The atmosphere and scenarios thrown up in the prelude to 2014 general elections have been intriguing and, at times, amusing.
Consider this: Rajnath Singh, the BJP party president, travels to Uttar Pradesh and meets Muslim clerics. Their gaiety and mirth pictures are published across the country. Simultaneously, Subramanian Swamy tweets, ‘Remember that Babri Masjid was built by two foreign citizens Babar and Baqi. Foreigners have no right to property except due process.’ On the one hand, Narendra Modi is on a spree of speeches. Not once does he utter the word ‘Hindutva’. On the other, his close aide, Amit Shah, visits the riot-hit area in Uttar Pradesh and talks about ‘revenge’. When the Election Commission nips Shah in the bud, he smartly apologizes.
Modi continues to address large audiences, keeps harping on the equal rights of the citizens, irrespective of religion, and asserts the importance of development. Giriraj Singh, however, takes over from Shah and says, ‘Those opposing Narendra Modi are looking at Pakistan, and such people will have place in Pakistan and not in India’. MJ Akbar is included in the party but Pravin Togadia, who had been mute for some time, says Muslims should be driven out of Hindu areas.
Either Modi has evolved so much that there is a gulf between his ideology and that of the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal or this is a cunning and two-faced strategy of a party, which has sniffed power and wants to put its eggs in every basket.
History says it is most likely to be the latter. In 1992, the BJP’s then incumbent Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Kalyan Singh, filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that as the chief minister, he will not allow any damage to the Babri mosque. However, Kar Sevaks demolished Babri on that day. In 2012 though, he conceded, ‘As chief minister of UP, I had ordered the police not to fire at Ram bhakts who had assembled at Ayodhya in 1992 during the Ram temple movement, which led to demolition of the Babri mosque.’
In a recent speech, Modi eulogized BR Ambedkar but his Guru, MS Golwalkar’s ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ is clearly at odds with the constitution written by Ambedkar. Golwalkar, the former Sarsanghachalak of RSS, had once said, “Hostile elements within the country pose a far greater menace to national security than aggressors from outside. The three major internal threats are Muslims, Christians, and Communists”. He had maliciously asked, “In this land; Hindus have been the owners, Parsis and Jews the guests, and Muslims and Christians the dacoits. Then do all these have the same right over the country?”
Even when Ambedkar and Nehru were passing the Hindu Code Bill in order to emancipate the deprived class and women, RSS and company had gone hammer and tongs against the bill.
Apart from this hypocritical strategy, whenever the BJP has sniffed power, the ugly fundamentalism has cropped up. The Rath Yatra was undertaken a year before BJP assumed power in UP. An attempt to demolish Babri had occurred in 1990 as well. But Mulayam Singh, the then CM of UP, ordered to fire on Kar Sevaks as the situation looked ominous. A few lost their lives, which was unfortunate, but the Hindu nationalists embellished the episode and made it seem exceedingly gory than it actually was, triggering riots that left over 200 people dead. The campaign won them the assembly elections in 1991 with 221 seats in UP, and BJP emerged as a national player.
Some of the newspapers had fallen prey to this propaganda and, later on, the Press Council had taken action against them but the incitement had already done the damage.
As Goebbels has said, ‘It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise.’
In 1999, months before Vajpayee-led government was at the helm, Graham Staines was burnt alive in Orissa along with his two kids, aged 10 and six. He was a Christian Missionary, who had been working among the tribal poor and lepers since 1965. Some Hindu groups, who are veterans at spreading rumors, alleged that Staines had forcibly converted or lured many Hindus into Christianity. Bajran Dal’s Darasingh was sentenced to life in prison for this heinous act but many Hindu nationalists had hailed him.
Therefore; RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal remain as threatening as SIMI. In fact, they thrive on each other’s communalism. Modi will not endorse these instances or the statements of Giriraj and company as, much to his credit, he is trying to imitate Vajpayee and be the milder face of the BJP and RSS. However, he has not deplored these comments either, which is a dangerous augury.
In this context, one would really wonder; Achhe din aane waale hai?