See the liberal hypocrisy! The familiar complaint is heard again as liberals go gaga over Raj Thackeray’s anti-Modi tirades. How easy it is for liberals to forget what a regionalist and chauvinist Raj Thackeray has been in his attacks against immigrants and Muslims alike.
Liberals tweeting/retweeting Raj Thackeray are not endorsing his views and actions against Muslims and non-Marathis. It’s important in times like ours to separate issues from people. Hate the sin, not the sinner.
Ideological purity is only for the radical left that gets its dopamine rush by constantly marginalising itself. Realpolitik comes in shades of grey.
It is okay to make issue-based alliances without endorsing everything about your ally. One may, for instance, not agree with the gender politics of a Muslim politician but may join hands with him (or rarely, her) on the issue of religious discrimination and hate crimes against Muslims. Muslims often express solidarity with Sikh riot victims of 1984, which does not mean they are also supporting, say, caste discrimination in gurdwaras.
Many liberals root for the Congress despite its abominable history of the Emergency of 1975 or the Sikh pogrom of 1984, but they overlook it because they see Hindutva as a bigger danger to democracy and civil rights. Similarly, liberals these days are having to overlook a lot of the Trinamool Congress’ hooliganism in Bengal’s villages because the alternative is no longer the CPM but the BJP, which wants to question the very citizenship of 27 per cent of West Bengal’s population.
One can admire, learn from and even support Mahatma Gandhi – even call him a Mahatma – despite not agreeing with his answers to the Dalit question. One could be with Ambedkar on that, and yet be with Gandhi on the issues of religious pluralism and non-violence.
If we were to start practicing ideological purity with respect to each person and every organisation, we would be reduced to the republic of one. Which is fine too, except if one is looking for mass politics, mass action and mass movement, ideological purity is a non-starter.
Liberals must speak loudly against Raj Thackeray if he’s their greatest problem right now. But he’s not even contesting this election. If the idea is to challenge Modi, watching and sharing an anti-Modi speech by Raj Thackeray is going to help. And no, it’s not going to give Raj Thackeray’s bigotry ‘legitimacy’ because one is not endorsing the bigotry!
The BJP and the RSS understand this well. They understand that in order to pursue long-term ideological goals, they need power, and power demands tactical short-term compromises. So, Team Hindutva is okay with beef in the northeast and Kerala, even in Goa. The BJP’s pursuit of Hindutva can change from time to time. They don’t want to cede space to the Congress or anyone else until such time when they can instantly build the perfect Hindutva nation-state. They know that politics is not a Pure Veg restaurant, no onions, no garlic.
Similar objections, driven by ideological purity, have been made in the past about the liberal’s rediscovery of Arun Shourie and their support to the Lokpal movement. Just what was lost in either case?
Arun Shourie gave us the most memorable description for the Achhe Din years: “Congress plus cow”. In three words he demolished Modi’s larger-than-life image early into his prime ministership.
The Lokpal movement sought the support of the left, the right and the centre on a single issue. There were left-liberals who would call it proto-fascist and neo-fascist and what not because they believed the Sangh was supporting it. So did some Lal Salam apparatchiks but that didn’t bother the Sangh Parivar, which seeks to mingle and evangelise, not measure ideological purity and marginalise itself.
The same leftists who were critical of the Lokpal movement became the biggest supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party when it defeated the BJP in Delhi 67/3. Had their censorship of the Lokpal movement in the name of ideological purity succeeded, we would have had a BJP government in Delhi.
There’s something else that Raj Thackeray’s successful anti-Modi speeches tell you. They’re in Marathi but such is their popularity that excerpts are now being circulated with English and Hindi subtitles across the country. This tells you about the vacuum in anti-Modi campaigning. Raj Thackeray would have seemed like a wannabe if the Congress had one single leader with the ability to do what Raj Thackeray is doing. If only the liberals had an orator like Raj Thackeray.
Surprising how the Enforcement Directorate hasn’t raided him yet.
Views are personal.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.