The neo-Nazi jackboot in Delhi

The BJP’s similarities to the Fascists and the Nazis are unmistakable

AT PENPOINT

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to take on 24 of his allies, mostly belonging to smaller and regional parties in his Cabinet. It was not an act of largesse, as in 2018, but a necessity, because without those allies, the BJP would not be able to form the government, lacking 32 seats to make up the simple majority necessary to form the government, However, the BJP seems not to ming pushing through its agenda, irrespective of the public mandate it might have.

Perhaps the best example is when Atal Behari Vajpayee formed a government after the BJP won 163 seats, more than 100 seats short of a majority. His government fell after just 13 days, but one result was that India saw two governments formed by the Third Front, one by H.D. Deved Gowda and the other by Inder Kumar Gujral.

However, his real test came after the 1999 elections, when the BJP won 182 seats, its highest total to date. Though the BJP could not form a government alone, only doing so because of regional allies, Vajpayee ordered nuclear tests. Pakistan followed suit. Later that year, the Kargil episode occurred, which further burnished the BJP’s credentials. The BJP lost 44 seats in the 2004 elections, losing office, and coming down to 138 seats. It went down further to 66 seats at the 2009 elections, until reviving under Modi in 2014, when it won 232, which was still shy of a majority.

However, there were certain steps on which it remained clear. It is possible that the failure to stage any false-flag incident, like Phulwama in 2019, may be seen as a mistake in BJP circles. In 2019, the BJP won 303 seats, which would have given it a comfortable majority had it wanted to rule alone, and its relationship with its allies changed. From being those on whom the government’s majority rested, they became those hangers onto the BJP coat-tails, who only enjoyed ministerial office as a result of having been with them.

The old balance has been restored. However, the BJP has moved away from ideological purity. This might be one reason why previous fascist parties have not got into alliance building. Is the BJP a fascist party? It is certainly descended from one. It is in fact part of the Sangh Parivar, which is a grouping of organizations which are inspired by the Rashtra Swayam Sevak Sangh, which was founded in 1935 in Nagpur by Keshav Baliram Hegdewar, who was inspired by the Hindutva idea of V.D. Savarkar.

The RSSS showed signs of being inspired by European fascist parties. For example, the Italian Fascists wore and were called Blackshirts (as were the British Fascists), the German Nazis were Brownshirts, in the USA they were Silver Shirts, in Mexico the Golden Shirts, in Brazil the Green Shirts (as were the Irish in a later manifestation, and as were the Rumanians).

Blue seems to have been popular, with the Chinese, the Irish (who later switched to green) and the Spanish adopting this. The RSSS had white shirts. Around that time, a number of Muslim parties also adopred certain shirt-colours. Maulana Zafar Ali Khan had founded the Neeliposh (Blueshirts) which he later merged into the All-india Muslim League, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan had his Khudai Khidmatgars (who were affiliated to the Congress) known as Surkhposh (Redshirts), while the Khaksar Tehrik of Allama Mashriqi wore Khaki uniforms. Even after Partition, the PPP had a party uniform, based on the Mao tunic, and which was said to have been designed by party ideologue J.A. Rahim, but it never really caught on.

The RSSS can probably forgiven the shirts, and it should be noted that the BJP does not have a uniform, though a saffron shawl or cap is not only popular, but serves as an identifier. Indeed, the Congress has more of a uniform, in the Nehru cap and Nehru jacket. However, of recent decades, it has faded, perhaps because while even the humblest party worker followed Nehru, no one could follow his daughter Indira, who invariably wore a traditional Indian sari. Her successors also did not establish any dress code that could be followed.

The fascist party takes power by elections, just as the BJP has done. This was established by Germany’s Nazi Party, which first took power in January 1933, but as a minority party. The Italian Fascists took power in 1922 after a March on Rome by a huge number of Fascist Party members. The Italian government of the day resigned, allowing the King to appoint Benito Mussolini as Prime Minister. The difference appears because the Fascists and the Nazis never lost an election afterwards.

One of the similarities is the relationship to the military. The Fascists of Italy made the failure of the victors of World War I to give Italy what it wanted in terms of both territorial claims in Europe, as well as colonies, their main cause of grievance. The Nazis also used the peace granted to Germany after World War I the subject of grievance, but the main fount of support was derived from the Depression.

Though the BJP may avoid being taken over by a single personality, it remains committed to the Hindutva ideology. And if countries like Bangladesh think appeasement will work, they should keep in mind the fate of Czechoslovakia. The third term is likely to hurt Indian Muslims, not to mention India’s neighbours, worse than the previous two as the BJP struggles for a fourth win.

The Nazis used the Depression to plug another theme, that of anti-Semitism, by the claims they made of Jewish bankers bringing it about. They blamed the Jews for defeat in World War I, by ‘stabbing Germany in the back’. This led ultimately to the Holocaust, where the Nazis attempted to impose a ‘Final Solution’ by committing genocide.

It might be noted that the BJP tried to throw the blame for the spread of Covid-19 throughout India on a Muslim gathering, a Tableeghi Jammat ijtema in New Delhi. However, that did not gather traction. There is something of an irony in India’s closer ties with Israel, especially under the BJP. The lesson that seems to have been learnt by the Jews is not just “Never Again!” but that they must have a state, All the better that that state meant a Holocaust of Palestinians, so that Jews could have their Lebensraum (Land to Live), which was why Hitler invaded Russia. (He didn’t like Slavs either).

The BJP has found its Jews in the Muslims of India. There has been no Kristallnacht, when after attaining power, Nazi Party cadres went out and trashed Jewish-owned businesses, but the special status of Indian-Occupied Kashmir (which was no favour, but because Kashmir is a disputed territory) was revoked. Next, this term, will come a Uniform Civil Code,with its purpose the abolition of Muslim Personal Law. The problem is that other minority personal laws, like Parsi and Christian, will also be abolished. With a shaky majority, the BJP might find that a problem.

For the first time, there were complaints about the fairness of the Election Commission. If the BJP tries to follow the fascist playbook and rig any future election, such complaints will multiply. Also, it should not be thought that the Indian system of Electronic Voting Machines is tamper-proof. It is only when an election is stolen that the method will become obvious.

THe BJP resembles the previous fascists in its links with the military, Both the Fascists and the Nazis developed extensive links with the military, just as the BJP is doing.

One point of divergence is that the old-time Fascists united party and government in the form of a single charismatic leader. The BJP is careful to keep apart the posts of party President and PM. This election has stopped Modi from becoming invincible, while the BJP’s setback in UP means that its CM, Swami Adityanath, is not going to be his successor.

Though the BJP may avoid being taken over by a single personality, it remains committed to the Hindutva ideology. And if countries like Bangladesh think appeasement will work, they should keep in mind the fate of Czechoslovakia. The third term is likely to hurt Indian Muslims, not to mention India’s neighbours, worse than the previous two as the BJP struggles for a fourth win.

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