Times of moral certainty carry an inherent danger. When the opposing view is so clearly demarcated and our own cause seems just, it is easy to forget that our consensus hides contradictions that contributed to the situation in the first place.
What happened in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on 9 February 2016 and how those events have unfolded since, suggest that we are living in just such a time. It takes extreme stupidity to react to a bunch of students shouting any slogans within a university campus. Worse has been said before, without damage to the republic. But we now have a ruling party that, unable to deliver on poll promises, finds itself looking for symbolism to bail itself out from electoral disaster. In doing so, it is only serving the larger interests of its parent organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS sees things not in terms of an election or two over a year, but in terms of how the country changes over decades. Its eventual aim is to subvert the very Constitutional arrangement that defines our republic.
Under these circumstances, not only is the choice to resist by speaking against what is taking place easily made, perhaps it is even forced. But it cannot lead us to conclusions that disregard what we have learnt in the recent past. Around me, I hear liberals voice the need to see the Congress strengthen itself to lead the resistance against this government. This is a party—still led by the inept Rahul Gandhi—which gives pride of place to people such as Kamal Nath, who are complicit in the mass murder of 1984. This is a party embroiled in corruption that hastened Modi’s ascent to power through its ineptitude in the first place. Principled protests today cannot regress into recreating the dangers we seem to have left behind.