02 August, 2021

The 10 PM Soliloquies

At political fairgrounds, on social media or TV, vigilantism rules

Illustration by Sorit
The 10 PM Soliloquies

What is common between Ramdev, Anna Hazare, cyber warriors who attack any opinion different from theirs, retired Foreign Service officers and generals fulminating on security issues on television and the TV anchors who egg them on on behalf of the “nation”? Well, they are all part of the new breed of political vigilantes, a politically aggressive class which seeks to push the Indian state and society in a direction of their choice—some ostensibly towards greater accountability and transparency and others towards being a hard state. Some do it in the name of democracy, others claim to be defending the security and integrity of the nation.

They speak of democracy but in effect show nothing but disdain for the ‘right to dissent’—emphasising the flaws of their opponents to the extent of delegitimising them. Here too there can be distinctions—Ramdev and Anna are political vigilantes but someone like Arvind Kejriwal is perhaps not entirely so. After all, he was open to negotiations even during the Lokpal Bill agitation and has now...

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