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FTR #990 Hindutva Fascism, Part 3: Modi Operandi

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[6]Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing our FTR series on Hin­dut­va fas­cism (Hin­du nation­al­ist fas­cism) we high­light key fea­tures of the gov­er­nance of Indi­an Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, whose BJP is a polit­i­cal front [7] for the RSS [8]. Formed along the lines of Mus­solin­i’s Black­shirts in 1925, the RSS [9] was the orga­ni­za­tion that assas­si­nat­ed Mahat­ma Gand­hi [10]. (We have dis­cussed Modi, the RSS and the BJP in numer­ous broad­casts, includ­ing FTR #‘s 795 [11], 889 [12], 441 [13], 442 [14], 445 [15], 988 and 989 [10].)

In past dis­cus­sions of the RSS and BJP, we have not­ed the fol­low­ing:

  1. Mod­i’s polit­i­cal for­tunes were boost­ed with sup­port and appar­ent financ­ing from Pierre Omid­yar [12], who also helped finance the rise of the OUN/B fas­cists in Ukraine.
  2. Modi and his BJP are viewed with great favor [16] by Bre­it­bart king­pin, for­mer Trump cam­paign man­ag­er and advis­er Steve Ban­non. A num­ber of Trump’s busi­ness asso­ciates [17] in India are asso­ci­at­ed with the BJP.
  3. Bernie Sanders’ prospec­tive Vice-Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Tul­si Gab­bard [18] helped arrange the details for Mod­i’s Amer­i­can vis­it and is net­worked [19] with the RSS.
  4. Under Modi [20], anti-Mus­lim vio­lence has dra­mat­i­cal­ly accel­er­at­ed, while free speech has been atten­u­at­ed. BJP mem­bers have cel­e­brat­ed Gand­hi’s mur­der.

 In this pro­gram, we flesh out our cov­er­age of Naren­dra Mod­i’s gov­er­nance of India.

[21]Begin­ning with dis­cus­sion of Mod­i’s appoint­ment of Yogi Adityanath [22] to be the gov­er­nor of Uttar Pradesh province, Indi­a’s largest, we note:

  1. Yogi Adityanath is a mem­ber of the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh (RSS).  ” . . . . Adityanath, born Ajay Singh Bisht, found his voca­tion in col­lege as an activist in the stu­dent wing of the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh, a right-wing Hin­du orga­ni­za­tion. . . .”
  2. Adityanath’s polit­i­cal foun­da­tion is the vir­u­lent­ly anti-Mus­lim ide­ol­o­gy of the RSS:  . . . . As leader of a tem­ple known for its mil­i­tant Hin­du suprema­cist tra­di­tion, he built an army of youths intent on aveng­ing his­toric wrongs by Mus­lims, whom he has called ‘a crop of two-legged ani­mals that has to be stopped.’ At one ral­ly he cried out [23], ‘We are all prepar­ing for reli­gious war!’ . . .” 
  3. Mod­i’s “pro-busi­ness,” “pro-devel­op­ment” polit­i­cal agen­da has giv­en way to what The New York Times pre­dictably labels “populist”–the Hin­dut­va, anti-Mus­lim fas­cism which has long been the  main­stay of the RSS.   “Adityanath (pro­nounced Ah-DIT-ya-nath) was an aston­ish­ing choice by Naren­dra Modi, India’s prime min­is­ter, who came into office three years ago promis­ing to ush­er India into a new age of devel­op­ment and eco­nom­ic growth, and play­ing down any far-right Hin­du agen­da. But a pop­ulist dri­ve to trans­form India into a ‘Hin­du nation’ has drowned out Mr. Modi’s devel­op­ment agen­da, shrink­ing the eco­nom­ic and social space for the country’s 170 mil­lion Mus­lims. . . .”
  4. The gov­er­nor of Uttar Pradesh is also seen as the fron­trun­ner to become Prime Min­is­ter. ” . . . . Few deci­sions in Indi­an pol­i­tics mat­ter more than the selec­tion of the chief min­is­ter of Uttar Pradesh, because the post is seen as a spring­board for future prime min­is­ters. At the age of 45, the diminu­tive, baby-faced Adityanath is receiv­ing the kind of career-mak­ing atten­tion [24] that projects an Indi­an politi­cian toward high­er office. . . .”
  5. Adityanath is best known for encour­ag­ing vig­i­lante death squads against Mus­lims. He also wor­shipped at the Gorakhnath Tem­ple, whose head priest was arrest­ed for encour­ag­ing Hin­du mil­i­tants to kill Gand­hi [10] only days before he was shot. ” . . . . He was so engrossed in the [RSS] group’s work that the first two or three times he was sum­moned by a dis­tant rel­a­tive, the head priest of the Gorakhnath Tem­ple [25], he ‘could not find the time, [26]’ he has said. . . . But reli­gion and pol­i­tics were fast con­verg­ing. Gorakhnath Tem­ple had a tra­di­tion of mil­i­tan­cy: Digvi­jay Nath, the head priest until 1969, was arrest­ed for exhort­ing Hin­du mil­i­tants to kill Mahat­ma Gand­hi days before he was shot. His suc­ces­sor, Mahant Avaidyanath, urged Hin­du mobs in 1992 to tear down a 16th-cen­tu­ry mosque and build a tem­ple there, set­ting off some of the blood­i­est reli­gious riots [27] in India’s recent his­to­ry. . . .”

Modi is real­iz­ing the repres­sive fas­cist agen­da [28] of the BJP/RSS. Cen­sor­ing the press and con­duct­ing wide­spread sur­veil­lance of crit­ics are now rou­tine. In addi­tion, there have been a num­ber of hith­er­to unsolved assas­si­na­tions of jour­nal­ists and politi­cians crit­i­cal of Modi and his agen­da.

[29]

Hin­du Youth Brigade cadre. Close to Yogi Adinyanath. Note the motorbikes–a vehi­cle used in recent Indi­an polit­i­cal killings.

Promi­nent Indi­an jour­nal­ist Gau­ri Lankesh [30] was the lat­est vic­tim:

” . . . . . Gau­ri Lankesh, one of India’s most out­spo­ken jour­nal­ists, was walk­ing into her house on Tues­day night. It was around 8. The night was warm. She was alone. As she stepped through her gate, just feet from her front door, sev­er­al gun­shots rang out. She was killed instant­ly in what polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion offi­cials say appears to be yet anoth­er assas­si­na­tion of an intel­lec­tu­al who pub­licly crit­i­cized India’s gov­ern­ing par­ty and the Hin­du agen­da it has pur­sued. In recent years, at least three oth­er anti­estab­lish­ment activists have been silenced by bul­lets. . . . On Mon­day, the day before she was killed, she shared a post on her Face­book page that was writ­ten by some­one else. ‘The RSS is the ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion,’ it read. . . . 

The same gun [31] was used to kill both Gau­ri Lankesh and anoth­er promi­nent vic­tim, M M Kalbur­gi: ” . . . . . A pre­lim­i­nary foren­sic analy­sis of bul­lets and car­tridges found at the site of the Sep­tem­ber 5 shoot­ing of jour­nal­ist and activist Gau­ri Lankesh [32] and those recov­ered from the killing of Kan­na­da research schol­ar M M Kalbur­gi two years ago has revealed that the same 7.65-mm coun­try­made pis­tol was used for the two killings. This find­ing has been com­mu­ni­cat­ed to the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tion Team that is prob­ing the mur­der of the 55-year-old jour­nal­ist and activist, sources involved with the two sep­a­rate inves­ti­ga­tions have told The Indi­an Express. . . . .”

There are numer­ous oth­er sim­i­lar­i­ties between the killings of Lankesh and Kalbur­gi. Note that the assas­sins rode motor­bikes with hel­mets in both crimes, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to iden­ti­fy the shoot­er. Note the motor­bikes present in the pho­to of Adiny­ath’s Hin­du Youth Brigade, vis­i­ble above.

The same weapon used to kill Gau­ri Lankesh and M M Kalbur­gi was also used to kill Govind Pansare and Naren­dra Dab­holkar! [33] . . . . Schol­ar and ratio­nal­ist Kalbur­gi was shot dead at his home at 8.40 am by two uniden­ti­fied per­sons who drove up on a motor­cy­cle. The assailants knocked on the door of the home of the 77-year-old Sahitya Akade­mi Award win­ner and shot him on the doorstep with two bul­lets from a 7.65 mm coun­try­made pis­tol. Lankesh was shot dead in the front yard of her home at 8 pm on Sep­tem­ber 5 by one of two per­sons who came on a motor­cy­cle and fired four bul­lets from a 7.65 mm coun­try­made pis­tol while she was open­ing the gates to her home. Inves­ti­ga­tions in the Kalbur­gi mur­der case by the Kar­nata­ka Crim­i­nal Inves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment had revealed that the 7.65 mm pis­tol used to kill the ratio­nal­ist was the same one that was used to mur­der 81-year-old Maha­rash­tra ratio­nal­ist and Left­ist thinker Govind Pansare in Kol­ha­pur on Feb­ru­ary 16, 2015 by two uniden­ti­fied men. The foren­sic analy­sis had also revealed that one of the two guns used to shoot down Pansare in 2015 had also been used to kill Maha­rash­tra ratio­nal­ist Naren­dra Dab­holkar, 69, in Pune on August 20, 2013 by a pair of uniden­ti­fied men. . . .”

The recent assas­si­na­tion of Indi­an jour­nal­ist-turned-activist Gau­ri Lankesh high­lights the role of the Dalit [34](for­mer­ly “untouch­able”) caste in the elec­toral strat­e­gy of Mod­i’s BJP (again, a polit­i­cal front for the Hin­dut­va fas­cist RSS.) ” . . . . Ms. Lankesh was also an effec­tive polit­i­cal orga­niz­er with the abil­i­ty to bring togeth­er social and polit­i­cal groups — Dal­its, indige­nous trib­als, left­ists, Mus­lims and oth­ers — opposed to the Hin­du nation­al­ist attempts to trans­form India into a coun­try pri­mar­i­ly for the Hin­dus. . . .”

An effec­tive polit­i­cal orga­niz­er who appeared to have the abil­i­ty to bridge a key divide between the Dal­its and the rest of the non-Hin­du nation­al­ist seg­ments of Indi­an society–Ms. Lankesh–gets gunned down. She was the lat­est activist who pos­sessed that abil­i­ty to bridge divides to be assas­si­nat­ed in exact­ly the same man­ner in recent years: The oth­er three were Daab­holkar, Kalbur­gi and Pansare [35], who were slain with the same weapon–a gun that was used to kill Lankesh as well. ” . . . . In August 2013, the activist Naren­dra Dab­holkar [36], who cam­paigned against reli­gious super­sti­tions, was mur­dered. In August 2015, M. M. Kalbur­gi [37], a schol­ar and out­spo­ken crit­ic of idol wor­ship among Hin­dus, was gunned down at his own doorstep. In Feb­ru­ary 2015, Govind Pansare [38], a Com­mu­nist leader, com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er and colum­nist, was killed in a small town near Mum­baiMr. Dhabolkar, Mr. Kalbur­gi and Mr. Pansare were mur­dered by assas­sins on motor­bikes, who hid their faces with hel­mets and fled after the mur­der. Exact­ly as Ms. Lankesh was killed. The mur­dered intel­lec­tu­als also wrote in region­al lan­guages and worked as activists. Each of them shared the qual­i­ty of being accept­able to the left­ist groups and Dalit groups. They could bring togeth­er com­mu­ni­ties opposed to the Hin­du right. . . . ”

We note that the method­ol­o­gy of the RSS, the orga­ni­za­tion that killed Mahat­ma Gand­hi, remains in place.

We also note that, if Modi wants to not only get reelect­ed and also lead the BJP to a take over of par­lia­ment so he to ful­ly imple­ment his far-right agen­da, he’s going to have to fig­ure out how to get that Dalit vote [35]: Ms. Lankesh and the oth­er vic­tims enu­mer­at­ed above stood in the way of that strat­e­gy: “ . . . . Caste, in short, remains per­haps the sin­gle most influ­en­tial fac­tor in Indi­an pol­i­tics despite rapid mod­ern­iza­tion of the world’s largest democ­ra­cy, as proven in the lat­est pres­i­den­tial con­test. And Naren­dra Modi, who won a land­slide vic­to­ry by widen­ing the party’s appeal beyond the ortho­dox Hin­du class, is sure to milk it for all it’s worth. . . . Even though it has cam­paigned on pre­serv­ing con­ser­v­a­tive Hin­du tra­di­tions [39], includ­ing sanc­ti­ty of upper-caste Brah­mins, the BJP is depen­dent on the votes of Dal­its and oth­er low­er castes to win cru­cial states. In the state of Bihar, the third most pop­u­lous state, Modi and the BJP suf­fered a demor­al­iz­ing defeat to the rival Rashtriya Jana­ta Dal par­ty in 2015 State Assem­bly elec­tions [40]. Bihar’s low-caste com­mu­ni­ties vot­ed heav­i­ly in sup­port of RJD and its leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was able to strike a fruit­ful elec­toral alliance [41] between Bihar’s Mus­lims and the state’s mar­gin­al­ized, cow-herd­ing Yadav caste . . . . In March, the right-wing Hin­du par­ty secured a major vic­to­ry in India’s most pop­u­lous state of Uttar Pradesh [42], win­ning over the state’s low­er-caste votes. Modi steered clear of poten­tial­ly divi­sive lan­guage in his speech­es, and the par­ty was report­ed to have induct­ed mem­bers of the low­er caste in lead­er­ship posi­tions [43]. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, Modi and the BJP are con­tin­u­ing this trend with the lat­est nom­i­na­tion of Ram Nath Kovind for pres­i­dent. . . .”

In addi­tion to polit­i­cal assas­si­na­tion and state repres­sion, it appears that Mod­i’s suc­cess may well rest, in part, on the manip­u­la­tion of elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines [44], some­thing that will ring famil­iar to stu­dents of Amer­i­can elec­toral pol­i­tics. ” . . . . Express­ing shock and dis­be­lief over the Uttar Pradesh Assem­bly elec­tion results, Bahu­jan Samaj Par­ty (BSP) supre­mo Mayawati today accused the Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty (BJP) of tam­per­ing with elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines (EVMs). ‘How come the BJP man­aged to win in Mus­lim bas­tions in the state. [The BJP and its polit­i­cal muse the RSS are vio­lent­ly anti-Mus­lim as a mat­ter of doctrine.–D.E.] The poll results are very sur­pris­ing’, Mayawati said. Alleg­ing that there was mas­sive rig­ging of vot­ing machines in the state to favour the BJP, the BSP chief said, ‘Most votes in Mus­lim major­i­ty con­stituen­cies have gone to the BJP. This makes it clear that the vot­ing machines were manip­u­lat­ed.’ . . . . ”

Trag­i­cal­ly, the chaos envelop­ing India–the assas­si­na­tions, cen­sor­ship, cor­rup­tion and con­tin­ued grind­ing social and eco­nom­ic inequality–has fueled sen­ti­ment for a mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment [45], presided over by a “strong leader.” “. . . . A major­i­ty of Indi­ans, 53 per­cent, sup­port mil­i­tary rule, accord­ing to a Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey released last week. . . .  At least 55 per­cent of Indi­ans also back a gov­ern­ing sys­tem ‘in which a strong leader can make deci­sions with­out inter­fer­ence from par­lia­ment or the courts,’ the sur­vey added, not­ing that sup­port for auto­crat­ic rule is high­er in India than in any oth­er nation sur­veyed. . . .”

As Modi makes fur­ther moves to con­sol­i­date pow­er, those moves may well have strong pub­lic back­ing. Espe­cial­ly with BJP vot­ers: ” . . . . Sup­port­ers of Modi’s rul­ing Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty (BJP) [46] and urban dwellers ‘are sig­nif­i­cant­ly more like­ly’ to sup­port mil­i­tary rule than back­ers of the oppo­si­tion Con­gress par­ty and rur­al res­i­dents, the Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey showed. . . .”

[47] [48]The pro­gram clos­es with jux­ta­po­si­tion of two grotesque actions by Naren­dra Modi–again the Prime Min­is­ter from the BJP, a polit­i­cal front for the Hin­dut­va fas­cist RSS, the orga­ni­za­tion that mur­dered Gand­hi. (See FTR #‘s 988 and 989 [10] for detailed analy­sis of the RSS and the killing of Gand­hi.)

In a delib­er­ate attempt to con­flate his pub­lic rela­tions image [49] with that of Gand­hi, Modi has posed with a spin­ning wheel, which Gand­hi saw as both a vehi­cle for com­bat­ing British colo­nial tex­tile pol­i­cy and as a tool for real­iz­ing Satya­gra­ha and the per­son­al insight and dis­ci­pline required by it.

Gand­hi prac­ticed what he preached, going about attired in a loin­cloth of “home­spun” fab­ric. Modi, in con­trast, was pho­tographed [50]in an expen­sive, pin-striped suit [51] when enter­tain­ing the Oba­mas on a state vis­it. (The pin-stripes were actu­al­ly Naren­dra Mod­i’s name, in fine gold­en print.) Val­ued at around $16,000.00, the suit was even­tu­al­ly auc­tioned off for the sum of $695,000.00. Gand­hi’s soul must be weep­ing to see what has been done to his lega­cy. ” . . . . Indi­a’s Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is not­ed for mak­ing bold state­ments — both in pol­i­cy and fash­ion. When Modi sport­ed a suit with pin­stripes that spelled out his name in tiny gold let­ter­ing, his crit­ics called it the height of van­i­ty. But the con­tro­ver­sial suit raised more than eye­brows: It sold at auc­tion today for near­ly $695,000. The ‘self­ie’ suit was debuted when Modi wore it to a bilat­er­al meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Oba­ma dur­ing his vis­it to India last month. . . . .”

1. Naren­dra Modi just ele­vat­ed Yogi Adityanath, a mem­ber of the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh (RSS) from Uttar Prad­desh to gov­ern that largest Indi­an province. ” . . . . Adityanath, born Ajay Singh Bisht, found his voca­tion in col­lege as an activist in the stu­dent wing of the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh, a right-wing Hin­du orga­ni­za­tion. . . .”

The gov­er­nor of Uttar Pradesh is also seen as the fron­trun­ner to become Prime Min­is­ter. ” . . . . Few deci­sions in Indi­an pol­i­tics mat­ter more than the selec­tion of the chief min­is­ter of Uttar Pradesh, because the post is seen as a spring­board for future prime min­is­ters. At the age of 45, the diminu­tive, baby-faced Adityanath is receiv­ing the kind of career-mak­ing atten­tion [24] that projects an Indi­an politi­cian toward high­er office. . . .”

Adityanath is best known for encour­ag­ing vig­i­lante death squads against Mus­lims. He also wor­shipped at the Gorakhnath Tem­ple, whose head priest was arrest­ed for encour­age Hin­du mil­i­tants to kill Gand­hi [10] only days before he was shot. ” . . . . He was so engrossed in the [RSS] group’s work that the first two or three times he was sum­moned by a dis­tant rel­a­tive, the head priest of the Gorakhnath Tem­ple [25], he ‘could not find the time, [26]’ he has said. . . . But reli­gion and pol­i­tics were fast con­verg­ing. Gorakhnath Tem­ple had a tra­di­tion of mil­i­tan­cy: Digvi­jay Nath, the head priest until 1969, was arrest­ed for exhort­ing Hin­du mil­i­tants to kill Mahat­ma Gand­hi days before he was shot. His suc­ces­sor, Mahant Avaidyanath, urged Hin­du mobs in 1992 to tear down a 16th-cen­tu­ry mosque and build a tem­ple there, set­ting off some of the blood­i­est reli­gious riots [27] in India’s recent his­to­ry. . . .”

[29]

Hin­du Youth Brigade cadre, formed by Yogi Adinyanath. Note the motorbikes–a vehi­cle used in recent Indi­an polit­i­cal killings.

“Fire­brand Hin­du Cler­ic Ascends India’s Polit­i­cal Lad­der” by Ellen Bar­ry and Suhasi­ni Raj; The New York Times; 07/12/2017 [22]

A Hin­du war­rior-priest has been cho­sen to rule India’s most pop­u­lous state, and the cable news chan­nels can­not get enough of him. Yogi, as every­one calls him, is so ascetic and incor­rupt­ible that he doesn’t use air-con­di­tion­ers, they say. Yogi sleeps on a hard mat­tress on the floor. Yogi some­times eats only an apple for din­ner.

But the tap­root of Yogi Adityanath’s pop­u­lar­i­ty is in a more omi­nous place. As leader of a tem­ple known for its mil­i­tant Hin­du suprema­cist tra­di­tion, he built an army of youths intent on aveng­ing his­toric wrongs by Mus­lims, whom he has called “a crop of two-legged ani­mals that has to be stopped.” At one ral­ly he cried out [23], “We are all prepar­ing for reli­gious war!”

Adityanath (pro­nounced Ah-DIT-ya-nath) was an aston­ish­ing choice by Naren­dra Modi, India’s prime min­is­ter, who came into office three years ago promis­ing to ush­er India into a new age of devel­op­ment and eco­nom­ic growth, and play­ing down any far-right Hin­du agen­da. But a pop­ulist dri­ve to trans­form India into a “Hin­du nation” has drowned out Mr. Modi’s devel­op­ment agen­da, shrink­ing the eco­nom­ic and social space for the country’s 170 mil­lion Mus­lims.

Few deci­sions in Indi­an pol­i­tics mat­ter more than the selec­tion of the chief min­is­ter of Uttar Pradesh, because the post is seen as a spring­board for future prime min­is­ters. At the age of 45, the diminu­tive, baby-faced Adityanath is receiv­ing the kind of career-mak­ing atten­tion [24] that projects an Indi­an politi­cian toward high­er office.

“He is auto­mat­i­cal­ly on anybody’s list as a poten­tial con­tender to suc­ceed Modi,” said Sadanand Dhume, an India spe­cial­ist at the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Insti­tute. “They have nor­mal­ized some­one who, three years ago, was con­sid­ered too extreme to be min­is­ter of state for tex­tiles. Every­thing has been nor­mal­ized so quick­ly.”

In March, when the Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty won a land­slide elec­toral vic­to­ry in Uttar Pradesh, polit­i­cal prog­nos­ti­ca­tors expect­ed Mr. Modi to make a safe choice — Manoj Sin­ha [52], a cab­i­net min­is­ter known for his dili­gence and loy­al­ty to the par­ty. On the morn­ing of the announce­ment, an hon­or guard had been arranged out­side his vil­lage.

But by mid­morn­ing, it was clear that some­thing unusu­al was going on. A char­tered flight had been sent to pick up Adityanath and take him to Del­hi for a meet­ing with Amit Shah, the par­ty pres­i­dent. At 6 p.m. the par­ty announced [53] it had appoint­ed him as min­is­ter, send­ing a rip­ple of shock through India’s polit­i­cal class.

They were shocked because Adityanath is a rad­i­cal, [54] but also because he is ambi­tious, even rebel­lious. As recent­ly as Jan­u­ary, he walked out [55] of the party’s exec­u­tive meet­ing, report­ed­ly because he was not allowed to speak. Mr. Modi is not known to have much tol­er­ance for rivals.

The appoint­ment “invests a cer­tain amount of pow­er in Yogi Adityanath that can­not be eas­i­ly tak­en away,” said Ashutosh Varsh­ney, a pro­fes­sor of polit­i­cal sci­ence and inter­na­tion­al stud­ies at Brown Uni­ver­si­ty.

“Modi has been either unwill­ing to stop his rise, or unable to stop his rise,” he said.

As a young man, Adityanath’s pas­sion was pol­i­tics, not reli­gion. One of sev­en chil­dren born to a for­est ranger, Adityanath, born Ajay Singh Bisht, found his voca­tion in col­lege as an activist in the stu­dent wing of the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh, a right-wing Hin­du orga­ni­za­tion.

He was so engrossed in the group’s work that the first two or three times he was sum­moned by a dis­tant rel­a­tive, the head priest of the Gorakhnath Tem­ple [25], he “could not find the time, [26]” he has said.

But reli­gion and pol­i­tics were fast con­verg­ing. Gorakhnath Tem­ple had a tra­di­tion of mil­i­tan­cy: Digvi­jay Nath, the head priest until 1969, was arrest­ed for exhort­ing Hin­du mil­i­tants to kill Mahat­ma Gand­hi days before he was shot. His suc­ces­sor, Mahant Avaidyanath, urged Hin­du mobs in 1992 to tear down a 16th-cen­tu­ry mosque and build a tem­ple there, set­ting off some of the blood­i­est reli­gious riots [27] in India’s recent his­to­ry.

Adityanath won a seat in Par­lia­ment, the first of five con­sec­u­tive terms. Among his advan­tages was a new group he had formed: the Hin­du Yuva Vahi­ni, or Hin­du Youth Brigade, a vig­i­lante orga­ni­za­tion. The vol­un­teers, now orga­nized to the vil­lage lev­el and said by lead­ers to num­ber 250,000, show up in force where Mus­lims are rumored to be both­er­ing Hin­dus.

Vijay Yadav, 21, a vol­un­teer loung­ing at Gorakhnath Tem­ple in Gorakh­pur on a recent day, said he had recent­ly mobi­lized 60 or 70 young men to beat a Mus­lim accused of cow slaugh­ter. They stopped, he said, only because the police inter­vened.

“All the Hin­dus got togeth­er and the first slap was giv­en by me,” he said proud­ly. “If they do some­thing wrong, fear is what works best. If you do some­thing wrong, we will stop you. If you talk too much, we will kill you. This is our say­ing for Mus­lims.”

Dur­ing the first five years after the vig­i­lante group was formed, 22 reli­gious clash­es broke out in the dis­tricts sur­round­ing Gorakh­pur, a city in Uttar Pradesh, in many cas­es with Adityanath’s encour­age­ment, said Manoj Singh, a jour­nal­ist. In 2007, Adityanath was arrest­ed as he led a pro­ces­sion toward neigh­bor­hoods seething with reli­gious ten­sion.

Even then, Mr. Singh recalled, the offi­cer who arrest­ed Adityanath stopped first to touch his feet as a ges­ture of rev­er­ence.

Adityanath was released after 11 days, but the arrest seemed to jolt him. He became more cau­tious, no longer direct­ly lead­ing fol­low­ers into reli­gious con­fronta­tions, Mr. Singh said.

For India’s fre­net­ic 24-hour cable tele­vi­sion world, Adityanath’s first months as chief min­is­ter of Uttar Pradesh were a wind­fall. Arriv­ing in Luc­know, a city weary of a cor­rupt bureau­cra­cy, he pro­ject­ed a refresh­ing tough­ness and aus­ter­i­ty. He warned offi­cials that they would be expect­ed to work 18 to 20 hours a day if they were to keep their jobs, and inspec­tors and bureau­crats were said to be too afraid to ask for bribes.

His first orders were unabashed­ly pop­ulist. The police were dis­patched in “anti-Romeo squads” to detain youths sus­pect­ed of harass­ing women. Inspec­tors shut down dozens of meat-pro­cess­ing plants, a major source of rev­enue for area Mus­lims, for reg­u­la­to­ry prob­lems.

Vishal Prat­ap Singh, a Luc­know-based tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist, not­ed that Adityanath was a “total­ly changed man on cam­era,” care­ful to avoid com­ments offen­sive to Mus­lims.

Still, Mr. Singh said, his rat­ings are sky-high, and the rea­son is obvi­ous.

“Like Modi, he speaks for the Hin­dus,” he said. “With­in his heart, he is a total­ly anti-Mus­lim per­son. That is the rea­son he is so lik­able.”

Polit­i­cal observers in Del­hi are watch­ing him as one might watch an audi­tion. Jour­nal­ists filed reports of his first 100 days last week, and some were luke­warm [56], not­ing his fail­ure to con­tain vio­lent crime.

Neer­ja Chowd­hury, an ana­lyst, said Adityanath has two years to estab­lish him­self as an effec­tive admin­is­tra­tor.

“Remem­ber, he is 20 years younger than Modi, and he is a known doer, so if he man­ages to deliv­er on some fronts, he would then become a pos­si­ble can­di­date” in 2024, she said.

“India is mov­ing right,” she added. “Whether India moves fur­ther right, and Modi begins to be looked upon as a mod­er­ate, I think that only time will tell.”

Adityanath may be inter­est­ed in rebrand­ing him­self a main­stream politi­cian, but his fol­low­ers in the vig­i­lante group do not all agree.

Dur­ing the days after the elec­tion, some 5,000 men came for­ward to join the orga­ni­za­tion every day, prompt­ing orga­niz­ers to stop accept­ing appli­cants, said P. K. Mall, the group’s gen­er­al sec­re­tary.

Sonu Yadav, 24, of Gorakh­pur, who has served in the group for five years, said he had been dis­ap­point­ed by Mr. Modi’s tenure.

“We vot­ed for Modi because Yogi endorsed him, but we are dis­il­lu­sioned,” he said. He went on to refer to the 2002 riots in the state Mr. Modi led, which his crit­ics say he allowed to rage for sev­er­al days, lead­ing to more than 1,000 deaths.

“All of us in our colony felt that Modi would allow us to kill Mus­lims,” he said. “Mus­lims were scared. But noth­ing hap­pened. When Yogi became chief min­is­ter, they were scared again.”

Mr. Modi has denied any wrong­do­ing, and Supreme Court pan­els have reject­ed peti­tions to pros­e­cute Mr. Modi in the riots for lack of evi­dence.

For now, as Adityanath estab­lish­es a more main­stream rep­u­ta­tion, Mr. Yadav and his friends have been told by their group’s lead­er­ship to cease all vio­lent activ­i­ties and instead per­form com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice. Vijay Yadav, Sonu’s friend, open­ly chafed at the new orders.

“This thing is going on in Yogi’s head that my shirt should not get a stain,” he said. “I couldn’t care less for his stained shirt. I can’t do good work and avoid get­ting a stain.”

He not­ed, by way of exam­ple, the recent beat­ing death [57] of a 62-year-old Mus­lim man whom vig­i­lantes abduct­ed and inter­ro­gat­ed about a neighbor’s alleged love affair with a Hin­du girl.

Vijay Yadav’s com­ment on the man’s death was a local proverb: “Along with the wheat,” he said, “small insects will get crushed.”

———-

2. In numer­ous pro­grams (most recent­ly FTR #‘s 988 [10] and 989 [10]) we have cov­ered the Hin­dut­va fas­cist [9] RSS and its polit­i­cal cat’s pa [58]w [58] the BJP [59]. Indi­an Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is real­iz­ing the repres­sive fas­cist agen­da of the BJP/RSS. Cen­sor­ing the press and con­duct­ing wide­spread sur­veil­lance of crit­ics are now rou­tine. In addi­tion, there have been a num­ber of hith­er­to unsolved assas­si­na­tions of jour­nal­ists and politi­cians crit­i­cal of Modi and his agen­da.

“The Ques­tion More Indi­ans Ask–‘Is My Phone Tapped?’” by Mira Kam­dar; The New York Times; 10/27/2017; p. A22 [West Coast Edi­tion] [28]

A busi­ness­man told me he had stopped going online to buy books that the gov­ern­ment might frown upon because he was afraid offi­cials would track his pur­chas­es.

There’s good rea­son for such fears, anoth­er busi­ness­man said: “You go to a par­ty where there are a dozen peo­ple you’ve known for years. Some­one says some­thing mild­ly crit­i­cal of the gov­ern­ment, and then you learn that per­son­’s office was paid a vis­it the next day by the income-tax author­i­ties.”

These were not reflec­tions on life in some police state. These were con­ver­sa­tions I had this month dur­ing a vis­it to India, a coun­try I’ve been vis­it­ing for near­ly 60 years.

It’s no secret that attacks on free­dom of expres­sion have accel­er­at­ed since the elec­tion of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in May 2014. Yet, noth­ing pre­pared me for the per­va­sive anx­i­eties I encoun­tered on this trip. While free­dom of speech has nev­er been an absolute right in India, I always thought that this rau­cous democ­ra­cy would ulti­mate­ly over­come any blan­ket effort to quash dis­sent, as it did when Prime Min­is­ter Indi­ra Gand­hi declared a state of emer­gency and clamped down on the news media in 1975.

But I was stunned when a well-known writer in New Del­hi con­fid­ed that she and oth­ers used encrypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions. “We’re all on Pro­ton-Mail and Sig­nal at this point,” she said. Oth­ers said they only com­mu­ni­cat­ed on What­sApp. “All our phones are tapped,” declared a news edi­tor in Mum­bai.

As the com­ments from busi­ness­man indi­cate, the fears I heard weren’t lim­it­ed to jour­nal­ists and writ­ers dis­in­clined to sup­port Mr. Modi. Peo­ple who had appre­ci­at­ed the pro-busi­ness ele­ments of his can­di­da­cy, and who still have hope for his eco­nom­ic poli­cies expressed sim­i­lar con­cern.

Jour­nal­ists, though, have par­tic­u­lar rea­son for fear. In June, the Cen­tral Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion raid­ed res­i­dences and offices con­nect­ed to the founders of N.D.T.V., an influ­en­tial cable TV sta­tion and online news out­let that has had run-ins with Mr. Mod­i’s gov­ern­ment. The Edi­tors Guild of India and lead­ing media fig­ures con­demned the raid. But a mag­a­zine edi­tor con­fid­ed, “Of course we are afraid; they could go after any­one in our fam­i­ly, at any time.”

Even more dis­turb­ing have been a series of unsolved mur­ders of jour­nal­ists [60], and puni­tive legal actions against the news media.

The online news out­let The Wire was slapped with a crim­i­nal defama­tion suit after it pub­lished a sto­ry this month alleg­ing that Jay Shah, son of Amit Shah, the pow­er­ful head of Mr. Mod­i’s gov­ern­ing Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty, has prof­it­ed hand­some­ly under Mr. Mod­i’s gov­ern­ment. Then, last week, a court in Gujarat—where Mr. Modi was for­mer­ly chief minister—barred the news out­let from pub­lish­ing any sto­ries “direct­ly or indi­rect­ly” about Jay Shah until the suit was resolved. Defi­ant, The Wire post­ed a pho­to of the order, vow­ing “It goes with­out say­ing that this attempt to gag The Wire will not go unchal­lenged.”

On Mon­day, the B.J.P.-led gov­ern­ment in Rajasthan State intro­duced an ordi­nance in the state’s Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly that would essen­tial­ly bar report­ing of gov­ern­ment malfea­sance by requir­ing gov­ern­ment per­mis­sion to inves­ti­gate “both serv­ing and for­mer judges, mag­is­trates and pub­lic ser­vants for on-duty actions.” It would also make it ille­gal to “print or pub­lish or pub­li­cize in any man­ner the name, address, pho­to­graph, fam­i­ly details or any oth­er par­tic­u­lars which may lead to dis­clo­sure of iden­ti­ty of a judge or mag­is­trate or a pub­lic ser­vant against whom” an inves­ti­ga­tion is pend­ing.

Not all the Indi­ans I spoke with were so uneasy. Many cit­i­zens remain out­spo­ken. Coura­geous jour­nal­ists con­tin­ue to fight to do their job. But the grow­ing fear of Indi­ans to speak, to write and even to read freely pos­es a grave threat to one of the world’s great democ­ra­cies.

3a. Symp­to­matic of the polit­i­cal and jour­nal­is­tic land­scape of Mod­i’s India is the–as yet–unsolved mur­der of Gau­ri Lankesh, a coura­geous jour­nal­ist and unspar­ing crit­ic of Modi and the RSS. ” . . . . She was killed instant­ly in what polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion offi­cials say appears to be yet anoth­er assas­si­na­tion of an intel­lec­tu­al who pub­licly crit­i­cized India’s gov­ern­ing par­ty and the Hin­du agen­da it has pur­sued. In recent years, at least three oth­er anti-estab­lish­ment activists have been silenced by bul­lets. . . . ‘Any­body who speaks against the RSS/BJP is attacked & even killed,’ Rahul Gand­hi, an oppo­si­tion leader, said in a Twit­ter mes­sage. . . . ‘They want to impose only one ide­ol­o­gy which is against the nature of India.’ . . . The three oth­er activists killed in a some­what sim­i­lar man­ner in the past four years had also opposed the rise of hard-line Hin­duism. . . . On Mon­day, the day before she was killed, she shared a post on her Face­book page that was writ­ten by some­one else. ‘The RSS is the ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion,’ it read. . . .

“In India, Anoth­er Gov­ern­ment Crit­ic Is Silenced by Bul­lets” by Jef­frey Get­tle­man and Hari Kumar; The New York Times; 9/6/2017. [30]

Gau­ri Lankesh, one of India’s most out­spo­ken jour­nal­ists, was walk­ing into her house on Tues­day night. It was around 8. The night was warm. She was alone. As she stepped through her gate, just feet from her front door, sev­er­al gun­shots rang out.

She was killed instant­ly in what polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion offi­cials say appears to be yet anoth­er assas­si­na­tion of an intel­lec­tu­al who pub­licly crit­i­cized India’s gov­ern­ing par­ty and the Hin­du agen­da it has pur­sued. In recent years, at least three oth­er anti­estab­lish­ment activists have been silenced by bul­lets.

Ms. Lankesh’s death, which monop­o­lized tele­vi­sion news cov­er­age on Wednes­day, set off protests across India, a coun­try increas­ing­ly polar­ized by sup­port­ers of the Hin­du nation­al­ist gov­ern­ing par­ty and its detrac­tors. Some of Mrs. Lankesh’s friends say they have no idea who killed her. But among gov­ern­ment oppo­nents, the cir­cum­stances of the shoot­ing fueled sus­pi­cions that gov­ern­ing par­ty back­ers, embold­ened by their lead­ers to wipe out their ene­mies, were behind it.

“Any­body who speaks against the RSS/BJP is attacked & even killed,’’ Rahul Gand­hi, an oppo­si­tion leader, said in a Twit­ter mes­sage. (R.S.S. is a Hin­du orga­ni­za­tion that is close­ly con­nect­ed to India’s gov­ern­ing Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty.) “They want to impose only one ide­ol­o­gy which is against the nature of India.” . . .

[61]. . . . The three oth­er activists killed in a some­what sim­i­lar man­ner in the past four years had also opposed the rise of hard-line Hin­duism. . . .

. . . . Lead­ers of the Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty had been annoyed with Ms. Lankesh for years and sued her for defama­tion. The first court to hear the case con­vict­ed her and sen­tenced her to six months in prison last year, but she was grant­ed bail while the case was on appeal. S. N. Sin­ha, pres­i­dent of India’s 28,000-member jour­nal­ist union and a mem­ber of a news over­sight coun­cil, said the coun­cil had got­ten many com­plaints about Ms. Lankesh.

“She used to write very strong­ly,” Mr. Sin­ha said. “We warned her she has to be a lit­tle care­ful in her writ­ing. It wasn’t the con­tent; it was her lan­guage.” On Mon­day, the day before she was killed, she shared a post on her Face­book page that was writ­ten by some­one else. “The RSS is the ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion,” it read. . . .

3b. The same gun was used to kill both Gau­ri Lankesh and anoth­er promi­nent vic­tim, M M Kalbur­gi: ” . . . . . A pre­lim­i­nary foren­sic analy­sis of bul­lets and car­tridges found at the site of the Sep­tem­ber 5 shoot­ing of jour­nal­ist and activist Gau­ri Lankesh [32] and those recov­ered from the killing of Kan­na­da research schol­ar M M Kalbur­gi two years ago has revealed that the same 7.65-mm coun­try­made pis­tol was used for the two killings. This find­ing has been com­mu­ni­cat­ed to the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tion Team that is prob­ing the mur­der of the 55-year-old jour­nal­ist and activist, sources involved with the two sep­a­rate inves­ti­ga­tions have told The Indi­an Express. . . . .”

“Gun Used to Kill Gau­ri Lankesh Is the Same One that Killed M M Kalbur­gi: Foren­sics” by John­son T A; Indi­an Express; 9/14/2017. [31]

A pre­lim­i­nary foren­sic analy­sis of bul­lets and car­tridges found at the site of the Sep­tem­ber 5 shoot­ing of jour­nal­ist and activist Gau­ri Lankesh [32] and those recov­ered from the killing of Kan­na­da research schol­ar M M Kalbur­gi two years ago has revealed that the same 7.65-mm coun­try­made pis­tol was used for the two killings.

This find­ing has been com­mu­ni­cat­ed to the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tion Team that is prob­ing the mur­der of the 55-year-old jour­nal­ist and activist, sources involved with the two sep­a­rate inves­ti­ga­tions have told The Indi­an Express.

On Sep­tem­ber 12, The Indi­an Express had report­ed that inves­ti­ga­tions had found clues that sug­gest­ed a link between the two mur­ders.

Lankesh was shot dead at her res­i­dence in west Ben­galu­ru by an uniden­ti­fied assailant with a 7.65-mm coun­try­made pis­tol around 8 pm while she was open­ing the gates to her home to park her car after return­ing from work. Kalbur­gi was killed at his home in the north Kar­nata­ka town of Dhar­wad at around 8.40 am on August 30, 2015 by an uniden­ti­fied gun­man who rang his door­bell.

Police recov­ered the three bul­lets that pierced Lankesh’s heart and lungs before exit­ing her body and a bul­let that missed her along with the four emp­ty car­tridges. While the four car­tridges were found at the mur­der site short­ly after the killing, the fatal bul­lets were found by a search of the crime scene with met­al detec­tors.

Inves­ti­ga­tors decid­ed to com­pare the “bal­lis­tic sig­na­ture” on the bul­lets and car­tridges in the Lankesh case with that of bul­lets and car­tridges in the Kalbur­gi case. The analy­sis has report­ed a match sug­gest­ing that one com­mon gun was used in the two killings, sources said. This also sug­gests that one com­mon out­fit or group is behind the two killings, an offi­cial said.

Guns are believed to leave unique mark­ings on car­tridges and bul­lets — when the car­tridge is struck by the fir­ing pin and the bul­let trav­els through the bar­rel — on the lines of fin­ger­prints although there are scep­tics who cau­tion against using this match­ing test for crude coun­try­made weapons.

The foren­sic find­ing from the com­par­i­son of the bal­lis­tic evi­dence from the Lankesh and Kalbur­gi cas­es when jux­ta­posed with the foren­sic analy­sis of the shoot­ing down of Maha­rash­tra ratio­nal­ist Govind Pansare, 81, on Feb­ru­ary 16, 2015 in Kol­ha­pur, sug­gests that the same gun has been used in three dif­fer­ent killings over the last 30 months.

Fol­low­ing the mur­der of Kalbur­gi and Pansare in 2015, the Kar­nata­ka CID had attempt­ed to analyse the evi­dence in the two cas­es by com­par­ing stri­a­tions on the bul­lets and car­tridges used in the two mur­ders and had found a match.

Govind Pansare and his wife Uma Pansare were shot with five bul­lets from two 7.65-mm coun­try­made guns. Uma Pansare sur­vived the shoot­ing. The foren­sic analy­sis in the Pansare and Kalbur­gi case revealed that one of the two guns used in the Pansare case in Maha­rash­tra was the same gun used to shoot down Kalbur­gi in Kar­nata­ka.

A fur­ther com­par­i­son of the bal­lis­tic evi­dence found in the Pansare case with that of evi­dence in the shoot­ing of ratio­nal­ist Naren­dra Dab­holkar, 69, on August 20, 2013 in Pune revealed that the sec­ond gun used to shoot Pansare was the same gun that was used to kill Dab­holkar.

In the 2013 killing of Dab­holkar, the motor­cy­cle borne assailant fired four bul­lets.

Though the inves­ti­ga­tion of the Kalbur­gi killing in Kar­nata­ka by the CID has not result­ed in any head­way in find­ing the killers, the CID has been co-ordi­nat­ing with the CBI which is prob­ing the Dab­holkar mur­der and a Maha­rash­tra SIT prob­ing the Pansare mur­der.

The inves­ti­ga­tions in the Dab­holkar and Pansare cas­es by the CBI and the Maha­rash­tra SIT sug­gest­ed the involve­ment of the rad­i­cal right-wing out­fit, Sanatan Sanstha, in the two killings.

On Jan­u­ary 20 this year, the Bom­bay High Court not­ed that CBI had not been pro­vid­ed a report by the Scot­land Yard foren­sic lab on the find­ings made by the Kar­nata­ka lab in the mur­ders of the ratio­nal­ists but had accept­ed a report of the Gujarat FSL and allowed it to be used as evi­dence by the CBI in the Dab­holkar mur­der case.

“The Scot­land Yard Police have informed the CBI in writ­ing that unless and until a Mutu­al Agree­ment is arrived at, and in the absence of the clear­ance from the UK Home Depart­ment, it would not be pos­si­ble to exam­ine the mate­ri­als and ren­der any def­i­nite and con­clu­sive opin­ion,’’ the court not­ed. “At this stage, we must also note the fact that the report, now being avail­able for the CBI (the report of the Direc­tor of Foren­sic Sci­ences, Gujarat), is like­ly to be placed on the record of the crim­i­nal case, and par­tic­u­lar­ly, the Ses­sions case aris­ing out of the mur­der of Dr Naren­dra Dab­holkar.’’

Although activists of the Sanatan Sanstha have emerged as the pri­ma­ry sus­pects in the case, the Kar­nata­ka SIT is also pur­su­ing inves­ti­ga­tions on oth­er lines and on Wednes­day ques­tioned fam­i­ly mem­bers of Lankesh and some asso­ciates whom she had helped move out of the Nax­al move­ment into the main­stream.

On the basis of direc­tions issued by the Bom­bay High Court on Jan­u­ary 7, 2016, the Kar­nata­ka police shared infor­ma­tion from its foren­sic find­ings in the Kalbur­gi case with the CBI and the Maha­rash­tra SIT.

A co-ordi­na­tion meet­ing was held by offi­cers of the CBI, the SIT, Maha­rash­tra and the CID, Kar­nata­ka on Feb­ru­ary 17, 2016, to dis­cuss the inves­ti­ga­tion of the three seem­ing­ly linked mur­der cas­es. The CBI sug­gest­ed ver­i­fi­ca­tion of the bal­lis­tic find­ings of the Kar­nata­ka foren­sic lab through the Direc­torate of Foren­sic Ser­vices, at Scot­land Yard, Lon­don.

Sources said Scot­land Yard con­firmed the foren­sic find­ings in the Dab­holkar, Pansare and Kalbur­gi cas­es but did not issue a report for lack of an agree­ment. The CBI then approached the Gujarat Foren­sic Sci­ence Lab to ver­i­fy the find­ings of the Kar­nata­ka lab. The Gujarat FSL con­firmed the bal­lis­tic find­ings link­ing the three cas­es, accord­ing to sources.

3c. There are numer­ous oth­er sim­i­lar­i­ties between the killings of Lankesh and Kalbur­gi. Note that the assas­sins rode motor­bikes with hel­mets in both crimes, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to iden­ti­fy the shoot­er. Note the motor­bikes present in the pho­to of Adiny­ath’s Hin­du Youth Brigade, vis­i­ble above.

The same weapon used to kill Gau­ri Lankesh and M M Kalbur­gi was also used to kill Govind Pansare and Naren­dra Dab­holkar! . . . . Schol­ar and ratio­nal­ist Kalbur­gi was shot dead at his home at 8.40 am by two uniden­ti­fied per­sons who drove up on a motor­cy­cle. The assailants knocked on the door of the home of the 77-year-old Sahitya Akade­mi Award win­ner and shot him on the doorstep with two bul­lets from a 7.65 mm coun­try­made pis­tol. Lankesh was shot dead in the front yard of her home at 8 pm on Sep­tem­ber 5 by one of two per­sons who came on a motor­cy­cle and fired four bul­lets from a 7.65 mm coun­try­made pis­tol while she was open­ing the gates to her home. Inves­ti­ga­tions in the Kalbur­gi mur­der case by the Kar­nata­ka Crim­i­nal Inves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment had revealed that the 7.65 mm pis­tol used to kill the ratio­nal­ist was the same one that was used to mur­der 81-year-old Maha­rash­tra ratio­nal­ist and Left­ist thinker Govind Pansare in Kol­ha­pur on Feb­ru­ary 16, 2015 by two uniden­ti­fied men. The foren­sic analy­sis had also revealed that one of the two guns used to shoot down Pansare in 2015 had also been used to kill Maha­rash­tra ratio­nal­ist Naren­dra Dab­holkar, 69, in Pune on August 20, 2013 by a pair of uniden­ti­fied men. . . .”

“Probe Finds Clues That Point to Link Between Gau­ri Lankesh, M M Kalbur­gi Killing” by John­son T A; Indi­an Express; 9/12/2017. [33]

Inves­ti­ga­tions have revealed that the “mechan­ics of the crime’’ in the Sep­tem­ber 5 killing of jour­nal­ist and activist Gau­ri Lankesh [32], 55, by an uniden­ti­fied gun­man is iden­ti­cal to that of the August 30, 2015 mur­der of Kan­na­da lit­er­ary schol­ar M M Kalbur­gi in Dhar­wad in north Kar­nata­ka.

More than one offi­cial famil­iar with the probe into Lankesh’s killing said that although the inves­ti­ga­tion remained open in terms of track­ing down the killers — and for­mal foren­sics and bal­lis­tics reports are await­ed — there has been a “sig­nif­i­cant find­ing” that sug­gests a link between the killings of Kalbur­gi and Lankesh.

While an offi­cial declined to give details, he said that this find­ing goes beyond just the spec­u­la­tion so far that both the deaths involved a sim­i­lar type of weapon.

In fact, Kar­nata­ka Home Min­is­ter Rama­lin­ga Red­dy had said on Sat­ur­day that the SIT set up to probe the mur­der had obtained impor­tant clues. Senior police sources have, over the last cou­ple of days, said that they are “very sure” that the killings in Kar­nata­ka are linked to each oth­er along with two mur­ders in Maha­rash­tra.

Schol­ar and ratio­nal­ist Kalbur­gi was shot dead at his home at 8.40 am by two uniden­ti­fied per­sons who drove up on a motor­cy­cle. The assailants knocked on the door of the home of the 77-year-old Sahitya Akade­mi Award win­ner and shot him on the doorstep with two bul­lets from a 7.65 mm coun­try­made pis­tol.

Lankesh was shot dead in the front yard of her home at 8 pm on Sep­tem­ber 5 by one of two per­sons who came on a motor­cy­cle and fired four bul­lets from a 7.65 mm coun­try­made pis­tol while she was open­ing the gates to her home.

Inves­ti­ga­tions in the Kalbur­gi mur­der case by the Kar­nata­ka Crim­i­nal Inves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment had revealed that the 7.65 mm pis­tol used to kill the ratio­nal­ist was the same one that was used to mur­der 81-year-old Maha­rash­tra ratio­nal­ist and Left­ist thinker Govind Pansare in Kol­ha­pur on Feb­ru­ary 16, 2015 by two uniden­ti­fied men.

The foren­sic analy­sis had also revealed that one of the two guns used to shoot down Pansare in 2015 had also been used to kill Maha­rash­tra ratio­nal­ist Naren­dra Dab­holkar, 69, in Pune on August 20, 2013 by a pair of uniden­ti­fied men.

One part of the inves­ti­ga­tion in the mur­der of Gau­ri Lankesh over the past week has focused on the crime scene evi­dence and the mechan­ics of the crime like the bul­lets and gun used. Inves­ti­ga­tions by the CBI into the Dab­holkar case and a Maha­rash­tra SIT probe into the mur­der of Pansare found links to a rad­i­cal right wing out­fit called the Hin­du Jana­ja­gru­ti Sami­ti (HJS), affil­i­at­ed to the Sanatan Sanstha, but the actu­al shoot­ers have remained at large.

The find­ings from the Kalbur­gi and the two Maha­rash­tra cas­es sug­gest­ed that the killers were in pos­ses­sion of two guns they used to car­ry out the assas­si­na­tions.

“The key dif­fer­ence between the mur­der of Gau­ri Lankesh and the oth­er killings is the fact that she was killed at night while the oth­er mur­ders occurred in the morn­ing. This could be because Gau­ri Lankesh did not ven­ture out in the morn­ing but returned late evening,’’ sources said.

The SIT is pur­su­ing mul­ti­ple angles to zero in on the per­pe­tra­tors. Activists of the HJS and Sanatan Sanstha based in Kar­nata­ka are among those under the scan­ner along with a local unit of the out­fit. “The weapon used to com­mit the crime has been a key focus of the inves­ti­ga­tion and efforts are on to find out how and where it was pro­cured,’’ an offi­cial said.

The inves­ti­ga­tion is also look­ing at whether the killing involved hired killers or mem­bers of a group. Cell records, CCTV footage, his­to­ry of sto­ries pub­lished in the Gau­ri Lankesh Patrike, data from hotels and lodges in Ben­galu­ru in the peri­od pre­ced­ing the mur­der and infor­ma­tion from pris­ons about recent­ly released con­victs are all being probed, sources said.

4.  The fol­low­ing piece about the recent assas­si­na­tion of Indi­an jour­nal­ist-turned-activist Gau­ri Lankesh sug­gests, high­lights the role of the Dalit (for­mer­ly “untouch­able”) caste in the elec­toral strat­e­gy of Mod­i’s BJP (again, a polit­i­cal front for the Hin­dut­va fas­cist RSS.) ” . . . . Ms. Lankesh was also an effec­tive polit­i­cal orga­niz­er with the abil­i­ty to bring togeth­er social and polit­i­cal groups — Dal­its, indige­nous trib­als, left­ists, Mus­lims and oth­ers — opposed to the Hin­du nation­al­ist attempts to trans­form India into a coun­try pri­mar­i­ly for the Hin­dus. . . .”

An effec­tive polit­i­cal orga­niz­er who appeared to have the abil­i­ty to bridge a key divide between the Dal­its and the rest of the non-Hin­du nation­al­ist seg­ments of Indi­an soci­ety gets gunned down. She was just lat­est activist who pos­sessed that abil­i­ty to bridge divides to be assas­si­nat­ed in exact­ly the same man­ner in recent years: The oth­er three were Daab­holkar, Kalbur­gi and Pansare, who were slain with the same weapon–a gun that was used to kill Lankesh as well. ” . . . . In August 2013, the activist Naren­dra Dab­holkar [36], who cam­paigned against reli­gious super­sti­tions, was mur­dered. In August 2015, M. M. Kalbur­gi [37], a schol­ar and out­spo­ken crit­ic of idol wor­ship among Hin­dus, was gunned down at his own doorstep. In Feb­ru­ary 2015, Govind Pansare [38], a Com­mu­nist leader, com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er and colum­nist, was killed in a small town near Mum­baiMr. Dhabolkar, Mr. Kalbur­gi and Mr. Pansare were mur­dered by assas­sins on motor­bikes, who hid their faces with hel­mets and fled after the mur­der. Exact­ly as Ms. Lankesh was killed. The mur­dered intel­lec­tu­als also wrote in region­al lan­guages and worked as activists. Each of them shared the qual­i­ty of being accept­able to the left­ist groups and Dalit groups. They could bring togeth­er com­mu­ni­ties opposed to the Hin­du right. . . . ”

We note that the method­ol­o­gy of the RSS, the orga­ni­za­tion that killed Mahat­ma Gand­hi, remains in place.

“Why Was Gau­ri Lankesh Killed?” by Sudip­to Mon­dal; The New York Times;
9/13/ 2017

On the evening of Sept. 5, I got a call from my wife, a fel­low jour­nal­ist. “Gau­ri Lankesh has been shot out­side her house,” she said. “She is dead.” Ms. Lankesh, 55, was the edi­tor of Gau­ri Lankesh Patrike [62], a week­ly news­pa­per, which she pub­lished from Ban­ga­lore, India, in the south­ern state of Kar­nata­ka.

I drove with two jour­nal­ist friends to the morgue of a hos­pi­tal where her body was. At 8 p.m., she had been enter­ing her home in the upper-class area of Ban­ga­lore when an assas­sin on a motor­bike fired at her and fled. Three bul­lets hit her [63], dam­ag­ing her heart and lungs, accord­ing to the post-mortem report.

I had known her for 10 years. All I ever did was argue with her. Our argu­ments had acquired an increas­ing inten­si­ty in the three years since Naren­dra Modi came to pow­er and India turned toward majori­tar­i­an­ism and intol­er­ance. An out­spo­ken crit­ic of Prime Min­is­ter Modi’s Hin­du nation­al­ist gov­ern­ment, she said in her last edi­to­r­i­al that spread­ing fake news had con­tributed to the suc­cess of Mr. Modi and his par­ty.

After Rohith Vem­u­la [64], a Dalit grad­u­ate stu­dent and activist at a uni­ver­si­ty in the south­ern city of Hyder­abad, killed him­self in Jan­u­ary 2016 because of intense, unceas­ing insti­tu­tion­al­ized caste dis­crim­i­na­tion, a coali­tion [65] of Dalit (low­est caste) and left­ist stu­dent groups sought the pros­e­cu­tion of uni­ver­si­ty offi­cials and the right-wing Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty politi­cians, who had pushed him to the brink. The left­ist groups dom­i­nat­ed by upper-caste Hin­dus were not will­ing to work under the lead­er­ship of Dalit activists.

I was agi­tat­ed­ly talk­ing to Ms. Lankesh about how the Indi­an left was almost entire­ly led by upper-caste Hin­dus. Ten years of report­ing on caste prej­u­dice and pol­i­tics and my per­son­al his­to­ry of grow­ing up and work­ing as a Dalit writer made me believe that even in strug­gles for civ­il and polit­i­cal rights, the Indi­an left exclud­ed the Dal­its from posi­tions of lead­er­ship. Ms. Lankesh didn’t see lead­er­ship as a big ques­tion when in the con­text of the more press­ing need to fight the rise of Hin­du nation­al­ism, which she described as “fas­cism.”

Ms. Lankesh was also an effec­tive polit­i­cal orga­niz­er with the abil­i­ty to bring togeth­er social and polit­i­cal groups — Dal­its, indige­nous trib­als, left­ists, Mus­lims and oth­ers — opposed to the Hin­du nation­al­ist attempts to trans­form India into a coun­try pri­mar­i­ly for the Hin­dus.

The priests at a tem­ple in Udupi, a south­ern Indi­an town — a strong­hold of the Hin­du nation­al­ist move­ment — were seg­re­gat­ing the low­er castes, espe­cial­ly Dalit devo­tees, from the upper-caste Hin­dus. Last Sep­tem­ber, Ms. Lankesh helped per­suade numer­ous pro­gres­sive, Dalit and left­ist groups, and non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions — who loathe work­ing togeth­er because of polit­i­cal dif­fer­ences — to come togeth­er in a march to protest seg­re­ga­tion at the Udupi tem­ple. The ques­tion of whether Dal­its will get to lead the strug­gle for their rights returned. Ms. Lankesh nego­ti­at­ed with every group to ensure that the upper-caste lead­ers didn’t appro­pri­ate the march.

A month ear­li­er, in July 2016, hard-line Hin­du activists had stripped and flogged [66] four Dalit men in Gujarat, the home state of Mr. Modi, for skin­ning a cow. Thou­sands of Dal­its earn their mea­ger liveli­hood from skin­ning dead cows and buf­faloes and sell­ing their hides to leather traders. Jig­nesh Mevani, a young Dalit lawyer, orga­nized and led huge protests in Gujarat against the cow vig­i­lantes.

Ms. Lankesh set­tled the ques­tion of lead­er­ship by get­ting every­body to agree that Mr. Mevani should lead the march against seg­re­ga­tion [67] to Udupi tem­ple. Around 10,000 peo­ple joined the march. The oppo­si­tion uni­ty made an impres­sion.

Soon after that I saw my social media time­lines filled with pho­tographs of Ms. Lankesh hug­ging Mr. Mevani and Kan­haiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and [68]Shehla Rashid [68], left­ist stu­dent lead­ers from a uni­ver­si­ty in New Del­hi. She called them “her chil­dren.” It was her way of cre­at­ing uni­ty among var­i­ous groups opposed to the rise of the majori­tar­i­an pol­i­tics.

On the night of her mur­der, I stood out­side her house with our com­mon friends and we won­dered why any­one would kill her. She wasn’t the only out­spo­ken crit­ic of the Hin­du right. Her news­pa­per, which was crit­i­cal of Mr. Modi’s gov­ern­ment and the Hin­du nation­al­ists, didn’t sell more than a few thou­sand copies although it was much respect­ed.

I won­dered if they killed her because she was a mem­ber of the Lin­gay­at [69] com­mu­ni­ty in Kar­nata­ka, which wants to sep­a­rate from Brah­man­i­cal Hin­duism. In the past few months, the Lin­gay­at lead­ers had mobi­lized hun­dreds of thou­sands of sup­port­ers in pub­lic ral­lies. The mobi­liza­tion threat­ens the chances of the Hin­du nation­al­ist B.J.P. in the forth­com­ing state elec­tions in Kar­nata­ka. Although Ms. Lankesh sup­port­ed the call, the Lin­gay­at move­ment had oth­er, enor­mous­ly pow­er­ful lead­ers.

In August 2013, the activist Naren­dra Dab­holkar [36], who cam­paigned against reli­gious super­sti­tions, was mur­dered. In August 2015, M. M. Kalbur­gi [37], a schol­ar and out­spo­ken crit­ic of idol wor­ship among Hin­dus, was gunned down at his own doorstep. In Feb­ru­ary 2015, Govind Pansare [38], a Com­mu­nist leader, com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er and colum­nist, was killed in a small town near Mum­bai.

Mr. Dhabolkar, Mr. Kalbur­gi and Mr. Pansare were mur­dered by assas­sins on motor­bikes, who hid their faces with hel­mets and fled after the mur­der. Exact­ly as Ms. Lankesh was killed.

The mur­dered intel­lec­tu­als also wrote in region­al lan­guages and worked as activists. Each of them shared the qual­i­ty of being accept­able to the left­ist groups and Dalit groups. They could bring togeth­er com­mu­ni­ties opposed to the Hin­du right.

We don’t know yet who killed Ms. Lankesh, but var­i­ous sup­port­ers of Mr. Modi, the B.J.P. and its par­ent orga­ni­za­tion, the Hin­du nation­al­ist moth­er ship, Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh, cel­e­brat­ed her mur­der [70] on social media.

5. As Naren­dra Modi, the BJP, and Modi’s fas­cist RSS allies con­tin­ue to con­sol­i­date their grip on pow­er, the BJP elec­toral agen­da is going to require the BJP to appeal to the very poor. The very poor in this case, are the “untouch­ables,” the Dal­its, who under­stand­ably aren’t tra­di­tion­al­ly in the BJP tar­get audi­ence. And as the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, if Modi wants to not only get reelect­ed, but also lead the BJP to a take over of par­lia­ment so he to ful­ly imple­ment his far-right agen­da, he’s going to have to fig­ure out how to get that Dalit vote:

Caste, in short, remains per­haps the sin­gle most influ­en­tial fac­tor in Indi­an pol­i­tics despite rapid mod­ern­iza­tion of the world’s largest democ­ra­cy, as proven in the lat­est pres­i­den­tial con­test. And Naren­dra Modi, who won a land­slide vic­to­ry by widen­ing the party’s appeal beyond the ortho­dox Hin­du class, is sure to milk it for all it’s worth. . . . Even though it has cam­paigned on pre­serv­ing con­ser­v­a­tive Hin­du tra­di­tions [39], includ­ing sanc­ti­ty of upper-caste Brah­mins, the BJP is depen­dent on the votes of Dal­its and oth­er low­er castes to win cru­cial states. In the state of Bihar, the third most pop­u­lous state, Modi and the BJP suf­fered a demor­al­iz­ing defeat to the rival Rashtriya Jana­ta Dal par­ty in 2015 State Assem­bly elec­tions [40]. Bihar’s low-caste com­mu­ni­ties vot­ed heav­i­ly in sup­port of RJD and its leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was able to strike a fruit­ful elec­toral alliance [41] between Bihar’s Mus­lims and the state’s mar­gin­al­ized, cow-herd­ing Yadav caste . . . . In March, the right-wing Hin­du par­ty secured a major vic­to­ry in India’s most pop­u­lous state of Uttar Pradesh [42], win­ning over the state’s low­er-caste votes. Modi steered clear of poten­tial­ly divi­sive lan­guage in his speech­es, and the par­ty was report­ed to have induct­ed mem­bers of the low­er caste in lead­er­ship posi­tions [43]. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, Modi and the BJP are con­tin­u­ing this trend with the lat­est nom­i­na­tion of Ram Nath Kovind for pres­i­dent. . . .”

It will be inter­est­ing to see if the BJP can con­tin­ue mak­ing inroads into the Dalit elec­torate. Although one should not auto­mat­i­cal­ly con­flate the Indi­an caste-bur­dened soci­ety with the U.S., we note that Trump, the GOP, the so-called “Alt-Right” in the U.S. and cor­re­spond­ing ele­ments else­where have suc­cess­ful­ly tar­get­ed “have-nots” with var­i­ous forms of pro­pa­gan­da, from out­right lying to xeno­pho­bia to eth­nic scape­goat­ing.

“India’s Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tion Proves the Val­ue of Exploit­ing Caste Pol­i­tics” by Meer­an Karim; Slate; 07/18/2017 [35]

Ram Nath Kovind, a mem­ber of India’s low­er-caste Dalit com­mu­ni­ty, is like­ly to become the country’s next pres­i­dent after the results of par­lia­men­tary polls are announced Thurs­day [71]. Kovind’s can­di­da­cy as part of the rul­ing Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty is wide­ly per­ceived [72] to be part of a strat­e­gy of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and his Hin­du nation­al­ist cohort to con­sol­i­date the party’s sup­port among the country’s low­er-caste vot­ers.

Even though it has cam­paigned on pre­serv­ing con­ser­v­a­tive Hin­du tra­di­tions [39], includ­ing sanc­ti­ty of upper-caste Brah­mins, the BJP is depen­dent on the votes of Dal­its and oth­er low­er castes to win cru­cial states. In the state of Bihar, the third most pop­u­lous state, Modi and the BJP suf­fered a demor­al­iz­ing defeat to the rival Rashtriya Jana­ta Dal par­ty in 2015 State Assem­bly elec­tions [40]. Bihar’s low-caste com­mu­ni­ties vot­ed heav­i­ly in sup­port of RJD and its leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was able to strike a fruit­ful elec­toral alliance [41] between Bihar’s Mus­lims and the state’s mar­gin­al­ized, cow-herd­ing Yadav caste.

Dal­its, accord­ing to Hin­du tra­di­tion, are believed to lie out­side the four castes that deter­mine the lives of Hin­dus, includ­ing their occu­pa­tions and sta­tus­es in soci­ety. For much of the country’s his­to­ry, they have been con­sid­ered “impure [73],” suf­fer­ing decades of exclu­sion and pover­ty that affir­ma­tive action pro­grams [74] in India have attempt­ed to redress.

Learn­ing from past mis­takes, the BJP under Modi has soft­ened its stance on caste issues. In March, the right-wing Hin­du par­ty secured a major vic­to­ry in India’s most pop­u­lous state of Uttar Pradesh [42], win­ning over the state’s low­er-caste votes. Modi steered clear of poten­tial­ly divi­sive lan­guage in his speech­es, and the par­ty was report­ed to have induct­ed mem­bers of the low­er caste in lead­er­ship posi­tions [43]. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, Modi and the BJP are con­tin­u­ing this trend with the lat­est nom­i­na­tion of Ram Nath Kovind for pres­i­dent.

This thin­ly veiled attempt to secure Dalit sup­port for future elec­tions hasn’t slipped the atten­tion of Indi­ans. Indi­an aca­d­e­m­ic Har­ish Wankhede remarked on the shrewd­ness of BJP and Modi for the Wire [75] last month:

While the BJP has been try­ing to get the sup­port of Dal­its, many among the Dal­its believed that the top posts after it wins would go to the party’s upper caste cadre. Yogi Adityanath, Deven­dra Fad­navis or Manohar Khat­tar all came from the Sangh or Hin­dut­va fold and were upper caste saf­fron lead­ers. They most­ly resort­ed to polit­i­cal tokenism when it came to reward­ing Dal­its. Kovind’s can­di­da­ture is a big step for­ward.

And while the impact of Kovind’s nom­i­na­tion on low­er castes is still unclear, Modi’s gov­ern­ment still faces road­blocks in these com­mu­ni­ties. The BJP’s sup­port of cow pro­tec­tion mea­sures [76] and Hin­du nation­al­ist cam­paigns to ban the con­sump­tion of cow meat has been indi­rect­ly linked to a recent spate of mob lynch­ings [77]. In the Indi­an state of Gujarat, a mob of vig­i­lantes was filmed flog­ging sev­en men [78] belong­ing to the Dalit caste after being accused of skin­ning a dead cow. This led to a a wave of protests [79] across India con­demn­ing BJP and Modi’s silence over the vio­lence. Bans of meat insti­tut­ed by BJP-led state gov­ern­ments have also hit India’s low castes the hard­est [80], as thou­sands are employed in unskilled jobs in the meat and leather goods indus­tries.

Kovind’s rival for pres­i­dent also hails from India’s Dalit com­mu­ni­ty, fur­ther empha­siz­ing the impor­tance of caste in Indi­an pol­i­tics right now. Meira Kumar [81], a long­time mem­ber of the Indi­an Par­lia­ment, is the nom­i­nee of the Indi­an Nation­al Congress–backed Unit­ed Pro­gres­sive Alliance. Although its lead­ers have exploit­ed caste con­cerns to win votes [82], the Congress—in an inter­est­ing case of the pot call­ing the ket­tle black—has rou­tine­ly blamed rival­ing BJP and Modi for divid­ing the coun­try along caste and reli­gious lines. “The BJP mis­lead peo­ple and try trap­ping them,” Con­gress leader Sonia Gand­hi [83] said at 2014 ral­ly. “They are doing caste-based pol­i­tics. They want to divide peo­ple. They have a cheap men­tal­i­ty, and their ide­ol­o­gy tries to harm the diver­si­ty of this nation.”

Caste, in short, remains per­haps the sin­gle most influ­en­tial fac­tor in Indi­an pol­i­tics despite rapid mod­ern­iza­tion of the world’s largest democ­ra­cy, as proven in the lat­est pres­i­den­tial con­test. And Naren­dra Modi, who won a land­slide vic­to­ry by widen­ing the party’s appeal beyond the ortho­dox Hin­du class, is sure to milk it for all it’s worth.

 6. Mod­i’s sur­pris­ing vic­to­ry in the March Uttar Pradesh Assem­bly elec­tion may have had more to do withy vote tam­per­ing (with the elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines) than his sup­port for (and by) the Dal­its.

The suc­cess of the BJP was quite sus­pi­cious, in that the par­ty car­ried the vote in large­ly Mus­lim districts–the RSS specif­i­cal­ly tar­gets and scape­goats Mus­lims.

We note, in this regard, that Modi was enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly [84] wel­comed by the Sil­i­con Val­ley elite, with whom his leo-lib­er­al trade poli­cies res­onat­ed. One won­ders if they proved to be of assis­tance in the elec­tion?

“UP Elec­tion Results: BJP Tam­pered with EVMs, Could­n’t Have Won Oth­er­wise in Mus­lim Bas­tions, Says Mayawati” by Ankit Mis­ra; India Today; 3/11/2017. [44]

Express­ing shock and dis­be­lief over the Uttar Pradesh Assem­bly elec­tion results, Bahu­jan Samaj Par­ty (BSP) supre­mo Mayawati today accused the Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty (BJP) of tam­per­ing with elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines (EVMs).

“How come the BJP man­aged to win in Mus­lim bas­tions in the state. The poll results are very sur­pris­ing”, Mayawati said.

Alleg­ing that there was mas­sive rig­ging of vot­ing machines in the state to favour the BJP, the BSP chief said, “Most votes in Mus­lim major­i­ty con­stituen­cies have gone to the BJP. This makes it clear that the vot­ing machines were manip­u­lat­ed.”

Is is that the EVMs did not accept the votes cast for oth­er par­ties, Mayawati won­dered. “Mus­lims con­sti­tute 20 per cent votes in the state and the BJP did not give a sin­gle tick­et to Mus­lims. But in Mus­lim-dom­i­nat­ed seats also, the results went in the BJP’s favour and this is unpalat­able to the BSP,” Mayawati said.

BSP COMPLAINS TO POLL PANEL

In a let­ter to the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, the BSP said that it had been informed by sev­er­al peo­ple that there had been grave manip­u­la­tion in vot­ing machines by soft­ware and tech­nol­o­gy experts hired by the BJP.  Mayawati claimed that a sim­i­lar com­plaint was made by her par­ty­men in the 2014 Lok Sab­ha polls but she had pre­ferred to stay silent, think­ing it was Modi wave and anti-Con­gress sen­ti­ment.

“They were nowhere close to win­ning at the ground lev­el dur­ing elec­tions. The BJP could not have got so many votes with­out tam­per­ing with EVMs”, a state­ment released by the BSP said.

Mayawati appealed to the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion to stop count­ing votes, with­hold results and hold fresh polls using tra­di­tion­al paper bal­lots.

The BSP supre­mo dared PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah to ask the poll pan­el to hold fresh elec­tions in the state “if they have an iota of moral­i­ty and hon­esty left in them”.

Issu­ing an open warn­ing to the BJP, Mayawati said they need not be hap­py that they got a major­i­ty as they have “killed democ­ra­cy and this is betray­al of democ­ra­cy”.

7. Omi­nous polit­i­cal news out of India: accord­ing to a new poll out of Indi­an vot­ers, a major­i­ty of Indi­ans sup­port now mil­i­tary rule and even more sup­port a cen­tral author­i­ty who can oper­at­ed with­out checks and bal­ances [45]:

A major­i­ty of Indi­ans, 53 per­cent, sup­port mil­i­tary rule, accord­ing to a Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey released last week. . . .”

 Note that a major­i­ty of polled Indi­ans were back­ing an auto­crat­ic sys­tem in gen­er­al, with a sin­gle indi­vid­ual with unchecked pow­ers: ” . 
. . . . At least 55 per­cent of Indi­ans also back a gov­ern­ing sys­tem ‘in which a strong leader can make deci­sions with­out inter­fer­ence from par­lia­ment or the courts,’ the sur­vey added, not­ing that sup­port for auto­crat­ic rule is high­er in India than in any oth­er nation sur­veyed. . . .”

So as Modi makes fur­ther moves to con­sol­i­date pow­er, those moves may well have strong pub­lic back­ing. Espe­cial­ly with BJP vot­ers: ” . . . . Sup­port­ers of Modi’s rul­ing Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty (BJP) [46] and urban dwellers ‘are sig­nif­i­cant­ly more like­ly’ to sup­port mil­i­tary rule than back­ers of the oppo­si­tion Con­gress par­ty and rur­al res­i­dents, the Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey showed. . . .”

One of the fac­tors that appears to dri­ve this grow­ing embrace of author­i­tar­i­an­ism is dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the out­comes of demo­c­ra­t­ic governance—-a feel­ing like a strong-man is need­ed to ‘get things done’: ” . . . . . Giv­en India’s high lev­els of cor­rup­tion, there’s a per­cep­tion that recent tough mea­sures such as demon­e­ti­za­tion [85] have made sense, so the pub­lic now wants a stronger hand on hot-but­ton issues such as eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty as well as law and order, explained Tony Nash, founder and CEO of data ana­lyt­ics firm Com­plete Intel­li­gence. The survey’s results weren’t sur­pris­ing, Nash said. ‘Now that we’re deep­er into the nation­al­is­tic wave that start­ed with lead­ers such as Japan­ese Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe, peo­ple are see­ing that cen­tral­ized deci­sions make progress so they’re not opposed to some­thing more dra­mat­ic.’ . . .”

So the worse India’s gov­er­nance gets, the more Indi­ans just want a dic­ta­tor to ‘fix’ things. Gee, what lessons are the oli­garchs back­ing the BJP take from polls like this?!

“Most cit­i­zens sup­port mil­i­tary rule in the world’s largest democ­ra­cy” by Nysh­ka Chan­dran; CNBC; 11/19/2017 [45]

* A major­i­ty of Indi­ans sup­port mil­i­tary rule, accord­ing to a new Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey
* Cit­i­zens want a stronger hand on the country’s long-stand­ing prob­lems of cor­rup­tion and eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty, experts explained

India, the world’s largest democ­ra­cy, is show­ing an appetite for mil­i­tary rule — a poten­tial indi­ca­tor that the country’s nation­al­ist pol­i­tics are evolv­ing.

A major­i­ty of Indi­ans, 53 per­cent, sup­port mil­i­tary rule, accord­ing to a Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey released last week. India is one of only four coun­tries that has a major­i­ty in favor of a mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment, the Amer­i­can think tank said. Viet­nam, Indone­sia, and South Africa are the oth­er three.

At least 55 per­cent of Indi­ans also back a gov­ern­ing sys­tem “in which a strong leader can make deci­sions with­out inter­fer­ence from par­lia­ment or the courts,” the sur­vey added, not­ing that sup­port for auto­crat­ic rule is high­er in India than in any oth­er nation sur­veyed.

Since its first elec­tion in 1952 fol­low­ing the end of British colo­nial rule, the South Asian nation has become a mul­ti­par­ty gov­ern­ment with a par­lia­men­tary sys­tem and a com­mit­ment to free elec­tions. But like many democ­ra­cies around the world, its cit­i­zens are increas­ing­ly lean­ing toward a leader with author­i­tar­i­an ten­den­cies.

From Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan [86] to Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Rodri­go Duterte [87], the revival of the strong­man leader has been a defin­ing trend of glob­al pol­i­tics in recent years. Indi­an Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, who remains immense­ly pop­u­lar at home, is no dif­fer­ent with his hard-line stance on cor­rup­tion and secu­ri­ty.

Sup­port­ers of Modi’s rul­ing Bharatiya Jana­ta Par­ty (BJP) [46] and urban dwellers “are sig­nif­i­cant­ly more like­ly” to sup­port mil­i­tary rule than back­ers of the oppo­si­tion Con­gress par­ty and rur­al res­i­dents, the Pew Research Cen­ter sur­vey showed.

Giv­en India’s high lev­els of cor­rup­tion, there’s a per­cep­tion that recent tough mea­sures such as demon­e­ti­za­tion [85] have made sense, so the pub­lic now wants a stronger hand on hot-but­ton issues such as eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty as well as law and order, explained Tony Nash, founder and CEO of data ana­lyt­ics firm Com­plete Intel­li­gence.

The survey’s results weren’t sur­pris­ing, Nash said. “Now that we’re deep­er into the nation­al­is­tic wave that start­ed with lead­ers such as Japan­ese Prime Min­is­ter Shin­zo Abe, peo­ple are see­ing that cen­tral­ized deci­sions make progress so they’re not opposed to some­thing more dra­mat­ic.”

Modi’s crit­ics often accuse his gov­ern­ment of auto­crat­ic rule. West Ben­gal Chief Min­is­ter Mama­ta Baner­jee, who is the founder of the All India Tri­namool Con­gress polit­i­cal par­ty, alleged last month that the BJP was hurt­ing media free­dom by harass­ing news agen­cies crit­i­cal of New Del­hi. Anoth­er com­mon com­plaint direct­ed at the BJP is its use of cen­tral agen­cies to inter­fere in provin­cial gov­ern­ments.

8a. In a grotesque pub­lic rela­tions gam­bit, Modi has posed at a spin­ning wheel. Gand­hi, mur­dered by the RSS (again, the foun­da­tion [8] of the Mod­i’s BJP), moti­vat­ed his fol­low­ers to spin their own cloth­ing, in a suc­cess­ful boy­cott of British tex­tiles. (This was part of Gand­hi’s anti-colo­nial strat­e­gy.

“A Bizarre Spin on the Spin­ning Wheel” by Man­ash Firaq Bat­tachargee; The Wire; 1/13/2017. [49]

The prime min­is­ter fea­tur­ing promi­nent­ly in the tra­di­tion­al spin­ning pose of Mahat­ma Gand­hi [88] in the 2017 wall cal­en­dar and table diary pub­lished by the Kha­di Vil­lage Indus­tries Com­mis­sion is the post-truth event of the year. The image is bewil­der­ing not because of any sen­ti­men­tal rea­sons, but for his­tor­i­cal, polit­i­cal and eth­i­cal rea­sons asso­ci­at­ed with Gand­hi and the spin­ning wheel. It is nec­es­sary to carve out those rea­sons sharply in an era where polit­i­cal, cul­tur­al and eco­nom­ic insti­tu­tions are bent upon invent­ing mean­ings that ring hol­low and lend them­selves to dan­ger­ous mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion.

“There is an art that kills and an art that gives life,” wrote Gand­hi in Young India on August 11, 1921 [89]. He was speak­ing in favour of spin­ning the wheel and pro­duc­ing kha­di. It was not just the idea of self-suf­fi­cien­cy that Gand­hi asso­ci­at­ed with the spin­ning wheel, and nor did oth­ers who asso­ci­at­ed the his­toric act with Gand­hi mere­ly read it as a sym­bol of self-suf­fi­cien­cy. The sym­bol of the spin­ning wheel meant oth­er sig­nif­i­cant things: of attend­ing to a work that appeared bor­ing with­out any sense of bore­dom, of labour­ing for a plea­sure with­out priv­i­lege, of sim­ply doing one’s work that con­sists of a sin­gle motion, of doing a work as monot­o­nous and sin­gu­lar as spin­ning. Spin­ning does not only mean an activ­i­ty but also denotes a space, where the task of rotat­ing a sim­ple machine and weav­ing cloth out of it takes place. Threads are the fruit of labour and the source of joy. One nev­er pro­duces enough thread in a day even after hours of spin­ning. There is a non-cap­i­tal­ist imbal­ance in the equa­tion between doing and pro­duc­ing, as much as between time and pro­duc­tion. Gand­hi was not mere­ly pro­duc­ing cloth to sus­tain a home-grown indus­try and the idea of self-suf­fi­cien­cy, but pro­duc­ing a spe­cif­ic rela­tion between time and work in the process.

The idea of giv­ing “life” by spin­ning cloth meant a self- regen­er­a­tive process for Gand­hi, where a cer­tain mean­ing of self-fash­ion­ing was tak­ing place. On March 28, 1945, Gand­hi wrote in Seva­gram [90],

[48]“Do spin and spin after due delib­er­a­tion… ‘Due delib­er­a­tion’ means real­iza­tion that charkha or act of spin­ning is the sym­bol of non-vio­lence. Pon­der; it will be self-evi­dent.”

We can see the con­nec­tions emerg­ing from this state­ment. The act of spin­ning was an act of delib­er­a­tion, an act of the will. It was a will to be non-vio­lent. If spin­ning was an activ­i­ty of delib­er­a­tion, it was the oppo­site of the idea of provo­ca­tion. Gand­hi spun in the face of provo­ca­tions dur­ing the anti-colo­nial move­ment not sim­ply as a polit­i­cal mes­sage to his oppo­nents and to pow­er, but to cre­ate a space where the self-at-work can be sov­er­eign with­in that activ­i­ty. Spin­ning cre­at­ed a space for nego­ti­at­ing with pow­er. Gand­hi realised the only way to chal­lenge mod­ern (colo­nial) pow­er is by cre­at­ing a place where the self can announce its own sov­er­eign­ty, its own will and a strength to pro­duce for itself. Gandhi’s spin­ning of the wheel sym­bol­ised the soul of Satya­gra­ha, which was also an act of protest, against the devi­ous means of the colo­nial regime to have a claim over the coloniser’s time, will, sus­te­nance and sov­er­eign­ty.

Today, even though in con­crete terms the idea of such an indus­try does not rule over the eco­nom­ics or dis­course of pro­duc­tion, the larg­er mean­ings of Gandhi’s enter­prise are worth pon­der­ing over as ways to nego­ti­ate with the vio­lence of indus­tri­al pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. This vio­lence, born from the divi­sion of class inter­ests between own­ers and work­ers, con­fronts labour with the bur­den of pro­duc­tive goals that end­less­ly expand and exploit labour time. The idea of self-sov­er­eign­ty, pro­duc­ing work at one’s own pace with­out both­er­ing about a larg­er indus­tri­al log­ic of prof­it-mak­ing, is worth think­ing over in an era when cap­i­tal­ism is on a death dri­ve.

The oth­er, relat­ed aspect is the idea of slow­ness that Gand­hi asso­ci­at­ed with the idea of eth­i­cal life. “Good trav­els at a snail’s pace,” wrote Gand­hi in 1909 in Hind Swaraj [91]. It may be inter­est­ing to com­pare Gandhi’s views on slow­ness with Milan Kundera’s obser­va­tions in his nov­el Slow­ness [92]. Kun­dera writes, “There is a secret bond between slow­ness and mem­o­ry, between speed and for­get­ting.” For­get­ting has become an unno­tice­able mal­a­dy, a wound that peo­ple are suf­fer­ing from with­out real­is­ing it. Despite Ita­lo Calvino’s praise of speed and quick­ness as mark of human agili­ty and cre­ativ­i­ty, it is also time to pon­der over the lim­its and dev­as­ta­tions that have been caused by speed. To say like Car­lo Levi, in his intro­duc­tion to the Ital­ian edi­tion of Lawrence Sterne’s Tris­tram Shandy (quot­ed by Ita­lo Calvi­no), “Death is hid­den in the clocks”. It pre­cise­ly describes the tragedy of mod­ern tech­no­log­i­cal life, where a machine exter­nal to the work­ing of the body con­trols the lifes­pan and vital­i­ty of the body. The grad­ual dis­ap­pear­ing of mem­o­ry and the clock turn­ing larg­er than life are the lim­it sit­u­a­tions of our life-world. This mech­a­ni­sa­tion of life and the era­sure of the human would not have sur­prised Gand­hi.

But the most polit­i­cal and eth­i­cal core of the rea­son why Gand­hi is irre­place­able from the idea and the image of the spin­ning wheel is relat­ed to non-vio­lence. Dur­ing Gandhi’s sojourn in Noakhali dur­ing the com­mu­nal riots of 1946, spin­ning was an excep­tion­al act in the face of an atmos­phere com­plete­ly rid­den with vio­lence. Apart from the ele­ment of self-con­trol, the act of spin­ning also con­tributed to a calm and sooth­ing effect to peo­ple in the ashram. Since Gand­hi believed it is impos­si­ble to meet vio­lence non-vio­lent­ly with­out a cer­tain prac­tice that enun­ci­ates a peace­ful mind, spin­ning grant­ed that mode of peace­ful restrain against the news and provo­ca­tion of vio­lence in Noakhali. Gandhi’s spin­ning kha­di was not just an act of indus­try but also imbued with a respon­si­bil­i­ty and com­mit­ment to non-vio­lence.

The prime min­is­ter and his regime can make no sim­i­lar claims. No sin­cere attempt has been made to counter or dis­cour­age vio­lence against minori­ties and Dal­its. There have been relent­less moves to police and make ille­gal demo­c­ra­t­ic protest. Apart from token ges­tures made towards nation­al self-suf­fi­cien­cy, cor­po­rate hous­es and big busi­ness have been giv­en a big nod. Instead of serv­ing the truth, media hous­es defend­ing the regime have indulged in ram­pant man­u­fac­tur­ing of lies. The image of the prime min­is­ter spin­ning the charkha seems total­ly out of place. This bizarre spin on the spin­ning wheel is one more tricky deliv­ery in the play­ground of the nation’s polit­i­cal cul­ture.

8b. Com­pound­ing Mod­i’s grotesque pos­ing of him­self with a spin­ning wheel, he sport­ed an expen­sive pin-stripe suit esti­mat­ed to be worth $16,000.oo (The pin-stripes were actu­al­ly com­posed of his name when seen in a close-up.) When crit­ics scored Mod­i’s behav­ior, he put the suit up for auc­tion for $695,000.00!

“Mod­i’s Fan­cy Pin-Stripe Suit Lands $694,000 at Auc­tion” by Julie McCarthy; NPR; 2/20/2015. [51]

Indi­a’s Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is not­ed for mak­ing bold state­ments — both in pol­i­cy and fash­ion. When Modi sport­ed a suit with pin­stripes that spelled out his name in tiny gold let­ter­ing, his crit­ics called it the height of van­i­ty.

But the con­tro­ver­sial suit raised more than eye­brows: It sold at auc­tion today for near­ly $695,000.

[50]The “self­ie” suit was debuted when Modi wore it to a bilat­er­al meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Oba­ma dur­ing his vis­it to India last month.

Mod­i’s eye-catch­ing wardrobe pro­vid­ed a diver­sion at times, with his pas­tel tunics, rich­ly col­ored scarves and lav­ish head­dress­es. Even Pres­i­dent Oba­ma said Modi was a fash­ion icon who could join the ranks of First Lady Michele Oba­ma.

But the suit, with pin­stripes fash­ioned from let­ters that ver­ti­cal­ly spelled out “Naren­dra Damodar­d­as Modi,” raised a rum­pus on social media. Mag­ni­fied pho­tographs of the gold pin­stripes went viral and invit­ed ridicule.

Oppo­si­tion par­ties leapt at Mod­i’s “wardrobe mal­func­tion,” say­ing the man who prid­ed him­self as a one-time hum­ble tea-sell­er [93] was a hyp­ocrite for wear­ing an expen­sive suit that some reports claimed cost near­ly a mil­lion rupees, or $16,000. . . .