Road From Democracy to Fascism

The recent storm created by the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra is indicative of a resurgent Fascism as correctly noted by Soli Sorabjee. This rot in Maharashtra is eloquently analyzed by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, which you must read to get a grasp of the situation.

What distresses me to a certain extent is the debate I observe on social networks among the Indian youth frames it as a two-sided issue: either you agree with SRK’s opinion that Pakistani players should be invited to play in India, or you disagree with him and back the Shiv Sena.

The current storm of controversy will abate quickly, but what really matters in the long run is how the debate is being framed.

Whether you agree or disagree with SRK is immaterial and inconsequential.

The Shiv Sena appears to have achieved its goal. From being relegated to anonymity after the humiliating debacle in the elections, they are back in the spotlight.

Their intimidation and utter disrespect of democratic principles has gained a certain legitimacy by being considered worthy of debate. That is the real worrisome trend that matters and has disastrous consequences.

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  • This seems to be the trend. Anyone and everyone who wants to launch themselves be it Ram Muthalik’s ill-intended party or the ice cream Hagen darz, they do an intended misdeed. The ensuing publicity even in form of protest establishes their existence. I can bet many people heard of Hagen Draz that day for the first time when it trended on twitter.

    So it has served for SS. Also for SRK. In addition, I hate being told by all politicians who all Bombay is meant for. Also I wonder if upcoming Bihar provincial elections is one of the reasons why we are hearing this Gandhi/BJP Bombay-is-for-all rhetoric (to appease North-Indians/Biharis)? It is shame that this is even a debatable issue.

    • Yes, upcoming elections is naturally a reason these voices are shouting. Even Mumbai municipal elections are upcoming, I hear.

  • Forgot to add, in case of SS and SRK, they have this necessity to launch and relaunch themselves again and again. Hence, all the crap.

  • the shiv sena is lurching from topic to topic – to try and catch the popular imagination. it was the australian cricket team, then SRK, then Pak, then marathi boli …..
    very stupid and very scary ! this seems like their death rattle …..

    • Desperation of the worst kind…

  • This has also turned out to be good publicity for SRK’s new film, whether he intended it to be or not.

  • It may sound utterly stupid, and half of me thinks so too; I think this was staged to ensure appropriate publicity for MNIK. Everything happens when he is in the US – and as soon as he returns – everything just goes peacefully quiet.

    It is difficult to build a credible conspiracy theory! I agree with Nita’s comment above.

    How much did 3 Idiots gross?


  • Nita, Atul: I’m not bothered or concerned about the publicity for SRK/MNIK. I think its a trivial issue in the long run, even if it was staged.

    The veiled threat to Rahul visiting Mumbai was a first of sorts in my lifetime in Maharashtra. That, also pointing to the fascist resurgence, is what is worrisome.

    Appreciate your comments!

    • It felt as if all this was expected from the political groups and ppl from Bollywood. What would have been interestin is to see no reactions at all; from public i mean.. no tweets, no blog posts,no debates,,,Now ‘that’ would be interesting 🙂

  • I saw this debate on NDTV hosted by Vikram Chandra on the SS, SRK issue. one very pertinent question raised was if the media is fuelling this unrest by discussing it so often and in such detail.

    stop giving these hooligans the limelight, they are not worth primetime discussions. stop mentioning them in print and TV and they will have less reasons to get violent and bullish on camera.

    I wrote this post ‘How marathi is marathi’ almost exactly a year back. would like you to read and comment:

    • Gauri, while I have also sometimes felt that the media should give the hooligans less exposure, there is also a flip side to it.

      1. The vote bank that is the target of the Sena does not watch the same shows or read the same newspapers as we do. That vote bank consumes propaganda published by the Sena itself.
      2. Additional exposure provided by mainstream media hurts the Sena’s image more than benefits it.
      3. For these reasons, I am not sure if lesser exposure will result in lesser aggression. In fact, desperation may increase resulting in higher aggression.
      4. With this doubt, would we rather prefer these unlawful acts go unreported or undiscussed in mainstream media? I am inclined to think that in the longer term, this negative exposure is better since it permanently tarnishes the party’s image in the eyes of the national public.

  • I asked this on twitter:

    May I abuse you, instigate against you, destroy your house & prevent access if I do not like you? If no, why Shiv Sena gets away with it?

    Didn’t get an answer as to why people are not revolting against the Shiv Sena and its offshoots.

    I also asked if the the limit on the freedom of speech is that it shouldn’t result in loss of freedoms of others, why Maharashtra and Union Governments not acting against the Shiv Sena and its offshoots.

    Again, no answer.

    • Nisha,

      People are not revolting because the playing field is uneven. Individuals are no match against organized crime.

      Your second question is precisely an important driving force behind my post. Today, the Maharashtra Govt’s inaction is worrisome. In a public function, the CM Ashok Chavhan tried to make a case for stronger laws to tackle the Sena. He was interrupted and cut off by the Home Minister PC, who pointed out that existing laws are sufficient to take adequate legal action against the Sena.

      What is apparent is that the Govt weighs the pros and cons of such legal action. Would the law and order situation be more controllable without arresting the Sena leaders? The answer, unfortunately, is yes, which is why they remain free to spout their venom in public.

  • Chanced upon your blog. Very nice posts. I completely agree with you on Sena attempting a comeback over non-issues

  • Then again which political party doesn’t have its hooligans? which party doesn’t intimidate or utterly disrespect democracy?

    The way the CBI is being used these days, and the way tax cases and raids are being done is rather amusing and reminds me of the good old days of the emergency.

    Just that we the bhadralok get more scandalized by the methods used