Shortly after the victory in Tripura, alleged BJP-RSS mobs vandalised statues of Lenin. CPI national secretary D. RAJA speaks to Sreeparna Chakrabarty on the controversy over the attacks.
Mr Raja says that these incidents show the desperation of the BJP-RSS. They might win elections through a number of manipulations, but ideologically they are not winning India. Electorally they might have got some success here and there. That is also being challenged now. Excerpts from the interview:
What is your view on the statue controversy which has begun after the Tripura verdict?
This statue politics needs to be condemned… condemned in the strongest possible terms. Since the results came out, the BJP-RSS started the whole statue demolition campaign. First they targeted Lenin statues, then they targeted the Left cadre in the state. It is highly condemnable. But it is unfortunate that the BJP leadership, including the Prime Minister, claimed that they won an ideological victory in Tripura. This is not an ideological victory because the battle of ideology is the battle of ideas. It must be understood properly.
Even when the Jawaharlal Nehru University attacks occurred, they slapped sedition charges against students, activists and claimed that they had won an ideological battle. By slapping sedition charges and using the police, can you claim that you have won an ideological battle? The same thing happened in Tripura. By destroying statues, can you claim an ideological victory? You can destroy statues, but can you destroy ideology?
Now it has spread to Periyar statues…
It doesn’t stop with Lenin as it has spread across the country. In Tamil Nadu, Periyar statues were targeted. Ambedkar statues were targeted in Uttar Pradesh. This thing about ideological battles and the breaking of statues is different. It is absurdity on the part of the BJP and RSS.
What do you think is the motive?
They want to create strife in the country. Targeting Periyar statues means that Tamil Nadu is now in uproar. All parties are agitating in Tamil Nadu and they are going to the extent of asking the government to act against the BJP leader who said all this. The BJP-RSS should understand history properly. But they have a closed mindset. You can change the mind but not the mindset. The mindset has been created by their fascist ideology. They think everything starts with them, and ends with them. Lenin is an idea and he is recognised as a leader of humanity as a whole. Leaders like Tilak also hailed Lenin. When Tilak was arrested by the British, Lenin condemned the arrest. Lenin was hailed by Bhagat Singh too. In fact, when Bhagat Singh was taken to the gallows, then the last book he was reading was on Lenin. This is part of history.
Subramania Bharti also hailed Lenin. How come the BJP leaders are saying that Lenin is a foreigner? What is this? On the other hand, they also say that the world is one family. This is nothing but rabid anti-Communism.
Do you think there would be a backlash?
It is already happening. Periyar is a leader of great stature. He was the leader of a huge movement — the self-respect movement, rationalist movement. He fought against the caste system. He fought against superstition. He fought for social justice and one cannot push him to any one party. He is above all of them. Why is the BJP targeting Periyar? They should explain that. They think the Periyar ideology is the biggest threat to them. They cannot have a foothold in Tamil Nadu because of the Periyar movement. Periyar propagated such rationalist views. Periyar’s rationalism cannot be fought with this kind of fascist communal view of the RSS. That is why they are scared of the Periyar movement. Now this will boomerang and it is already boomeranging. That is why they got scared. Even with Lenin they were trying to… but Periyar got rattled.
People have compared this with Taliban breaking the Bamiyan Buddha…
This is what happens. If you criticise the Taliban for their narrow understanding of history, then this is nothing but the Indian variant. What is this kind of foreign understanding? We are in a globalised period, and the world has become one and interdependent. What do they mean? They are desperate. They might win elections through a number of manipulations in Tripura, but ideologically they are not winning India. Electorally, they might have got some success here and there. That is also being challenged now.
Do you think the BJP can repeat its electoral victory across the country?
No. They have lost ground support. How do you explain the BJP losses in Rajasthan? Even in Gujarat, they did not win any spectacular victory. India is a diverse country; this diversity should be respected. And this composite culture must be acknowledged and the pluralist character of our democracy must be understood. But they have not understood it.