Shun communal ghettoism

Shun communal ghettoism

There is no dispute that the massive mandate given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections was for a corruption-free, communalism-free, and development-focused governance. Only a ghetto-mind would think that it is a mandate for the realisation of a Hindutva agenda that has little to with development dreams of the people.

The recent electoral victories for the assemblies of some states including Uttar Pradesh connote that the people have overwhelmingly preferred the leadership of Modi not merely because they subscribe to his versions of progress in the name of technology-driven dreams of ‘Digital India’, ‘Smart India’, and ‘Swachh Bharat’ but also because they have come to realise that an alternative leadership is a mirage in the backdrop of the dénouement endured by Opposition parties at this moment of India’s political history.

Therefore, construing the electoral victory as a means towards promoting an RSS agenda to the extent that its saffronised Hindutva essentials would determine the identity of the country would be a recipe for disaster.

There is a growing perception that with the rise of RSS-guided BJP in governance, the hidden agenda of the RSS is gradually getting unveiled, wagging its tail in the forefront of governance today, even to the extent that loyalty to RSS could be the criterion for selecting the next President. The apprehension is that the polity of India is facing a psychosomatic crisis vis-à-vis the perils of the RSS-agenda of saffronisation.

The recent moves and articulations of the chief ministers of UP, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, ruled by the BJP, vis-à-vis cow politics, for instance, give a clue to what is in store for us, the people, in the name of governance. The lawlessness unleashed by the so-called ‘gau rakshaks’, evident in the case of the horrendous killing of Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer, not cow smuggler, in Rajasthan last week, illustrates how helpless we, the people, are against the goons.

No reasonable person would say that the mandate given is for the implementation of any Hindutva agenda. Hindutva has little to do with the development agenda of the people. It has little to do with the majority Hindu community as a whole. The idea of several paths leading to divergent experiences of god and truth is a fine legacy India has cherished to the great admiration of many across continents. With its whimsical and divisive agenda targeting select minority communities, Hindutva ideologues negate such legacies, causing ruptures in communal harmony.

The RSS-impact is evident in Modi fanning the leadership of Yogi Aditya­nath in UP against whom quite a number of communally sensitive cases have been pending in the court of law. As Shahnawaz Alam, journalist and documentary film-maker, cautions, it would be a sad irony that ‘the accused would be sharing the dais with judges of different courts of justice’ when occasions arise.

The way the UP CM, an RSS-pracha­rak, who advocated that ‘10 or more Muslims should be killed in retaliation for the killing of one Hindu’, steers cow politics and Ayodhya temple-mosque conflict is a pointer to where he stands connected and what he is up to. The way some of the RSS mascots, accused of links with bomb blasts, getting acquitted one after another, courtesy RSS-BJP connivance, is another pointer to how governance in India gets attuned to RSS-agenda day by day.

What haunts thinking minds is the arrogation of power that gradually unveils itself in varied ways with a subtle subscription to a set of agendas such as building a Ram temple at a disputed site, stopping beef-eating by fair or foul means as if vegetarianism were the only way of living, and saffronising the education system in the country by making persons of saffronised dispositions occupy administrative positions wherever possible.

Visible salesmanship
It is sad to note that no leader of stature in RSS, BJP, and Shiv Sena is willing to problematise these agendas. This is where their salesmanship becomes visible. This is where the silence of Modi is disturbing. It seems even the massive mandate he has would not move him. His silence against the RSS intrusion in governance makes reasoning minds presume that his political survival depends on his adherence to RSS ideologies.

For Modi, transcending the ghetto-RSS mould in the way Vajpayee did as a statesman all the more graciously when he was PM, with a genuine commitment to transformative leadership that takes him beyond one particular religion or ideology-bound politics, is the only way he can guarantee a statesman-like leadership.

His acumen, rather than his rhetoric, could take him to greater heights. At this moment, he seems to be the only hope for BJP to move ahead and for the RSS to think of the greater image of the nation rather than to be stuck up with its ghetto-notion of nationalism or Hindutva caprices.

The sooner Modi heightens his awareness that the people are his masters, the sooner he ensures that the people of all faiths reap the fruits of his promises of providing education, employment, corruption-free governance, and the sooner he tames RSS and BJP towards right tracks of reasoning, the better his clout would be to emerge as a tall leader to the stature of Vajpayee, if not Nehru or Indira, to the admiration of all, even his opponents.

Letting down the aspirations of the people for the sake of Hindutva would be a betrayal.
The prayer that comes to my mind, as I conclude, is the one mused by Tagore, Where the Mind is without Fear, a hymn that can inspire all of us, including men and women of RSS affinities, to hold our heads high against all sorts of narrow domestic walls and tension-causing war-zones of fanatic ideologies, and to discipline our mind so as to be led forward into ever-widening realm of thought and action. The progress the people of India cherish lies in such a realm, a realm that beckons political leaders to rise above the frenzy of communal ghettoism.