When Rome was burning Nero was playing flute is an old infamous saying that incidentally comes to one’s mind when he or she recalls what happened in Delhi on February 23, 24 and 25, 2020. The shocking incidents of riots, arson, looting and shooting were taking place at a critical time when India is passing through an unprecedented difficult phase from all angles — be it in the field of economy, social, cultural and political arena. The state capital is the latest victim of the vicious design of the rulers. The party that is leading the government having failed to deliver on all its promises is continuing with its divisionary-divisive slogans for the last more than five years now. The politics of hatred, character assassination, mob frenzy and violence is the hallmark of all those who are sheltered by those in power.Each election in any state brings along with it more vigorous communal propaganda by the RSS-BJP combine and its affiliates as that is the only instrument left with the ruling party at the Centre to avoid any discussion on the issues of education, health, water, shelter, jobs and livelihood, etc. In the aftermath of each election more polarization and more damage to the harmonious living of our peace-loving people are taking place. After winning the second term, the Modi government was faced with severe recession, worst unemployment rate in 45 years, increased gap in the earnings of the richest and poorest persons reaching at the level where it was 80 years ago, decreased funds for social sector, job losses and no new job creations. Also, education and health care are becoming expensive with every passing day. All concessions to foreign and Indian corporates did not give the expected result and hence the policy of disinvestment and privatisation of public sector and government department services was further hastened.Earlier, as the elections to four states were nearing in order to divert the attention of people from raising uncomfortable questions regarding bread and butter, there came the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A. The special status of the state was taken away converting J&K into a Union Territory dividing the state into two separate UTs. The elections in the state of Haryana and Maharashtra were fought on the claim of ‘great victory’ on J&K. Jingoism to the hilt did not help BJP-RSS in these elections as they expected. Then came Jharkhand elections, during the course of which there was realisation that it is the tough battle for the ruling party and then there comes Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to use it for further vitiating the environment to win election on one hand and to enhance its continuing divisive agenda to further widen the gaps amongst various religious groups.Instead of drawing proper lessons from the defeat in Jharkhand, the RSS-BJP combine sharpened the venomous hatred speeches as they had to face uncompromising peaceful protesters demanding withdrawal of CAA-NRC-NPR. The attacks on Jamia students, AMU and then in JNU brought the student community in more than 90 Universities on the streets. The yyoung India confronted Modi government bravely. Women came out in large numbers to oppose the communal piece of legislation. In this background landed the elections in Delhi. The environment in the capital city was vitiated with hate speeches by Anurag Thakur, Delhi- BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, UP chief minster Yogi Adityanath, Parvesh Verma and Kapil Mishra among others. It is not only ‘Goli Maro’ slogans, ‘Ghar me ghus kar marenge, Jalayenge’, etc, by these leaders that vitiated the campaign. But the Union home minster himself used the language of ‘ Badla Lenge’. It is the worst kind of election campaign witnessed in Delhi which BJP believed was going to give them dividends in the form of seats to form government.Children have suffered the worst having witnessed the violent killings, arson, lootings and burning. The economy of people is shattered with the unorganized sector workers being the worst affected. The women had to face the brunt of such violence and the young had to lose their lives.It is a fact that India has a history of riots which was aimed not only for fighting the targeted minority community for inflicting physical harm but also to break the backbone of their economy, their livelihood. The rioters also push the communities to the ghettoes.At present those who with humanity at their sleeves are there in the field to help people to cope with the situation, to come out of the trauma, to heal their wounds, to help them pick up threads of life and to return to normal life. The administration and the police are still not there as much as required for the people to trust them because of their past role during violent mayhem.The central government is now resorting to cover-ups and camouflages to throw the blame on those who questioned its failures, putting all the blames for all the crimes that the ruling party people had committed on the Opposition. The people are dismayed on the behaviour of the Delhi state government as well, which did not come out for their protection and also, for lack of prompt necessary action as a political responsibility for having got elected by them with huge margins. The suspicions of the people on the behavior pattern of the state government are not something they will forget and forgive soon.The politics of intimidation, playing with every instrument and institution at the hands of the central government, pursuing the divisive polices in detriment to the very basis of the existence of our nationhood as defined in the Indian Constitution, is worrisome. This is very clear from the timings chosen and the treatment meted out to justice Murlidharan. No FIRs have been till date filed on those who were open and clear offenders and continue to do so while cases are being imposed selectively to crush any daring voice or those who are innocent. Continued defence by some of the central ministers throwing the blame on the Opposition for all that what their own party men are doing is shameful and calculated.The working class from the very beginning of its resistance to British rule in 19th century and then in the 20th century, fought face to face with this politics of divide and rule pursed by the foreign rulers. The organised workers’ movement faced the brunt of these forces since the foundation of AITUC which is in the centenary celebrations of the saga of struggles and sacrifices for the people’s rights and freedom of the country, and then during nation building in independent India.The present challenges are to be confronted with deep sense of the history of struggles and the determinations at every level, no time to lose. Delhi and its people must remember that it was the centre of beginning of First War of Independence in 1857, it was the place where young revolutionaries Bhagat Singh and his Comrades dared to challenge the British rulers in the Assembly (present day Parliament) a case which became an inspiring part of history for several generations to come. This is the time to tell those in the central government that history has witnessed their betrayal once but would not let it happen again. The nation won’t be allowed to be put on sale, its sovereignty threatened, its centuries-old common heritage of brotherhood and love under attack, its youth to be converted into lawless hooligans, its daughters and mothers to be threatened when they stand up for a cause. Come on Delhi, its people, accept the challenge, you are the capital of nation the people of the whole country looking at you, pick up the threads of life once again, give hope, be optimist and march on to push back the forces anathematic to humanity.The writer is secretary CPI National Council and general secretary AITUC

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