September 07, 2014

Hindutva, White Lies & the Mask of Development

Archana Prasad

FROM love jihad to the appropriation of the revolutionary freedom fighter Rajguru as a ‘dharma yoddha’, it is abundantly evident that the Modi government is more about aggressive reassertion of the Hindutva agenda and less about development, efficiency and accountability. The growing spate of communal riots and the recent campaigns of the Sangh Parivar show that the BJP and its government has created the legitimacy and space for dangerous political polarisation and discourse. IMPERIALIST CONCEPTION OF NATIONHOOD Speaking in Cuttack in early August, Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief, stated “All those who live here in Hindusthan are Hindus…. We are one nation. We are Hindus…. Hindutva is our nationality. It is a way of life. Unnecessarily some people are confusing the nation. Even the modern research suggests that since 40,000 years or more one species has been living through Indo Iranian plate. Our DNA mapping too confirms the same.” That this view is not confined to the RSS but permeates down till the government and its parliamentarians has given a new boost to right-wing communalism. The first evidence of this came from the minister of minority affairs itself who stated on her very first day that only the Parsis could be classified as “minorities” in India. This was followed by her recent statement which endorsed the view of Yogi Adityanath stating that being Hindu is a sign of a geographical indication and there was nothing wrong in calling ‘Indians” “Hindu”. Such a view only reinforces the idea of ‘akhand bharat’ or a Hindu nation as propounded by the RSS. Speaking in 2010, Mohan Bhagwat stated that “Ultimately this (India) used to be one land – both by lineage and culture – from Kabul to Tibet to Sri Lanka; so why should we not envision bringing it back as one land.” This conception of uniting all south and south eastern nations is both culturally and politically imperialistic. It is therefore not surprising that Modi has proudly announced on January 15, 2014 that India should aim to export arms to smaller countries to defend themselves. Thus as far as nationhood is concerned, the RSS and the government are in sync with each other. Further this imperialist notion of the nation is based on a falsehood that the entire region was one nation and governed by one king. Further the use of the word “Hindu” as the identity of a nationalist and nation militates against the constitutional consensus that was forged in the course of the freedom struggle and the anti-imperialist movement. According to this consensus, the country is to be called ‘India, i.e., Bharat” which is a union of states and a democratic republic. Hence by initiating a public debate on “Hindu as Indian” the BJP and the Modi government are mobilising public opinion in order create a demand for a ‘Hindu Rashtra”. DENIGRATION OF REVOLUTIONARY MARTYRS It is well known that the RSS kept aloof from India’s struggle for independence and has been contemptuous of communist and revolutionary movements. As Golwalkar writes in his book that “those who embrace martyrdom are great heros” but not all of them could be worshipped because they had “failed to achieve their ideal” and this failure showed a “fatal flaw”. Golwalkar states “how can one who is defeated give light and lead others to success.” This severe indictment of revolutionary freedom fighters was also endorsed by Balasaheb Deoras, the third Sanghchalak, who narrated a story where Hedgewar emphasised the superiority of the work of the Sangh in contrast with the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh (Shamsul Islam, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and the Hindutva Gang, 2014). Such an indictment is not surprising from an organisation that is responsible for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi and has consistently betrayed the ideals of egalitarian social transformations. Given this background, it is alarming that Hindutva ideologues are making a serious attempt to appropriate Bhagat Singh and his associates through blatant lies and misappropriation. In an interview in the Statesmen (August 25, 2014) Ram Khedkar, a member of the RSS affiliated Hutatma Rajguru Smarak Samiti in Bengal and a BJP worker states that Shivaram Rajguru, Bhagat Singh’s martyred associate and a prominent important member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA), was a “dharma yoddha” as opposed to a “desh yoddha”. The logic being given is that Rajguru was a brahmin who believed in god and learnt sanskrit. This selective appropriation, based on anectodal evidence, shows that the Sangh is serious about delegitimising icons of the Left and democratic movements. This white lie ignores the fact that all the members of the HSRA gave up their caste and community affiliations publically and declared themselves as communists whose ideal for real independence was an egalitarian socialist republic. In the ‘Philosophy of the Bomb” (the manifesto of HSRA) they wrote: “that the revolution they (the revolutionaries) are constantly working for will not only express itself in the form of armed conflict between foreign governments and its people and supporters, it will also usher a new social order. The revolution will ring the death knell of capitalism and class distinctions and privileges…. Above all, it will establish the dictatorship of the proletariat and banish social parasites from the seat of power” (Philosophy of the Bomb, pp.1-2) For these revolutionaries, religion was a private matter and had to be fought if it entered politics. The association and its mass organization, the Naujawan Bharat Sabha recognised the dangers of communal organisations (like the Sangh and their affiliates) and the need to oppose them by bringing about a change in the consciousness of the nation. This consciousness itself had to be transformed through mass struggle and by opposing the same social forces that the Modi government represents today. ANTI-WOMEN CAMPAIGNS AS FULCRUM OF POLITICAL POLARISATION A third aspect that has acquired importance is the love jihad campaign that objectifies women and uses them as objects in spreading communal hatred. As was seen in Muzaffarnagar, rumours of Muslim boys having relations or harassing Hindu girls are enough to start a reaction and polarise public opinion in areas that are going to face elections. Women’s groups have also been opposing this through counter campaigns that demystify the social conservatism and attack on women’s rights by the Sangh and its affiliates. The public outcry forced the Uttar Pradesh BJP to omit the word ‘love jihad’ from its political resolution, but its content still forms the core of the UP campaign whose star campaigners are riot accused Yogi Adityanath and Sangeet Som (an accused with Z category security). In the context of this ideological contest, the Modi government has kept an ominous silence, thus indicating their tacit support for the campaign. This is quite similar to the situation in Gujarat where the then Modi government let the Sangh Parivar carry out its pogrom without interference. It is also interesting to note that Modi used the ‘mask of development’ to divert attention from the trials of the Gujarat riot accused who used rape as a lethal weapon in the riots, the gory details of which are available in the detailed judgement on the Naroda Patiya case. It is therefore clear that Modi’s own track record is abysmal as far as gender justice is concerned. The Sangh Parivar and the government seem to be following a well thought out political strategy. While the Modi government will sell itself as a government for ‘inclusive development’, the Sangh Parivar will spread its tentacles by spreading hatred and affecting polarisation without any political interference. But the pace at which the Sangh Parivar is moving has unmasked the Modi government’s ‘politics of development’. Hence it is essential that the broadest possible unity of progressive secular forces is built to oppose the anti-people policies and the real agenda of the Modi government.