Vol. XLIII No. 24 June 16, 2019
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Modi Campaign: Venomous Communal Polarisation

Sitaram Yechury

WHILE the working people the world over express their solidarity with each other in their struggles to end exploitation on May Day, the BJP and Narendra Modi are preoccupied with disrupting such unity and solidarity through their venomous campaign of communal polarization.

The first three phases of the 17th general elections saw the electorate voting in 302 seats out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats. The ruling BJP has 113 sitting MPs from these constituencies.

In the next four phases ending on May 19th, the electorate will vote for the remaining 241 seats. Of these the BJP currently holds 161 sitting MPs. That is two-thirds of these seats. It is clear that if the BJP is unable to retain these seats, its desire to form the next government simply falls through. This is because in the first three phases, it is universally admitted that the BJP will not be able to retain at least 50 per cent of its sitting seats.

It is precisely this realisation that has prompted the BJP leadership to consciously adopt an aggressive campaign led by Narendra Modi to rouse unscrupulous communal passions as the only means left to garner votes. Its dismal and disastrous record of government, gross betrayal of all promises made in 2014, the ruination of Indian economy and the untold misery imposed by unleashing unprecedented economic burdens through demonetisation, GST and deepening intolerance through the spread of hate and violence particularly against Muslims and Dalits has built up a formidable anti-incumbency against this government.

The RSS/BJP, on the one hand, seeks votes by invoking the valour of our armed forces and seeking to project itself as the only force capable of taking on the struggle against terrorism and Pakistan (We had dealt with this aspect in the last issue).

On the other hand, they seek to garner votes by rousing communal passions in a strident way to further deepen communal polarisation. It had already brought back in its manifesto, its core Hindutva agenda to be implemented, if it is returned to power. These include the building of the Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya; the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution concerning the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir and a uniform civil code. Additionally, it has promised to enact the citizenship amendment bill, a blatant exercise to deny citizenship to Muslims and introducing religion as a criterion to confer Indian citizenship in complete violation of our Constitution.

ROUSING RABID COMMUNAL HATRED

In line with this, under the leadership provided by Narendra Modi, all BJP leaders are currently indulging in speeches rousing communal hatred. They are thus resorting to the worst form of vote bank politics consolidating the Hindu communal vote bank. Strangely, the Election Commission is yet to take any action against Narendra Modi for the unbridled communal passions that he is rousing. This is ominous for the health of Indian democracy.

As an expression of its efforts to consolidate the Hindutva communal vote bank, the BJP has fielded Pragya Singh Thakur, an under trial terror accused, currently out on bail on medical reasons, as its candidate from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Endorsing this choice, Narendra Modi hailed Pragya Singh Thakur as the “symbol of our civilisational heritage”.  

 

On her part, Pragya Singh Thakur emboldened by Modi’s endorsement, used this political platform being provided to propagate her brand of communal bigotry. She castigated the martyrdom of  Hemant Karkare, a valiant IPS officer who as the head of the ‘Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad’ laid down his life in the line of duty. Pragya Singh Thakur was being investigated by Karkare, who successfully charged her for terrorist crimes in the Malegaon bomb blast case. This BJP candidate now claims that Karkare died because of her ‘curse’ for having the audacity to investigate a self styled ‘Hindu religious leader’ in a ‘Hindu country’! Karkare according to her earned ‘divine wrath’ and hence was naturally destroyed. That Karkare was the primary target of the anti-national terrorists during the 26/11 Mumbai attack and was shot dead, is of no concern or relevance to such communal bigots.

A group of former civil servants of the all India central services wrote to the President of India expressing their disbelief and dismay with her candidature by the BJP and particularly the ‘enthusiastic endorsement by no less a person than the Prime Minster of India’. They also appealed to fellow citizens to reject the pervading atmosphere of “hate and divisiveness” and to “celebrate our unity and diversity and recall that, together, we have given ourselves this Constitution”. The letter is titled ‘Our heritage is no act of terrorism’ and seeks appropriate action on Modi.

Narendra Modi went further to make an amazing statement that Hindus can never be violent! In his urge to retain his Prime Ministership, he erases Indian history replete with gruesome battles and wars. Strange for an RSS pracharak, who preaches that our epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata replete with conflicts and violent wars is the only source of our history. Recollect that the king of India’s first empire- ‘Mauryan’ - that ruled from the Hindukhush to the Bay of Bengal, Ashoka, remorseful after his bloody conquest of Kalinga embraced Budhism. It is only after denouncing Hinduism and adopting Budhism that Ashoka found his reverence for life through tolerance, compassion and peaceful co-existence. He spread his message far and wide through his inscriptions in stupas, stating that, “I believe in winning people over through Dharmma is much better than conquering by force”. In fact, his symbol Chakra today occupies a place of pride on our tri-colour National Flag. It was his four lion stupa that is India’s official symbol. One of the inscriptions on stupa says, “Whosoever honour’s one’s own sect and condemns other sects, out of devotion to one’s own sect, intending to glorify it, in acting thus injures his own sect the more.”

The RSS/BJP behavior today is the complete opposite of what is inscribed on stupas.

“HINDUISE ALL POLITICS, MILITARISE HINDUDOM”

Though Modi is today crying hoarse that “Hindus cannot be terrorists” the issue of imparting militant training to the Hindus has a long history. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar coined the term Hindutva, and gave it the character of an ideological political project having nothing to do with the Hindu religion. In order to achieve this, he advanced the slogan “Hinduise all politics and militarise Hindudom”. Inspired by this,  B S Moonje, mentor of RSS, founder K B Hedgewar, travelled to Italy to meet the fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini. The meeting took place on March 19, 1931. His personal diary notes of March 20, 1931, reveal his fascination and admiration of the manner in which Italian fascism was training its youth (red-storm troopers) militarily.  Upon return to India, Moonje established the Central Hindu Military Education Society at Nasik in 1935, the precursor to the Bhonsala Military School established in 1937. Investigations have put this on the terror radar. RSS’s guru Golwalkar, in 1939, exulted Hitler’s purging of the Jews under Nazi fascism saying that it is “a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by”. Much later in 1970, he says “Generally speaking, it is a matter of common experience that evil forces (read non-Hindus) do not understand the language of logic and sweet nature. They can only be controlled by force”.

FASCIST IDEOLOGICAL INFLUENCES ON HINDUTVA

In a seminal study published in Economic and Political Weekly, January 22, 2000, Marzia Casolari established through archival evidence, the fascist ideological influences on Hindutva forces. Italian fascism and German Nazism both shaped their ideological projects. The author says that: “beginning with the early 1920s, and up to the second world war, Hindu nationalists looked at the political reality of fascist Italy, and subsequently of Nazi Germany, as a source of inspiration. At the ideological level, the most meaningful effect of the fascist influence is represented by the way in which Hindu nationalism developed its own concept of diversity , transforming ‘diverse’ people into enemies. Of course, the concept of internal enemy is already implicit contained in Savarkar’s Hindutva. Nevertheless, the continuous reference to German racial policy and the comparison of the Jewish problem in Germany with the Muslim question is India reveals the evolution of the concept of ‘internal enemy’ along explicitly fascist lines”.

This conclusion established by the wealth of archival material quotes Moonje on the question of establishing the future of India on the basis of Hindu Dharam Shastras as saying, “But the point is that this ideal cannot be brought to effect unless we have our own swaraj with a Hindu as a dictator like Shivaji of the old or Mussolini or Hitler of the present day in Italy and Germany….But, this does not mean that we have to sit with folded hands until (sic) some such dictator arises in India. We should formulate a scientific scheme and carry on propaganda for it. It is perhaps no exaggeration to assert that the Sangh hopes to be in future India what the ‘Fascists’ are to Italy and ‘Nazis’ to Germany. In 1934, Moonje, started to work for the foundation of his own institution, the Bhonsla Military School. For this purpose, in the same year he began to work at the foundation of the Central Hindu Military Education Society, whose aim was to bring about military regeneration of the Hindus and to fit Hindu youths for undertaking the entire responsibility for the defense of their motherland.”

Savarkar, the then president of the Hindu Mahasabha, is shown through this archival material to emulate Hitler’s anti-Jewish policy. The paper shows that: speech after speech, Savarkar supported Hitler’s anti-Jewish policy, and, on October 14, 1938, he suggested the following solution for the Muslim problem in India:

“A nation is formed by a majority living therein. What did the Jews do in Germany? They being in minority were driven out from Germany. In Germany the movement of the Germans is the national movement but that of the Jews is a communal one”.

And later Savarkar is quoted as saying: “Nationality does not depend so much on a geographical area as on unity of thought, religion, language and culture. For this reason, the Germans and the Jews could not be regarded as a nation”.

IMPERATIVE TO DEFEAT BJP

Does this leave any doubt as from where the inspiration of Narendra Modi and his recent outbursts come from?

It is this Machiavellian ploy, to defend terrorists in the name of ‘Hindus’ to seek electoral advantage, that is the most evil expression of vote bank politics. This needs to be defeated for safeguarding, “India, that is, Bharat”.