Gurpreet Singh: Cosmetic Communism worries more about Lenin statues than the right to self-determination

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      Recent vandalism in India targeting statues of Vladimir Lenin—the Communist leader of the Bolshevik revolution—has outraged Marxists in that country, who've taken to the streets.

      Supporters of the ruling Hindu right wing Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) toppled the statues following a defeat of the Marxists in the recently held assembly elections of Tripura state. There the Communists were in power for the past 25 years.

      Though the outgoing chief minister, Manik Sarkar, was known for his integrity and secularism, he was unseated in the election that resulted in the victory of the BJP-led coalition. It captured 43 out 59 seats in the legislature, ending Communist rule.

      Not only have mobs of BJP supporters pulled down two statues of Lenin in the norhteastern Indian state, some BJP leaders took to social media to applaud these acts of vandalism.

      In the town of Belonia, one of the two statues was brought down with the help of an excavator. While this was being done, the miscreants chanted a patriotic slogan, “Long Live Mother India.”

      As the statue fell, its head was dismembered from the body. A Marxist activist alleged that BJP supporters were seen playing football with it. 

      One of the local BJP leaders claimed that this was the result of the people's anger at the left-wing government.

      Describing Lenin as a “foreigner” who had nothing to do with the native population, he questioned why the statue was built with taxpayers’ money.

      Some senior BJP leaders went to the extent of welcoming these incidents unashamedly.

      Not to be left behind, the Tripura governor, Tathagata Roy, tweeted: “What one democratically elected government can do, another democratically elected government can undo. And vice versa.”

      This is despite the fact that he holds a constitutional post. Yet he is known for his political affiliation with the BJP.

      Another BJP leader, H. Raja, posted on Facebook: "Who is Lenin and what is the connection between Lenin and India? What connection has India with Communists?”

      The entire episode obviously reflects very badly on the BJP, which has shown its true colours of being intolerant. But this also shows the hollowness of its so-called nationalism and disconnection with the freedom movement.

      India remained under British occupation for almost 200 years and was liberated by the efforts of both pacifist and revolutionary freedom fighters.

      The founding fathers of the ideology of Hindu India (or Hindutva), which is greatly cherished by the BJP, remained away from both camps.

      With the aim establishing a Hindu theocracy, they either openly or discreetly served the interests of the British rulers.

      Hindu extremists who are often glorified by BJP leaders were involved in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the world-renowned leader of the passive resistance movement.

      He was murdered for standing up against Hindu zealots who terrorized Muslims and treated “low caste” people as untouchables.

      Contrary to these enemies within, Lenin became a guiding light for Indian revolutionaries, who were invited to Bolshevik Russia to learn how to liberate their motherland by organizing a mass movement. Lenin stood with Indians who were fighting for the right to self-determination.

      The BJP that is trying to impose its own brand of patriotism is doing nothing but scapegoating minorities, both cultural (read Muslims, Christians, and other minority communities) and ideological (read left and secular parties) to polarize the Hindu majority for its political survival.

      Lenin is just one soft target they have picked to create divisions and reframe the narrative of domestic nationalism.

      Every Indian should be indebted to Lenin for standing up for those who actually fought for our freedom rather than falling into the trap of the defenders of Hindu India—something that was strongly despised by Gandhi and the revolutionaries who fought for a secular republic, which has no place for bigotry.

      Mahatma Gandhi's assassin, Nathuram Godse (right) was a zealous Hindu nationalist who opposed efforts to make peace with Muslims.

      What we need to recognize in these difficult times is the beauty of Lenin's internationalism, which can truly save humanity from falling apart and bring all of us together while at the same time embracing all nationalities without any malice or discrimination.

      That said, this whole affair also shows the true colours of Indian Marxists who have turned into idol worshippers.

      The top leadership of the Communist Party of India (Marxists) came out in the streets to protest against vandalism of the statues. The protests are not just confined to India.

      The CPI (M) supporters in Canada also organized a demonstration in Surrey.

      The kind of outrage being displayed over the vandalizing of statues has remained missing for all these months while living men and women from minority communities were being lynched by BJP supporters.

      There's a deafening silence over the ongoing state repression on minority nationalist groups—like Kashmiris fighting for right to self-determination. Or Maoist insurgents fighting back against state violence used to evict Indigenous communities from traditional lands, so the extraction industry can access natural resources. This speaks loudly enough of their half-hearted commitment toward Lenin.

      If there are any real Leninists in India, they are fighting against the tyranny of the state, and not those parliamentarian leftists who have been compromising with the bourgeoisie for political survival and attacking Maoist rebels and insurgents from minority groups fighting for dignity and right to self-determination.

      The real Leninism is not represented by the statues of the leader of Bolshevik revolution, but by social justice activists like Prof. G.N. Saibaba—a disabled Delhi University lecturer incarcerated for standing up for the rights of minorities and oppressed communities.

      Marxists never advocated honestly for such individuals. Rather, they have tried to maintain a distance from such political prisoners, fearing a loss of support in the national mainstream.

      The CPI (M) has even failed to acknowledge that these incidents and the defeat of Tripura chief minister Sarkar are symptoms of majoritarianism that has become synonymous with democracy in India. It's not just with the emergence of BJP, but also because of the political opportunism of the so-called secularist Congress Party.

      Congress has also been involved in sectarian violence to garner the Hindu majority vote in the past.

      Unfortunately, the mainstream Indian left has been conveniently aligning itself with Congress to keep the BJP out of power, and never dealing with the threat of majoritarianism as the real cause of the problem.

      If the Marxists really believe in what they preach in terms of scientific analysis of the social and political situation, then they need to stop whining over the vandalism of statues and try to regain lost political territory by honestly standing up for religious minorities under attack.

      This includes denouncing monolithic nationalism that is being imposed on a diverse and pluralist Indian society by the BJP.

      Gurpreet Singh is a Georgia Straight contributor and a founder of Radical Desi. He's working on a book tentatively titled Canada's 9/11: Lessons from the Air India BombingsHe has a Facebook page called We Are All Untouchables!!!