Thursday, April 17, 2014

Unite Against the Modi Menace: Prakash Karat's Appeal to People of Varanasi

The driver’s remarks set the tone. The driver of the taxi we had hired from the station to the Town Hall. “Saab”, he said “why are you going to that Muslim locality” was his refrain, once we informed of the place where he was to take us to. This is what Varanasi has been turned into. A communal cauldron. Deep runs the mistrust. The BJP’s decision to field Modi from Varanasi is only going to widen this divide.

“There is an obvious political message in this. The BJP and the RSS are signaling that aggressive Hindutva will be their plank. There is a menacing symbolism in Modi contesting from Varanasi apart from fighting from Vadodara,” said Prakash Karat at Varanasi today. He was addressing a convention of intellectuals and prominent people of city, against communalism in the context of the Varanasi Lok Sabha elections.

Tracing the history of communalism in Varanasi, the CPI(M) General Secretary recalled the build up to the 1991 Lok Sabha elections, exactly 23 years ago. In that Lok Sabha election the CPI(M) had put up a candidate, Rajkishore. The BJP was the main opponent. Six months prior to this election, Advani had launched his rathyatra, consequent to which communal violence broke out in major parts of the country. Two days before the polling, riots broke out in Varanasi. The CPI(M) and the democratic and secular forces in the city fought against the BJP and the communal forces. After 1991, Prakash said, “the RSS and the VHP gave the slogan of `Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura’. Now after Ayodhya, Kashi (in Varanasi) is their target. This is the significance behind Modi contesting from here. He could have fought from a seat in Gujarat and won. The RSS and BJP are behind this”, warned Prakash Karat.

Saying that it was a “calculated move”, he said since the 2012 assembly elections in the state, several riots have taken place in Uttar Pradesh beginning from Kosi Kalan to Muzaffarnagar. All these were planned and executed in a systematic manner. The BJP, Prakash Karat pointed out “has created a communal polarization in the entire state”. The symbolism behind Narendra Modi contesting from the largest state in the country is to send across a signal to the Hindutva forces that if the BJP is voted to power the Hindutva agenda will be implemented, argued Karat. He said that the fight here is not just against a BJP leader, not against any RSS pracharak, but “for the future of the country”.

The battle is not against “communalism alone”. For the first time, all the corporate houses are unitedly supporting a candidate, Modi. This has dangerous portends, he warned. Inequalities will increase if the BJP is voted to power. Such a government will work against the interests of the workers, peasants and the downtrodden.

Drawing attention to the miserable plight of the handloom weavers of the city famed for its silk sarees, Prakash said that their conditions have deteriorated under the neo-liberal regime.

He lamented the fact that the real issues before the people, lack of electricity, good roads, water, remunerative prices to farmers for their produce etc are being relegated to the background.

On the issue of putting up a common candidate against Modi, the CPI(M) General Secretary said that if the secular parties had come to a common understanding on a candidate, the CPI(M) would have withdrawn from the contest. But this has not happened. He however reminded the audience that it is only in states where the Left is strong that the communal forces have been kept at bay, whether it be West Bengal, Kerala or Tripura. The BJP has not been able to win a single seat either to parliament or to the assembly on its own in these three strongholds of the Left.

“The fight is thus not just against Modi in Varanasi, it is a fight against the entire Hindutva forces who are seeking to once again acquire dominance in the biggest state and the country”, he said, while expressing confidence that the people of Varanasi will rise to the occasion and display unity in defeating the communal forces.

April 17, 2014

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