Lotus in the mud

The BJP is more interested in inciting hatred for political gains than the nation?s progress, writes Sitaram Yechury.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2006 23:59 IST

If ever any reconfirmation was necessary, it has now come from the BJP’s Lucknow conclave that the raison d’etre of its political existence is its hardcore communal Hindutva agenda. The BJP President addressing the national council reasserted the party’s commitment to the building of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, adopting a uniform civil code, abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution that gives certain rights to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the scrapping of any policy aimed at improving the lot of the religious minorities in India. While challenging the Congress and the Samajwadi Party to publicly declare whether they would favour the rebuilding of the Babri masjid, the BJP President sought a clear-cut majority in Parliament to implement this agenda. He virtually bemoaned the fact that the Vajpayee government could not take up this agenda due to the compulsions of coalition politics.

While Vajpayee stated that the road to Delhi is via Lucknow, the BJP’s projected chief ministerial candidate in the forthcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Kalyan Singh, literally spewed venom on the Muslim minority. Calling upon the BJP not to be ashamed of what happened at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, he mounted an offensive against the so-called ‘Muslim appeasement’.

The focus of the political resolution adopted at the BJP’s national council was a pointed attack on such ‘appeasement’. Such a policy is, in fact, portrayed as the root cause for all political ills facing the country today. The BJP President drawing a parallel to the historic Lucknow Pact in 1916 between the Congress and the Muslim League thundered that if elected to power, by 2016, the BJP will “do away with this policy of appeasement of Muslims for ever”. The natural corollary of this line of reasoning is that terrorist attacks are on the rise because of such a policy of appeasement. The BJP, however, went into no pains to explain whether the attacks on the Indian Parliament, Red Fort, Akshardham temple in Gujarat, Raghunath temple (twice) in Jammu and Kashmir etc. under its rule were due to such ‘appeasement’!

Such a reassertion of prakhar (aggressive) Hindutva comes at a time when the people and the country are facing diverse challenges on various fronts. While lip service has been paid to issues such as the agrarian crisis, price rise etc, the entire thrust of the deliberations was to stoke the flames of resurgent Hindutva. This is not strange. Important issues of daily existence and livelihood that occupy the attention of the vast millions of our people have always been secondary for the communal forces. For them, the so-called resurgence of the Hindu nation will automatically take care of the problems of progress, development and improved livelihood of the people.

The most authentic and undisputed definition of such a Hindu nation was given by the erstwhile RSS sarsanghchalak, M.S. Golwalkar, in his treatise We or our Nationhood Defined. He says: “The conclusion is unquestionably forced upon us that… in Hindustan exists and must needs exist the ancient Hindu nation and nought else but the Hindu nation. All those not belonging to the national, i.e., Hindu race, religion, culture and language naturally fall out of the pale of national life.” And regarding such people he proceeds to state: “So long, however, as they maintain their racial, religious and cultural differences, they cannot but be only foreigners.” Unfolding the vision of such a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, he proceeds to chillingly lay out the manner in which such ‘foreigners’ must be dealt with.

Such a conception of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ is completely antagonistic to the secular democratic foundations of the modern Indian republic. Hence, what we find in the current BJP’s resurrection of hardcore Hindutva is not merely the reflection of vote-bank politics seeking to consolidate the Hindu majority vote. It has a larger agenda which undermines the very foundations of modern India. And, here lies the danger. The stoking of communal fires for petty electoral benefits in one particular election or to come to power at the Centre does not stop there. The very logic of the unfolding of such an agenda is that it eventually mounts an assault

on the secular democratic foundations of the Indian State. The country has grievously gone through the pain and agony of such communal polarisation in the past. We can ill-afford to have yet another round of such politics of hate.

The sheer logic of such a view of India and its people and its consequent utilisation for political and electoral benefit requires first, that the entire diversity of culture, traditions, language and customs of the Indian people is sought to be straitjacketed in to a monolithic ‘Hindu’ variant. Second, an external enemy needs to be created (i.e., external to Hindus) the hate against whom is used to whip up a political-electoral consolidation.

It is precisely due to such internal logic that these communal elements virtually stayed away from India’s struggle for Independence. The freedom struggle united Indians irrespective of their religious affiliation for liberty from British colonialism. Such a unity would only be an anathema for those whose politics can thrive on communal hatred. As a result, the Bombay Home Department, during the 1942 Quit India Movement, observed: “The Sangh [RSS] has scrupulously kept itself within the law and in particular, has refrained from taking part in the disturbances that broke out in 1942…”

Similarly, once again today, when India and its people are marching for the building of a better India, the RSS/BJP chooses to resurrect its Hindutva agenda as the only priority for India’s future. There are tremendous challenges facing us both as a country and people. With one of the largest youth populations in any country in the world, our priorities need to address the question of educating this youth while providing them with proper health and economic empowerment as the solid foundation for a resurgent future of India. The year that has gone by has seen the growth of misery with peasants’ suicides and agrarian distress. It has also seen the growth of people’s struggles for the implementation of policies that improves their livelihood. The struggles to bridge the hiatus between ‘Shining India’ and ‘Suffering India’ continue to engage the attention of the vast majority of Indian people.

During the last two and a half years, the parameters of public discourse had mercifully moved away from the communal agenda to those concerning people’s livelihood and India’s sovereignty. Issues like rural employment, tribal’s right to forest land, the right to information etc. have all been possible to be enacted as legislations because the Indian electorate gave itself this chance by rejecting the communal forces in the 2004 general elections.

The Indian people are mercilessly being called once again to brace themselves to face yet another assault by this Prakhar Hindutva. Hence, the hesitation to greet ourselves well in the forthcoming new year. Such new year tidings of the Hindutva variety instead call on us to steel ourselves to face this challenge.

Sitaram Yechury is a Rajya Sabha MP and Member, CPI(M) Politburo.

First Published: Dec 27, 2006 23:59 IST