ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Right-wing Populism


The article “What Do Populist Authoritarians Do When They Rule?” by Kamal Mitra Chenoy (EPW, 15 June 2019) aims to offer a “comparative template of right-wing populism (RWP’s) methods of rule.” This is timely in the context of the rise of majoritarian politics across the globe, including India.

One of the most disturbing aspects of right-wing politics is the normalisation of social violence and militarisation of society. This needs to be seen from the perspective of masculine politics, the use of force as main instrument to usher in any kind of change in society. The violence that erupted in West Bengal in the pre- and post-election period is indicative of this pattern and pathology. The author notes that RWP as a “discourse and practice normalises violence against minorities, dissenters, women, or anyone who differs.” That mob lynchings and attacks against Muslims rose at an alarming rate illustrates this point strongly.

Another important aspect of RWP’s project, which is quite evident in India, is replacing the “existing class inequality with identity-based inequality.” The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a classic example of this paradigm shift. A closer look at the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the NRC exercise reveals the potential to take away the political rights of the Scheduled Tribes of Assam, which is guaranteed in the Sixth Schedule, in particular, land rights. Rather than implementing Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and the provisions of the Sixth Schedule in letter and spirit, the ruling party, both at the state and central levels, appears to be playing the card of identity and religious politics.

A crucial point about RWP’s “political project” is “to end social science.” This is one dimension with deep ramifications on the social fabric and political values of the country, which the Constitution adopted through the directive principles of state policy. The end of social science means the end of critique, dissent and debate which are the core principles of parliamentary democracy. We, as a society, are facing a challenge with the majoritiarian government to preserve and protect the pluralistic and liberal democracy from the forces of centralisation and homogenisation.

Nayakara Veeresha


Updated On : 12th Jul, 2019


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