My Dear Leftist Countrymen from Jadavpur University,
First and Foremost, I genuinely believe I have not caused any offence by addressing you as my countrymen as I do know, from personal experience, that many of you do not consider yourselves Indians. However, your passports and identity cards tell a different story. Therefore, I took the opportunity to address you as such.
Having been educated in Kolkata, I have had the opportunity to know many of you in person and conversing with you about politics and other matters. For a while, some were even my friends. So, I do know the basis of your political opinions and well aware of the foundations of your worldview. And as someone who was a committed progressive once upon a time and whose friend circle still overwhelmingly comprises of liberals of a more moderate variety, I was and still am firmly equipped to comprehend your arguments.
No one could ever deny the firmness of your faith or the rigour with which you conduct your politics. You practice your politics with your heart on your sleeves and feet on the ground, it’s something that I respect. You have been beaten and you have been bruised, often by the Police, for your political beliefs. You are willing to risk physical injury for the sake of your political goals, it is something I truly believe is commendable.
Having said that, I do believe that there are extremely problematic aspects of your beliefs and your conduct that needs much introspection. These are irreconcilable differences between us that, perhaps, could never be resolved. It would be as difficult for you to forsake Communism as it would be for me to abandon Hindu Nationalism. The purpose of this letter is not to convince you but to provide you with an alternate worldview so that you could better understand Hindu Nationalism. I must admit, as a person who has known some of you and belongs to the same age-group that you do, it is also motivated by a fair amount of concern for your physical health. It is also motivated by other more pertinent reasons which I shall elaborate during the course of this letter.
Firstly, your conduct on Thursday was indefensible. It worries me that even one of you is bothering to attempt to defend it. Amazingly enough, all of you are defending it. The sheer lack of introspection is indeed shocking. Your comrades assaulted a Union Minister, ripped his shirt open and then argued that you were provoked. The entirety of your defense can be surmised as you were provoked into behaving in such a manner by the mere presence of the Minister in your campus and certain words that he might have said there.
You are not little children. Only little children are reduced to violent outbursts in response to mean things that they have been said. And only little children assume it is a justifiable defense. It is very difficult for me to believe that Babul Supriyo got assaulted inside the campus for any other reason than the fact that he dared to enter it. Yes, I do not believe he assaulted anyone nor do I believe that he abused anyone either. You might say that there’s ‘evidence’ for it, but I suggest that you take the trouble of surfing through the internet where all this supposed ‘evidence’ has been comprehensively busted.
You did not stop there. You took the liberty of gheraoing him and holding him hostage and preventing him from leaving. How on earth could you delude yourselves into believing that any of this was a good idea? How on earth do you continue to believe that any of this is defensible? Your behavior was so outrageous that not even your parents could defend it. And parents, as we all know, can defend a lot of their children’s crimes.
The mother of one of you, who happens to be a Cancer patient, apologized on her son’s behalf to the Minister and begged him to not take legal action against her son. She said that she scolded him after going through her chemotherapy. For a brief amount of time, my disgust for you knew no bounds. It was a visceral sense of disgust that I haven’t felt in a long long time.
I cannot imagine how she must have felt at that moment. She is suffering from cancer and had only hours back undergone chemotherapy and yet, her primary concern was her son. A son, if not anything, ought to be her biggest source of strength in her moment of anguish. And yet on this occasion, he was her biggest liability. Supriyo, who graciously acquiesced to her request and wished her a speedy recovery, who wasn’t even aware of her existence hours back, showed more concern for her than her own son.
She doesn’t deserve such a fate, she deserves better. Thus, in this letter, I implore you to see reason. I implore you to see the trail of broken dreams you are leaving in your wake. I implore you to see the devastation and misery you have left in your wake. I implore you to introspect.
I do know that you truly believe your health and well-being is worth risking for the sake of your ideology. But I ask you today, is it worth the heartbroken tears, borne out of a deep sense of shame, on your mother’s face? Is it worth the overwhelming burden of humiliation and embarrassment that your father feels in his heart? Is it worth making your parents feel that they failed to raise you properly? That is all I ask of you.
There are parents, I am sure, who share the same ideology that you do or are proud of what you did on Thursday. For them, I have no sympathy and believe they are entirely responsible for however they are feeling now.
You are prepared to make great sacrifices for your ideology. However, you do not realize that not even the people you claim to be fighting for agree with you. I would guess that they hold the same disdain in their hearts for you as does the average Indian. Analyzing Narendra Modi’s thumping victory in the 2019 General Elections would have told you as much.
The Dalits, the workers, and the Adivasis do not agree with you at all. They do not hate India as you do. They do not harbour great disdain for Hinduism as you do. They do not hate Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party like you do. It is evident from the voting patterns witnessed in these elections. OBCs, Dalits, and Adivasis voted for the BJP in huge numbers. In West Bengal itself, BJP’s rise to power is being fueled majorly by its immense popularity among non-Upper Castes.
The vote share of the BJP was nearly uniform among different sections of Hindu society in West Bengal. There was true Hindu consolidation in BJP’s favour in West Bengal. Therefore, how can you claim to fight against the BJP for the rights of workers, Adivasis, and Dalits when they agree with the BJP and like them a lot more than you? Have you made any effort to understand why this is so?
Another phenomenon that you must have observed is that people even in Kolkata are indifferent to what you suffered on Thursday. The Arts Faculty Union Room of your University was ransacked, the walls of it were painted with graffiti, sections of your campus was set on fire, by the ABVP you claim, some of you were, in all probability thrashed brutally and yet hardly anyone seems to care. Frankly, I don’t either. Furthermore, Babul Supriyo has emerged as a hero amidst all of this and you, the perpetually whining spoilt brats. You have failed spectacularly.
Have you wondered what caused people to feel this way? Have you spent any amount of time thinking why it is that you and your University were brutalized and yet, people are completely ignoring it? Some months ago, when doctors at the NRS were assaulted by a mob, they received widespread support from the masses. So much that the West Bengal government was ultimately forced to bend to their will. But with you, and it has been the case for a while now, people are going about their business without bothering to pay you a second of their attention. Why?
You claim it’s because they are not as enlightened as you are or are ignorant. Or simply because they cannot see what you see as well as educated individuals from a reputed university. In your frustration, you even label them as selfish or bigots and fascists themselves. In short, you claim that it’s because they are not as virtuous as you are. But my dear open-minded leftists at Jadavpur University, you could not be more wrong.
The actual reason is not even one percent of the population of this country apart from separatists believes in the worldview that you advocate. They think it’s immoral and perverse. Also, they are terrified of it as they should be. They fully understand that the vision of India that you profess ends in bloodshed and destruction. It’s motivated by concern about their safety and security. To demonize them for such a thing is wrong. But that’s only my opinion.
As for me, I do not care because you have constantly justified the use of violence in pursuit of political goals. Therefore, why should I care if someone used the same against you when you resorted to violence in the first place? And I don’t even know if you were subjected to violence. I cannot take your word for it, and neither can anyone else, because there’s this huge trust deficit you’re suffering from. No one can take your word for it, and your past conduct is squarely to blame for it.
Another pertinent reason why no one cares about you or your protests is that it has become so normalized in Jadavpur University. You must understand, no one wants to live in a state of perpetual revolution. We want stability in our lives, at least the overwhelming majority of this country does. More importantly, we do not want our politics to be our primary identity.
Like most people, I keep politics firmly away from my personal life. But for you, as you are so fond of saying, ‘The personal is political’. Thus, when news of violence and protests at Jadavpur University broke out, everyone ignored it because ‘Eishob hotay thakey okhaney, baaddey toh.’ This keeps happening at Jadavpur University all the time, so the people ignored it.
There’s something fundamental about this country that you do not understand, something I didn’t either when I was a progressive. There are invisible threads that keep this country together, that make this diverse country with a thousand faultlines tick. It is these invisible threads that make me feel more comfortable around people with their origins in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka than I ever would around you. It is why I feel perfectly at ease around Biharis, Maharashtrians, people from Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere but I never could with you.
As a proponent of Hindutva, I would argue these invisible threads have their origins in Hinduism. Others of a different political orientation would claim that it’s because of the Constitution but we all know it’s just a legal document, merely a contract between the state and its citizens. Despite anything anyone might say, the Constitution is not sacred, it’s merely a piece of paper. It can’t keep a country together, much less inspire people to feel a sense of togetherness.
However, there’s a grave sin that you have committed, for which you are now reaping the fruits. In pursuit of your political goals, you have proceeded to demonize an entire people due to their political beliefs. It beggars belief how you bandy about accusations of fascism. You labelled Babul Supriyo a fascist because he is a Minister in a democratically elected government and then proceeds to assault him. Do you realize how dangerous this is?
You don’t stop there and proceed to demonize every single proponent of Hindutva and even voters of BJP as fascist. That is sheer bigotry. What next? Will you treat every voter of BJP the same manner in which you treated Babul Supriyo if they entered your University? Will you treat your classmates or people study in your university in the same manner that you treated Supriyo? That makes you a potential criminal, not political activists. The dehumanization of people you are indulging in has grave consequences. These violent delights do have violent ends.
Perhaps, sometime soon, I will pen another letter to address the fundamental differences that you and I hold. I have touched upon some here but the letter is already too long to address them here. But to conclude my letter, I will tell you this. Many of you might have been surprised when Leftists turned Saffron in huge numbers, I wasn’t. Apart from the fact that most CPI(M) voters were practising Hindus, there are much more fundamental reasons. I promise to explore those reasons in the next letter. Also, you can read about my journey from a Progressive to a Hindutvavaadi here.