ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Communalism, Incomplete Histories and a Congress of Secularism

The opponents of the BJP would do well to recognise that a centrist government led by the Congress can at best be a weak buffer against the social threat posed by the communal mentality. Their attitude to the emerging centre-left coalition must therefore be cautious and conditional AS the year 1998 draws to an end it should be evident even to the votaries of the BJP that the forces of hindutva, having set new standards of misgovernance in many parts of the country, could well face decline and isolation by the year 2000 AD, In the last few months centre-left alignments forged along well-known lines have begun to emerge. There is a possibility that a Congress government led by Sonia Gandhi and supported by the official left, the religious minorities and some caste- based parties might, after all, lead New Delhi into the new century. Once again, like in 1980, people are beginning to say that despite its obvious limitations only the Congress is capable of governing India with a semblance of order and control But these perceptions overlook the fact that neither the Congress nor the other 'secular' parties have utilised the BJP's predicament to their full advantage. The Congress is not as strong as some celebrities in the capital's cocktail circuit think. The erstwhile social justice parties are in disarray as recent events in Karnataka suggest and Laloo Prasad Yadav is facing the prospect of going to jail as a tall out of the fodder scam. The likely future of the communal-secular confrontation can be examined with reference to these facts, The defeat of the BJP in Delhi was a foregone conclusion given the conditions inherited by it in 1993 and created in the capital during the last five years. The RSS- BJP were voted to power because people wanted discipline but what they got was unprecedented administrative paralysis. There is no doubt that the Congress is also the co-architect of the ugly edifice called Delhi but the BJP has displayed exemplary mismanagement in dealing with the capital's problems. An appeal, based on newspaper and magazine reports issued by the Delhi Citizens' Forum just before the assembly polls in Delhi contains some interesting information. The supporters of hindutva can pay attention to these.

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