OPED

After 2014 victory Modi, Prime Minister of India had promised that he will implement Sabka Sath; Sabka Vikas (Taking everybody along, development for all). To this slogan he has now added Sabka Vishwas (Every body’s Trust) Many prominent writers and activists from Muslim community in particular are trying to reassure themselves that he will keep his promise and not intimidate or oppress, religious minorities, Muslims and Christians. It’s always good to be optimistic and keep the hope alive, but the nagging experience in the recent past of Sabka Vikas raises many questions. The ideology of Hindu nationalism to which Modi belongs also gives rise to the doubts about such a promise. The goal of Hindu rashtra, the agenda of Hindu right pursued by Modi further dampens the chances of hopeful vision of inclusive peaceful India.

During last five years of Modi regime what was witnessed was the increasing sense of insecurity among the minorities. On the top of divisive campaigns like Ram Temple, Ghar Wapasi and love jihad was added the issue of ‘holy cow’-beef eating which took the identity related hysteria to the sky. This brought to the forefront the phenomenon of lynching of Muslims and beatings of dalits. The atrocities heaped on these two communities in particular were frightening. What is called ‘fringe laments’, which are the core part of ‘division of labor’ of Hindu nationalist politics, became more aggressive during this period. Those in power not only turned a blind eye to doings of these aggressive elements but also gave the hints of appreciation of these cruel acts done by saffron robed, ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chanting crowds. These elements were given the signals, that with this government in power, such acts are a new normal. The example of Mahesh Sharma, the Union minster draping the body of lynching accused with tri color and Jayant Sinha another minister honoring the lynching accused, which got bail, were the permanent approval certificates to those who were to indulge in such barbarian acts. These acts intimidated and marginalized the Muslims to no end. While not to this horrible extent, even Christians had their own share of the woes, as their prayer meetings and Carol singing teams were attacked in the name of ‘attempts for conversion’.

With this background of ‘Sabka saath Sabka Vikas’, Mr. Modi has now come to power with increased vote share and more seats for BJP. The cause of this massive mandate are being debated, the failure of opposition to unite, the ultra nationalism created around the Pulwama attack and the role of EVM machines with partisan election commission are disturbing enough. Meanwhile what is being witnessed in the society during last few days of Modi-BJP victory is frightening enough.

Right during this little time space we painfully witnessed 

·         In Begusarai Bihar a Muslim youth Mohammad Qasim was shot at Bihar on Sunday (May 26).  Previous morning he was asked his name.

·         Four unidentified youths assaulted a Muslim youth wearing traditional skull cap on May 26.

·         An Adivasi professor was arrested over a Face book post (May 25). In the post he had mentioned the right to eat beef.

·         In Raipur Chhattisgarh a group of self-styled gau rakshaks entered a dairy (May 26), and accused people in the shop of cow slaughter and the sale of beef. They vandalized the shop and assaulted them.

·         In Mahuvad, Vadodara,  village (Gujarat), a house of dalit couple was allegedly attacked by a mob of 200-300 upper caste people, His crimes was that the husband had put up a face book post  saying that the government does not permit the village temple to be used for Dalit wedding ceremonies.

·         As per Janata Ka Reporter in Assam a Muslim man, Ashraf Ali, believed to be in his early 90s, ended his life. He was fearful of the possibility of his being declared a foreigner and these by being sent to detention centre.  The victim’s body was found from a school campus, close to his hut in Sontoli in Boko, 70 kms west of Guwahati,

So many incidents in such a short duration of time just indicate as to how the atmosphere is being vitiated due to Modi coming to power again. On one hand the so called fringe is emboldened more than before and this is the signal of their unrestrained behavior. On the other the people do know the portents of the policies which Modi pursued during last five years and may be pursued with intense vigor now. The BJP President called the Muslim refugees as termites. That in a way sums up what Muslims mean to the ruling dispensation.

Interestingly of the 303 MPs elected on the BJP ticket not a single one is from Muslim community. The overall representation of Muslims in Lok Sabha has come down and remains so. Muslim community has weathered many a storms in the past. Its’ reflection came in the Rangnath Mishra and Sachar commission reports. While the Congress and other semi secular parties have been blamed for Muslim appeasement, the socio economic and political conditions of Muslim community have worsened over a period of time. Many committed leaders from Muslim community are feeling totally left out in the democratic processes, which anyway are being undermined more so from last decade or so.

The core reason of violence being witnessed is the frightening rise of Hindu nationalist politics, the Hidnutva. Earlier RSS gave rise to different progenies, what they call collectively as Sangh Parivar. Now with the trappings of power, BJP being in majority in Center, the major expansion of RSS shakhas has taken place, which is further strengthening different offshoots of this organization.

One understands that the security of minorities is the reflection of strength of democracy. On that count also the index of democratic values in our country is something to be worried about! 

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Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

Pragya Thakur, Malegaon blast accused out on bail on health ground, is at the centre of the present turmoil around Nathuram Godse. The story begins with her filing nomination papers for Bhopal Loksabha constituency. The criticism came up that how can an accused of act of terror be a candidate of elections. Narendra Modi; jumped into the controversy stating that calling her a terrorist is the insult to the five thousand year old glorious civilization and that no Hindu has ever indulged in an act of terror. As per him and his party the earlier coining of the term Hindu terror, Saffron terror, in the wake of series of blasts which took place between 2006-2008; was to defame Hindus.

The next link in the whole controversy comes with big film star, now turned politician, Kamal Haasan stating that Nathuram Godse was the first terrorist of Independent India. When he was attacked for stating this, slippers were thrown at him in a public meeting. He further confirmed that every religion has its own terrorists. Pragya Thakur, the new recruit of BJP, went out to pour her heart stating that Nathuram Godse was a nationalist, is a nationalist and will remain a nationalist Her statement threw the BJP in tizzy and she was asked to apologize. She was not the only one coming forward to uphold Godse and express their real and deeper ideological stand. Anantkumar Hegde, the current Union Minister, who has been asking for change in Constitution, stated that there is no need to be apologetic about Godse any longer. While another Karnataka BJP leader Nalin Kumar Kateel also came in Godse’s defense. To cap it all BJP Madhya Pradesh media in charge Anil Saumitra said that Mahatma Gandhi was father of Pakistan. Saumtira has been suspended while others have been asked to apologize and notices have issued against them by BJP.

Narerndra Modi surpassed hypocrisy when he said that while Thakur has apologized, he will never be able to forgive her! While some reprimand has been administered against her, she continues to be BJP candidate for Bhopal constituency. Is BJP really serious about taking action against those upholding Godse? It is not the first time Godse is being upheld. Many a times in the past, those belonging to BJP-RSS-Hindu nationalists have expressed their praise for Godse. One recalls the RSS Sarsanghchalak Rajendra Singh, alias Rajju Bhaiyya, stating that Godse’s intentions were right, he believed n Akhand Bharat (expanded India incorporating Afghanistan Myanmar, Srilanka etc.) Then we have Sakshi Maharaj, the present BJP MP, who has been given ticket to fight the election again, who had also called Godse as Nationalist. Despite such ideas he is part of BJP. During last few years glorification of Godse, temple for him in Meerut, demand for land for his memorial and busts are gaining strength in the country.

When he is called a nationalist, in a way what is hidden from the word is its essential prefix, Hindu to the word nationalist. Godse was a Hindu nationalist for sure. It is only from Hindu nationalists, RSS and its affiliates that Godse is upheld and praised. BJP is in a dilemma. They do hold on to Hindu nationalism, they have deeper sympathy for what Godes did; still they cannot support it openly. The dilemma is that BJP does pursue the path of Hindu nationalism, in contrast to Indian nationalism as propounded in our constitution. Why can it not openly support Godse and his assassinating Gandhi? One recalls that after the murder of Gandhi sweets were distributed in RSS shakhas. One recalls that RSS chief even at that time expressed his sorrow and stopped RSS work and declared thirteen days mourning. One recalls that RSS was banned by Sardar Patel for spreading hatred in the society. Still the point remains that that all those upholding Godse cannot yet openly say so. That is not yet ‘politically correct’ for BJP. This is what the BJP line is. Support Godse’s nationalism internally but do not say so openly. The reason is Gandhi cannot be criticized and bypassed in the country. His contribution in making of modern India, his central mission of cultivating fraternity, cutting across the lines religion, region and language are too profound to be ignored. The path delineated by him, the one of non violence has captured the imagination not only of the country but of the whole World. His campaign against untouchablity had deeper impact. His contribution in this direction was in the line of what Ambedkar wanted His acting as ‘one man army’ in the sectarian violence has been a landmark in the story of India and the World!

So BJP, while pursuing Hindu nationalism has to make the show of respecting Mahatma. Very conveniently it has made him symbol of ‘Swatchta Abhiyan’ (cleanliness campaign), bypassing Gandhi’s central mission of Hindu Muslim unity and his path of Indian nationalism. What we are witnessing on one hand is the contradictions of BJP on the electoral arena and its long term goals. In electoral arena, to make a success it is BJP’s compulsion to uphold Gandhi, while all its major leaders and workers are trained in the values of Hindu nationalism, in its shakhas and training camps. In its training module Savarkar, the progenitor of HIndutva Hindu nationalism, has a pride of place, while Gandhi is presented as appeaser of Muslims and the one who was responsible for partition of the country. Godse was ardent follower of Savarkar. Savarkar was also a murder accused along with Godse but escaped the punishment in the absence of any corroborative evidence.

Savarkar-Godse duo is looked up among most of the followers of Hindutva ideology. That’s what explains the spontaneous outbursts of the likes of Sakshi maharaj, Anantkrishna Hegde and Pragya Thakur. BJP is compelled to make the show of speaking against them, bowing to electoral and global compulsions, while letting them thrive in the party in various capacities!  

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED