December 6, 1992 happened in the backdrop of the anti- Mandal Commission upper caste upsurge,the liberalization of Indian economy and the fall of ‘existing’ socialism in Eastern Europe. It was followed by the capture of the Indian political center stage by the Right wing Hindutva family.The Bombay blasts, formation of the BJP led NDA government, nuclearization of the sub- continent and the Gujarat pogrom are some of the other major events that impromptu come to mind.
Thirteen years after that day of ignominy, the rising graph of the Hindutva’s political arm the BJP, has been brought to a grinding halt. The backward caste mobilization is subdued but still strong in the Hindi heartland and the Left is back in the Parliament with its highest ever number of MPs. Internationally, the wiping out of ‘existing’ socialism is complete for all practical purpose, China’s swing to state led capitalism accelerating and only Castro miraculously continuing to survive. The rise of the ‘New Socialism’ represented by Hugo Chavez is exciting for those who wear a patch of the red in their hearts.
The Indian Left parties, despite the derision of the neo- rich and the middle class that is increasingly benefiting from the FDI inflow and the flight of the manufacturing and the services industry to India, is probably the only consistent and conscious voice of the poor. The Dalit and various OBC formations are clearly personality based and open to hijack, the “Samajwadi” Party’s leading light being Amar Singh for example.
December 06, 1992 represented the raw revolt of the emerging middle classes as well as the broad spectrum of the Hindu youth against an imagined enemy. 13 years later, and one year after the BJP- NDA lost elections- less because of its anti- secular stand and more because of its economic policies, the perceived threat of Islam seems to have subsided. But then as Pramod Dasgupta it was I think who commented that scratch the skin of a middle class Hindu, and he will turn out to be an RSS sympathiser.
December 6 continues to be alive though not roaring at the moment. With the Congress- Left alliance at the Center continuing with its right wing slant the situation is not any less despairing than it has been in the intervening years. The Left is not able to shift the priorities of the government to where it matters- the poor. Their anger may yet bring the BJP and the Hindutva parties back to power, despite the recent stirrings in both the BJP and the Shiv Sena.
The Left has to manage the contradictions inherent in the current coalition and direct the policies to where the Left gets support from- the poor and the deprived. It continues to be more articulate as a defender of the salaried classes rather that the poor. Socialist theory too has not been able to come to terms with the notion of FDI and export led growth.