he had received on phone in a hastily arranged press conference at the party Headquarters on Vikramaditya Marg in state Capital Lucknow. He claimed that ‘BJP people’ were sending their men to his programmes.
Whether in press conference or in public meeting, socialist leader never forgets to put on his trademark red cap, an archetypal cotton skimmer. At the curiosity-raising press conference, he was in his elements and fired many salvoes at the vindictive BJP government and its heartless headman. “The BJP have taken back my house, my father’s house. They have taken back government vehicle. They are free to take back my security also. I dare them to withdraw security. There is a threat to my life from a BJP leader. I have received a threat call and a message from him. I have saved the message in my phone.”
Akhilesh had been speaking about the rising inflation, growing unemployment, crumbling law and order in Uttar Pradesh. People all over the state are rallying behind his politics of humility, humanity and peace. Sniffing a landslide in the forthcoming Assembly elections for Samajwadi Party, the BJP is growing nervous and it has begun to rattle the opposition leader with a vicious cycle of trivial allegations and unpleasant interruptions. Akhilesh also tweeted a screenshot of a Whatsapp message he received from a bullying BJP leader. The message reads: Bhartiya Janta Party Zindabad, Amit Shah Zindabad. Modiji Zindabad. Toti Chor. How could a leader of national and global stature sit quiet after receiving such menacing message on his phone? Terrorizing leader of such enormous public support could only be a psychological ploy of the BJP. Having failed miserably to execute a single policy to the advantage of Uttar Pradesh’s 200 million people, the BJP has only intimidatory, ill-boding and inauspicious plans to settle scores with the opposition party and its workers.
Already in the past six months or so since the Lok Sabha election results had been announced, the Adityanath-led BJP government has caused mayhem in society with the absolute collapse of law and order. Akhilesh had to use the hashtag, #HatyaPradesh for Uttar Pradesh after a massive spate in target killings of socialist workers along with a baneful surge in fake encounters. For women of the state, the BJP government had been apocalyptic to say the least, with a large number of BJP legislators themselves involved in rape and murder.
When socialist stalwart and Rampur MP Azam Khan was not spared and a string of fabricated cases dealing with criminal intimidation, land grabbing and buffalo-goat theft was slapped over him, Akhilesh had to intervene and say that the BJP government has taken the politics of vendetta to a new low. He had also said that even journalists who are telling the truth are also not being spared and being booked in fake cases. At long last, Azam Khan surrendered in the Rampur court along with his MLA son, Abdullah and his MLA wife, Tanzeem Fatima. Akhilesh was once more pained to experience the BJP’s politics of vengeance and termed the witch hunt against his senior party leader as a clear case of conspiracy and victimization of a popular, pathbreaking socialist leader who has served the common people with humility and pride.
“Muhammad Azam Khan has built the Jauhar University to ensure better education and future of the generation next. I am sure the High Court and the Supreme Court would do justice in the cases against him.”
Socialism has captured the attention of India youths in a big way. Akhilesh’s inclusive politics is the reason for refashioning the long forgotten ideals of socialism in minds of the Millennial and Gen-Y. That is Akhilesh with age on his side appears a genuine gladiator in the fight against the BJP. That is only Akhilesh who the BJP-RSS fears can bury the politics of hate speech and terror in the long run. Small surprise, the ruling party has set in motion a formidable machinery of vitriolic assault on him. In social media, every single tweet and Facebook post of his is viscerally gobbled up by an army of trolls with abominable reactions, ranging from defamatory statements to unbearable invectives. Be that as it may, Akhilesh disarms his detractors with assassin-like-smile as he outsmarts his critics with crispy replies laced with wit and wisdom.
Whether it was 2014 Lok Sabha elections or the two subsequent polls, 2017 Assembly and 2019 General Elections, BJP’s premier mascots- Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and their headman in Uttar Pradesh Adityanath, not to speak of followers of the fascist regime, were intent on using Akhilesh Yadav as a symbol of all that is evil in the world, commencing a vicious campaign of red-baiting. And the venomous campaign of the BJP is sure to intensify in the months leading up to 2022 Assembly elections.
Despite pent-up propaganda in television and print media, the BJP is going downhill. After losing Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Delhi Assembly elections, the radical right wing party is relying only on the Muslim-bashing to shore up its sagging fortune. Akhilesh had been continuously warning the people about the BJP’s politics of hate. His messages have not gone unheeded. People of Delhi also listened to his counsel and gave befitting reply to politics of hate and violence. Samajwadi Party decided not to field any candidates in order to provide succor to Arvind Kejriwal’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party.The gamble worked quite well with massive reduction in the division of socialist and secular votes, which triggered a landslide in victory for AAP. Akhilesh was the first secularist to warn the BJP over its vitriolic campaign against students of JNU, Jamia and women of Shaheen Bagh. Akhilesh, on the other hand, advised Arvind Kejriwal to focus his campaign on governmance. His counsel worked wonders for Kejriwal’s party as the AAP leader took a cue from Akhilesh’s famous campaign plank, #KaamBoltaHai (Work Speaks for itself) and emerged triumphant.
The public’s odium (hate and extreme contempt) towards the BJP-RSS is an advantage for the Socialists Widespread odium for Modi-Shah’s failures and corruption. Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh and his mentor Lohia had understood early in their life that socialism was frightening to many upper crust Indians. It was in some ways frightening to him. However, he made clear that he was a revolutionary socialist. He also made clear that his programme of civic welfare, humanist nationalism, social justice and diversity requires broadly social democratic reform if the political equality promised by democracy was to have any real meaning.
UP CM Adityanath who adds ‘Yogi’as a prefix to his name has claimed during Assembly session that Uttar Pradesh or rest of the country doesn’t need Socialism-Samajwad in local lingo. Rather the people need Ram Rajya, euphemism for BJP-RSS’s upper-caste hegemony centered ideal state in name of Lord Ram where there would be ban on cow slaughter but beef business would not be taken down, and restricted opportunity from the state for Muslims and other religious minorities in addition to specific target of lowered castes.
BJP regularly raises the spectre of Muslims to target Samajwadi Party and its popular youth icon and national president, Akhilesh. During electioneering and public campaigns, BJP footsoldiers fed on hysteria against Muslims and Dalits, instigate non-Muslim majority against the SP, labeling the party as ‘Namajwadi Party.’
Modi-Shah and Adityanath should read history of the land and they must come to terms with Socialism. Because socialism is not something alien to Indian politics and society. Socialists have been pivotal in securing freedom from the British Raj and their championship of the cause of downtrodden had raised the prospect of progressive, democratic socialist politics. Lohia, Acharya Narendra Dev, JP, Karpoori Thakur, Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh Yadav and now Akhilesh-they have proven their mark in offering New Deal eras to a suffering social order. More importantly, socialist organizations have played an important role in the democratization of Indian democracy.
However, it is true that Indian socialist ‘New Nationalism’ to counter the BJP-RSS’s Hindutva nationalism and to save the nation and the Constitution. ‘Humanist Nationalism’ could become the centre piece of Akhilesh’s socialist nationalism.
BJP had been demonizing socialism just as it had been ripping off the legacy of towering socialist figures, including Congress stalwarts, Nehru and Gandhi. Just as Americans were taught to associate “socialism” with dictatorship and “capitalism” with democracy! Especially after the VP Singh-led government implemented the Mandal Commission report and Ambedkar was awarded the Bharat Ratna, communal and caste supremacit conglomerates began a concerted campaign to popularize ‘Samajwad’ as a damaging label.
Why? Because they feared the march of farmers, labourers and aspirational low castes to New Delhi. Chaudhary Charan Singh had shown the way. Socialist coalitions had tasted the power at the centre in mid-90s with the support of the centrist centre of left Congress Party with Mulayam Singh Yadav as Defence Minister. BJP’s campaign was successful in urban pockets where the majority of high castes felt vulnerable and a section of liberal-leaning figures of media, judiciary, bureaucracy also internalized that fear of socialist takeover. Henceforth, they launched into a ruthless campaign in the garb of Pakistan-oriented nationalism (Rashtrawaad), Muslim-hating politics of polarization, rioting of Godhra scale and its ilk seen in Northeast Delhi in the last week of February when US President Trump was on his maiden visit, to confuse and alienate the vast swathes of OBC, SC, ST and Muslims.
The lethal politics of hateful division had its clandestine support from the country’s industrialist and trading block. In a country where compassionate socialism could have brought a massive reduction in wealth inequity, upward mobility for the downtrodden, the BJP used the opium of religion, caste and further divisive Citizenship Amendment Act to vitiate the social climate.
Nevertheless, Akhilesh has changed the grammar of local politics. He has enlarged the social base of socialist movement by adopting the tenets of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar in the Red Book of Samajwadi Party. Ambedkar, Lohia and Gandhi are three icons most visible in the background of Akhilesh’s public rallies and press conferences. The old guard of the caste pyramid may retain some antipathy toward the ‘S’ word and visions of Ambedkar, Lohia and Gandhi but Akhilesh has inspired a large number of millennial and Gen-Y and Z youths to view socialism positively with each passing year. His politics of substantial generosity has forced the stereotyped opinion makers to rethink about the slander and slur they had been propagating about the socialist movement.
Which is why the BJP is afraid of Akhilesh Yadav. The cabal of communal cobras know quite well that Akhilesh is not a self-described democratic socialist as they would have public believe through their falsehoods. They can’t prevent Akhilesh from scooping up poular vote victories in 2022. Still, old propaganda dies hard.
What else could explain the panicky musings of BJP’s shenanigans and their lackeys in media when they keep crowing about ‘Pariwarvaad’ dynasty to tar the image. They turned their face away when they are asked after the dynastic rule in the rank and file of the BJP, including nepotism and favouritism for upper castes in media, judiciary and University in the flagrant violation of the Constitutional values. One of the influential socialist figures of ‘Netaji’ Mulayam Singh era and a passionate wayfarer of the movement, Janeshwar Mishra had defended the allegation of pariwarvad by saying, “Ye Sangharsh ka Samajwad hai, satta ka Samajwad nahi hai.”
Socialism in India neither implies family rule or dictatorship. The ship of Socialism in the control of blue jacket sailor Akhilesh implies social, economic and political equality, communal harmony and equal opportunity for one and all, without malice towards none. In contrast, the BJP’s politics of hate is harmful to the health of our rainbow society. Akhilesh’s socialism promises healthcare, welfare, education and jobs without favour. He is a pioneer of tech socialism and his environmentalist programmes have won laurels worldwide. His previous tenure is a rich testament to his incredible social democratic history.