On the Assembly Elections of 2003
[Published earlier in Milli Gazette, 1 to 15 January 2004 ]
The day after the results of the assembly elections were announced, a friend pointed out that our entire system of justice is based on punishing an offender publicly so that he does not commit the same offence again and so that others, having seen his punishment, do not dare to commit that offence. It can be argued that the results of the assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan work directly against the principle underlying this system of justice.
These three states have elected the BJP to power. As has been shown time and again and in many different ways, the BJP was the key facilitator of the Sangh Parivar's unprecedented barbarity and savagery in Gujarat less than two years ago. Had the BJP not been in power in Gujarat, its siblings, chiefly the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal, would not have had the freedom to so offend humanity as they did. Had the BJP not been in power in Gujarat, the apparatus of State would not have guided, abetted and joined in the savagery. Had the BJP not led the coalition in Delhi, the butchery of Gujarat could have been prevented -- or, if it had still taken place, the butchers could have been rapidly rounded up and punished for their unspeakable crimes.
What do the results of the assembly elections signify? They signify, first, that those who should have been punished have instead been rewarded. Second, they mean that the voters who elected these criminals have not seen the writing on the wall -- the clear danger that the same crimes will be repeated elsewhere. Third, and this prospect is terrifying, they may mean that the electorate actually wants the Sangh Parivar's barbarity to spread across our land.
There can be little doubt that the Sangh Parivar's various limbs, working in unison like malignant termites, with a military kind of efficiency only to be expected from the historical connection with Italian Fascism and from the structure of command within the RSS, have preyed on the fears and the cupidity of all whom they have come in contact with. While one man is told that his economic problems are the creation of those who follow a different religion, another is lured away into the Sangh Parivarís fraudulent construction of Hinduism by the gift of a cow.
The Sangh Parivar thinks of all. Women are specifically targeted and led astray, as Lalita Panicker observed: "Women from economically weaker sections are particularly vulnerable -- joining a shakha is seen as a means to economic empowerment via the income-generating activities on offer and to acquiring a ready-made support system." But what is the result? "Reports from women's groups tell of middle and upper class women participating in looting alongside men [during the Gujarat violence]" (Times of India, 25 March 2002). Once the fun and games are over, though, these women are pushed firmly back into their role of home makers.
The kind of indoctrination that is practised on young minds in the RSS shakhas has been extended to the minds of the children who study in the vast network of "schools" run by that paramount body headed by the Sole Dictator. In schools whose syllabi are controlled by the State, the most reactionary ideas are being introduced. Higher education too is not spared, and in the future we are likely to see hundreds of doctorates being awarded in the "science" of astrology.
State patronage has been extended, and awards have been given, to individuals who cannot even be called mediocrities. The petty-minded, semi-literate, vengeful people of the Sangh Parivar now control a large part of the State's institutions and resources. The same small bunch of "scholars" is on the governing bodies of research institutions from Shimla to Chennai. The beneficiaries of the Stateís largesse -- scholarships, research projects, and so on -- are of course functionaries of the Sangh Parivar.
There are no rules any more and no sphere of life has been left untouched. But above all else is placed what is called "the honour of the nation". For years the one constant in our political discourse -- suppressed when that is convenient, raised again whenever it is needed -- has been the undoing of what is described as a centuries old "wrong" by the construction of a Ram temple at the site of the demolished Babari Masjid. In this mad pursuit, history itself ñ the facts of the past in so far as they are known -- is blatantly manipulated and distorted.
It needs no special intelligence to see that the "nation" thus spoken of is an exclusively "Hindu" one -- this term itself being a travesty of known history -- and that all those who follow other religions are aliens who, by definition, should not have even ordinary citizen's rights because they are invaders or have extra-territorial loyalties -- never mind that they were born in India and have Indian driver's licences, Indian passports, Indian voter's cards. These "foreigners" are as much a part of the Indian economy as are their "Hindu" fellow citizens -- but for the Sangh Parivar, economic realities become meaningless when they are set off against whatever is chosen to be described as the "Hindu Rashtra's glorious past".
But do economic realities really become meaningless? Of course they don't. Material resources are systematically directed towards the Sangh Parivar's own people while our religious minorities are just as systematically denied the very means of livelihood and are, as we see in Gujarat, rendered homeless in their own land. The Sangh Parivar is adept at turning any logical construction on its head.
The Sangh Parivar said that for these assembly elections it had abandoned the Hindutva plank in favour of issues of development. Strangely, our press swallowed this and went about repeating it. I would argue that the Sangh Parivar cannot possibly abandon what is its sole justification for existing. Yes, it may push it to the back for a little while on seeing that it is not yielding dividends; but it has by no means been abandoned. The photograph of Narendra Modi by Vasundhara Raje's side at her swearing-in ceremony speaks volumes. No sooner does the soft lady win on the "development" plank than the hard man of the Hindutva line joins her to celebrate her victory very visibly. Hindutva was not abandoned: it was only waiting in the wings. The likelihood is that it will re-emerge far stronger and more vicious than before, now that it has political power in its grasp.
The swearing-in ceremonies in the states in which the BJP won these assembly elections were not the modest affairs which such occasions have been for decades and as they should be in a democratic republic. Instead, they were grand spectacles with thousands of spectators present to watch the coronations. Only gladiators and lions were missing. The model was Modi's swearing-in of last year, at which, remarkably, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister themselves were present. What better pat on the back could a Chief Minister ask for who was being held responsible for causing or at least abetting his state's anti-Muslim pogrom?
I am reminded of Leni Riefenstahl, the German dancer, actress and film maker who died recently. Riefenstahl was best known for Triumph of the Will, her film of the Nazi Partyís rally of 1934 at Nuremberg. As an example of the art of the cinema it can only be described as a masterpiece, though the imagery is that of Hitlerís view of German greatness. In the imitation Nuremberg rallies of Gandhinagar, Jaipur, Bhopal and Raipur we can see who are the Sangh Parivar's ideals: Hitler and Caligula. Worse, we are but one election away from outright fascism (I.K. Shukla, personal communication).
The famous shikari Jim Corbett used to say that big cats did not become man-eaters unless they were forced into it, usually by injuries which prevented them from hunting their usual prey. I wonder how he would explain the proliferation today of man-eating rats.
This is not a joke but a very real fear. The Sangh Parivar has a singularly narrow vision and its beasts have tasted blood. Once the Muslims are done away with, the Christians will be dealt with. Then will come the Sikhs, the Buddhists, the Jains and the tribals. Communists are of course an old enemy who will be tackled at some stage.
But what then? What the voters who have elected the BJP to power in three states have failed to see is that one day it will be their turn. The man-eating rats will inevitably turn on them. That is the clear writing on the wall.
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