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From Babri Demolition to supporting Anna Hazare - Changing Strategies of RSS politics

by Ram Puniyani, 25 December 2011

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by Ram Puniyani

This December, Babri demolition act completed its 19 years. On the occasion many a Muslim groups demanded the reconstruction of the masjid. This demand is just but is mired in many a complex legalities and is trapped in the politics in which there are many diverse players. One again needs to clarify that Hindutva is not a religion of Hindus. Religion of Hindus is Hinduism. Hindutva is the politics of RSS; it is a politics with sectarian vision. This is the vision of affluent upper caste- elite aiming to abolish democracy. Hindutva aims to bring a nation in the name of Hindu religion where the upper crust of society can rule as per the norms prevalent in feudal society. The trick involved here is that these norms of feudal society, the birth based hierarchy, is presented as a glorious tradition
and in given the modern language and form.

Demolition of Babri Masjid was a demolition of a national monument; it was
also the beginning of a phase of politics where the communal undercurrents
of Indian politics menacingly came to the surface. It was a signal for the
violence against minorities at a higher pitch. It was a blatant insult of
whatever Indian Constitution stands for. It was also the first major step
for communal parties to come to occupy the seats of power in the Centre.

After the initial sacking of the BJP Governments in the states where it was
ruling, the polarization caused by demolition and post demolition violence
went to frightening level and the communal party, BJP, which was at the
margins of political structure, came to the fore as the major opposition
party. Its parent organization, the real controller of Hindutva politics,
RSS, started becoming more respectable and the social thinking was further
vitiated with the biases against minorities. In due course the other
minority the Christians were also brought under the firing range of the
communalists leading to the ghastly burning of Pastor Graham Stains and
later scattered attacks on Christian missionaries working in Adivasi areas,
leading to massive Kandhmal carnage were witnessed.

For the first time BJP, the party inherently committed to the anti
democratic notion of Hindu Rashtra, grabbed the power at the Centre in
1996, when all other parties correctly refused to ally with it to share the
spoils of power. But that changed soon enough and other political parties,
obsessed with power opportunistically started sharing power with those
accused of Babri demolition, those whose affiliates incited not only the
demolition but also the violence against minorities in different guises.
The coming to power of BJP at centre opened the floodgates of the political
space that goes with power, and the task of RSS progeny, VHP, Vanvasi
Kalyan Ashram got facilitated. The state apparatus, police bureaucracy got
more communalized. The education was communalized more openly with a tinge of promoting faith based knowledge at the cost of the scientific temper and rational thought.

This also paved the way for further victories for BJP. The success of RSS
propaganda is not merely that it targets the minorities; its bigger success
is that it instils the fear in the mind of majority about the ‘threat’ of
minority. There is a ripple effect of this process and then a section of
‘middle of the road elements’ also start turning over to support the
Hindutva parties. Karnataka opened the floodgates of BJP for its entry into
South. The political ideology of BJP and its group is gaining ascendance.

The Babri demolition led to multiple processes, denial of justice to victims of violence became structural, and the minorities started being relegated to second class citizenship. The demonization of minorities has by now gone to extreme levels. Christians are also being meted out the same treatment, particularly in Adivasi areas. This process of demonization of Muslim minorities later started being created around the issue related to terrorism. US propaganda after the 9/11, in which US created monster of Al Qaeda was the central force, brought immense disrepute to Islam and Muslims. US media coined the word Islamic terrorism, and the politics for control over oil resources was taken to absurd ideological manipulation and a religion and a religious community were subjected to immense targeting.
In India also the propaganda against Muslims was taken to much worse levels with the global phenomenon of terror, falsely and cleverly attributed to teachings of Islam and Muslims.

Now the RSS-BJP politics is entering the new phase. Having reached the acme of anti minority polarization, it has found the Anna Hazare movement as the new vehicle for its politics of undermining democratic institutions to
bring in a parallel authoritarian structure where the Lok Pal plays the big
brother. Though this sounds innocuous and is presented as a step to solve
the problems, this is likely to create a new institution, beyond the control of democratic norms. Few people and groups who are calling the shots and asserting that they are ‘The People’, ‘Anna is above Parliament’, will rule through proxies of various types. This Anna movement has polarized the social layers according to those who look at either identity issues (Ram Temple) or symptomatic issues (Corruption) as the major issues while undermining the problems of dalits, minorities and other deprived sections of society. Identity issues or issues focused around symptoms, which are meant to preserve the status quo of political dynamics, and that’s what politics in the name of religion is all about. That’s what Christian fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism or Hindutva, wants.

Now since Ram Temple appeal is fading away, those for social-political
‘status quo’ have jumped to the bandwagon of Anti-corruption. This is a
shrewd move. Marginalized sections do feel left out from such ‘I am Anna’,
‘We are the People’ type of assertions, the message is that only the
‘shining India’ will have the say in the shaping of the nation, while the
deprived India, will be permanently on the margins.

In a sense the RSS - Hindutva politics is constantly changing its strategies
to communalize, polarize the society and to distract social attention from
core issues. While initially the Rath Yatras and communal violence have
played their role in polarizing the nation along religious lines, now the
social issue, corruption, is being used to further strengthen the hold of
politics aimed at retaining social inequalities.