‘Either you are with us, or you are with them’?

As night follows day, Monday’s naxal attack on a civilian bus killing civilians has predictably led to the usual finger-wagging against rights activists and, in the quote-unquote patois of home minister P. Chidambaram, “civil society”, as if they, and not the Maoists, are the real cause of the continuing bloodshed in Dantewada.

“Condemn the killings,” is the cry of shock jocks firing from the ramparts of TV studios, as if that will somehow change matters either for slain. Harvard-trained Chidambaram, who’s clearly alien to the thought of cross-questioning in a democracy, spares no opportunity to single out jholawalas who do the questioning.

Predictably, in this Bushian “either you are with us or you are with them” realm, there is talk of the latest incident being the “game-changer”, the “tipping point” which will “turn the tide” against the Maoists. With Chidambaram claiming he is hampered by the “limited mandate”, there is talk of the use of “air power”, even while Congress president Sonia Gandhi talks of addressing the “root cause“.

Lost in the tu-tu-main-main is the condemnation of the Naxal attack (here, here, here), something “uncivil society” now expects and demands of civil society, pro forma, pretty much like it expects moderate Muslims to stand up and make themselves heard whenever there is a terror attack by Islamist fundamentalists.

Doubtless, the discerning will notice that having offered it once before, wise Mr Chidambaram is not offering his resignation this time.


K. Subrahmanyam in The Indian Express:

“An anecdotal story has it that as soon as the Constituent Assembly passed the resolution on universal adult franchise, a wise senior statesman said since they had made the masses their masters they should start educating them. But one section of our politicians felt and continue to feel that they will be in more effective control if the masses are kept poor and uneducated.

“Maoism is an offshoot of this politics. You find this politics in the opposition to the Right to Education, land acquisition for highways and industrialisation, women’s empowerment, globalisation, and every progressive measure to uplift the population — as they shed crocodile tears for the common man.

“Maoism is a political creed meant to subordinate the masses to an authoritarian and tyrannical regime by a self-nominated coterie, as also happens in some religious extremist dispensations. It has to be fought politically. But one finds the political parties — except one or two, targeted by Maoists — are themselves passive about taking the Maoists on ideologically.

“In fact what is happening is an ideological struggle between those who want to see India as a 21st century knowledge pool in the world, and others who will sacrifice national interests at the altar of their parochial and partisan politics and personal gain.”

Read the full article: Bleeding heart cynics

Photograph: Members of the campaign for justice and peace stage a protest at Gandhi statue in Bangalore on Wednesday against forcible displacement for the Posco steel plant and the resulting police brutality in Orissa  (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask P. Chidambaram

Arundhati Roy: ‘What Muslims were to BJP, Maoists are to Congress’

CHURUMURI POLL: Will the State beat Naxals?