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Road to perdition

The terror attacks in Varanasi underscore the fact that history is often chillingly instructive.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2006 23:59 IST
Left Hand Drive | Sitaram Yechury
Left Hand Drive | Sitaram Yechury

The terror attacks in Varanasi underscore the fact that history is often chillingly instructive. Its remarkable coincidences serve as a foreboding and as a warning that we can ignore only at our peril. One such is the following: on February 27, 1933, the Reichstag (Germany’s seat

of power) was set on fire. On February 27, 2002, Coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express burst into flames at Godhra. The former was used by Hitler to launch a vicious anti-Communist repression, abrogate democratic rights, suspend the Weimar Constitution and proceed to consolidate Nazi fascism. The fire was later established to have been the handiwork of the fascist forces themselves, who used this as pretext for their consolidation.

The Godhra incident was used by the RSS, its affiliates and its political arm, the BJP, to unleash a State-sponsored communal genocide in Gujarat. The U.C. Banerjee report has finally nailed the lie, which many had intuitively felt even then, that the fire was an accident and not a conspiracy hatched by jehadis against kar sevaks. The pretext of a pre-planned conspiracy was used to justify the now infamous ‘action-reaction’ theory.

The RSS/BJP’s outcry against these findings are natural and expected. Apart from exposing the
untruths and the Goebbelisian propaganda techniques (Hitler’s propaganda minister Goebbels had perfected to the hilt his dictum, “If you tell a big enough lie, frequently enough, it becomes the truth”), this report, in a way, reconfirms the ideological destination of the RSS/BJP as being the conversion of the secular democratic Indian republic into a fascistic Hindu rashtra.

On February 24, 2006, the RSS launched year-long grandiose birth centenary celebrations of Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar. ‘Guruji’, as he was called, was the ideological and organisational architect of the RSS. He provided the ideological construct for the RSS conception of the Hindu rashtra. His seminal work, We or Our Nationhood Defined, first published in 1939 — the modern-day BJP refuses to acknowledge this work out of embarrassment — constitutes its ideological bedrock. Various editions of this work were printed, the fourth being in independent India in 1947. Unambiguously, Golwalkar states, “In Hindustan exists, and must need exist, the ancient Hindu nation and naught else but the Hindu nation.” And, “all others are either traitors or enemies to the national cause, or, to take a charitable view, idiots”. Further, he says, “there are only two courses open to the foreign elements (non-Hindus): either to merge themselves in the national race and adopt its culture, or to live at its mercy, so long as the national race may allow them to do so. We are an old nation; let us deal, as old nations ought to and do deal, with the foreign races who have chosen to live in our country”.

And how should such ‘old nations’ deal? “To keep up the purity of its race and culture, Germany shocked the world by purging the country of its Semitic races — Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by” (emphasis added).

The coincidences thus are not merely of historical dates; they are of similar ideologies. And it is this ideological thrust that defines the BJP’s reactions to the terror attacks in Varanasi. Having come to the conclusion that the BJP has to revert to the basics of the RSS ideology following its electoral defeat, the RSS has replaced the BJP’s leadership and reoriented its responses. The very same L.K. Advani, who received universal support while he was the deputy PM and home minister in combating terrorism, has today not only refused such cooperation to the UPA government, but has announced an offensive.

He has claimed that these attacks are due to the policies of ‘minority appeasement’. During his tenure, the country was witness to terror attacks on Parliament, on the Red Fort, Akshardham temple and twice at the Raghunath temple. By his very own logic, were these the consequences of the Vajpayee government’s ‘minority appeasement’?

Clearly, the RSS/BJP, instead of rising unitedly with the rest of the nation in combating this menace, are seeking to utilise this to sharpen communal divides for their political ends. The season of rath yatras is here again. Advani’s first rath yatra left behind a trail of mayhem and arson and paved the way for the demolition of the Babri masjid and the BJP’s ascendancy to power. History repeats itself, as has been famously quoted; the first time as a tragedy, and the second time as a farce.

The RSS had its VHP convene a Dharma Sansad in February at Allahabad, which adopted a 13-point ‘Hindu Charter’ describing it as the ‘blueprint’ for a Hindu rashtra. It openly asserted that “it is time that Hindus developed a vote bank of its own to pressurise all political parties to protect and advance the interest of the Hindu community, cutting across barriers of caste”. The RSS further organised the Shabarikumbh Mela in Dangs district of Gujarat; it upped the ante on the Bhojshala issue in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh and utilising its position as a coalition partner in Karnataka, it is fomenting tensions at the Baba Budanagiri shrine in Chikamagalur. Clearly, its agenda for the future needs no further

The RSS/BJP’s affinity with US imperialism finds a sympathetic chord with the latter’s naked aggression in Asia, in what it defines as ‘clash of civilisations’. Those who see the current imperialist aggression as a response to Islamic fundamentalism must recollect that many of these forces were, in the first instance, the creation of the US itself, like the Taliban!

While Islamic fundamentalism has to be combated and defeated, it is facetious to blame the Frankensteins while trying to absolve oneself of releasing them. Recall that US President George Bush invoked ‘God’ to justify attacks against Afghanistan and Iraq.

In his acceptance speech, Harold Pinter, 2005 Nobel laureate for literature, volunteers to be George W. Bush’s speech writer and says, “God is good. God is great. My God is good. Bin Laden’s God is bad. Saddam’s God was bad, except he did not have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians…”

The claims of one’s God being good while those of others being bad is communalism at its worst. The policies of the Bush administration ends up communalising the world. No wonder the RSS/BJP finds US imperialism a convenient and natural ally.

The Indian people have seen through all this before. Machinations for political benefit can’t answer the questions of livelihood of the common man at the ground level. Did the RSS/BJP abstain from celebrating Holi when their foreign minister escorted terrorists to the Taliban? Did they skip Diwali when Parliament was attacked? Did they refuse to enact the Ram Lila when Akshardham was attacked or when Gujarat was on fire and at least 2,000 people died? It is time for all of us now to ensure that communalism of all hues and shades falls off the country’s radar and does not inhibit the country’s march to progress.

The writer is Rajya Sabha MP and Member, CPI(M) Politburo

First Published: Mar 10, 2006 23:59 IST