Is Liberalism and Diversity of Hinduism in Peril?
New Delhi: As the mentor of the ruling BJP, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) is worried about the growing trend of diabolic vigilantism among the so called cow protectors resulting in brutal killing of a Muslim as evidenced in Alwar recently.
This also brings to the fore the growing trend of intolerance, particularly in BJP ruled states posing a threat to the country’s unity in diversity and liberal Hinduism itself.
A worried opposition in Parliament felt compelled to meet President Pranab Mukherjee barely 48 hours back on Wednesday seeking his intervention in the death delivering attacks by cow vigilantes coupled with attempts to “muzzle the voice of dissent”.
The delegation of MPs representing 13 opposition parties also brought to his notice the alleged tampering of EVMs and impressed upon him to safeguard the country’s constitutional democracy and preserving the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.
These deliberate and calculated attacks on Muslims in states ruled by the Lotus party purportedly facilitates the blood thirsty vigilantes escaping the long arm of the law. What is appalling is that the law and order machinery finds those attacked at fault and allegedly finds there is no case against the heinous attackers.
However, in the medium to long term especially with an eye on the next general elections a shade over two years away in 2019, targetting the minority community even if they have valid licence or papers in pursuit of their trade can have an adverse impact on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s calculations of bidding for a second term for the seat of power on the majestic Raisina Hill in the national capital.
Modi has emerged as undisputed ‘numero uno’ of the BJP with hardly any challenge from the opposition. Simply put, he towers over everyone in the political firmament at this juncture.
Not fielding a single Muslim candidate in the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh recently has not stopped the BJP from winning a landslide reminiscent of its mind boggling outcome in the 2014 general elections when it romped home with 73 of the 80 seats with its allies in the country’s most populous state.
Unlike the new Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s, a hardliner and known for his double speak, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was forthright and categoric last Sunday in urging stepping up cow protection efforts by “obeying the law and the Constitution”.
On his part President Mukherjee had expressed serious concern in this regard time and time again but to no avail. He had urged his government to come down hard and nip these divisive tendencies in the bud having the portends of affecting the country’s secular credentials and pluralism. The First Citizen is now biding time before he completes his five-year term in Rashtrapati Bhawan four months later in July.
The challenge for the BJP led NDA is to have its own nominee as the Head of State for the first time replacing Mukherjee in the erstwhile Viceregal Lodge. Though they have a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha, the crucial arithmetic has to be shored up in the electoral college.
The NDA is handicapped by not having a majority in the Rajya Sabha. The BJP has already set in motion meeting its allies from all over the country earlier this week on Monday to try and ramp up a the critical arithmetic in favour of its presidential nominee.
Intellectuals, academicians and others are disturbed with Muslims being targetted at regular intervals whipping up a fear psychosis among the minority community particularly in the BJP ruled states. They believe Hinduism and its liberal beliefs are slowly but surely being trampled.
This is being viewed as a huge wake up call to protect and preserve the diversity of Hinduism. Its relevance and importance cannot be undermined in efforts to keep the pot boiling having dangerous consequences.
It was Veer Sawarkar who coined the term “Hindutva” by delinking it from any religious connotations. He wrote the holy land of the Muslims and Christians is far off in Arabia or Palestine. Their mythology and Godmen, ideas and heroes are not the children of this soil. Consequently, their names and their outlook smack of foreign origin.
The concept of Hindu Rashtra or Polity called for the protection of the Hindu people and their culture emphasising that political and economic system should be based on native thought rather than the concepts borrowed from the West, Savarkar had penned.
At the same time Bhagwat has underlined the need for a nationwide law against cow slaughter for ending this vice. He condemned cow protection groups taking law into their own hands emphasising it defames the cause. In the prevailing circumstances there is urgency in striving to speed up the implementation of its three point Hindutva agenda. It pertains to the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution according special status to the only Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir and having a Uniform Civil Code.
Interestingly, Bhagwat and others are alluding to the Prime Minister’s commitment of abiding by the provisions of the Constitution. Any appeasement of the Muslims is ruled out. What is, however, assuring is that the minority community will be treated on par with all the others as enshrined in the Constitution.
Compounding matters BJP MLA Raja Singh hailing from the South has threatened to behead those opposing the construction of a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. “We have been waiting for years to behead such traitors,” he said in Hyderabad.
The RSS was quick in disassociating itself with Raja Singh’s “beheading the traitors” statement saying it has always condemned and never backed such statements inciting violence.
It is time the BJP sends a strong signal to the fringe elements of the Sangh and volatile legislators like Raja Singh to keep their tempers in check and steer clear of matters leading to confrontation. It is amply clear whatever drives the campaign it should operate within the law. That would protect the people and the social fabric that keeps the country united.
(T R Ramachandran is a senior journalist and commentator. The views are personal.)