Assam’s BJP Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is being defiantly addressed as ‘comrade’ and greeted with ‘lal salam’ on Facebook by netizens outraged by the charge-sheeting of peasant leader and activist Akhil Gogoi over alleged sedition and terrorist activities. Days after Gogoi and three of his associates were charged by the NIA, which cited the two expressions linked to Communists, anathema to the Hindu far right, to claim their involvement in seditious and terrorist activities, Sonowal’s posts on the social media website are drawing a barrage of Left terminology.
Indignant criticism that began trickling in from June 4 has turned into a virtual avalanche in the last 2-3 days. The posts on his official Facebook page are being greeted with expressions like ‘comrade’, ‘lal salam’, ‘inquilab zindabad’ and references of communist ideologues like Vladimir Lenin.
On May 29, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had filed the charge-sheet against Gogoi and his three associates for alleged sedition and terror activities for their role in violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act that rocked Assam in December last year.
Reading the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Lenin’s works, Mao Zedong’s life, and calling
friends comrade and greeting them with Lal Salam are some of the grounds that the NIA has cited to link them to the
banned CPI(Maoist) and charge them under the stringent anti- terror law.
If convicted, they face the prospect of spending the rest of their lives behind bars. After the contents of the charge-sheet became public, the outrage spilled over to the Facebook page of Sonowal, who also holds the Home portfolio.
While most comments are limited to “comrade, all salam”, many have strongly criticised the action.
“Red Salute Red Salute. If Red salute is a crime you go and arrest Patriot Bhagathsing first then come back if you
are still remains…..!!!,” one user said. “Lalsalam. Dear comrede. Long live lenin. Welcome nia,” wrote another.
Many posted memes and videos of Lenin delivering a speech after the October Revolution in Russia.
“Lalsalam comrades… When I give food to the poor,they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist,” a netizen wrote, referring to the famous quote by Brazilian Catholic Archbishop Dom Helder
“Lal Salam comrades. We shall overcome these black days,” another commented on Sonowal’s page. Their posts also carried graphics of red flags and the communist symbol of hammer and sickle. “Russian Revolution is great. Lenin is a great comrade; Lal salam; Big Red salute,” another user said. While people from across the country have posted their comments, a sizeable section is from the Left-ruled Kerala. “We are communist party of india marxist. Do you know sir indian history freedom fight we are support Indian fighters but RSS BJP supported british and shoes licked of british so do not fight against communist we will destroy RSS,” a Facebook user from the southern state wrote.