Hindu Rashtra conclave in Goa will do for Modi govt what Babri-Ram Temple conflict did for BJP

Letting the fringe organisations lead the chorus and campaign for Hindu nation is the saffron party's strategy.

 |  5-minute read |   15-06-2017
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No one could imagine the opening of the Babri Masjid's locks in 1986 would lead to cataclysmic events. One may have laughed off if one was told that it would change the political landscape of the country.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), founded in 1964 by RSS chief MS Golwalkar, had been trying to build a movement for opening the locks of the 16th century mosque without any visible impact.

And then it happened. The padlocks were opened. The shilanyas (foundation laying) of the Ram temple was permitted in November 1989 by the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government at the Centre.

In December, Rajiv Gandhi launched Congress' Lok Sabha election campaign from Ayodhya promising "Ram Rajya".

BJP joined the VHP movement with a commitment to build a Ram temple at the disputed spot where the Babri Masjid stood. The masjid was demolished.

A tiny movement had turned into a Frankenstein monster.

If the history of Ayodhya Ram Temple-Babri Mosque conflict is any indication of the fringe turning into the mainstream, the Goa conclave to discuss the road map for the establishment of a Hindu rashtra must set alarm bells ringing.

The meeting of more than 150 Hindu organisations to discuss the "Road Map to the Establishment Of The Hindu rashtra" by 2023 appears to be work of fringe groups. But it's a Frankenstein monster in the making. Laugh it off if the country has a death wish for a catastrophe.

modi-bhagwat_061517011847.jpgIn public, though, even RSS leaders leaders avoid wading into the 'Hindu Rashtra' issue. Photo: PTI

The four-day meeting starting June 14 is being organised by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS). It was an unknown organisation till the CBI arrested its member Virendrasing Tawde for the murder of Narendra Dabholkar, a Pune-based rationalist in 2013.

It's an offshoot of the controversial right-wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha.

The other issues on the agenda are: "Need for a countrywide beef ban, failed policies of government in rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus and future of India: Islamic State or Hindu Rashtra."

The issue of the call for making India a Hindu nation normally derives derision and ridicule. Not much serious debate is entertained over the pronouncements of Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar and RSS' MS Golwalkar under the impression that the idea will remain a fantasy.

But it has always been a serious matter for the RSS and its affiliates. In public, though, even RSS leaders who are loaned to the BJP in senior organisational positions - such as Ram Madhav, and those who land up in the government - avoid wading into the issue.

It falls on fringe organisations to carry on the debate in the public domain and test the waters.

Letting the fringe organisations lead the chorus and campaign for a Hindu nation is BJP's strategy. Silence is a weapon that can be jettisoned at an opportune time after the chorus gets adequate traction.

Both the BJP and the VHP have distanced themselves from the Goa conclave.

It's a show of political ambivalence that exposes the dark side of the BJP government at the Centre. It portends ominous signs.

The ambivalence is no longer convincing. In the last three years since the Modi government came to power, the BJP's stated agenda - hiding the party's real self - has been exposed and continues to be exposed.

The BJP and the government have adopted the fringe group's agenda on cow and beef, leading to mass lynching of Muslims. The agenda of silencing dissenting voices that have sometimes resulted in killings of writers and rationalists have exposed the ruling party's virtual acquiescence.

The protection of the cow and the ban on beef are important building blocks of the making of a Hindu rashtra - as is the well-planned demonisation of minorities.

In a significant move to adopt the fringe groups' agenda, the BJP cast aside the mask by appointing Yogi Adityanath, who has always unabashedly espoused the cause of making India a Hindu rashtra, as UP's chief minister.

Even as the Modi government is unmistakably exposing its true intention, one must know that the dream of declaring India a Hindu nation will entail changes to the basic structure of the Constitution. The current party position in Parliament doesn't allow the required amendments.

RSS ideologues have made no secret of their desire to bring about the "required changes" to the Constitution. Last year, a prominent RSS ideologue and chairman of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) Ram Bahadur Rai spoke on the need to amend the Constitution.

In an interview to Outlook magazine, Rai said that the 16th Lok Sabha should be converted into a Constituent Assembly.

He said the Constitution had outlived its utility and is not suited to the times we live in. The Constitution, he said, is a "new testament of our slavery."

In his view, the Constituent Assembly, which drafted the Constitution, was unrepresentative.

RSS leaders have repeatedly hammered the need for changing the Constitution. They have often demanded that "a Constitution more suited to the ethos and genius of this country should be adopted" to represent the "unique oneness" of India.

The word and the concept that has most riled BJP and RSS leaders is "secular", more so because the word was not part of the Constitution that was adopted in 1950. Words such as secular and socialist were inserted into the Preamble in 1976 through a constitutional amendment.

Ramesh Shinde, a spokesman for the HJS, has given interviews in which he has boasted that the idea of declaring India a Hindu rashtra is no longer academic. With a friendly government in New Delhi, he said, "it's our best chance".

Removing words "secular and socialist" would be the first step towards a Hindu nation, Shinde has stated.

RSS and BJP are working incrementally on the way to realise their goal of a Hindu rashtra.

During the incremental process, the groups that pass off as fringe take the centre stage while the mainstream maintains silence.

The fringe has been emboldened as never before since the Modi government won power.

Politics of ambivalence has to be recognised in time and fought with conceptual clarity and strategy.

Also read: How India can use SCO membership to grow as an Asian power

Writer

Ashok K Singh Ashok K Singh @kashoksingh

He is a journalist, writer and commentator.

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