Sangh parivar’s utterances

Amulya Ganguli

Even before Ram Nath Kovind, the BJP’s choice for the new president, had moved into Rashtrapati Bhavan, the saffron politicians and ministers gave a broad hint of the changes in the offing by staying away from President Pranab Mukherjee’s Iftar party.
It is entirely possible that this was the last Iftar at the presidential palace for the foreseeable future, for the BJP, in general, is not too enamoured of social bonhomie with the minorities, as Narendra Modi’s refusal to wear a skull cap during his Sadbhavna outreach to the Muslims in Gujarat in 2011 showed. More recently, the BJP criticised the party’s ally in Jammu and Kashmir, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, for an Iftar gathering when police personnel were being killed in the state.
And, where a post-sunset party is to be held, the BJP wants milk to be served in lieu of meat dishes, for it is “healthier than beef”, as a member of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, associated with the RSS, has said. But these are not the only signs of the shape of things to come, including the spread of Hindi, as Union minister Venkaiah Naidu has said, for India will not be able to progress, according to him, without this language of cow belt. Even more disquieting is the impunity with which Muslims are being targeted.
The latest outrage was on the Delhi-Mathura passenger train where a disagreement over the sharing of seats led to the murder of a young boy and injuries to two other “beef eaters”, whose religious identity had tragic consequences. It was the same with Mohammed Akhlaq, who was killed in 2015 on the suspicion of eating beef, and Pehlu Khan, who was killed a few months ago for transporting cattle.
Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad proudly claimed that although Muslims did not vote for the BJP, the government had given them “proper sanctity”. However, a closer perusal of his law books would have told the law minister that the “sanctity” is given to all the citizens, irrespective of caste or creed, by the Constitution, a “holy book”, according to Narendra Modi, no matter whether they vote for the ruling party or not.
Given this kind of a blinkered outlook at the official and political level, it is not surprising that the mobs inspired by the saffron ideology have no time for offering any sanctity to the beef eaters, especially when a sadhvi by the name of Saraswati has urged the government to hang all those who eat the forbidden meat. It is obvious that a Muslim, who is identified by his outward appearance – beard, skullcap – is not always safe when he ventures out on the roads.
True, arrests have been made in all the cases of violence and murder. But if these have not acted as a suitably effective deterrence, the reasons are, first, the deeply ingrained animus towards the minorities, especially Muslims, among followers of the tenets of Hindutva or cultural nationalism – one people, one nation, one culture; and, secondly, the belief among the same set of people that the time has come to settle scores with the alien invaders, now that Modi has rung the curtains down on “1,200 years of slavery” in their view, first under the Muslims and then the British.
Such ideas may seem surreal to the left-liberals, the saffron brotherhood’s bête noire, but they are no different from the vitriolic sectarianism harboured by the ISIS and votaries of the Islamic Caliphate who also believe that the infidels have ruled the roost for far too long and that it was time to exterminate them and usher in the golden rule of the Shariat.
The communal-minded Hindus in the BJP and outside have a similar objective in mind for their cherished Hindus Rashtra, where the minorities will have the status of second-class citizens. In any event, those who set upon the Muslims today regard them as aliens who have no place in India. There is little doubt that these fanatics have been encouraged by the fact that the government has chosen to see the acts of violence as isolated law and order problems and not the expression of an ideological venom which has to be rooted out with forceful and repeated condemnations by those in authority. Otherwise, the poison can only spread as it appears to be doing.
An evidence of the subversion of pluralism is available from a blog doing the rounds in the cyber world, which congratulates BJP chief Amit Shah for taking on Gandhi with his “chaturbania” remark. According to the blog, the sly trader has to be debunked because he has “ruled over our minds and spirits as ruthlessly and as completely as Papa Doc Duvalier in Haiti and the North Korean supremo Kim Il Sung”.
After condemning Gandhi’s “pusillanimous stance on Muslim communalism and violence”, the blogger says that the purported Father of the Nation had “a great innings but this cannot go on … A moral and honest civilization that has lasted for 5,000 years or so, cannot live forever with doctored and embellished history” - especially now that Hindu Rashtra is here, the writer might have added. (IPA)

Monday, 3 July, 2017