In light of the terms 'fascism' and 'undeclared emergency' being thrown around to attack the government in the context of the Maharashtra Police's crackdown on an alleged Maoist plot, 'Fascism' has once again been invoked over a statement made by the Prime Minister where he was speaking about discipline.
Addressing an event in New Delhi to launch the book 'Moving On, Moving Forward - A Year in Office' to commemorate the completion of one year of Venkaiah Naidu as Vice President of India, the Prime Minister extolled Naidu, calling him a great proponent of discipline -- a quality that gains meaning once you consider that Naidu, as Vice President, is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, which has been beset by obstructionist politics on multiple occasions.
PM Modi said, "Venkaiah ji is a great proponent of discipline, and our country's situation is such that it is very easy to brand discipline as undemocratic."
He went on to explain: "If someone speak for discipline, he's dead... he's called autocrat... and they open the whole dictionary. But the discipline that Venkaiah ji promotes, he abides by that."
Right on cue, the Congress party has piped up, with senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge agreeing whole-heartedly with the autocrat aspect of PM Modi's hypothesis, accusing the government of acting, "with vengeance, jealousy and contempt, always harassing opponents and suppressing their views and also not allowing the media, his (the Prime Minister's) critics, to speak frankly. That's why we're saying in democracy he's behaving as an autocrat"
Former UPA minister Manish Tewari has put forth his own theory:
"Every authoritarian tries to impose control under 'discipline' and authoritarianism very soon slips into a spectre of Fascism. That's been the course of world history. So for the Prime Minister to try and justify the autocratic and tyrannical behaviour of his government as disciplinarianism is hogwash, for lack of a better word. There's a very thin line which separates authoritarianism from disciplinarianism, and disciplinarianism is another sine qua non for authoritarianism which actually means, in the real world, fascism."
However, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi has issued a response to the Congress, firing back at 'autocrat' and 'fascism' by alleging hypocrisy, undermining of democratic institutions, and abuse of law:
"We've seen how democratic institutions are being undermined by certain people, how people have been abusing the law and the moment you point this out, the issue becomes that you are opposing it but not the ones who are in breach of the law rather than observation of law and it's in this context that the statement needs to be seen."