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#RightSideUp: 'The End of the Road for Liberal India'

A weekly round-up of voices from the right.

New Delhi: On May 23, barring a sparse handful of states, the lotus bloomed across India.

Indian voters endorsed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of India once again with a massive mandate this past week, handing the BJP a chance at a second stab at governance and cementing Modi’s position as one of the most powerful and divisive politicians to lead India.

The Congress was virtually eviscerated a second time, with a final tally of 52 seats. The mahagathbandhan also failed to make its mark, with most of Uttar Pradesh voting saffron yet again. A final decision on Rahul Gandhi’s future as party president is yet to be taken, and reports say the Gandhi scion is determined to resign.

In the aftermath of the result, liberal bashing peaked online, even as many swung to the defence of parliament’s latest inductee Pragya Thakur. Besides jubilation, a lot of visible seething anger was also on display by BJP supporters against the so-called ‘Khan market gang’.

Sanction to further this agenda of rooting out India’s liberals and intellectuals also came from BJP national secretary Ram Madhav. He wrote in the Indian Express on May 24:

This mandate is significant for another reason. It has completed the rejection and decimation of what Modi himself described as the “Khan Market cacophony” of pseudo-secular/liberal cartels that held a disproportionate sway and stranglehold over the intellectual and policy establishment of the country. Under Modi-II, the remnants of that cartel need to be discarded from the country’s academic, cultural and intellectual landscape.

The week was also marred by several incidents of violence, in which Muslims or Dalits were violently targeted for reasons as varied as allegedly possessing beef, protesting against caste-based discrimination or simply being Muslim. In one case, a Santhali teacher in Jharkhand was arrested for a two-year-old Facebook post defending the right of Adivasi communities to eat beef.

Ironically, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday had asked his new MPs to ‘win the trust’ of minorities.

“The way the poor have been cheated, the minorities have been deceived the same way,” he told new MPs from the NDA in his speech. “We have to earn their trust.”

Here’s how the right-wing reacted to the BJP resounding victory.

“Why ‘liberals’ fully deserved to lose this battle”

Because their liberalism was fake, elitist, dishonest and out of touch with reality.

Sandipan Deb, a former editor of Financial Express, and founder-editor of Open and Swarajya magazines, had some vitriol for India’s secular liberals on the night of BJP’s win in an article on LiveMint.

The truth is that many of the world’s “liberals” are the most illiberal people around.

According to Deb, another “insidious disguise” that liberals adopted from 2014 onwards was that of being “fact checkers”.

While they did a splendid job of tracking down hundreds of fake news items spread by the BJP and its supporters, they were completely silent on the other side. For instance, Rahul Gandhi claiming that Modi had given Anil Ambani Rs 30,000 crore when the whole Ambani contract is worth just Rs 800 crore.

What these fellow-travellers do not understand – and this is an across-the-world phenomenon – is that they are out of touch with reality. They are increasingly confined to their echo chambers and all they have left is frustration, cant and self-righteous rage. They love the unwashed masses when they vote as they – the “liberals” – would like them to; otherwise, they are idiots. Their stated belief in democracy is a mask for their elitism, intellectual hubris and intolerance.

Deb admits that there are “many very dangerous people” in the BJP and its ecosystem, so much so that he expressed that he is “frightened” by statements he has heard from “some highly educated BJP supporters say”.

Deb confesses that he “seriously believes they need help”. But it was the other side’s negative campaign that aided in pushing Indians into the BJP’s camp, he opines.

But the way to fight them is not through just a negative campaign and offering nothing as an alternative. It only showed your ideological and intellectual bankruptcy, and common Indians, who you will now brand as fools, could see that.

As for “200 million Muslims in danger”, the BJP could never have won so many seats without a large number of minorities voting for it.

On why Modi’s win went exactly the way the exit polls, predicted, Deb says:

On the day the exit poll results were revealed, the one pollster who got the National Democratic Alliance numbers exactly right said on TV that in his travels around the country, he could not find a single poor rural household that had not been touched by some central government scheme.

That is why Modi won so big. He couldn’t have done it only by invoking narrow sectarianism.

‘Therefore’

In an article simply titled ‘therefore’, and published on May 23, Chitra Subramaniam on Republic’s website directs her message to “loser politicians and your marching bands”, reminding them that the voter is more powerful.

The mandate for Modi, she says, is “therefore a slap that our country has just delivered to all politicians who took us for granted for decades”.

To the polarisers and defenders of India’s “secularism” I say this – find a cause that is really worthy of India and Indians.

Therefore, stop whining, losers and the lost, the leaderless and the rudderless. Start earning your bread with an honest day’s work like millions of people in the world’s largest democracy are doing as they aspire for a better life. This message is especially directed at the Gandhi family that has “ruled” over us as if they were our destiny. They will not recover from this hiding if they don’t mend their ways. The only ruler in a democracy is its people.

Writing then the Gandhis have destroyed the Congress party, Subramaniam derides the party for its inability to take responsibility.

Any other political party in the world would have been mortified and hung its head in shame.

Let us hope for the best for them. This is India’s beauty. Whatever be our religious beliefs and practices, we are a forgiving people – it is a dharmic nation. The path of true Dharma is religion – free. Think about it. That is our strength.

In a pointed message, similar to Ram Madhav’s she says that no one should mess with India:

We have work to do India. We have to hold together to continue to prune out the rotten and the depraved. We have to stand together and pull in the same direction on all issues ranging from but not limited to national security, economic development, foreign policy, public health and job creation.

Reminding her readers of how she recently wrote a column on bhakti, she says:

Today is the victory of faith over decay. It is the victory of justice over the injustice that millions of Indians have been subjected to for generations. It is the victory of India for Indians. We have claimed the right to be who we are without being told who we should be. India has voted for Indians. Over to us, dear friends to occupy our space with grace, dignity and a commitment to work towards a country we want to see flourish, thrive, grow and compete with the best in the world.

‘The arrogance of left-liberal thought’

Soumya Srijan Dasgupta, a lawyer in the Supreme Court, hails the ‘Modi tsunami’ in Swarajya magazine, writing about how it was already “game over” by mid afternoon on May 23 and the end of the road for liberal India.

Dasgupta cites Pankaj Mishra’s New York Times article ‘How Narendra Modi Seduced India With Envy and Hate’ as a classic example of “an entitled lot that felt cheated”.

The common question on the minds of the so-called left-liberal section of society was – how could India truly believe in this ‘lunatic’?

This in itself was the greatest folly of those that looked back fondly at the period of Congress dominance in India. Their voice no longer being heard, they now take to caustic rhetoric to vent their frustration. Mishra’s piece was one such attempt, attributing a campaign of “envy and hate” to the BJP’s victory.

Being left-liberal has always been the preserve of the more privileged sections of Indian society. These are the folks that balk at open religiosity of the majority faith, sceptically believe all policies of the present government are driven at the behest of power-hungry corporations, and that democracy only works when their idea of India prevails.

2014 was the year they were put on notice from the power circles of the Indian government. 2019 is now the eviction they so desperately feared.

This was the win of “aspirational India” against “intolerant liberals”, he says. Towards this end, the internet was a great leveller, as Modi could then remain in touch with “aspirational India”, which was “armed with smartphones and strong views”.

Those claiming to be upholders of free speech and liberty now engaged in a turf war with the emerging voice of a bold new India. The tactics, however, changed. It was no longer about meaningful debate, but rather about reclaiming lost territory. In the process, the left-liberal voice became the most illiberal.

Finally, Dasgupta turns his attention to the Congress party:

As for the Nehru-Gandhi family, it has successfully come full-circle. Under Pandit Nehru, the Congress established its dominance in the early years of independent India. Indira Gandhi, barring the period of Emergency, ushered in the idea of the Congress as a party of the masses.

With Rajiv Gandhi, the party’s fortunes began to wane due to the importance of caste-politics and excessive cronyism. Sonia Gandhi oversaw what was once considered the resurgence of the party but ended up being the pinnacle of high-level corruption.

Finally, Rahul Gandhi has taken the party which he considers his birth right to lead into the chasm of insignificance.

With the roar of the BJP-juggernaut as loud as ever, will there be a way out for the Congress party and their pocket intellectuals? Only time will tell.

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