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As a political manoeuvre to outclass BJP veteran L.K. Advani, who on 8 September unilaterally announced a nation-wide yatra against corruption, which many viewed as a last ditch claim to premiership in the event of mid-term polls, the Gujarat chief minister’s 13 September declaration of a three-day fast can be admired as a swift remedy for a desperate malady. Despite five successive flop yatras and two electoral routs – caused mainly by an insistence on projecting himself as prime ministerial choice – Mr. Advani has refused to fade away gracefully and clings tenaciously to his declining power and prestige.
Still, given his inability to get the Gujarat Governor to withdraw her contentious appointment of a Congress favourite as State Lokayukta, bypassing the State Government; and given the BJP’s abysmal failure in getting the UPA to compel the Governor to retreat on a blatantly unconstitutional move; it is unclear what is behind the sense of triumphalism with which Narendra Modi has undertaken his three-day fast.
On a surface view, the BJP, and particularly the Gujarat chief minister, felt vindicated when the Supreme Court sent the Gulbarg Society massacre trial back to the lower court and refused to further monitor the case, having supervised the main investigations.
Doubtless the Supreme Court was rectifying a public perception that it had, under successive Chief Justices, acted incorrectly in the Gujarat riots. While the injustice meted out to young Zahira Sheikh is neither admitted nor rectified, disclosures by women victims that they were not raped and did not know that activist Teesta Setalvad had made them sign affidavits alleging rape, have rattled the judiciary. Allegations by Setalvad’s close associate, Rais Khan, that she tampered with affidavits; and the unexplained usage of huge funds collected abroad in the name of the riot victims, have discredited the activist and blemished the Supreme Court for transferring the riot cases out of Gujarat at her behest – on the basis of unsigned documents! Thus, the judicial process has only been restored to its original track in this case.
Burqa Amin party
The manner in which the ‘Sadbhavana Mission’ jamboree has been conducted at the Ahmedabad venue raises many pertinent questions.
First and foremost is the in-your-face bonhomie with Muslim notables of Gujarat, amply captured in both print and electronic media – Modi shaking hands with or embracing men with skull caps, long beards and clean-shaven upper lips, in other words, those representing the epitome of Islamic etiquette.
Also enjoying high visibility were women in black habits. [No disrespect is aimed at the Muslim community; the point being made is that throughout the NDA regime, respectable Hindus were given short shrift, a fact which contributed to the BJP’s inability to return to power at the Centre since].
Missing throughout the tone and tenor of the proceedings in a region intimately associated with Sri Krishna, Prince of Dwarka, was the element of Pitambar (yellow / saffron; also an epithet of Vishnu / Krishna). Some sadhus did bless Narendra Modi, but there was nothing in the ambience of the three-day fast to suggest that he perceived himself as the leader of a Hindu-majority nation, a man who understood that Secularists from pre-independence days to the present had given the Hindu people such a raw deal that their very religion and culture is in danger, unless pro-active measures are taken to contain the rot. Hindu physical insecurity in the face of a revived jihadi menace was studiously ignored.
What Narendra Modi has done is truly atrocious. In his ill-conceived race to position himself as the BJP’s foremost prime ministerial candidate, he has rushed blindly to woo the Muslim votebank without calculating:
1. Whether at all Muslims will vote for the BJP in sufficient numbers to catapult the party to power on a nation-wide basis;
2. What price Muslims will extract in lieu of such support; and
3. Whether the Hindu community will support a party that goes all out to woo Muslims as Muslims and negates Hindus as Hindus.
That Narendra Modi did this deliberately can be gauged from the fact that his State Information Department placed advertisements in an Urdu daily in distant Hyderabad, stating his fast was a ‘roza’. This should amply clarify that he is wooing an all-India Muslim constituency to satiate an all-India ambition.
In the process, he has no qualms about converting a party once claiming allegiance to Sri Rama (since dismissed as an ‘encashed cheque’ by the current Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha) into a Burqa Amin party. That negative feedback received by the third day led him to refuse to wear the Islamic skull cap – something Mr. Nitish Kumar has been happy to don – cannot undo the fact his fast jamboree had a non-Hindu blueprint. The imam who offered the cap may well have been a plant, because a true Muslim would not offer the skull cap to a known unbeliever.
In the Hindu ethos, the State – the ruler, whether hereditary or elected – honours and upholds the dharma and traditions of the people. The ruler does not impose his own beliefs upon the people.
In this perspective, a few points may be noted:
•Until the advent of Islam, Hindus had no experience of rulers whose belief systems were not native to the soil
•Alexander, the first historical invader, did not stay long enough to impact Hindu consciousness, much less the religion and history of India
•All invaders until the advent of Islam adopted the religion and culture of the region they conquered and ruled
•Muslim rule was viewed as alien by Hindus in every region of India precisely because the rulers maintained allegiance to an alien religion that was antagonistic towards the native religion and was fiercely iconoclastic [barring periods in which the rulers could not afford overt hostility and conflict with the population]
•When Jawaharlal Nehru said India would be a Secular State, Hindus thought this only meant non-discrimination against Muslims in the wake of Partition.
Secularism is Hindu negation
Indian Secularism, however, did not keep the State above or out of religion. It did not merely protect the religious freedom and religious establishment of the believers of creeds from outside India. It worked actively to discriminate against Hindus in myriad ways; to erase the Hindu ethos, tradition, civilisation, from the public domain.
It made an open mockery of Hindu beliefs and institutions possible, and made articulation of legitimate Hindu concerns inadmissible in the public domain. For instance, Hindus are not allowed to demand a law that will ensure that the children of inter-religious marriages are raised as Hindus and not as Christians or Muslims; nor is the community compensated for honour when girls and children are dumped after many years of marriage.
The Supreme Court’s determination to willy-nilly open the controversial Vault B of the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple in Tiruvananthapuram is another example of this kind of secularism. On the flip side, the Supreme Court cannot dare strike down Rajiv Gandhi’s scandalous legislation that deprived Muslim divorcees of protection for themselves and their children, on the ground that it violates a very basic feature of the constitution – non-discrimination on grounds of sex, religion, caste, etc. Rajiv Gandhi’s law also violates the constitutional injunction to legislate on a uniform civil code.
As Delhi observes high alert on the anniversary of the Batla house encounter, in which brave Inspector M.C. Sharma lost his life only to be vilified by the scurrilous Digvijay Singh and the Azamgarh school of thought, a shame-faced Union Home Minister has stopped bleating about Hindu terror and admitted that a domestic industry is spawning more jihadi volunteers than his forces can even identify.
Ironically, Mr. Modi has chosen this precise moment – when the recent Mumbai, Delhi, and Agra blasts have brought jihad centre-stage once again – to make non-Hindutva and anti-Hindutva the cornerstones of his grand vision for India. India, in this world view, will be a nation of Hindu people ruled by non-Hindu people for non-Hindu ends. Narendra bhai, in other words, has become Bhai jaan.
By thus making himself the pivot of an undeclared agenda – which everyone knows is to become the prime minister as and when there is a vacancy – Mr. Modi has made his candidature a kind of national referendum. Instead of setting an agenda for the nation, he has made himself the agenda of the nation.
This kind of vacuity perfectly matches that of his putative rival, Mr. Rahul Gandhi. The Amethi MP, too, has nothing to offer the people at large. His election manifesto would read somewhat like this – ‘Make me the PM. I don’t really want to be PM, but mummy wants me to be PM. You know, my daddy was PM…’
Muslims given veto power
Whatever his calculation in fast-tracking his claim to leadership, what Narendra Modi has actually achieved is a minus score. By emphasizing the presence of visibly Muslim faces as the success of his personal acceptability among Muslims, he has:
•Given the Muslim community a moral veto over who has the ‘right’ to be prime minister of a predominantly Hindu nation.
•Returned the national and international spotlight to the Gujarat riots and indirectly given the Centre a legitimate excuse to justify the Communal Violence Bill and its contentious allegation that Hindus alone cause communal riots.
•Effaced the Godhra victims from the national consciousness, and allowed Muslims to feel guilt-free about the cold-blooded murder of innocent passengers on a train – which outrage sparked off the Gujarat riots. It must be emphasized repeatedly that the Gujarat riots were not the consequence of petty bickering among members of two communities; they were a spontaneous outburst against a very grave criminal offence that was carefully planned as part of the on-going jihad in the country, a fact that has been upheld by the trial court verdict against Haji Bilal and others.
This is therefore the right time to ask Narendra bhai jaan:
•What is the number of illegal Bangladeshis in Gujarat?
•What is the number of illegal mosques in Gujarat? How many are on public land and how many have been demolished in deference to a Supreme Court verdict?
•What is number of Hindus allowed to be converted by evangelists under his watch? After all, there has to be some reason for the silence of persons like Cedric Prakash on the issue of freedom of religion.
•What, if any, is the number of converts who returned to the Hindu fold under his watch? After all, this should be the ideal state in terms of ‘ghar wapasi’, and if not, the entire Sangh Parivar, particularly the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Dr. Pravin Togadia must publicly explain why not.
One can say with some certainty that the answers to these questions will be eye-opener, provided of course, that we do get the answers.
America, the Kiss of Death
The real reason for Narendra Modi’s foolish fast (not vrat, mind you) can be found in the Christian ethos and concepts that permeate his letter to the citizens of his state. And he feels vindicated that the US Congress has issued some report praising his achievements.
He may never understand that this has exposed his weakness for US endorsement, and that this can cause him – like the recently deposed Muammar Gaddafi of Libya – to make grave mistakes in order to appease the Americans.
Gaddafi appeased America to the point that he was easy to destroy. Narendra Modi has inexplicably regarded the Gujarati citizens of America as his real constituency; they have provided the blueprint of his administration and economic model; his enigmatic couture changes and image makeovers; his careful avoidance of all Hindutva-related issues, and now, his open appeasement of Muslims.
When the time comes, Hindus will doubtless give him a reality bite.
The author is Editor, www.vijayvaani.com
1. Narendra Modi: Hindu-minus King of Hearts
2. Indian Secularism
3. Kerala Temples of Gloom
4. Gujarat 2002 riots: Muslims attacked Hindus
5. Insights into 1993 Mumbai riots/blasts
6. NAC idea of minorities is dangerous
7. Agriculture be like Gujarat
8. Gujarat India’s Guandong
Editor: Due to constant media pressure and biased reporting Hindu politicians have become defensive when speaking about Islam and Muslims. Sometimes they sound as if they are apologetic to be part of a Hindu majority. The Muslim CM of J&K and Christian CM’s of some North-East states where Muslims/Christians are a majority do not behave like that. I wonder what makes Hindu politicians behave like this.
I wish the Government treats all citizens equally, has the same law for all and gives equal rights to all communities to manage their religious affairs.