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Monday, December 22, 2014

Too much Hindutva rhetoric by Pavan K Varma

The statistically insignificant, but strategically dangerous extremists among Muslim continue to terrorize,  and now extremists among Buddhist and Hindu are challenging the hegemony and they will have their own share of fanatics. I am glad monopolies are broken and we will get to a point soon, where the 99.9% of good people of the world will hone on the extremists to create a better world for all of us, not 100% but a tad below that.

Mike Ghouse
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http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-edit-page/too-much-hindutva-rhetoric/
12/22/14 Courtesy of Times of India
Pavan K Varma
The writer, a former diplomat, represents JD(U) in Rajya Sabha.Modi’s silence on communal speeches by members of the Sangh casts a shadow on his governance
In the progression of inflammatory political news that saturates headlines in the media, there is often reason to pause to try and analyse the root cause or essential pattern underlying them. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s December 1 speech in which she expletively dubbed those who don’t support the BJP as haramzadon provides an illustrative moment for such an exercise.
Not unreasonably, the opposition in Parliament expected Narendra Modi to sack such a minister. Instead, after the minister expressed ‘regret’ in both Houses, the PM, bowing to opposition pressure, merely made a statement disapproving use of such language, and requested members to magnanimously forgive her, especially given her background of being ‘from a village’. The lady is currently actively campaigning for the forthcoming Delhi elections.
Why is a prime minister like Narendra Modi, who swept to power on the promise of development and not — as per his own avowals — communally divisive politics, soft on the Sadhvi and many others in his party who have made equally inflammatory statements? The answer to this question is the key to understanding the performance of this government in the last six months and its likely priorities in the balance period of its term.
The Sadhvi’s case is a metaphor. This first-time MP may have no formal education beyond school, or much domain knowledge about food processing which is her portfolio, but she is a member of the numerically significant Nishad community in UP, and her religiously divisive diatribes are crucial in consolidating dalit and backward-class votes for BJP. From this metaphor several inferences can be derived, and i will specifically mention four.
First, it appears that the emphasis on development by Modi, both during the elections and subsequently, was geared primarily to optimally harness the anti-incumbency mood against the lacklustre performance of UPA. The seductive slogan of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, or his statement seeking a moratorium for 10 years on religious divides, reinforced the belief in the middle class and beyond that he would be the messiah of effective governance.
But, while it is too early to pass definitive judgment, governance as yet has been at best average. There have been no decisive measures signifying a new vision. The budget was a curious halfway house between moribund continuity and reluctant reform. Important ministries such as HRD have seen a spate of unnecessary controversies. There has been volte face on black money. In spite of a favourable international economic climate with falling crude and commodity prices, agriculture, industrial production, exports and job creation are languishing. Ministers have been changed frequently, are often unprepared in Parliament and there is obvious over-centralisation of decision-making in the PMO.
Secondly, the strategy of religious polarisation is likely to stay. BJP’s electoral support base in northern India is narrow and largely restricted to some segments of the upper castes and urban areas. To maintain its winning momentum, it has to consolidate the support of the larger Hindu vote. Hence, while the BJP leadership harps on development, the cadre invents things like ‘love jihad’ to polarise votes on communal lines. The elections coming up in future, especially in UP and Bihar, will give much evidence of this strategy, notwithstanding all the rhetoric about development.
Thirdly, it is becoming evident that the fundamentalist core within BJP and the larger Sangh Parivar are no longer in control. The more important question is: does the PM want to rein them in? Days after Sadhvi Jyoti’s apology and the PM’s (mild) reprimand, Sakshi Maharaj, a sitting BJP MP, elevated Nathuram Godse to a patriot.
Around the same time, Yogi Adityanath, also a sitting MP, announced his resolve to spearhead mass reconversions of non-Hindus, a move specifically aimed at igniting incendiary religious polarisation. If this is the case of sitting MPs, fringe organisations like VHP, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Mahasabha believe their time has come given Modi’s curious silence on their increasing communal evangelism.
VHP’s Ashok Singhal in fact said publicly that BJP’s victory signifies the return of Hindu India. Chandra Prakash Kaushik, president of Hindu Mahasabha, has announced his resolve to put busts of Godse across India. And Rajeshwar Singh of Dharma Jagran Samiti has declared that his target is to make a Hindu Rashtra by 2021 since Muslims and Christians have no right to stay here.
Fourthly, and finally, in an atmosphere of increasing social instability due to politically incited religious tensions, it is more than likely that governance will take a further back seat. Policing priorities, sporadic riots, a pervasive sense of social suspicion and acrimony and frequent disruptions of legislative bodies may well overwhelm stable and sober long-term policymaking. Equally, there is no guarantee that cynically generated localised incidents will not provoke reta-liatory actions elsewhere, thereby amplifying the ambit of fear and instability.
Of course, there will be short-term electoral gains for BJP. But the party must ponder to think what the long-term consequences of such a policy will be, both for its developmental agenda and the composite fabric of India. The people of India are watching.
The writer, a former diplomat, represents JD(U) in Rajya Sabha

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