Modi,Mussolini & Their Followers

By Arindam Majumder,

Narendra Modi’s anointment as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate rubber stamped the Gujarat CM’s rise as the messiah of a nation in distress. The NaMo brigade’s outpouring of joy swept across the country and conquered platforms of social media. “We don’t want to be seen as BJP supporter, we support Modi,” said Rajeev Chajjer, convenor the Narendra Modi fan club. India has never seen such a wide spread mass support for a political leader since Mahatma Gandhi and it is this fanaticism which chills me to the bone. Becauseit is fanaticism, which sows the seeds of fascism.

Madras University Students Protesting against Modi Visit to the Campus
Madras University Students Protesting against Modi Visit to the Campus

The phenomenal rise of Narendra Modi as the poster-boy of Indian politics has an eerie similarity to the likes of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. Trotsky in Fascism: What is it and how to fight it says, “The genuine basis for fascism is the ‘petty bourgeoisie.” It was this class that was instrumental behind Mussolini’s rise to power. In India, the economic boom has created a large section of the ‘petty bourgeoisie’ popularly called the ‘middle class’ and it is this burgeoning middle class which is preaching ‘Moditva’ in the country.

Fascism had historically attracted a society which is in crisis, economically and socially. It focuses the society’s attention on the fault of the existing political system and successfully manipulates the minds of the masses. The rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party is a direct consequence of the Treaty of Versailles.  The UPA government’s systematic failure in all spheres of governance and its impressive record in rampant corruption have thwarted the aspirations of this young lower middle income country which wants to be a superpower by 2020. In Modi, they find a leader who will clean up the system and fix its crippling economy; in Gujarat they see the glimpse of a ‘modern India.’ It is this urgency for ‘growth’ and ‘development’ which has disillusioned the Indian society on which Modi has successfully capitalised to catch the imagination of the youth to create a larger-than-life image of himself.

The ease with which his supporters have forgotten the pogroms of Gujarat is a dangerous signal for a democratic and pluralistic society like India. But how will a nation fight its conscience to vote for a man who has blood in his hands? Fascism is a master in preaching hate to disgrace a certain minority class of the society. Once that class is dehumanised, their annihilation does not pinch the conscience of the society. That is why the Germans did not react against the mass killing of the Jews. The recent Muzafarranagar riots showed how the RSS and VHP created an environment of hate and fear, a condition on which Fascism thrives (‘where Sangh spins narratives of victimhood, belligerence’ – The Hindu.)

As 2014 comes close, Modi is trying hard to present himself as an epitome of development and growth. But in reality he is trying to sell a packaged deal; a fusion of  Hindutva and Gujarat model of development(however controversial that may be) and he has no doubt where the his strength lies(‘A package deal, Javed Anand,The Indian Express.)

The ‘puppy’ and ‘burqa’ comments are perfect examples.

(Arindam Majumder is a student of Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai. He can be reached at [email protected])

  • The ‘Petty Bourgeoisie’

    The basic premise of your article being how Mussolini and Hitler exploited the ‘petty bourgeoisie’ to their means completely misses the point.
    While Hitler in his speeches before ascending to power was already explicitly spreading hatred for Jews and Mussolini on the other hand clearly denouncing the allies of the World War 1 for impartiality towards them and was talking of revenge, Modi is speaking only of development and growth and never has he spoken anything that would mildly be regarded as Fascist. The article treats such a deep issue on such a surface level which is deeply disappointing.
    Extending your logic-
    1. Barack Obama is fascist because he exploited the anger of ‘petty bourgeoisie’ against the super rich for coming to power.
    2. Angela Merkel is also a fascist because she used the piled up mirth for the other European nations by the Germans to be re-elected again.
    and so on.